Rick Wilson

C.E.O., Miva, Inc.
Rick Wilson is the C.E.O. of Miva, Inc. creator of the Miva ecommerce platform. He has written multiple books on the subject of entrepreneurial leadership and is host of the Dragonproof Podcast. His pioneering role developing the technology and culture around ecommerce throughout the 2000s helped forge a worldview which champions holistic, profitable, and sustainable leadership for all modern businesses.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2022

    Apple may be rethinking the role of its ‘geniuses’ in stores

    The new Self Service Repair program is a very welcome development for the Apple community, as the "right to repair" issue has been thorny for years. However this is still a pretty niche solution for support and, at this point, so is in-person Genius support in physical stores. It's smart of Apple to dial this program up or down as needed flex-style. But that doesn't mean drop the humanity from service! That human talent and deep product training should be re-directed to improved online support, with live chats with associates available on demand, in whatever format or level of automation a customer prefers. The iconic retail stores will continue to be the best place to hold the products, and get swept up in the world-class merchandising.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2022

    Is Abercrombie & Fitch’s exposé a crisis or an opportunity?

    The culture which the documentary reveals could never be considered "good publicity." For anyone over 40 who hasn't checked in with the brand in a minute, the perceptions we formed of it are likely still what they were in malls in the '90s - exactly what the documentary describes. A quick glance at their site and marketing today, though, reveals a completely different brand voice and identity. Can a brand really grow and change just as a person can? If mall culture is dead and the old Abercrombie is long gone, what kind of shopper are these clothes now for? To survive, A&F needs to skip the platitudes and keep refining who their 2022 customer is - and then demonstrate why the current internal culture of the brand is perfectly aligned with how that customer lives and shops.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2022

    Will Amazon have to ground its drone program?

    If you're thinking of lightweight hobbyist drones, of course it would be an epic regulatory and safety nightmare to organize package delivery at scale. But to think that Amazon, UPS, Fedex, etc. are done innovating new methods to get customers their orders is short-sighted. The devices employed and information systems which drive them will continue to become more sophisticated, as long as the customer wants their goods faster, which the customer ALWAYS will. Drone delivery still sounds a bit "Jetsons," but within a few years we will certainly see more driverless deliveries of one form or another, that's a given. If future small businesses can employ the services of a company like Wing Aviation, it might even become an advantage which levels the playing field against Amazon's delivery networks.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2022

    Should retail fear or embrace organized labor’s comeback?

    Nearly all U.S. retail is comprised of businesses under 500 employees and, of those, the vast majority have less than 20. So for Starbucks or Amazon's hundreds of thousands of employees, labor issues are radically more complex. Organization/protection of workers is healthy and necessary in those settings, in order for cultures of that size to function at all. For businesses at much, much smaller scales, literal unionization may not be a big concern for workers - however, business owners can take a cue from unionization drives and renew an investment in programs which support worker wellbeing at any level. Open dialogue both ways about expectations, safety, conflict resolution, fairness, and compensation are key.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2022

    What are the hurdles to becoming data-driven?

    This really resonates with me, especially the word "curiosity." Even for companies whose entire business model is the collection, organization, and distribution of data, there must be always be an emphasis on "why." Why do we want to know this, why do we want to share this, why is this behaving the way it does? Being innately curious about one's business and its data is part and parcel with being a great entrepreneur. That human drive is then the basis for the culture of the organization.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2022

    Cashierless stores graduate to college campuses

    I was personally skeptical about autonomous grocery until I tried it. This will be huge on campuses - the convenience, time savings, and "new tech" fun factor are exactly right for student life. It's better not to think of campuses as "testing grounds" - these are adults with the same marketplace "problems" as any shopper. The reason auto grocery will work there is because it's a perfect solution for that shopper's needs. Other new tech integrations on campuses will work or not work for that reason only.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2022

    Best Buy and others find great customer experiences start with data insights

    There is no either/or anymore - all of retail is already a data-driven culture in 2022. The key - and this has been true throughout the history of business - is to pair objective, quantifiable results with human insights, intentions, and creative vision. Those things do not appear on an information officer's spreadsheet. The customer experience is just as fueled by the humanity emanating from a brand as by the patterns and success of its processes.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2022

    Nike heads to the wholesale exits

    Nike's expanded wholesale world is a gigantic, impossible to control grab-bag of branding, marketing, pricing, availability, distribution to consumer, and on and on. DTC is the only way to fully control customer experience, and the only way to align Nike's spectacular marketing machine directly with shoppers. The concept of a wholesaler or "middleman" pre-dates the public's ability to interface one-on-one with a brand, and is increasingly less important for manufacturers who can use e-commerce to close that gap.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2022

    Will a robot chip away at Chipotle’s labor issues?

