PROFILE

Ron Margulis

Managing Director, RAM Communications

Ronald Margulis is Managing Director of RAM Communications, a public relations firm based in Cranford, NJ. RAM Communications provides media relations counseling, trade marketing and communications support to clients in the retail, transportation, manufacturing and technology industries. Among the services offered are media relations, information sourcing, speech writing, issue research and analysis, editorial and design analysis, newsletter publishing, presentation and video scripting, marketing brochure and training manual production, focus groups and meeting planning.

With more than 1,000 articles published, Margulis is also an accredited journalist. His writings on the food, retail, tobacco, information technology and transportation industries have appeared in Canadian Business, Chicago Tribune, Cigar Magazine, Computerworld, Convenience Store News, Distribution Channels, Executive Technology, FT.com, Food Arts, Forbes, ID, Sales & Marketing, Shipping Digest, Supermarket News, Washington Times and several other newspapers and magazines. As an editor and reporter, he has interviewed more than 50 CEOs of leading global companies and dozens of government officials including four US Cabinet Secretaries, the Governor of the Bank of England and the Treasurer of Australia.

Margulis has won numerous awards for his writing, has written more than one dozen industry reports/white papers and is contributing editor of three professional reference books. He has been quoted in several leading newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer and Smart Money, on topics ranging from technology to crisis communications, and has been featured on Bloomberg Radio, Talk Canada, Westwood One and National Public Radio. He has spoken at numerous business and academic conferences, and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Society of America.

Margulis graduated with honors from George Washington University, earned an MBA in economics from New York University and studied journalism at University of London. The son and grandson of supermarket operators, he also completed a management training internship and meat cutter’s apprenticeship at Wakefern Food Corp. (Shop-Rite Supermarkets).

Margulis is married to Patricia Paul, an artist. They live in New Jersey with their daughter Elena. His recreational activities and hobbies include fencing (President, Westfield Fencing Club), hiking, skiing, reading, cooking and map collecting.

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  • Posted on: 11/19/2020

    Can retailers get store brand growth back on track during the pandemic?

    Not to cast doubt on the Inmar findings, but Trader Joe’s, Aldi and even Lidl have done very well with their brands throughout the pandemic. This is likely because they have more control over their supply chains than other retailers, but also because they only have a physical presence and haven’t had to deal with e-commerce.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2020

    Should C-suite execs keep their opinions to themselves on store visits?

    I mentioned the store managers at my family’s supermarkets and their onboarding efforts with new employees earlier this week. I’ll draw on another memory for this response. Whenever I went to the stores with my father or grandfather, one of the first things they’d do was bag groceries, often before talking with the managers. This accomplished two goals for them – interacting with the customers and showing the passion to the team members. For the workers and managers, this set up opportunities to give guidance that would be more readily accepted. And that word, guidance, as opposed to criticism, is really important. Guidance doesn’t have the negative connotation of criticism but delivers the same results.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2020

    What makes a great retail store manager?

    The most effective action I saw firsthand in my family’s supermarkets growing up was the store managers working with each new team members on their first day. This took the form of collecting carts and bagging with front end personnel, working with the department manager and the new employee to stock the shelves and even helping support service departments and backdoor receiving. The one-on-one interaction set the tone that the manager was willing to do everything that the new worker would be tasked to do. It also helped the manager further gauge the capabilities and passion of the employee.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2020

    Will Ulta shops turn Target into a beauty destination?

    This is an excellent move by both retailers. Great synergy and opportunities for cross-merchandising. Expect Walmart, Macy’s and Kohl’s to respond quickly.
  • Posted on: 11/06/2020

    Will store certifications make customers feel safer?

    I worked on Ecolab’s Servsafe and Daydots programs when they were launched for the restaurant and hospitality industries more than 15 years ago. They had an immediate impact not only in the internal processes at the companies but in the trust consumers placed in those establishments. The Servsafe logo, while not as strong as Intel Inside, still reassures patrons that the establishment is following a protocol to keep them safe. I expect the Safe Shop Assured certification will do the same for c-stores if they run a solid communications plan along with the rollout.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Retailers need to prep for in-store COVID conflicts

    As with all crisis response, the key for successful resolution is practice. Retailers should have trainers in the stores acting out “bad customer” scenarios and pointing out what works best to de-escalate each situation.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    What’s behind the Amazon/SpartanNash deal?

