Mark Self

President and CEO, Mpro5 Inc.

Seasoned go to market leader with deep global experience in sales, strategic marketing, M&A, Fund raising, governance, product/market fit, and channels.

  • Posted on: 11/28/2022

    Do boring leaders make for better business results?

    I believe that the (now dated) book "Good to Great" profiled (amongst other companies) Walgreens, noting solid but non-charismatic leadership. I am not sure that charisma is a prerequisite for visionary ... the delivery can be drab but if the vision inspires the team all the same, then you have the right leader. The skillsets that are missing (I know we are speaking of generalities here) are making running the business "too much about one individual" and not enough about the team.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2022

    Do digital coupons discriminate against those who can least afford it?

    Digital coupons "discriminate" against those who do not have access to either a computer or a smart phone. That "demographic" may or may not be a targeted consumer group, and if they are then the retailer should make them available somehow at POS or at store level. Regarding making sure everyone gets the discounts regardless of tech access, I do not see an obligation. Most public libraries have tech, although expecting consumers to go to the library prior to shopping is not realistic. At all. The "digital divide" will continue to hurt consumers without access in more ways than simply a lack of access to coupons.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2022

    Will John Lewis or Publix win the RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge?

    Okay. Give me a minute to dry my eyes... Both do a great job of connecting with their audience and engaging new shoppers. The John Lewis story, and the cause highlighted at the end, make it the slight winner in my book because it ties the skateboard journey in a nice little "get your tissue out" bow. The Publix ad deserves an honorable mention in a difficult bracket, but it is John Lewis by a hair.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2022

    Will cracking down on serial returners solve retailers’ return problem?

    Prosecute the guilty and leave the masses alone ... sounds like a strong, well informed strategy to me. It may not completely alleviate the issue, however, it would make enough of a difference to have a material impact on reducing the cost of returns -- although I am staking my position on not seeing any analytics on this-it feels like the right path though!
  • Posted on: 11/18/2022

    Do retailers need to add chief trust officers?

    How many executives does it take to establish trust? Creating this position sounds very reactive to me. Some firm has a security breach and the next press release announces a CTrO. Between the CIO, the CTO and the CMO I would think a firm would be able to figure this out.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2022

    Will a strike on ‘Red Cup Day’ get Starbucks to change its anti-union tune?

    In the long run, the only outcome of the strike will be unhappy customers. Starbucks management has reasons for taking this position and if this is a strategic error on their part the market will penalize them. However when I see "we are hiring" signs with $15-$20 an hour positions available it is difficult for me to see the market (either the financial market or the consumer market) sympathizing with union organizers.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2022

    Aldi Australia vs. Kroger: The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge

    Depends on the viewer! If you are a "softie" (guilty) the Kroger ad is perfect it every way, especially the song. I did not think I would like it because the animation was too reminiscent of the old Christmas specials Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph (who ever heard of a Skinny Santa? Okay, I am dating myself), but it resonated with me. If you like to laugh (guilty again) then the Aldi Australia ad is great -- the first time. I think this one has a shorter shelf life -- funny the first time, humorous the second time, annoying the third time. Kroger gets my vote. Surprisingly, because before viewing the Aussies were the favorites...
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    What does it take to build a positive corporate culture?

    Mission/Vision/Values that are well understood, trusted, and "lived" by the employees. Best example I can think of is Trader Joe's. 99.9% of the associates there obviously love/like what they do, and it is reflected and felt with the shopping experience.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2022

    Will retailers use facial recognition tech to reshape store layouts?

    I do not know how you "merge" the lessons learned from facial recognition with the physical aspect of store layout. I think the hoped for benefits are not even close to enough to justify the costs. At least for now. You would have to add a virtual dimension in some way now, and I am not smart enough to figure out how that would add value.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2022

    How can meetings be made more effective?

    Piling on here with other contributors -- the core problem with many meetings is they lack an agenda and when they do have an agenda it is not followed. Many leaders are not strong "project managers" or don't keep people on time. The result is you get these meandering discussions that accomplish nothing. The solution is to cancel most of them, and schedule the others for shorter blocks. Another observation I have is when people are in an office together much of what needs to happen in a meeting goes on "in the margins" outside of the structure of a meeting. Collaborative videoconferencing tools have made that kind of interaction less likely to happen. Get back to the office! :)
  • Posted on: 11/09/2022

    Is transactional data the key to understanding retail customer behavior?

    I guess I need to read the book. Haven't retailers like Walmart analyzed product movement, basket sizes and content by leveraging analytics, Big Data, transaction logs, and the web, for some time now? As an aside, when there are available tools and a framework available for this assessment, that usually screams "consulting engagement" to me. Buying behavior over time does change -- people age and their shopping list changes. Coming back to the question -- the benefits of leveraging purchasing data can be great, IF the retailer makes the commitment necessary in talent and tools to attain these "real time views." Many times that commitment and investment is "under sized" and the benefits are not immediate, making a strategy change and investment like the book suggests difficult, especially for publicly traded companies.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2022

    Can Disney marry streaming and shopping?

    They can do it. They will do it. And people will buy this stuff, so they will pick up sales that might ordinarily not have happened -- how many people go out of their way to buy a Donald Duck monogrammed hat when they are not at a Disney park? My guess -- not many. So sure, watch Buzz Lightyear and get the t-shirt to support your "Disney Lifestyle." I believe the bigger concern is whether or not there is a "consumer tipping point" where people just get fed up with companies like Disney commercializing everything, and keep their digital wallets in their pocket!
  • Posted on: 11/07/2022

    Dick’s Sporting Goods launches ventures fund

    Many companies have venture funds already so in my view Dick's is late to this particular party. Assuming proper execution, this is a good move by Dick's as it allows them to bet on new ideas without the burden of creating them in-house, which rarely works. $50 million is pretty modest for fund size, which tells me they are entering carefully, which is probably wise.
  • Posted on: 11/04/2022

    Will dynamic pricing work for restaurants?

    If executed properly, why wouldn't this work? It works with air travel, etc. It works at my local theater (pay less on Tuesday!) and it works at our local beer and wine store ($2 off on Tuesday!). So-the benefits are many and the risks lie in the execution. And once this starts happening in chains, other chains will follow suit if they see the impact on their business.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2022

    Have grocery self-checkouts been designed to disappoint?

    The original business case in the '90s was built on a "four-to-one" reduction -- one associate overseeing four lanes instead of four lanes with four cashiers. Thirty years has brought a lot of improvement to the technology and, linked with consumers being more and more "used" to self service, the trend will follow the demographics. As shoppers in the 55-and-up age group pass away, the demand for cashiers will drop. Not completely however -- because self checkout is simply not able to handle larger basket sizes -- it can of course but it is a tedious process. Streamline the scanning and the payment (two pretty big hurdles) and you might be able to say "hello cashier-free store environment." But that is a long way from today.

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