PROFILE

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.
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  • Posted on: 01/22/2020

    Has BOPIS changed holiday selling?

    BOPIS does provide retailers with physical stores a significant advantage over online players – assuming the retailer has an effective BOPIS program, like Target. While some retailers are doing well with BOPIS, lots are still way behind on providing an effective program. Missing product, under-staffed pick-up locations, slow order processing…the list goes on. There’s plenty of work for retailers to do in just getting the basics right.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2020

    Does convenience trump price for today’s consumer?

    When it comes to price vs. convenience, consumers want their cake and to eat it too. There will always be some tension between trying to satisfy these two somewhat disparate goals. Of the many areas that relate to convenience, I’d say BOPIS is one of the most important services for shoppers today. Buying online and having the convenience of picking up in store, is fast becoming a fundamental expectation for shoppers. And it’s not good enough just having a BOPIS offering, it had better work well – a bad BOPIS experience can seriously impact consumer confidence and cause shoppers to go elsewhere.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    Is Bose doing the smart thing in closing its stores?

    This seems like a sensible move for Bose. As noted, the move to open Bose stores was innovative when they first launched, however, with the broad availability of Bose products at so many other stores, it’s not entirely surprising that they found their own stores less important to customers and likely financially a burden. Simply put, it just doesn’t make sense to have all these stores any longer. But while I think the move to close most stores is right, I’m surprised that they didn’t decide to maintain a few high profile locations to continue to present their brand and showcase new products.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2020

    Are Gap Inc. and Old Navy better off together?

    It’s going to get worse before it gets better at Gap – if it ever does get better. While the decision to not split off Old Navy into a separate company makes sense, the bigger issue is everything else going on in and around the company. Gap is in a serious state of tumult. Major executive leadership changes, negative sales trends across all banners and product offerings that clearly don’t resonate with consumers. None of these issues can be fixed easily or quickly.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2020

    What does Target’s Christmas miss mean?

    Target has been a recent darling of the retail industry and Wall Street, delivering great results. What these holiday results make clear is that, even the best retailers have their challenges. Yes, Target does need to focus on fixing the categories where they saw softness, but otherwise they should continue to execute as they have been. It’s such a fine line between success and failure the margin of error is very thin. I wonder what this may be foreshadowing for the year ahead.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2020

    Is Amazon more friend or foe for digital start-ups?

    For start-ups, Amazon is more friend than foe. The power of Amazon as an online shopping platform is undeniable. For start-ups with no brand awareness and often limited funds, it’s imperative to get your message out and leveraging Amazon’s reach can’t be beat. However, the relationship needs to be closely monitored and assessed. Ultimately, Amazon is focused on Amazon and the risk of being supplanted by Amazon itself is very real. I say proceed…cautiously.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2020

    Consumers want up-to-date online reviews

    Consumers have endless choice of where they spend their hard-earned dollars and they do their homework before they commit. Online reviews provide an important and increasingly vital mechanism for retailers to compel shoppers to visit their establishments and make a purchase. Too many retailers are remiss in how they manage and respond to online reviews. Retailers need to understand that online reviews are as critical to the sales process as the store experience. Retailers should be encouraging shopper reviews to ensure their recency and that they respond in a meaningful and thoughtful way.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2020

    Walmart U.S. CEO: Good retail jobs are much more than good pay

    Like any business, attracting and retaining experienced, top performers is key. As noted in the article, pay is just the starting point. Training, work-life balance, and recognition are all important elements for retention. And while it’s hard to say exactly which aspects will have the most impact on retention, the trend is clear: thoughtful retailers are re-investing in their people and they are delivering better business results. I don't think this is a coincidence.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2020

    Walmart rolls out self-serve ads

    While Walmart has been able to effectively compete with Amazon in many ways, it’s not even close when it comes to the monetization of its ad platform. There’s a tremendous amount of potential value in Walmart’s data, and especially in how it could connect its media platform to its physical stores – something Amazon can’t do. I think it’s the right move for Walmart to reset its ad platform strategy and tap into this potentially significant and lucrative asset.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2020

    Will ‘five pillars’ provide the foundation Bed Bath & Beyond needs to succeed?

    On the Q3 earnings call, Tritton defined "promise" as "clarifying and deepening relationships with our clients by connecting, engaging, and motivating them to strengthen loyalty and lifetime value."
  • Posted on: 01/09/2020

    Will coffee drinkers miss single-use cups?

    Leadership takes courage and I admire the move by Blue Bottle. Naturally, some consumers may be turned off by this move, but I think Blue Bottle is on the right side of this argument and ultimately will be rewarded by eco-minded consumers. The key lesson from our efforts thus far to reduce waste is that human nature will always lean to convenience, regardless of the negative impact on the environment. However, removing options like single use cups, straws, and plastic bags altogether provides the best chance for making a difference.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2020

    Will ‘five pillars’ provide the foundation Bed Bath & Beyond needs to succeed?

    The five pillars described by Tritton are fundamentals which will hardly seem revolutionary. However I believe it’s right for Tritton to start with these core, foundational elements first. All five pillars are critical, but I think Tritton’s focus on "place” (i.e. omni and BOPIS), will be among the most important in the short term as he works to drive positive same-store sales. The ability to deliver a seamless and effective omni experience has been a hallmark of Target’s success, and I expect Tritton will bring this Bed Bath & Beyond.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2020

    Can casinos save the mall?

    I agree Cathy. The West Edmonton Mall in Canada has had a casino for many years, and it's coexisted with the other mall attractions well. And while casinos may be a useful way to fill empty space for mall operators, I doubt that it would translate into any meaningful impact on mall retailer sales.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2020

    Pier 1 to close up to 450 stores as it faces uncertain future

    When 1,000 store chains fail, it doesn’t happen overnight. According to Bloomberg, Pier 1 posted eight straight quarters of declining sales and six consecutive quarterly losses, but I’d argue that Pier 1’s challenges started years before. Retail is a zero-sum game and there’s no doubt that new e-commerce players like Wayfair played a role but, if you stand still like Pier 1 did, the market will blow past you. There was nothing particularly special about Pier 1’s offerings or stores. The revolving door in the executive suite didn’t help either. Sadly, I believe Pier 1 is in a very deep hole and I’m not hopeful they can find a path forward.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2020

    Group says Amazon wants workers to keep quiet on its climate change strategy

    Amazon is well within their rights to set communication guidelines for employees as they see fit. While the new guidelines may feel too restrictive for some employees, I doubt that it will have any significant impact on overall employee morale. That said, there does seem to be an increasing frequency of employee-led actions that conflict with corporate positions – like the Google global employee walk-out in 2019. While the employer will always have ultimate leverage over employees, this is becoming a much more challenging issue to manage.

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