PROFILE

Ricardo Belmar

Sr Director, Retail Transformation Specialist, Infovista
As brands in the retail, CPG, 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 create business value from technology investments by optimizing their enterprise network and applications to deliver omnichannel customer experiences and drive digital revenue. As Senior Director for Global Enterprise Marketing and Retail Transformation Specialist at Infovista, Ricardo develops the marketing strategy for Infovista’s enterprise solutions, leveraging 20+ years of industry experience to help retail and supply chain enterprises protect digital revenue. Ricardo is a top industry influencer in retail, consumer goods, banking, payments, and restaurant industries on technology trends via Twitter and LinkedIn and is regularly a Top 10 social media influencer at the annual NRF show. He was named Social Media Mayor at the 2015 Retail Executive Summit, the 2015 ENGAGE Summit, the 2016 RetailTech Conference, and the 2018 Retail Experience Summit. He conducts frequent video interviews of senior executives from retail, banking, and restaurant brands and industry analysts and is frequently interviewed by retail publications and podcasts. Ricardo has been a director of the ICX Association and is a supporter of the RetailROI charity organization. For more information, visit: www.infovista.com/digital-transformation
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  • Posted on: 01/22/2020

    Has BOPIS changed holiday selling?

    BOPIS is certainly here to stay and it has quickly become table stakes for most consumers. A big part of the value of stores is immediate access to products and using stores as a fulfillment center for customers is an important advantage for brick and mortar retailers vs online-only retailers. However, there does appear to be a growing gap in the execution of BOPIS at many retailers. This is something every retailer needs to execute flawlessly in order to realize the value of the process with customers. Otherwise what is seen as an important convenience factor becomes an experiential nightmare!
  • Posted on: 01/21/2020

    Nike offers advice on successful marketplace partnerships

    Shifting away from “mediocre and undifferentiated retail" says it all! Nike is fully aware that associating its brand with mediocre retail experiences is not just reflecting poorly on the retailer -- it damages the customer relationship with their brand. They've taken a stand that they will not accept this and have clearly defined the criteria necessary to work with Nike. I applaud their resolve and decisiveness! Every consumer brand should take note of Nike's position!
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    What does it take to create a risk-taking, innovating retail culture?

    Just do it. Don't be afraid to fail. Embrace the blur. Always be innovating. These words all make for a great slogan and/or mantra -- but in the end, they are 100% true. Crate and Barrel's CEO summed this up well when she said their brand had been around for 58 years but they had no right to expect they will be around for the next 58 years. Retailers are used to incremental change, cost sensitivity, and cautiously avoiding risk. Those days are over! The retailers that not only realize this but embrace it will be the ones to survive. And we see this int he brands that we most often talk about whether they are young brands or old, and their main character trait is that they no longer fear risk or failure. In speaking with retailers I find myself often reminding them that even Amazon fails (remember the Fire Phone?) yet they keep on innovating. Why? Because even for Amazon, failure is often the best teacher! That is the most important lesson for retail boards and CEOs to take to heart.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    Is Bose doing the smart thing in closing its stores?

    I have to dissent with the majority here and agree with Bob Phibbs that this will ultimately be a mistake. Perhaps in the short term, they will not see a significant dent in sales, but I expect in the long run we will see them return to brick and mortar with some interesting flagship stores. to tell the rich history of the brand in sound innovation. As a longtime Bose customer for whom my first set of stereo speakers were Bose (Model 301 Series II for those that remember the days before noise-canceling headphones and home theater systems!), I remember their first store openings. In fact, I'd argue they were one of the first experiential retail stores before any of us even knew that term existed. Much like Apple stores to come after them, Bose stores were set up to showcase what made the sound from a pair of Bose speakers so special. It's interesting that many comments here seem to assume all Bose sells are noise-canceling headphones and portable Bluetooth speakers! No one here has mentioned Dr. Bose's technological innovations in sound reproduction in the early days -- perhaps this is an indication of how the stores have failed the brand. The brand is very different today from where it started and stores could help tell that story. I think this is a lost opportunity where they have decided it's more cost-effective to give up on stores than to try and make them something that elevates the brand. Think about the Sonos flagship store in NY and consider how Bose could have done better!
  • Posted on: 01/17/2020

    Wegmans has a better website, but did it need one?

