PROFILE

Perry Kramer

Managing Partner, Retail Consulting Partners

A retail leader for over 30 years who is currently a managing partner with Retail Consulting Partners and prior to that was a Senior Vice President with Boston Retail Partners. Perry has provided consulting services to many of the nations’ leading retailers including Meijer, Tapestry, Estee Lauder, Federal Express, Rent a Center, Tailored Brands, Finish Line and dozens of others and been published in dozens of media articles and have a strong following in the press.

Prior to acting as a consultant for the last 9 years he was CIO at a digital receipt and retail information company. Prior to that he was the VP of applications for BJ’s Wholesale clubs and held director level positions at multiple other retailers. Additionally, he is a past Chairman of the Board of Director for the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) and a co-author of the first ARTS data model and several other standards.

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  • Posted on: 09/30/2020

    Holiday hiring ain’t what it used to be

    The hiring process will be more drawn out as many retailers are taking a wait and see approach. We will probably also see a larger percentage of the hires being centered on fulfillment and delivery. Additionally some of the hires that would have been retailer positions in the past will shift to the delivery vendors such as Shipt and Instacart. As for store layout changes, we will see a lot of experimentation this year including the use of dark stores with a clearer set of directions being set after the new year. Some of this will also be driven by what the retail real estate market looks like after the holiday season.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2020

    Will same-day deliveries be a difference maker for Bed Bath & Beyond?

    The changes they are making to enable same-day delivery are table stakes. They need to fix their in-stock positions and then play on their ability to deliver a very broad set of products in a single interaction (presumably with a single or no service fees).
  • Posted on: 09/28/2020

    Are Amazon’s flying security drones a threat to homeowner privacy?

    There are always privacy concerns where cameras are involved. It is a very personal choice and most people are aware of this and are willing to accept the risk that the service providers are doing their best to protect the consumer. However often where the breakdown occurs is in the consumers' execution of privacy model. i.e. not sharing devices or passwords, using strong passwords, etc. There will be breaches or attack vectors that are exposed that the vendors will have to continue to plug; similar to what we saw with Zoom. I’m not the person who is going to trust that the drone is always making noise or flying where it is supposed to -- at least not yet.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2020

    Will limited-assortment warehouses help Chewy avoid ‘demand shock’?

    Yes, we will continue to see a larger number of limited assortment warehouses in the mix of many larger retailers' overall logistics environment. In addition to many of the benefits identified including supply chain flexibility and augmented peak period scalability the cost model of implementing modern systems in a smaller footprint is very attractive. If a retailer can implement the most current technology in a smaller footprint and achieve improved efficiencies it is a win in every category. As Suresh identified a significant component of this is keeping shipping costs down by using analytics to identify a majority of the product combinations to minimize multiple shipments for a single order. An additional advantage Chewy has is that its subscription model gives it a better forecasting model than most retailers.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2020

    Can Rent the Runway move past unlimited rentals?

    Rent the Runway is adapting which is key to the ongoing success of any business. It appears that the changes are well balanced for the significant majority of their clients. To re-enforce this they need to communicate the reasons for the changes to their clients in a meaningful way that resonates with them. This could result in several different meaningful messages tailored to segments of their clients. These could include: the changes will provide you with greater selection, the changes will reduce our carbon footprint by X, or based on your past rental trend for the last six months you will save X.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2020

    How can automation help omnichannel fulfillment?

    For many customers/situations BOPIS offers a more secure transaction where they do not worry about things being stolen or lost. It also has a "guaranteed" timing and in some cases allows them to review the item and return/not accept it immediately. Depending on the purchase many consumers are using both options.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2020

    How can automation help omnichannel fulfillment?

    Automation is absolutely key to meeting the forever increasing set of customer expectations around product availability, visibility and flexibility in delivery and point of purchase. There is a long list of the physical changes needed in store and distribution channels which will vary by retail model and available space. However in all cases success will begin with improving automation in the systems, (or in many cases the lack of systems), for merchandise planning, allocation, and supply chain visibility. Having the right goods at the right place with visibility to these goods is the foundation to meeting these challenges efficiently.
  • Posted on: 09/02/2020

    Should retailers get their workers and customers out to vote?

