PROFILE

Rick Watson

CEO, RMW Commerce Consulting

Rick Watson founded RMW Commerce Consulting after spending 20+ years as a technology entrepreneur and operator exclusively in the eCommerce industry with companies like ChannelAdvisor, BarnesandNoble.com, Merchantry, and Pitney Bowes.

Watson was one of the first employees at ChannelAdvisor, spending 10 years there in various executive capacities and launching many of the company’s flagship offerings. He was then recruited to launch the third-party marketplace at BarnesandNoble.com, expanding the company’s product catalog by over 1 million items. After the successful marketplace launch, he served as CEO of Merchantry and led the company to a $30M acquisition by Tradeshift. Upon fulfilling the transition obligations of Merchantry to Tradeshift, Watson directed the cross-border product strategy of Pitney Bowes, a $450M business, comprised of Borderfree and the eBay Global Shipping Program.

Watson’s work today is centered on supporting investors and management teams incubating and growing direct-to-consumer businesses. For his latest project, in partnership with WHP Global, Rick was critical as the leading resource who architected the WHP+ platform, a new turnkey direct to consumer digital e-commerce platform that powers AnneKlein.com and JosephAbboud.com.

To learn more, visit: rmwcommerce.com

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  • Posted on: 11/14/2022

    Gap is now selling on Amazon. Desperation or genius move?

    Good move for Amazon, meh for Gap. Gap's primary problem is no one cares about its clothes anymore, and the brand doesn't stand for anything. A new distribution channel doesn't solve that core problem. Why do I walk into the door of a Gap store these days? That is the fundamental question they need to answer.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2022

    Do Nike’s inventory woes foretell a bleak holiday season for apparel?

    Apparel is in trouble no question. These Nike issues are second-order effects from over-ordering earlier in the year. How does a company get two seasons coming at the same time? The only answer to that question is they ordered at the wrong time (not likely) or more likely the manufacturer was backlogged from the previous order, and they didn't cancel it. Vietnam is generally not having manufacturing issues, so likely it was a "peak demand" type issue. There are not major port delays, and there is not too much product on the water now, meaning supply chain transportation is not to blame. No forecasting system worked in the past two years. Not on the way up, and certainly not on the way down. If there are existential shocks to the system, it will be bad again. If consumer demand normalizes, then it becomes easier to see what happens next, hence better forecasting. The entire world's forecasting for the last 50 years just didn't get bad suddenly in one year. The world is still experiencing the after-effects of shock.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2022

    What should Starbucks’s new CEO’s priorities be?

    I like the hire. The biggest opportunity by far is in food and non-coffee based drinks. They are lackluster, and still despite that Starbucks isn't doing bad. Imagine if they improve that product significantly. Pepsi owns a lot of food-based businesses, people forget. It's not all soda. There is opportunity here.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2022

    Nordstrom Rack bets on premium merchandise in the face of rising prices

    The problem with focusing on premium brands in this channel is they don't want to be flooded in outlets, so there is a limit to what inventory you can obtain. So can you focus on brands Nordstrom buys but can't sell? Well yes, then you have a business which is kind of the yang to the yin of Nordstrom. Whatever you can't sell through ends up in Rack. How is this different than TJX again? The only difference is all the goods produced directly for off-price (think of all the private-label sock manufacturers!), which sounds like what Nordstrom is now deprioritizing.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    Will Target’s ‘stores-as-hubs’ strategy get turbocharged by sortation centers?

    Target has proven its operating model, and continues to innovate on it. Stores as hubs works because Target designed its supply chain around it from top to bottom and invented to make it work over several years. Large capacity trucks is a new experiment. The beauty of Target is each new experiment is a new opportunity to drive efficiencies, and these experiments keep moving forward. It doesn't matter if a particular experiment fails. Target has proven the model, and their operators are constantly driving new innovations to improve their operating efficiency (costs) and service levels. Most companies do not have that kind of patience. They see "we need more BOPIS" and jam it into an unoptimized network with no strategy.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2022

    What are retailers finding so tough about customer acquisition?

