PROFILE

Ricardo Belmar

Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist

As retailers, CPG brands, retail tech, and supply chain industries accelerate their digital transformation via collaborative, mobile, and cloud-based applications; the need to deliver the best user experience to all users and customers across all devices is ever increasing. Ricardo helps these organizations achieve business value from technology investments by optimizing their store infrastructure and unified commerce systems to deliver omnichannel customer experiences and drive digital revenue.

Ricardo also helps emerging retail tech organizations develop marketing strategies segmented and targeted to the best audience for their solutions, leveraging his 20+ years of industry experience, marketing expertise, and retail influence and relationships across media and analysts covering the industry.

A top industry influencer in retail, consumer goods, payments tech, and restaurant industries on technology trends, Ricardo can be actively found on Twitter and LinkedIn and is regularly a Top 10 social media influencer at the annual NRF Big Show. He was named Social Media Mayor at the 2015 Retail Executive Summit, the 2015 ENGAGE Summit, the 2016 RetailTech Conference, the 2018 Retail Experience Summit, and the “Chief Twit” for Twitter engagement at RetailROI’s Super Saturday 2015 and 2016 events. He conducts frequent video interviews of senior executives from retail, CPG, and restaurant brands and industry analysts while also frequently interviewed by retail publications and podcasts. Most recently, Ricardo was the Sr Director of Global Marketing and Communications for Infovista and an ICX Association director. He is also a strong supporter of the RetailROI charity organization.

Named a top 100 retail industry influencer for 2021 and 2022 by RETHINK Retail, Ricardo is a go-to-marketing strategist, host of the Retail Razor Show podcast, and most recently joined Microsoft as their Director, Partner Marketing Advisor for Retail & CPG where he strives to grow Microsoft’s retail tech partner community. In this role he advises retail tech organizations of all sizes with their go-to-market, brand strategy, and integrated marketing by leveraging his many years of tech industry experience, and media and industry analyst relationships. He also works with partners to advise retailers on how to build & scale transformational customer experiences. Throughout the past two decades, Ricardo has worked for technology and managed services providers targeting the retail ecosystem in roles as head of their product, product marketing, or marketing organizations. A frequent contributor to blogs, podcasts, and publications in the retail, payments, and enterprise software industries, focusing on digital transformation and customer experience, Ricardo is a Top 10 social media influencer at the annual NRF Big Show. He is a featured member of RetailWire’s BrainTrust panel, a previous ICX Association director, a RETHINK Retail Advisory Council member, and a founding Advisory Council member of George Mason University's Center for Retail Transformation. He has been named Social Media Mayor by RIS News four times at retail conferences and is a contributor to Retail Customer Experience, Mobile Payments Today, and The Robin Report. He is a supporter of the RetailROI charity organization and can be found leading industry discussions on Clubhouse in the Retail Razor Club and on Twitter and LinkedIn. Ricardo holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia and is a Section4 Certified Business Strategist, Brand Strategist, Product, Platform, Innovation Strategist, Viral Growth, and Scaling Marketing strategist certifications. Opinions expressed are those of the author only and not his employer.
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  • Posted on: 11/11/2022

    Saks Off 5th aims to deliver on schedule

    Anyone shopping on Amazon is not only used to seeing what they expect are accurate delivery dates and delivery windows, they also expect it be arrive quickly. That’s the standard that’s been established, and while this is good news for Saks Off 5th, it’s hardly something new! These are all table stakes now for most consumers!
  • Posted on: 11/11/2022

    Is Trader Joe’s success formula becoming obsolete?

    All of Trader Joe’s quirks work for the brand. Customers love them, and clearly keep coming back for more. As long as TJ’s continues to monitor customer feedback and trends, they’ll decide when the time is right to adopt some of those other shopper experiences we see every other mainstream grocery brand adopting. I’d say the real issue is that other brands shouldn’t look to TJ's as an example of what they should do. Every segment has room for one super quirky brand that customers will embrace, But just because it works for TJ’s doesn’t mean it will work for other grocery brands.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2022

    How can meetings be made more effective?

    It’s all about the outcome. What outcome is the meeting intended to drive? If the outcome isn’t well understood before the meeting begins, then the time will not be used well. I find the real issue is that meetings are being used more and more to avoid disseminating information in writing. The art of writing documents is being lost in the business and replaced with verbal interaction in a meeting. This makes it difficult to make informed decisions during meetings and follow-ups become disjointed and repetitive as a result. Have a defined desired outcome in mind and run the meeting to reach that outcome. It’s certainly easier said than done in most organizations!
  • Posted on: 10/14/2022

    Kroger and Albertsons are merging

    The first thought I had when hearing this merger announcement was “retail media network.” Both Kroger and Albertsons have invested in this area and the combined entity as other BrainTrust members have pointed out will make for an even more profitable ad network, that could be seen as more competitive to Amazon, Walmart, Google, etc. I would not be surprised if this factored heavily into the financial equation on “synergies” we are hearing so much about. However, I do expect the regulatory approvals to be a significant deterrent to this deal going through. Already we have news reports from senators and other gov’t officials saying the deal is bad for consumers. Let’s wait and see what the FTC does. 2024 may be too optimistic for this deal to go through.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2022

    Kroger and Albertsons are merging

    “Retail media network” were the first words I thought of when hearing about this merger, 100% with you James on that one -- surely the financial analysis shows this is where that majority of the profitable gains are to be had in the combined entity. And yes, this would make them more competitive to Walmart, Amazon, Google, (and Target) etc, -- but I expect the regulatory hurdle to be quite significant.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2022

    Amazon is not letting Walmart and Target get a head start on Christmas

    Spot on about Prime Day 2020 accelerating that early holiday shopping season. The message is clear, Amazon may have been first, but the positive outcome retailers saw form an earlier shopping season are that much more desirable this year!
  • Posted on: 09/27/2022

    Amazon is not letting Walmart and Target get a head start on Christmas

    Then message is clear -- retailers have product inventory and they don’t want to see consumers shopping elsewhere the closer we get to the holidays with the ongoing risk of inflation tempering their purchase patterns. We’ve seen this play out before during the pandemic with shipageddon and other factors causing retailers to start the promotional season earlier and earlier, Each year we debate “will this become the norm or is it temporary.” I think Amazon, Walmart, and Target have given us their answer to that question, Now it’s a matter of how quickly other retailers will follow.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2022

    What are the most important roles for IT to play in day-to-day marketing?