    SpartanNash stock, even after the bump last week, is pretty cheap. Its market cap of around $700 million is a little more than a rounding error for Amazon. And it gets a lot for the investment including, most importantly, access to the military markets through the SpartanNash MDV unit.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2020

    Are employees or execs holding back data-driven cultures?

    When I was in college back in the 1980s, I spent each summer at Wakefern in their management training program. It was a great experience. One of the highlights was spending time with the buyers, who all had stacks of t-log data printouts in their offices. Whenever I’d ask what they were used for, the response inevitably was that the buyer was supposed to be referring to the trends in the printouts when they were making assortment, pricing and promotion decisions but never even looked at them because they knew more than the data. Fast forward 35+ years and there is still an attitude that the training merchandisers and others receive sets them up to know more than the data. Even though these are typically middle age white men making decisions for marketing to women of all ages and backgrounds. This disconnect is costing chains a lot of market share and profit, and needs to stop.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2020

    Will same-day deliveries be a difference maker for Bed Bath & Beyond?

    Bed Bath & Beyond is fighting an uphill battle for relevance and not doing a great job. There are just too many products and services they offer that are also available, most often at a lower price, at Target, Walmart and Amazon. They should compare their assortment with the big guys and delist most of the items sold in the other stores. Then they can add unique items, maybe from Pier 1 and other bankrupt retailers, to pad the selection. They aren’t going to win head-to-head – they need a flanking maneuver.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2020

    Will the election sidetrack holiday shoppers?

    Nothing short of a civil war or overwhelming natural disaster will stop, or even hinder in a major way, sales during the coming holiday season. While both political extremes are trying to convince us that’s exactly what will happen if the other side wins, that rhetoric is nonsense. U.S. consumers will always be the winners, regardless of the diatribes.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2020

    COVID-19 will redefine the meaning of Christmas creep in 2020

    The answers to both of these questions is largely dependent on the second round of stimulus checks. If the checks are large enough and come out in September, we can and should expect earlier promotions. If they are delayed, so should the bulk of the promotions.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2020

    Grocery CEO to anti-maskers – Got a complaint, call me on my cell.

    Ms. Spires has several things going her way with this program. Kings is an upscale supermarket with stores located in upscale suburbs that likely won’t attract as many mask scofflaws as a Walmart. Kings is in metro NYC, which had the worst of COVID-19 first and has shoppers who are more compliant with the mask mandates as a result. And the stores are in a solidly blue area so politics won’t come into play as much as it would even in Pennsylvania next door. That said, it is a good idea to make the CEO available and not just for this issue. The buck has to stop somewhere and if the shopper knows where that is she will always feel more comfortable in that store.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2020

    Will Amazon install distribution hubs in malls across America?

    Amazon will have competition for that mall space going forward. Owners would prefer those anchor positions to be something synergistic to the other tenants in the mall, so are trying to attract healthcare-oriented and social organization renters like urgent care, gyms and even schools. I see the synergies with Whole Foods and the Amazon food store, but not with a fulfillment center. It seems Simon may be running a little scared from the current retail property environment.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2020

    How is Tractor Supply acing the pandemic?

    Tractor Supply isn’t the only rural lifestyle/expanded hardware retailer that’s doing very well this year. Both Harbor Freight and Family Farm & Home are growing rapidly. There are a few commonalities between the three. First, leadership at each has made a concerted effort to communicate directly with customers during the pandemic, offering a mix of comfort, support and “do-good” marketing. Also the assortment at each centers on items for the home and it doesn’t hurt that each sells a good amount of what can be called survival gear. Next is their use of sophisticated technology for demand forecasting, which helps keep them in stock on things like masks and gloves. Last, each has avoided controversy so far, whether it’s over masks or protests. I fully expect this retailing trend to continue well beyond the pandemic.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2020

    Why does it take a crisis for retailers to get innovative?

    There really are two types of crises that retailers (and all other organizations) can face – ones that impact the company alone, self-made or otherwise, and ones that impact the entire industry. The first variety is often an exercise in emergency management, putting out fires and trying to establish a solid plan to emerge in whatever shape on the other side. Not a lot of opportunity for innovation when the threat is existential. The second variety, with competitors facing the same conditions, means companies need to not only get through the crisis but do so in a manner that positions them for a potential performance advantage on the other side. This is prime innovation territory for both technology and process. This is why companies that invest more during the down times succeed after them.

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