    Providing time for employees to vote and educating them on the importance of voting is a great step. Retailers have a unique opportunity to reach a large portion of the younger demographics which have been continuing to decline at the voting booth over the last few decades. Taking this opportunity to reverse this trend is a long term investment in our country.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2020

    Digital coupons find redemption in the stay-at-home economy

    The shift from print coupons to digital coupons will continue to grow. The challenge for retailers will be to make the coupons relavent, easy to find, and seamless for the consumer to redeem. Many retailers have built a model where coupons are an “addiction” for the consumer who is waiting to shop until that once-a-month offer for a product is delivered in some media format. For the average consumer who has over 30 apps on their phone, making the coupons easy to use is the trick. For all generations, for many reasons, if it takes more than a minute to find the coupon it is a bad experience. Browsing through hundreds of coupons on your phone to find the one you want is not going to drive sales. There are many strong stories of retailers who have eliminated circulars with minimal to no margin impact while significantly reducing marketing expenses.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2020

    Will Kohl’s gain from other retailers’ pain?

    Kohl’s has positioned itself well for the long run. They took a leading approach when they partnered with Amazon for returns and have a good real estate model not being tied to a lot of malls. Their large loyalty base is a strong asset. A major key to future success will be leveraging their stronger than average cash position to find ways to leverage the large loyalty base to differentiate themselves from the remaining market. They will need to continue to experiment, learn, and lead like they did with the Amazon returns to expand their differentiation from the Targets of the world. Another key asset is their larger than average store square footage that can be adapted to better support an omnichannel supply chain-centric approach.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2020

    Cloud tech becomes a retailing priority amid COVID-19

    An accelerated and strategic move to cloud technology is at the top of almost every retailer's priority list. In addition to allowing retailers to reduce the percentage of IT investment spent “keeping the lights on,” well-negotiated cloud agreements allow the retailer to scale up and down capacity and costs. Done well it is also a long-term model that should avoid the trap of trying to maintain inefficient, inflexible, and disproportionately expensive seven+-year-old technologies that almost every retailer has at least a pocket of. The good news is retailers have been on this road and now need to accelerate. To see what could have been, look at the many state governments trying to make changes to their COBOL code-based unemployment systems.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2020

    Can retailers mitigate holiday delivery fee spikes?

    The increase in shipping costs will ultimately be passed on to the consumer no matter how the shippers market it. These increases could possibly ripple through to many other aspects of the retailers' merchandising allocation and planning process. If retailers decide to be transparent with the proposed peak time fees that could move the purchase time lines out further with “buy by XX date to avoid shipper-imposed service fees.” Additionally, advanced retailers may combine this change with the opportunity to reduce fraud costs by reducing consumer fees on items shipped to lockers or other secure delivery locations. The challenge for retailers is going to be around remaining competitive, in-stock, and meeting commitments while simplifying what is going to become a more complex delivery world.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2020

    Build vs. buy: Is that still a question in retail IT?

    The answer for larger retailers is both. For smaller retailers it is more than likely buy. The IT focus for buying should be on purchasing modern software that allows the retailer to extend the application with in-house developed solutions (or contracted resources) with the features that provide speed to market for new functions and enables an experience that is distinguishing to the retailer. To do this they first need to settle on an overall technology architecture that is, agile, extensible, and services-based. In parallel retailers need to take this approach to replace the legacy systems that many are spending up to 70 percent of their time supporting with little additional value to the business. Freeing up these resources will allow the retailer to invest in extending the core products that are readily available in the software market.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2020

    Kroger’s marketplace sets out to ‘deliver anything, anytime, anywhere’

    Kroger has always been a leader in technology and innovation in the areas of supply chain, operations and customer experience. This is the next logical step to leverage a large loyalty base and a built-in recurring shopper base. To be successful they will need to set and maintain a high level of standards for the vendors they allow into the marketplace. Leveraging their BI for a recommendations engine combined with allowing regional and local vendors in the marketplace, they could have a very strong community-centric story. I do not see them replacing Amazon as a first thought for general shopping. However in many cases they may already be the first thought for groceries and ready-made food. If they can maintain their standards it should be a growth engine.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2020

    What does the pandemic mean for mobile pay?

    Contactless will continue to grow in NA with several factors contributing to the growth including the pandemic. However cash will remain very important for several more years for many retail segments. This is driven by the ~7 to ~10 percent of the people in the U.S. who are unbanked and the additional ~15 percent who are underbanked. The major credit/debit card issuers have made a big push in the last year to issue a large number of contactless cards which will also help increase the number of contactless transactions. The other major factor contributing to the increase in contactless will be the broader acceptance of mobile wallets and money transfer tools. It is also interesting to note that many retailers do not understand that in almost all cases a debit transaction under $12 costs them more in processing fees than that same transaction processed as a credit transaction.

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