    Surveys like these are interesting because they unintentionally highlight one key fact -- retailers need marketing and IT to work like a well-oiled machine although most organizations are not at that stage just yet. No surprise to me which area marketing thinks they need It with vs which areas IT thinks marketing needs them. Marketers will often tell you that everyone else in the org thinks they understand how to do marketing’s job, and these survey results seem to prove that, even if unintentionally. The key is that more than ever, marketing is tech-driven and that means they need IT to be in sync with them more than ever. IT also needs to understand that they might not be able to predict what marketing needs, so maybe the real conclusion here is that both teams need to work together more regularly to understand each other and deliver the results they need for the retailer to be successful!
  • Posted on: 09/27/2022

    Is the customer really the most important thing in retail?

    Love this point, Ron! I think the issue isn’t as much whether or not the customer should be at the center of every retail decision, but are they the only stakeholder impacted by each decision? If you look at it that way, then yes, you want them at the center to help justify what you are doing, BUT, there are likely many other groups sharing that spotlight, e.g. store associates, suppliers, and so on. Retail can be a very complicated business that involves many moving parts and many groups of people. You want to keep the customer at the center but not at the point of excluding everyone else and being blind to the needs of your store teams, your corporate HQ workers, your distribution center staff, and so on. Each one of these has an important role and needs to be considered depending on the decision at hand.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2022

    Will upgraded virtual try-on tech get more Walmart shoppers to say yes to the dress?

    Walmart may not be the first to bring consumers' virtual try-on technology based on their personal sizing, but this upgrade does bring added legitimacy to the technology. When Walmart puts tech like this in front of their customers, it’s a sign to other apparel retailers that they need to up their game if they want to stay current in the minds of consumers. That said, if Walmart wants to increase apparel market share, this isn’t going to move the needle with their customer base and suddenly cause them to buy more apparel via e-commerce. It may, however, have a positive impact on reducing return rates which will certainly impact the category’s profitability for Walmart. The industry as a whole needs to do more to address the fit issues that drive such a massive proportion of return waste, and Walmart adopting this technology is a move in the right direction to address that.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2022

    Should Target expect something big from its FAO Schwarz toy deal?

    This is a smart move and to me, speaks to a smart strategy around demographics. FAO Schwarz is a nostalgic brand for certain age groups, less so for younger ages which are already served well by Target (including their Disney partnership). I see this as expanding the reach of Target’s toy department in a positive way and should help them secure more market share across toys. Although not new -- I’m sure Target has been selling FAO Schwarz before, just not exclusively -- this is s good strategic move.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2022

    Nike takes the week off

    Having been part of organizations that grant an end-of-year shutdown during the week between Christmas and New Year, I can attest to how successful this can be at ensuring you have happy employees that are recharged from spending time with family and ready to jump back into work when they return with a renewed vigor. I applaud Nike's approach to a summer recharge and hope that other retailers and consumer brands embrace this idea. It also reminds me of REI's #optoutside campaign during the Thanksgiving holiday. It's indicative of retailers and brands that openly demonstrate how they place their employees' interests first, recognizing that doing so will result in better performance from everyone in the long-term!
  • Posted on: 08/16/2022

    Have restaurant meals become a better deal than food from grocery stores?

    Consumers will only shift food dollars to restaurants if they believe the overall cost of a meal is less than what they can create in their own kitchen. For fast food QSR value meals this may be the case, but most consumers will decide these meals are less healthy overall and only worthwhile occasionally. That isn't enough of a shift to make a significant dent in spend patterns. Compared to other restaurants, the cost still isn't lower than buying groceries, it just means consumers will continue to find value while shopping for a meal.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2022

    Will circular commerce drive traffic to stores?

    Consumers like resale options because it helps them contribute to sustainability efforts and it delivers a perceived price value during times of inflation. For these reasons we would expect resale to be more than just a fad and become a mainstream sales option. Resale may be more profitable in-store and as a traffic driver because it lends itself to the treasure hunt mentality that has driven traffic at stores like T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods for so many years. The nature of resale means it's not as straightforward to maintain inventory across stores and can deliver unique merchandising opportunities at each store. It's that treasure hunt feeling that will cause consumers to buy in-store resale vs. online!
  • Posted on: 08/15/2022

    Five keys to success in an ‘unboxed retail’ and ‘omnichoice’ world

    It's all about the data. Product data, inventory data, customer data, and the list goes on. Data is the foundation of the modern retail business. Without reliable, up-to-date, and clean data it's difficult for any technology investment in fulfillment, marketing investment in loyalty, or expansion strategy to be executed successfully and maintain brand integrity. Poor data will result in your customer not seeing the same product assortment in-store and online, or missing out on a loyalty perk, or failing to get the product fulfilled in the manner they desire. Starting with data around your products and customer is fundamental and is where retailers often overlook in the zeal to deliver new capabilities to the business or to customers. Once this is firmly established, retailers can move on to the rest of the list and then think about how they are expanding the business!

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