    I think most companies don't understand how to build their brand. They were too dependent on Facebook algorithms to match their ads to the right consumers so they don't actually know who their audience is, and when they do their offers are not that compelling or differentiated. When acquisition costs rise, it means that your offer is not compelling at the moment. Some of this is because of macro trends in particular categories (hard lines come to mind) but for others, it is also a realization that some of these VC-backed DTC brands valuations will come back to reality. And that's OK too.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2022

    What worked at Target didn’t work for Mark Tritton at Bed Bath & Beyond

    Sometimes when the turnaround CEO arrives with the "right" strategy it is years too late. I think that's the case here. My feeling is that Bed Bath & Beyond was already left with the most unprofitable, promotional-oriented customers, and others less price-sensitive ones moved their loyalties to Amazon and other outlets. This means when your changes try to turn you a little more mainstream, you end up driving away the only customers left. It's the recipe for a tailspin. Not too dissimilar from what happened at JCP. You can't turn a donkey into a horse.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2022

    Will Deliverr help Shopify better compete with Amazon?

    Deliverr will not make Shopify a serious competitor to Amazon. I really think that is the wrong frame. Amazon's logistics are light-years ahead of Deliverr's capabilities both in scale and scope of services. Shopify does not think in terms of "gaining ground on Amazon." Instead, Shopify thinks about what problems merchants are having. It's incredibly complex to source, land, store, and fulfill inventory nationwide. Shopify's moves in fulfillment (not just Deliverr) are the beginning of Shopify's journey to address this critical merchant need. Two-day delivery was Amazon's promise 10 years ago. We aren't talking anything remotely resembling parity here. If Deliverr is an "exclusive" provider integrated with Shopify, I think it is a bad strategy. Shop Promise needs to incorporate any merchant's existing fulfillment solution that meets standards. That would be a big step. Also Shop Promise is not much more than a marketing slogan at this point. ShopRunner didn't have much luck with this same idea and millions of dollars in marketing. The other side of this is "should" Shopify be in this space at all, but that question is for another day.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2022

    Nordstrom is staffed, stocked and ready to serve as store traffic increases

    I have two comments about this.
    1. If we are indeed at the beginning of this downturn - which seems likely - this could just be a short-term blip on the radar which benefits Nordstrom, but ultimately they should be dragged down by the same factors affecting others.
    2. To the extent that consumers are attending events and traveling, they need trusted places to shop with great brands. To the extent that Nordstrom has fixed their inventory issues, is this just simply a "flight to quality"?
    No one knows which of these two factors is more powerful, but it will be interesting to watch.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2022

    Walmart and Target report higher sales and lower margins

    By far the biggest news from Target's earnings this morning are that supply chain issues are expected to persist into 2023. Target's operating margins even at 6 percent predicted this year would STILL be industry-leading, compared to its normal 8 percent industry-leading margins. Target's shift to store-based fulfillment in the past five years gives it incredible operating leverage moving forward as compared to its peers. Not to mention the best same-day services in the industry.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2022

    Will Amazon’s fuel surcharge irritate its marketplace sellers?

    The best private label company is Amazon, just not always Amazon itself. So many companies (many Chinese) are creating brands just to sell on Amazon.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2022

    Will Amazon’s fuel surcharge irritate its marketplace sellers?

    While Amazon has a selection and convenience edge over Walmart, pricing is a concern for them. It's never been the low-price leader, except close to it in electronics. In the short-term, prices are still going up all over and sellers will adjust. Long-term, higher prices for sellers on Amazon push out lower-priced items and increase the threshold of gross-margin required to realize a profit on Amazon. As it is today, if your gross margin is less than 55 percent, it's difficult to build a sustainable Amazon business.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2022

    Target launches new program for used apparel

    Succeeding is a relative term. One cannot really imagine the amount of returns coming into big companies like Amazon, Target and Walmart. There needs to be a whole portfolio of methods to deal with these kinds of items that are continually tested and updated. It's big business, and it's the right thing too. This "test" is 400,000 items. That's not a trivial number and will give the data science team at Target a lot of information on what to do next.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2022

    Does Amazon have an edge in capturing America’s youth?

    All this says that Amazon isn't going anywhere for a while. The biggest risk to Amazon is really its own moves and arrogance. Big companies tend to lose control a little bit at a time, and then all at once. Overall though, Amazon has been a pretty good steward of its own brand with consumers -- if not always with sellers.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2022

    Will JCPenney’s core customers come back and show their love?

    The big question here is how to attract a younger consumer. The rest is really details. The consumer has been shopping, that's not the problem. They just have not been shopping at JCPenney. I am not seeing anything in these moves and campaigns to appeal to a younger consumer who is shopping both online and off-price. Nor am I seeing an answer to the question, "why do I walk into a JCPenney?"

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