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.

Recently named a top 100 retail industry influencer by RETHINK Retail, Ricardo is a marketing strategist and founder of Retail Razor, where 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 advises retailers on how to build & scale transformational customer experiences. 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. Ricardo 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. 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. Most recently, he joined Microsoft as their Director, Partner Marketing Advisor for Retail & CPG where he strives to strengthen Microsoft’s retail tech partner community. Ricardo holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia and is a Section4 Certified Strategist, Brand Strategist, Product, Platform, and Innovation Strategist. Opinions expressed are those of the author only and not his employer.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2022

    Robots and drones and Walmart’s supply chain, oh my

    The level of automation Walmart has announced is a must-have going forward for every logistics, distribution, and warehouse operation. While it may seem like a costly investment over time, (kudos to Walmart for announcing an 8-year buildout and selling it as a positive) it's now a necessity for efficient operations and will result in lower overall costs long-term than simply relying on bringing on more human labor. Drone delivery has taken longer to reach a mainstream use case than originally promoted by many, but we will see this increasingly in rural areas and areas where it can result in lower-cost deliveries than running delivery trucks when gas is at such soaring prices. Automation will be increasingly prevalent not just at Walmart but at every retailer over time. It's already happening, and it will allow for more customer-facing and high-value human interaction with retail employees and store teams.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2022

    Will Adidas help Foot Locker get over Nike?

    Foot Locker is on the right path with an added focus on Adidas. Part of this strategy to recover from too high a dependency on Nike is to embrace multiple competing brands to reinforce with consumers the idea that Foot Locker is THE place to go for the best sneaker and athletic wear selection. That means Foot Locker needs to pursue similar arrangements with other brands in addition to building out their own private label products.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2022

    Will Amazon’s Pet Day take a bite out of Chewy?

    For me, it's hit or miss. Not every Prime Day has had something I found worth buying. But going just by the sales figures, Prime Day has been a success for Amazon. Frankly, we should be asking, why didn't Chewy come up with Pet Day first?
  • Posted on: 05/03/2022

    Family Dollar has a big rodent problem

    I can think of few PR scenarios worse than this for any brand. Recovering from such a blatant disregard for health and safety at a time when consumers have heightened sensitivity to these topics due to the pandemic will be a monumental task for Family Dollar and Dolar Tree's corporate communications teams. They should be in full crisis management mode over this situation and looking for heads to roll in management. Nothing less will help to reassure consumers Family Dollar products are safe to buy. Management clearly needs to change the corporate culture to repair the damage that has been done to the brand and to foster a new consumer relationship.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2022

    Will Amazon’s Pet Day take a bite out of Chewy?

    Prime Day has shown us that Amazon absolutely has an opportunity to compete in almost any category online. With pet food, Chewy's advantage is the great relationship they have built with their customer base. Amazon will try to entice those shoppers to buy during Pet Day with the hope they build a muscle memory and just keep coming back to Amazon as they do with other product categories. Definitely something to watch and see. I expect Amazon will have a successful Pet Day based on their own customer base that may not have tried Amazon to order pet products before, but less likely to succeed winning those loyal Chewy customers. The real question here is how Chewy will continue to grow their customer base and take share away from Amazon. It is an uphill battle, and we may see Chewy more focused on taking share from other sources in the near term.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2022

    Does resale make sense for Dick’s Sporting Goods?

    While the details are not clear about how Dick's will resell and merchandise the used gear in their stores, the concept is sure to be a winner for them. REI has a similar program that works well. To grow beyond the current pilot test, Dick's will need to properly market the new service to their customers to raise awareness. I expect this will be successful for Dick's - consumers are likely to have slightly used gear in their homes they could sell back to Dick's because they no longer play that sport, have outgrown the gear, or have children who've lost interest in that sport. All these scenarios create opportunity for Dick's to succeed with resale.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2022

    Is curbside pickup-only grocery a viable business model?

    This is an interesting idea, especially with the "no substitutions" format. Curbside may not be experiencing massive growth, per eMarketer, but that may be because most of those who want to try it already have and have established a routine. We don't often discuss the most crucial factor in these "convenience services" consumers have been enjoying since the beginning of the pandemic -- time savings. I don't look at this so much as savings, but as an opportunity for consumers to spend their time on other more valuable things. You cannot underestimate the value of getting time back for many consumers. Except for home improvement stores, I have noticed stores in my area continuing to add more curbside pickup spaces in their parking lots. Demand for delivery services, as their costs to consumers keep increasing, have been decreasing in my area but curbside shows no signs of diminishing. The biggest hurdle here for a new grocery brand is customer loyalty. Most grocery consumers establish their loyalty based on fresh/perishable food quality and that has to be earned. Fresh Street will need to convince shoppers of this, as well as ensure the right product selection to gain loyal customers. I suspect they will have a good handle on inventory counts and will be able to avoid stockouts in most products if they manage this appropriately. However, they are banking in large part on the lack of success in providing good curbside service at the established grocery brands. That may prove a difficult competitive position.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2022

    Will early deal notifications bring shoppers to Alexa?

