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: 01/11/2021

    Retailers give customers refunds and tell them to keep items

    The world of reverse logistics for consumer goods has been altered dramatically by the pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, there were mechanisms that easily enabled the return, recycling, redistribution, etc. of goods, often involving pretty efficient third parties. CDC and other requirements caused retailers to limit returns and that has impaired the system. We will ultimately go back to functioning reverse logistics networks but in the meantime it will be more efficient for the supply chain to have customers retain or dispose of products in several categories, including most food items.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2021

    Will store closings in 2021 beat last year’s record total?

    It’s important to note that while more than 11,000 stores closed in 2020, about half that number opened. During a pandemic. What’s more, thousands of new stores are already on the books for this year, with Starbucks, 7-Eleven and Dollar General each expected to open more than 800 locations. Aldi has 450 planned openings and Casey’s General Stores expects 150-200 new stores. The list goes on. While these openings don’t totally offset the projected closings, they clearly show resilience in the market. Guess I’m just a glass half full guy...
  • Posted on: 12/28/2020

    Should retail CEOs be on social media?

    CEOs, or anyone in business for that matter, should only be on social media if their target audiences will be receptive to their messaging on that platform. A CEO could write the cleverest tweet ever and it won’t be worth a thing if her client base, set of influencers, etc. don’t see it. It takes work to determine if the right audience is using any given platform and then even more work to build out the right list of followers and create a cadence of original content that positions the CEO as a thought leader/influencer/mover/shaker.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2020

    Can retailers avoid a late holiday delivery ‘apocalypse’?

    I know everyone is striving for a slice of normal this holiday season. Sorry, it’s not going to happen. Delays are inevitable. Some presents will not make it to their destinations on time. But in a year of near insanity, this will be among the least of consumers’ problems. For retailers trying to soften the blow of products not arriving in time, consider a printable representation of the item that can be emailed in advance of the present. At least that will provide something under the Christmas tree or Chanukah bush.
  • 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.

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