    The aspect of giving the robot a cute name seems faddish and tone deaf for both staff and customer. Imagine being told that your job has now been taken over by "Chippy," or that the delicious fresh burrito you see in our ads is now made by an a.i. assembly line. Are there any benefits here for consumers? Are prices going down? Are those replaced workers being retrained for new and more fulfilling work? Automating processes which are time consuming for humans, or difficult/unappealing for humans is smart -- but there is serious dissonance if that process drains the humanity from your business.
  • Posted on: 03/18/2022

    Retailers and suppliers need to prioritize collaboration now

    The concept of getting past "adversarial" relationships with suppliers is a really insightful way of understanding the issue of supply chain, and is totally the way forward for retailers. It can't be understated how valuable it is to look at resource producers as team members working towards a common goal. It's very similar to the difference between a business that tries to "get one over" on its customers with manipulative tactics, vs viewing the business and customer as partners trying to solve the same problem. Why in the world would you want to hide your intentions/budget/needs/forecasts and real-time results from the entities whose participation is utterly required for the product to exist at all? More transparency, more communication, and more sharing will equal stronger relationships, and the ability of all parties to weather the intense conditions out there right now, as they arise.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2022

    Will customers grow to love Walgreens’ digital cooler doors?

    This is a miscalculated gimmick which dehumanizes the shopping experience and adds another hurdle between the shopper and the product. It'll quickly go the way of New Coke. However that doesn't mean there is no place for digital integration in the drink case. The "trick" will be adding value for the customer with technology. So what information would foster a positive, successful, enjoyable buying experience? Visually and physically blocking a view of the product with a Vegas-style ad blitz isn't it.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2022

    Albertsons puts its digital transformation on the fast track

    A custom build, by its nature, is always going to be the most dialed-in approach to serving the very unique needs of an individual business. It can be time-consuming and cost more than a turnkey option but, from a competitive standpoint, this is about putting your resources toward where they have the most potential to solve for the total needs of the customer, more effectively and with more specificity than a competitor can. Maybe we're just talking about a bespoke website, maybe we're talking about a proprietary app like the Albertsons example. Of course, not every aspect of every business is mission critical - and not every aspect of every business is unique! Retailers don't have to reinvent the wheel for nice-to-haves which improve overall effectiveness, like marketing software, an ERP, etc., and we're at a point where these tools are themselves extremely customizable out of the box. Partnering with service providers, on the other hand, is inherent to every retail business. I've found that partner relationships are highly dependent on finding the right fit between business and provider. A partner's scale, approach, and even brand identity must at least tangentially align with the retail business. When looking at implementing new technology, ultimately the question is always, "What's the best solution for my customer?"
  • Posted on: 03/10/2022

    Eddie Bauer has a lot of stories to tell

    The key for smaller retailers who want to emulate the lifestyle content universes of these brands is simple: your budget doesn't matter, the platform doesn't matter - the content just has to be relevant to your business and customer, and that's it. You can achieve this with a million-dollar fashion shoot on the beach, or a 10-second hand-held iPhone selfie video posted to IG - as long as what you show and say is in tune with what you sell and how your customer lives.
  • Posted on: 03/07/2022

    What does Russia’s war on Ukraine mean for U.S. retail?

    Most U.S. retail businesses don't have direct ties to Russian exports or markets - it's only around .07 percent of all U.S. imports. The most practical impacts to U.S. retail will be rising energy prices and raw material shortages which eventually ripple into supply chain costs. However the humanitarian crisis is already catastrophic, and the global public's exposure to it has been traumatizing. Our collective shock and worry for the people of Ukraine and the possibility of widening war is something that many workers and consumers are feeling right now - and the effects of this on how well organizations are able to function are significant. Make no mistake, the leadership problems of retail businesses are nothing compared to what the victims of this war are experiencing, but in order to sustain our businesses and the livelihood of our teams, we shouldn't panic, nor pretend it's not happening. This is a time for open dialogue within companies, paired with a sober situational awareness of how events are affecting us professionally and personally. Then we can take appropriate actions to help.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2022

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

    This is actually a win for consumers and a strong play by Nike. It's the continuation of the Nike "Triple Double" strategy. Consolidating wholesale distribs in favor of a more focused, data-driven DTC will simply give consumers a more dialed-in shopping experience than they could ever get at a physical chain location, with far broader/easier/more effective access to the latest products. Conversely, Foot Locker's over-dependence on a single brand also needed adjustment, though this will be a painful one. Unfortunately for them, the Nike customer is loyal to the swoosh, not the retail outlet. To become a true "house of brands," Foot Locker will have to add value to their own shopping experience which gives shoppers a reason not to just pop over to the manufacturer's site and have 10x the selection. Slashed margins on many of those brands incoming.
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