Mark Ryski

Founder, CEO & Author, HeadCount Corporation
Mark Ryski is the author of two books on retail analytics, Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric and When Retail Customers Count – books that are widely considered the definitive reference guides for the retail industry. He is also the Founder and CEO of HeadCount Corporation – the leading authority on retail traffic and conversion analysis. Founded in 1994, today Mark and his dedicated team work with retailers across virtually all categories and sizes from independents to large chains.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2023

    Will Wegmans customers check out smart carts in a big way?

    According to a Wall Street Journal article in 2022, 30 percent of all grocery transactions in 2021 were conducted by self-checkout. Self-checkout is already pervasive and it will only penetrate deeper as time goes on. While it’s impossible to say how things will progress in the next five years -- after all, self-checkout has been around for 30+ years -- it will become a standard check-out feature for many retailers, and broaden beyond grocery where it’s most pervasive. No self-checkout solution is perfect, but I think the self-scan checkout solutions still offer the best mix of features, cost of ownership, and security. I remain bullish on self-checkout and I have no doubt that it will continue to evolve, be more accurate and deliver a better experience for shoppers.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2023

    2023 could be the year of the recession that never happened

    Consumer confidence and spending will determine how retail performs -- like it always has. Despite the negative economic predictions, job growth remains strong and consumers keep spending, and as long as that happens, the economy will continue to run well. That all said, retailers still have many challenges. Inflation is putting pressure on margins and while the consumer is spending, they’re being careful with how they spend their money. Overall I’d say conditions are good and the short-term looks encouraging.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2023

    Should SMBs trust Gap to handle their logistics?

    Leveraging the logistics capabilities of larger players can be a smart move for small retailers/brands. However it’s important to pick the right partner. The costs and challenges of managing supply chain are well known, so it behooves smaller retailers/brands to leverage what already exists. Using an existing service could not only reduce logistics costs, but also deliver a better customer experience. But again, picking the right partner is critical. Small retailers/brands need to be careful about which partner they choose, but it's a smart option that many should consider.
  • Posted on: 02/03/2023

    Will Kohl’s new CEO prove to be a good shepherd or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

    Mr. Kingsbury appears to be a choice all parties can agree with – even the activists. The challenges Kohl’s faces are well understood, and Mr. Kingsbury has had a front-row Board seat to see it all. And while it's likely that the chain's performance may get a little worse before it gets better, what I’ll be watching for is the trajectory and level of innovation. New initiatives, ideas, concepts and most importantly, how these get executed. Good luck Mr. Kingsbury.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2023

    Impossible Foods says there’s nothing faddish about plant-based meat

    I applaud Impossible Foods and encourage them to keep fighting the good fight. Just like electric cars, plant-based meat is evolving and getting better, less expensive and widely available. I believe plant-based meat is not only here to stay, but it will eventually become more popular than traditional meat products.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2023

    Do stores have a place as vocational tools inside high schools?

    This is a terrific program! College isn’t for everyone and so offering class-accredited business skills to high schools students will provide them with skills that they can immediately apply. While I’m not sure this will pay out for PJ’s Coffee per se, I think retailers and brands should seriously consider creating or participating in programs like this.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2023

    Pacsun to stick with its co-CEO model as one leader prepares to depart

    I’m not a fan of the co-CEO model as it can create confusion and conflicting visions. That said, it has been done in other organizations and been successful. Every organization is different with unique culture and operating models. In the case of Pacsun, if it works, I'd say stick with it. For them, two-heads are better than one.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2023

    What does Amazon know about delivering groceries that others don’t get?

    Reality is setting in and it’s time to pay. No company can afford to provide services and lose money – not even the mighty Amazon. As all retailers tighten their belts, eventually this gets reflected in higher prices and fees charged to consumers. Amazon is a price leader, and so I absolutely expect that other retailers will also increase fees in pursuit of profitability.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2023

    How much say should retailers have over an associate’s appearance?

    Employers have the right to set and expect standards for staff appearance, but those standards are and must be evolve with the times. It’s a fine balance between allowing employees to express their personalities and maintaining a corporate standards. I do understand Sheetz’s approach with the smile policy, and workers should not be too offended by it. But I would advise all employers to be clear in their expectations for appearance by staff, but to also be flexible and adjust to the times that we’re living. If standards are too formal, you’ll have a hard time attracting and retaining workers; if your standards are too loose, you run the risk of alienating customers.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2023

    Tractor Supply is just getting started with its market share grab

    Tractor Supply has been a quiet success story for many years -- people are paying attention now. Given Tractor Supply’s unique store footprint, which is in more rural locations, they have become embedded in communities across America. They continue to refine their offerings and seem to get stronger despite the challenges most other retailers face. While inflation will impact their results -- like most other retailers -- their product mix and market position (i.e. little competition in many markets they’re in), give Tractor Supply an edge. I’m very bullish on this retailer.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2023

    Has it gotten harder to find a top notch retail CEO?

    Hiring a great CEO is a challenge period, not just for retailers. And as history makes clear, founders often don't make great CEOs. When you consider that the average tenure for a CEO in the U.S. was under five years, turnover goes with the territory. Dealing with the pandemic, hyper-inflation, labor issues and myriad challenges, many of which can be existential for a company, takes courage, vision and leadership. And to be a really great CEO the leader needs humility, empathy and integrity.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2023

    Mobile clinics could make Dollar General a medical destination point

    Access to healthcare is a problem in many markets, and offering mobile health services can help. Dollar General’s key strength is broad market coverage especially in small/under-served markets. But while Dollar General has reach, I question whether the Dollar General brand connects to health services. I like the intention, but I wonder if this is the best move for Dollar General or if the health services business is playing to their strongest suit. I don't think so.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2023

    Will consumer anger drive down inflation?

    Consumer resistance is a factor and it will contribute to driving down inflation -- but not as a primary factor. As brands and retailers see their sales decline, they will simply lose market share. Ultimately consumers set the price if there are suitable substitute goods to buy. I would caution all retailers to be extremely mindful of consumer pushback to their pricing actions. Once a customer is lost it will be hard to win back their trust, especially if they feel like they were price gouged.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2023

    Amazon looks to undercut rivals with monthly Rx prescription plan

    This new service will be a no-brainer for some Amazon Prime members. It’s time for Amazon to drive revenue with their medical market plays and this one appears to have legs. Given Amazon’s significant Prime base, and a demographic that requires more medicine as they age, this has all the makings of a hit for Amazon. But while Amazon’s offering is strong, I don’t expect the other major pharmacy/health players to sit by and watch their market share erode. This just may be the beginning of what could be a price war.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2023

    Does retail need a data-based rebuild?

    In my experience, most retailers are still struggling with consistently making decisions based on data. In order to be useful for decision making, data needs to be compiled in a way that makes it easier for decision makers to make decisions with it. What is the insight the data is informing? Specifically, what decisions can be made with it? Collecting data is easy, but making it usable and formatted to make decisions is a lot harder. Retailers and businesses in general should focus on making their data easier to interpret so that their managers can make better day-to-day decisions with it.

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