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: 02/28/2020

    Are email marketers adapting to modern realities?

    Judging by my email inbox I'd say things may have gotten worse, not better. It's rare that I see an unsolicited email that I find compelling -- it happens, but it's rare.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2020

    Will a new subscription program be Walmart’s winning answer to Amazon Prime?

    Walmart is simply moving its offerings forward. Programs and offerings from Amazon, Walmart and other competitors will continue to evolve and so this latest move by Walmart is simply evolution. Walmart’s core perks program is already fairly robust, and so any additional tweaks and adjustments will likely be incremental.
  • Posted on: 02/27/2020

    Will a former H&M exec lead Forever 21 into a bright new future?

    Daniel Kulle certainly appears to have everything new ownership would want in a CEO, and so in this regard it’s a good move. Forever 21 is a bruised and battered brand and it will take time bring it back to the life it once enjoyed. Kulle’s credentials suggest he has all the experience/expertise to engineer a turnaround. That said, the biggest challenge may be in the increasingly negative view of fast fashion, and that’s not something a new CEO can necessarily change.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2020

    Will a CEO’s crowdsourcing plea save Modell’s Sporting Goods?

    I don’t recall ever seeing a CEO attempt to appeal to the market in such a candid and vulnerable way. And while I give Mitchell Modell credit for trying to leverage social media, his pleas for support make him and his company appear disturbingly desperate. I don’t think this will help Modell’s situation – in fact, it may make it worse.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2020

    Will fulfilling third-party vendor orders give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    This is a smart move for Walmart. Walmart’s logistical capabilities are unrivaled and I believe that offering these capabilities will be attractive to many marketplace sellers. But while this option will be attractive for marketplace sellers who cater to a Walmart demographic, I doubt that it will be a huge draw for those resellers who are less interested in Walmart's shopper demographics. Nonetheless, this move by Walmart will certainly get Amazon’s attention as it provides marketplace sellers another significant channel for their goods.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2020

    Amazon goes bigger with its cashier-less store concept

    I’m impressed that Amazon scaled their Go concept to a larger grocery footprint – I was skeptical that it would scale, and I still am. Last fall Amazon announced that it was planning to open 3,000 Go stores, but have only opened 20 to 25 locations so far. The slow growth rate is telling. When the first Amazon Go store opened, my primary concern was regarding the enormous amount of technology required to operate the small 1,200 square foot convenience store, and my concerns are the same with Grocery Go – at over 10,000 square feet in size, the number of cameras/sensors required to cover this space must be mind-boggling. While I have no doubt this type of cashier-less store experience will be part of retailing in the future, the cost to deploy and maintain the current technology required to deliver the experience is prohibitive for most retailers.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2020

    IKEA tests the value of time as a sales incentive

    I think this is interesting conceptually, but I’m not sure how well it will scale. Time does have value, but you would never know it by the way so many retailers take their shoppers’ time for granted – lack of staff, long check-out lines, etc. – it’s refreshing to see a retailer like IKEA acknowledge that shoppers' time has value. And saving time has value for all shoppers, both in-store and online, so I think the idea could resonate with shoppers. The real trick will be in how easy IKEA makes this for their shoppers -- if it’s complicated or convoluted, it could cause more harm than good.
  • Posted on: 02/18/2020

    Walmart’s Christmas wasn’t humbug, but it was less merry than expected

    Walmart’s results make it clear that it’s still a tough selling environment. Some of the investments Walmart made paid off, while others didn’t and that’s part of what is reflected in the numbers. Walmart's bruising battle with Amazon doesn't help their numbers either. The holiday 2019 season may well be a harbinger of what’s to come in 2020. With still so much uncertainty about tariffs, the U.S. election and coronavirus, there are plenty of headwinds on the horizon.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2020

    How will Jetblack lessons inform Walmart’s conversational commerce efforts?

    Jetblack is just one of numerous initiatives that contribute to Walmart’s deep body of knowledge about what is/isn’t working for their customers. Walmart has become a very sophisticated and capable retail innovator and while it’s impossible to know exactly how the Jetblack experience will inform future decisions, it’s safe to say that Walmart learned a lot. If there’s one thing Walmart has become especially capable at it’s innovation, testing, launching and discontinuing initiatives that don't work.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2020

    Will technology even the last-mile playing field with Amazon?

    If this works as advertised, it will change the game for many retailers and close the competitive gap with Amazon. Optimizing for delivery requires machine learning, as well as well-executed and efficient physical logistics. Any company that can provide this reliably will find a massive addressable market.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2020

    Will Pop Up Grocer bring discovery to grocery retailing?

    I don’t think this concept will be successful. There is already so many grocery options, I doubt the world needs more in an already over-built landscape. I understand that the company is attempting to do a convenience/experience/pop-up, but I just don’t think this will be compelling enough to inspire shoppers. As for pop-ups in the grocery category in general, I just don’t see why they would want/need to. I understand why CPG companies would want to do pop-ups, but grocery retailers, no.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2020

    7-Eleven tries out an Amazon Go-like store

    Yes, I believe there is a future for cashierless stores in convenience as there will be in other retail segments eventually. While the benefits of cashierless technology are apparent, I’m still not yet convinced that the technology is ready for mass use. The technology is still expensive and is far from foolproof. That said, I do think this is just a matter of time, and I like 7-Eleven’s assertive move into cashierless technology and other digital technologies.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2020

    Crate and Barrel marries human expertise with tech advances in a new concept store

    This is a great example of how technology can significantly enhance the shopping/buying experience. The new store concept sounds compelling, but it is only one store. For this to have a significant impact, it will need to be rolled out chain-wide. While in-store design services are far from a new idea, Crate and Barrel can differentiate by better executing these design services. There’s nothing revolutionary about this, but sometimes a well-executed practical idea can have a material impact.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2020

    Will Macy’s cut its way to improved margins and future growth?

    We are witnessing Macy's transformation before our eyes...and it's not pretty. There’s a lot going on at Macy’s. The move to close under-performing stores and cutting expenses to strengthen the financial position is sensible, but it should have been done three years ago. The new store concepts are interesting, and may produce better outcomes, but this will take time to evolve and there’s no guarantee that consumers will respond positively. While I think Macy’s management is on the right track, they are years behind and it will take more time to catch-up, if they ever do.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2020

    Is Forever 21 a wise investment for its new mall landlord owners?

    It’s an interesting move, but I don’t think it’s an "automatic" they will be successful. There’s nothing like having financial backing as a core element of a successful strategy – Simon and Brookfield have plenty of financial capacity. I’m not sure the involvement by the mall operators will save Forever 21. Once a brand falls out of favor with consumers – especially in fashion – like night clubs and restaurants, consumers move on to the next thing. I’m also not sure what Forever 21 needs to do under this new arrangement, but I am more curious about what this means long-term. Can we expect mall operators to jump in and save every struggling brand? I doubt that this is a sustainable strategy. At the same time, it is in the best interests of the mall operators to have strong/successful tenants.

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