    The digital refresh Wegmans has made to both their website and mobile app are strong updates that reinforce their brand and overall shopping experience. One of the main items I saw as lacking in the previous versions was that there had been a disjointed experience when it came to online (or mobile) ordering for delivery or pickup. What was once a fractured experience requiring either two apps or websites (with Instacart) is now delivered with a unified experience. This will make using pickup and delivery much easier and will certainly become a frequent occurrence in our household with this needed integration! Kudos to Wegmans for these enhancements, both sorely needed and demonstrating they will embrace digital experiences for their customers.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2020

    Are Gap Inc. and Old Navy better off together?

    Make no mistake - Gap has more issues and challenges to resolve than just deciding to keep or spin-off Old Navy. This is a smart move by Gap, now they can focus on real issues around quality of merchandise, product appeal, brand differentiation, and so on. Spinning off Old Navy was going to be a distraction at best, and a financial trainwreck at worst for Gap. Now they must look at what works at Old Navy, and see how to replicate that across other brands. Whether these brands stay together or become separate was never the problem (or the solution). Solve product issues, in-store merchandising, make the in-store experience interesting - these are areas that Gap should focus on. They need better creative direction - consumers have lost interest in the products they sell. I also repeatedly hear from people that their sizing is a mess across brands. Gap should be able to capitalize on cross-channel sales across their various brands, but they have so many obstacles to that today that shoppers are just giving up on them.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2020

    NRF 2020 Review: Human vs. Machine

    Robots and AI will one day completely eliminate repetitive, mundane tasks for humans in retail... but not today! Yes, there are some immediate use cases that may work well for robots. Places like distribution centers and warehouses where robotic automation can make picking and packing processes more efficient, in grocery stores monitoring the aisles for spills (and cleaning them), performing shelf counts, taking temperatures in freezer cases (although IoT sensors may be better suited for that), and the list goes on based on demos at NRF. However, why are people going to stores today? Human interaction. Today, those robots will not provide a better, humanized, experience than a real store associate. Tomorrow? Once the robots have collected and processed many years' worth of operational store data and customer interaction data? Perhaps. If at that point, customers find that the product knowledge those robots contain can help them make a purchase decision, then they may take the place of an associate. Until then, they can only provide an experience that's much like the detached online experience consumers get today - so why would they go to the store then?
  • Posted on: 01/03/2020

    Better-for-you foods produce healthier results for convenience stores

    Better-for-you food choices have revolutionized c-stores in the eyes and stomachs of consumers. As c-stores become more and more like fast-casual restaurants that also happen to sell gas I see their positive sales momentum increasing steadily. Location will be more important than ever to the expansion of these brands as their ability to remain the most convenient choice for consumers is critical. For some, brand identity will be a factor as they need to present themselves in a way that speaks "healthy" to consumers so they choose these locations over other QSRs and fast-casuals. Old-style c-stores that just sell soft drinks, cigarettes, and candy bars are left to the pages of history going forward!
  • Posted on: 01/03/2020

    Which retailer will rule in 2020?

    While this list of retailers is interesting and shows some very good innovations and success stories, I'm not sure all of them are well-positioned for 2020. For example, Kohl's may have done some interesting things in their stores, e.g. inviting Alid, WW, and Amazon into their space, but it's still not clear even from their own financial data that this is leading them to a successful future. I've stated in previous comments that while Amazon returns, for example, are bringing in consumers who normally would not shop at Kohl's there is no evidence those same consumers are buying anything from the store if the merchandise hasn't changed. Not to single out Kohl's, but also with Neiman Marcus and Giant Foods it's unclear to me if they can translate what they have done in 2019 into success in 2020. Neiman Marcus, in particular, has a heavy debt load to worry about. I suggest that Lululemon and Nike should be added to this list. Both have stayed true to their brand identity and created new physical shopping experiences while integrating digital into everything they deliver. Nike, for example, has shown they do not need Amazon's marketplace to successfully sell directly to their customers - what other brands can legitimately claim this?
  • Posted on: 01/02/2020

    Is Rite Aid already headed for a turnaround?

