Matthew McAlister

Director of Marketing, CB4
I'm the Director of Marketing at CB4, a machine learning software for brick and mortar retail operations teams. By applying patented machine-learning algorithms to simple sales data, CB4's software captures lost sales by correcting in-store operational issues. Opportunities are realized by uncovering consumer demand patterns that indicate high product demand. When the sales of a SKU at a store doesn't meet the expected demand, a recommendation is sent to the operations team via our web or mobile app with guidance on how to capture the lost sales opportunities. CB4's customers experience up to 3% same store growth within 12 months of service.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    What motivates workers in the gig economy?

    1) Hasn't this already halfway happened? Most sales floor associates are part-time. Their schedules typically change every day and every week. We've all read stories about workers being given only three days’ notice of the next week’s schedule featuring "on call" shifts that can be canceled the day of! 2) For these workers, wouldn't the ability to flip the script and tell a pool of retailers when THEY'RE available be an improvement? 3) Retailers would be more profitable long term if they did the human thing and offered stable schedules and advanced notice. A Harvard Business Review study on the Gap revealed that happy employees are more productive and profitable.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2019

    Are dollar stores bad for cities?

    Many of the critiques of dollar stores are legitimate:
    • Products seem to be cheaper. Often that's just because you're getting less quantity;
    • Fresh produce isn't readily available;
    Others, less so:
    • Dollar stores drive other stores out of business.
    Ultimately, it's the consumer who decides what businesses thrive. Trying to regulate dollar stores is applying a tourniquet. Educating consumers to make smarter choices is preventative health care. It would be more effective for municipalities to partner with local grocers to educate the public about the pricing and fresh produce issues. Supply responds to demand. If consumers demand fresh produce and better value, all retailers (including dollar stores), will respond.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2018

    Will Dollar General’s DGX concept be a hit with urban Millennials?

    Some will see this as a branding and merchandising challenge. To an extent, that's the case. But the real battle will happen on the real estate front. For city dwellers, millennial or not, convenience is king. To earn my traffic, the new DGX store has to be as close to customers as their existing options (mom and pop dollar stores, pharmacies, bodegas) or have an experience that's amazing enough to convince me to go a block out of my way. Location, location, location.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Did Build-A-Bear destroy its brand with a successful promotion?

    "Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches." I don't see Build-A-Bear's reputation taking a dive on this one -- if anything it just underscores the brand's popularity with kids and reinforces the success of their business model. The same people going home disappointed will be back in the line during another promotion or holiday -- but this time they'll arrive earlier. Saying your promotion was so popular you literally shut the mall down is a great way to start a call with investors. Good for them. For the people complaining about leaving empty handed -- what were you expecting from a promotion of this magnitude?
  • Posted on: 06/27/2018

    QuickChek takes fresh approach to convenience business

    QuickChek is known to be one of the best c-stores, especially in the tri-state area, because they're always ahead of the curve on innovation and they have a reputation for clean, efficient stores. Every c-store chain is moving toward an emphasis on fresh and prepared food, and QuickChek is once again beating the competition to it. I think the reason is twofold -- the first: consumer demand for fresh and healthier foods, especially for people on the go. Recently I was on a road trip, heading to upstate New York. We had two options, McDonald's or QuickChek. We stopped at QuickChek. People are much more health conscious, and you can see that most reflected in the grab-and-go economy. The second? Margin. Not to be cynical, but c-stores wouldn't be trying to meet this demand if there wasn't some financial incentive. I think the reason is that the margin on fresh and prepared foods is much higher than other items in the store. They can cut out the middle man, get creative and add a premium on this service.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2018

    Microsoft exploring checkout-less technologies

    As someone who has never shopped in a store that uses automated checkout technology, these are the unknowns I believe hold back the technology's effectiveness and will reduce the rollout timeline compared to other checkout technologies:
    • Do customers actually enjoy the experience?
    • What is the percentage of customers who are returning to the location 3-4 months from first visit?
    • If a store with automated checkout technology existed next to a traditional store, would consumers choose one over the other?
    • How long does set up/ registration take, and is that a major blocker from getting in quick foot traffic in the first place?
    • Does the technology lower prices in the store due to lower operational costs?
    • Does the customer experience suffer from decreased store staff?
    I remember first seeing self-checkout lines in Kroger when I was in high school, and my family and I always preferred those methods over a traditional check out. The reasons being: sometimes you simply don't want to make shallow conversation, when you feel that you have control over the speed of your transaction it seems faster than if not, and every check out attendant oversaw 4-8 self checkout lanes, reducing the time it took to begin ringing up your purchases. Self checkout made sense to me; automated checkout feels like a novelty.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2018

    Macy’s takes stake in retail-as-a-service tech firm

    This strikes me as simply another way Amazon is forcing brick-and-mortar retail to innovate by replicating some of their tried-and-true strategies. Amazon famously rents out sections of their warehouses to third-party vendors, charging them for the space while allowing them to take advantage of Amazon's Prime shipping and other benefits on the Amazon Marketplace. No different here: these vendors pay for the space while taking advantage of Macy's reputation and foot traffic. It's interesting to see the way Macy's has rolled this out, but I'm left with a few questions: what influence does Macy's have over the product makers and the individual products that will be represented in their stores? How do they align the products in The Market with their rotating stock and planograms? How do they ensure the products in The Market are on-brand, if indeed product makers can go from "selling online to launching their products with Macy’s in a few clicks" through b8ta? All that said, I think it's a great idea -- I'm looking forward to this coming to my local Macy's store so I can get the experience for myself and see how they've executed it.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2018

    Facebook to ban advertisers if they don’t clean up their acts

    As Facebook collects more data on its users and improves the ability for advertisers to target consumers, the number of shady drop shipping companies has exploded, especially those pushing fads, like fidget spinners and street wear. Savvy users can spot these companies from miles away by their advertising copy and the user experience around the purchasing process, but many people are getting burned. If Facebook wants to become a true e-commerce hub, they have to get these advertisers under control. How likely is a user who gets ripped off to come back for repeat business, even with another advertiser? Not likely at all. In my opinion, they need to take a page from eBay and require reviews for sellers with their experience starred in an open, transparent way. Banning companies who behave as in the article above is a start, but isn't enough. In order for them to get banned, they have to have already ripped off customers. Surely there are warning signs or additional information Facebook can request to stop these companies from operating in the first place. With all of the recent trouble around privacy concerns, more transparency and trust is a necessity for growth.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2018

    Managing the dark side of workplace friendships

    I have always felt that close friendships at work do nothing but deepen the loyalty of employees to the business, create warmth, and promote culture. Especially in a startup environment like CB4, a single friendship has the tendency to branch out to include the rest company, resulting in more after-work drinks, company outings, and a better sense of community. The onus is on those friends, however, to actively invite and include the rest of the team. You spend more time with your colleagues than anyone else in your life; it's a good thing when you're close.
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