Paul Donovan

Global Senior Director, Retail Business Unit at SAP
Paul Donovan is a Global Senior Director, Retail Business Unit at SAP. In this role he oversees worldwide programs in Marketing, Merchandising and Predictive Analytics. He consults and advises on future trends in Retail to SAP customers and prospective customers and drives future requirements into product. Paul is often featured in various publications on thought leadership issues. He has spent the last 20 years advising and consulting on technology solutions in both Retail and Consumer Products in areas such as Marketing Effectiveness, Pricing and Promotional Strategy and Consumer Insights. Previously, he worked at DemandTec, SAS Institute and Ariba in a variety of roles in strategy, sales and consulting.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2017

    Will shoppers pay services to do returns for them?

    I don't know if the market will materialize for this service but if you told me a few years ago that I would pay almost $10 (fee + tip) for a local restaurant delivery versus me picking it up I would have said no way! However I have found myself using Doordash and Amazon Restaurants frequently ...
  • Posted on: 12/07/2017

    Would CVS + Aetna = lower healthcare costs?

    I see this merger as one way to increase the access without having the more expensive doctor/hospital interactions. However as other people have commented the real decrease has to come from less expensive pharmaceuticals for the U.S. consumer. A recent study I read showed we are being billed 10 times what other developed economies are for pharmaceutical products that treat illnesses such as multiple sclerosis. I don't think even CVS/Aetna can deliver better than that when the whole U.S. government can't. Apologies for the political bent, but this is a real issue for the U.S. consumer.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2017

    Walmart’s online prices drive customers to its supercenters

    I think this is just the next step in the evolution of pricing strategy. If we think of Prime as a way to gather loyalty while not being firstly concerned with price, then this may be Walmart's approach to same. A little counter-intuitive but it could ultimately be a path to personalized pricing without the loyalty card. If we think of's strategy, it was to beat the price at basket level rather than product level, this may be a step to test out strategies like this.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2017

    Big Data is done, put a fork in it

    The term "Big Data" itself is not really the issue here, it's more about the issue of where this data is coming from, who is creating it, and how is it being interpreted. The majority of IT systems in place today have no way to ingest or analyze the newer streams of data from social, IoT, etc. Even in the best case scenarios in retail most of the analysis is still done in a sampling approach to analysis and execution rather than across the whole company. The main reason for this is there is no execution system landscape in place that can execute at scale based upon the insights. This is where it's important for the business to break down the silos between IT and the business, it's not about us and them -- it's just about "US" together!
  • Posted on: 11/06/2017

    Can Kroger make a name for itself in fashion?

    Loblaws in Canada has had some good success by relaunching their Joe Fresh clothing brand in an online expansion. This enabled them to have a more global reach. Perhaps Kroger noticed this and is thinking of expansion overseas as well...?
  • Posted on: 11/06/2017

    Amazon undercuts rivals by adding discounts to marketplace seller prices

    Amazon's "referral fees" or otherwise known as "margin erosion assists" of up to 15% of sales price is the real pressure for the marketplace sellers. Unless their gross margins are significant to begin with, making a profit is already tough, I guess some commentators would respond, welcome to retail...! The price control seems it may be a step to far for many sellers.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2017

    Gillette’s odd promo delivers some very weird results

    Although this is a direct marketing campaign discussion it does highlight the broader issue of promotions and their lack of efficiency overall. Many studies have shown over the years that the majority have no ROI. In this era of digital transformation there should be more focus on success versus activity. On another side note, it's interesting that the shave disrupting force, Dollar Shave Club, was already swept up by Unilever. It seems to me that there needs to be more competition in this space to make the blades less costly...!
  • Posted on: 10/31/2017

    Is inventory or staffing the biggest omnichannel challenge for stores?

    I think this question raises an important consideration, namely it depends on the state of current play. In many cases, retailers have indeed invested in technology solutions for supply chain and even distributed order management, but they are not necessarily all controlled in the same org structure. E-commerce may have developed separate processes and inventory systems than stores. Some retailers may have better training programs or retention abilities which make it easier to handle the omnichannel situation. It really depends on the retailer's excellence in any of these areas but suffice to say, they are equally important and interconnected.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Is Kroger in denial about the magnitude of its challenges?

    Kroger as a grocery company did quite well during the great recession, growing from a base of about $60B in revenues to about $90B when the recession ended. This showed they have resilience as an operator. They also showed imagination by acquiring their IP assets with the 84.51 investment (ex DunnHumby). In addition, if you search their patent applications, they also demonstrate knowhow not traditionally associated with grocers. Given their ability to acquire both online properties and meal kit startups etc. as Walmart is also doing in digital I think they have as good a chance at making it through this era as any other pure play grocer, but as always only time will tell.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Office Depot to transform into IT service giant after $1B deal

    It's most likely the fastest way to gain the resources necessary to try to preserve the business. Digitization efforts between trading partners can only help Office Depot. However, as other people mentioned, it's about execution. In my opinion, it's better money spent than on things like stock repurchases which in this era seem like wasted allocations of capital.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Will Lidl follow Aldi’s path in the U.S. – or Tesco’s?

    The other consideration is, where does their growth come from? Basically, a handful of players control over 70% of the market. Clearly, Walmart wont give an inch on price, assortment, omnichannel etc. The larger players such as Kroger, ALB, Costco, Publix, HEB etc. have all advantages in their respective markets. It's likely the rest of the top 50 US will see the most erosion, unless of course you're a Wegmans type operator with substantial loyalty moats.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2017

    Walmart seeks online edge with 35-second returns

    Walmart will have to plan on making sure the associates helping with rollout of this program are well staffed and trained. It could conceivably take away from in-store checkout service levels, thus negating the goal. I didn't hear any mention of incremental staff for returns processing.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2017

    Is the time right for Kroger to go hyper-local?

    The idea of attracting more local and innovative suppliers as the goal and then saying they can go look into EDI and data requirements to do business in this digital era is very ironic and probably not realistic!
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Do grocers need to reset the center store?

    Roy makes a great point regarding what is the stimulus or tipping point that will motivate the center store paradigm shift. In my view it is possible that an effort to do digital in store merchandising, a revamp of the infrastructure will be needed. This would allow the grocer a chance to change the existing footprints. The larger question may be what % of trade funds come from traditional center store vendors. I can hardly think these smaller more innovative vendors can pitch in the amount of co-marketing funds the larger established players do. That may be a tipping point too, i.e. when the manufacturers do a significant strategy shift re trade dollars, even though this is talked about for many years, it may be coming closer due to digital competition and opportunities.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Nordstrom tries a no-merchandise store

    As with the other commentators I applaud Nordstrom for trying new experiences and formats. If they can solve the problem of what jeans fit you better as you age they will have done something good!
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