    Voice assistants need to become more proactive, while not being intrusive, to gain traction with consumers. If Alexa is delivering advanced notice of new deals for products on a customer's wish list or saved cart, then this will reduce friction for that shopper. Eventually, this forms a habit and could result in those shoppers buying from Amazon more frequently, all due to Alexa! However the details are in the execution. Providing a yellow ring for a notification of a deal is a good choice - just having Alexa start talking at random times when it detects someone in the room would have been a creepy action!
  • Posted on: 02/28/2022

    Walmart wants to make deliveries for independent grocers

    A smart move by Walmart to further monetize their best logistics network. For the independent grocer, the choice to offer same-day delivery to customers comes down to Walmart GoLocal, Instacart or a Doordash/Shipt alternative. The question is, which do you trust with your customer? Ultimately, the grocer is not only trying to satisfy their customer, but they're also enabling a potential competitor. It's a difficult choice, but one these retailers will have to make as customer demand for these services continues to grow.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2022

    Will Foot Locker be better off long-term with fewer Nike shoes on its shelves?

    This shouldn't be news to the Foot Locker team given recent years of Nike pulling their distribution out of retail partners. Nike has stayed with Foot Locker this long, and at these sales levels because Foot Locker had one important advantage -- community, i.e. loyal customer base. Sure, Foot Locker may lose out on those all-important Nike launch days, but nothing is stopping them from creating similar launch activities with other sneaker brands. This is Foot Locker's opportunity to diversify their product mix in a way that continues to build community with their customers. They should take bold steps to innovate in their loyalty program by inviting customers to new brand launches in creative ways. Foot Locker also needs to invest in their digital strategy to drive demand for non-Nike brands. And what about resale? Another opportunity for them! While Nike limiting allocations to Foot Locker may hurt them in the short term, I expect Foot Locker to pull through in the long term if they invest in the right strategies with other brands, their digital footprint, and resale.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2022

    Will shoppers engage with bitcoin loyalty rewards?

    Kudos to Landry's for adding a clever crypto twist to their loyalty program. If you don't experiment, how will you know what works when dealing with the newest of the new trends? That said, while there is no doubt a subset of their loyalty program members who will love this option and others who will scratch their heads and wonder why they should care, the question remains whether or not this will create stronger brand loyalty with those members. Once they are engaged in checking the value of their crypto, are they still engaging with Landry's? It's not clear, but this should be an interesting learning experience for all loyalty programs to watch.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2022

    Does any retailer do curbside service better than Target?

    During the pandemic, many people asked if retailers putting too much faith in curbside pickup would eat away at in-store purchases versus regular BOPIS since customers would no longer be entering the store and be tempted by a new purchase. Target has taken a different perspective and is slowly but surely turning curbside into a true extension of the store itself. By adding Starbucks and returns to the curbside service, Target makes the overall experience look more and more equivalent to entering the store. That is truly making them the easiest place to shop and sets a high bar for curbside service for other retailers to meet. Are other retailers doing as good a job as Target? Yes -- there are some, like Best Buy, for example, that also deliver a great curbside experience. But Target is smartly leveraging the popularity of their Drive Up service to extend how much and how often customers shop with them.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2022

    Why has Kirkland Signature been so successful?

    When consumers think of the Kirkland brand, they think quality first, lower price second. That's how you build brand loyalty and establish trust! Customers at Costco are often walking down the aisle looking or Kirkland brand products versus looking for a particular brand name. Part of the reason for that is that customers know Costco's buying model -- they don't always have the same brand names in a product category. But they always have Kirkland! That consistency helps and the lack of consistency in other brands helps drive consumers to Kirkland. Of course, if that level of trust in the Kirkland brand hadn't already been established from a position of quality, those consumers would either buy whatever band they can find, or they would have learned to shop elsewhere! We know from Costco's success that's not what happens, so maybe that's all we need to know about the Kirkland brand!
  • Posted on: 02/15/2022

    Are granfluencers a thing?

    Maybe the question we should be asking about influencers is, why do advertisers believe that only same-aged influencers can speak to a target market? Why assume that our Gen Z target audience only ever wants to hear from Gen Z influencers? Maybe, just maybe, they want to hear from authentic, interesting influencers who have something to say that appeals to them? And no, I didn't forget to mention age in that last sentence -- age doesn't determine influence. Content and authenticity does!
  • Posted on: 01/26/2022

    Will private labels help rapid delivery firms reach profitability?

    At the end of the day, rapid delivery needs two things -- buyers that are in a rush to get products, and products staged awfully close to those buyers to meet that 15 min delivery. That precludes any non-urban location since you need sufficient population density. But the larger issue here is transaction size. You expect that when someone needs a product in 15 min or less, it's unlikely to be a large basket size. You likely need 2 or 3 items. So, the question becomes -- how likely are you to want to buy a private label, and one you haven't used before, if it means getting it in 15 min or less. I am not sure the number of customers that fit this profile is large enough to generate enough volume for these rapid delivery businesses to scale profitably even with private label product helping them to keep the right product categories in stock. Ultimately, what do these companies become? Do they evolve into their own CPG brand that just happens to deliver quickly in urban areas? It's more likely the business model will have to pivot in some way.

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