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: 12/11/2019

    Will Google take ‘going local’ to another level?

    Someone has to bring up the “P” word, so it might as well be me. All the incentives and added convenience of the new Google suite or any other series of apps will not fully address all privacy issues for all people. There will always be more than just a fringe portion of society that will see these kinds of “developments” as a violation of their rights. Google and others should expect some resistance.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2019

    Do independent liquor stores need a rehab?

    Perhaps the bigger threat to ALL wine and liquor stores is marijuana legalization. Media friends in Colorado, where weed has been legal for nearly six years, report the state has seen flat to lower off-premise sales of alcohol. And this during a craft beer/whiskey boom. If I were the owner of an independent wine and liquor store in a state that hasn’t legalized pot yet, I’d be looking into switching to that business.
  • Posted on: 11/26/2019

    Will IoT reinvent the supply chain?

    While some of the more notable business use cases for IoT in the extended retail supply chain are around omnichannel fulfillment, traceability and asset management, there is a clear opportunity for it to help with basic blocking and tackling issues like out-of-stocks and overstocks. By addressing these core inventory challenges and getting early and significant wins for all trading partners, retailers and suppliers can more easily and effectively gain more resources for advanced IoT applications.
  • Posted on: 11/25/2019

    Private label foods need work

    The busiest booths at last week’s Private Label show in Chicago featured fresh products and it wasn’t just because they were sampling their wares. National brands have been moving rapidly into the perimeter and store brands are following closely behind. The key, as covertly suggested in the article, is for retailers to take a risk and try to leapfrog the national brands with new creations that will engage shoppers and have them spend more of their wallet. Trader Joe’s tries and fast fails with a lot of fresh items. Other retailers need to follow suit.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2019

    Is Amazon starting to fall out of favor with American consumers?

    The combination of next-day shipping and entertainment options are just a start for Amazon Prime. I see them adding benefits like discount hotel and travel options, clubs for specific interests and even car repair options in the not too distant future. And when they get the whole healthcare thing figured out, they’ll be looking at the other retailers in the rear view mirror again.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What will drive food trends for 2020?

    Nothing about CBDs? That’s a huge miss in the list, as are cold-brew coffee and energy drinks. Maybe they were numbers 11-13 on the Whole Foods list, but certainly CBDs and probably all of them should have been higher.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2019

    Have Giant Food and Stop & Shop nailed ‘frictionless’ checkouts?

    It’s hard for me to believe this approach won’t be leapfrogged by more accurate technology that will track purchases at the shelf. I understand this may be a bit harder in fresh areas and with random-weight products, but putting the onus on the customer for checkout seems like a solution that is bound to get only limited buy in.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2019

    Is BOPIS a good fit for Dollar General?

    I have serious doubts whether the target audience for dollar stores is interested in online shopping at all and if they are, Walmart already has their share of wallet and isn’t going to give it up without a fight. It's much better for the deep discounters to do everything they can to get shoppers into the store and keep them there. Spending resources on traditional and digital marketing would give them a better ROI.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2019

    Will consumers go for Kroger’s food hall concept?

    As a foodie, I’ve gone out of my way to visit food halls around the world (much to my wife’s chagrin). Harrods in London, the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia and the Great Food Hall in Hong Kong are three of the best and they couldn’t be more different. Harrods is almost exclusively for the rich, with its caviar bar and $1,000+ picnic baskets. The Reading Market is utilitarian, serving great food at a great price. The Great Food Hall is smack in the middle, a mix of everyday Chinese food and luxury foreign delights. This should be a lesson for retailers wanting to set up food halls in current or future real estate. You need to know the consumer and the market. Harrods wouldn’t work in Baltimore and the Reading Market wouldn’t work in Beverly Hills. Interestingly, an American variant of the Great Food Hall (hamburgers or pizza instead of ramen noodles) could work in most urban settings because it will have something for just about everyone and doesn’t require the build-out or the stocking cost of a Harrods-like hall.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2019

    Retailers falling short at training frontline workers

    I had a long conversation about this topic with another writer at Groceryshop this week and the starkest disparity we could think of is the training of employees at Wegmans and Walmart. Wegmans associates are chipper, engaged, passionate and educated on product and the store. Walmart associates, well, they’re not. Wegmans sends store employees to symposiums on things like olive oil and cooking seafood. Walmart, not so much. Wegmans encourages and rewards input on product assortment and merchandising from staff members. Walmart may do a little of this, but almost all direction for the store comes from Bentonville. I understand the scale of the two enterprises is drastically different. But that shouldn’t mean Walmart can’t try to improve the way associates are trained and engaged.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2019

    Will multistory warehouses mean faster deliveries from Amazon, Home Depot and others?

    Vertical warehouses have been around for more than two decades in the retail food and foodservice business. They go hand in glove with product handling automation. While they’re not, strictly speaking, multistory warehouses in that each story doesn’t have a floor/ceiling, these facilities can be 100+ feet tall. I remember seeing the Gordon Food Service (GFS) facility in Grand Rapids about 25 years ago and being intrigued by the automated storage and retrieval system that put away pallet loads using robotics. C&S and McLane have had similar distribution centers operating for years.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2019

    Will Walmart’s customers accept its rejection of the firearms ‘status quo’?

    This is another proof point that retailers are more connected to the American citizenry than our elected representatives. Walmart looked at the data and determined these actions won’t materially impact their bottom lines in even the medium-term, just as CVS did when it stopped selling tobacco products. I’ve been a gun owner who has enjoyed target shooting and plinking for more than 40 years, and I believe that they did the right thing.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2019

    Trump’s tariff war escalates

    This is going to sound bleak, but there’s a story my grad school advisor told me that the CEO of JP Morgan got down on his knees and begged President Hoover not to sign the Smoot-Hawley tariffs bill into law. Businesses around the country are metaphorically doing the same with the current administration and getting the same results. The Smoot-Hawley tariffs extended the Great Depression by at least two and perhaps as much as eight years. The Trump Tariffs won’t start another depression but will almost certainly exacerbate any economic downturn. And, like squirrels getting ready for a bad winter, the only thing retailers can do is try to store away enough nuts to get them through.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2019

    Is technology really making stores more like the web?

    I’ve commented several times in this space about how old-time merchants like my grandfather knew exactly which products shoppers at their stores wanted, what promotions would work with those shoppers and how they would react to marketing efforts. They didn’t have data analytics or predictive modeling. They had near-constant engagement with the customers and that feedback was what made them sell more to more people. Put these kinds of minds in a store today and they’ll know that in 2019 to get a bigger share of wallet the shopper experience must include connections to each customer’s entire buying motion, both digital and physical. Start digitally and finish in the store, or vice versa. All approaches need to be satisfied.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2019

    Will a new grocery private label spur more Target runs?

    I remember seeing the first SuperTargets back in the 1990s and thinking that it was clear the retailer got fashion merchandisers to design the grocery sections. Little consideration for how the shopper buys and mostly concentrating on how the retailer can sell. Not a winning strategy. They modified their plans dramatically, making them look more like traditional supermarkets while keeping some of the elements that made Target’s grocery merchandising distinctive (at least from Walmart’s…). They still haven’t gone far enough on the in-store marketing front, but have gotten dramatically better on assortment, particularly in store brands. I’m sure the data is telling them that Archers Farms and Simply Balanced aren’t doing the job and that’s why they’re on the way out. I hope they’ve learned a good lesson with them and don’t repeat it with the Good & Gather line.

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