    Rite Aid needs to focus on what will result in a differentiated customer experience as compared to their competitors. The previous focus on mergers and buyouts, etc. resulted in mostly a distraction while their competitors formed alliances and developed new in-store experiences focused on convenience and value for their customers. Rite Aid now needs to do the same. Some of that will come from new technology deployments (they have dabbled in many technologies in the past, some leading the competition others not so much) but primarily they need to be asking - what do our customers receive from us that they cannot receive from competing brands? "Challenging convention every day" is a good start. Perhaps they can establish a niche in prescription delivery, or define new reasons for customers to come to the store. They previously announced partnering with Amazon for package pickup at their stores, so perhaps they will adopt the Kohl's approach of handling returns for Amazon as well. They could stand to gain more than Kohl's does with that approach from increased foot traffic and purchases.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2020

    Are return rates out of control?

    Convenience is king for consumers and as a result return policies have evolved to make the entire process as easy as possible with no perceived repercussions. Yes, return rates will continue to increase as long as online ordering continues to rise. However, I believe that smart retailers are working these costs into their overall costs more and more accurately. Otherwise, they'll run the risk of losing so much money on the returns that profitability will be severely impacted and that has obvious consequences for anyone other than Amazon. That said, I agree with other comments that for the apparel and footwear industries this problem is exaggerated by inconsistent sizing. Consumers don't know what to order since they can't count on sizing to make sense to them across brands. If the industry addresses this then return rates would go down.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: The Final Competition

    It's a close call between Macy's and Target, with Macy's getting the emotional heartstrings just right, but I'm giving the nod to Target for having the most upbeat spot that also captures the spirit of giving just the right way. It's uplifting enough to make you feel better having watched it. But it's a slight nod over Macy's!
  • Posted on: 12/19/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Target vs. Walmart

    I give the nod to Target -- more of a cheery message about bringing joy to your holiday season by bringing the family together. Plus, as an ad, it's just brighter, and the production feels higher quality. Walmart, while doing a great job pulling at heartstrings, does feel like it could have been done at any time of year, and while it may make you feel good, it doesn't make you feel like going to Walmart to shop right now. Target wins this one for me.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2019

    Did Aviation Gin just make lemonade from Peloton’s lemons?

    This was a brilliant move by Aviation Gin, and Ryan Reynolds' Tweet was just icing on the viral cake. They didn't just make lemonade out of Peloton's lemons, they made gold. It would be great to see what impact this has on their gin sales, but if nothing else, their brand name is now top of mind the world over and unlikely to fade away quickly. Peloton, on the other hand, clearly missed the mark with this ad. While they'll still get the brand awareness out of it, overall the negative emotional response the ad is generating is not going to help their public image. While it's clearly impacted their market cap, it's not clear how this will hurt sales. At the end of the day, Peloton was trying to target a new customer segment with that ad -- and they missed. Their core customer demographics may likely ignore the ad and buy one anyway.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2019

    Are its Nordstrom pop-ups a sign that Glossier is ready to work with department stores?

    This is potentially a match made in heaven for both brands. It's definitely a win-win as Glossier has lots of buzz, and Nordstrom customers will surely love discovering Glossier if they're not familiar with them already. I suspect seven pop-ups is a test to see if there is something worthwhile in a long-term relationship with Nordstrom. I don't believe this says much about Glossier partnering with department stores to fuel growth as much as it is Glossier partnering with Nordstrom to fuel growth. There's a difference. Nordstrom is not the average department store. I wouldn't expect to see a Glossier pop-up show up in a Kohl's or J.C. Penney anytime soon. Not that there couldn't be other department stores chasing Glossier (and other similar digital brands) for similar purposes to drive foot traffic. In many ways, this is what department stores are supposed to be - a place where shoppers discover new brands.

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