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: 11/23/2022

    Do digital coupons discriminate against those who can least afford it?

    First off, I take issue with the assertion the people over 55 are “a demographic that generally has a lower rate of technological adoption.” Maybe 70+, but those of us at the tail end of being Baby Boomers are pretty damn good at all of this computer stuff. On digital coupons and potential discrimination, it’s a store personnel training issue above all else. There is absolutely no reason any shopper shouldn’t be able to rely on the staff for help with either showing how to download and use the app if the customer has a smartphone or use the retailer’s system to provide the coupon. Yes, the staff is busy and there is a labor shortage, but if the retailer can’t support the marketing program for all then it shouldn’t offer it for any.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2022

    Is Trader Joe’s success formula becoming obsolete?

    The biggest disconnect for Trader Joe’s is the inability to target its most profitable customers. For instance, the retailer doesn’t know for sure if a product it’s delisting is going to cause those shoppers to move to other stores or online. While they can conduct market basket analytics to get some answers, and I’m sure they do, the lack of a loyalty program inhibits them from really understanding what products the most profitable shoppers consider most important.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2022

    Is it time to shut down the free returns party?

    The best way to address the return challenge is to reduce the reason for returns in the first place. If it’s a sizing, color or variety issue, there are apps available and more being developed to measure body size more accurately and position products in intended locations. For wrong, mistimed or defective items, there are analytic tools that should be applied to lower the occasions for each. It’s a huge problem and at some point a retailer’s best shoppers are going to wake up to the fact that they are subsidizing others and getting less value as a result.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2022

    Will freight operators serve as a canary in the retail coal mine?

    Trucking rates are down significantly since the beginning of 2022, although not even close to as much as container rates, which are down by close to 70 percent. Both indicators aren’t great news for the economy. Relatively flush retail inventories explain only a small part of the story with much of the rest due to wavering consumer demand. Tighten your belt a notch, the next several months are going to be tough for many retailers and suppliers. I do see several positive indicators, including employment and GDP growth, that could limit this downturn, but only if inflation starts dropping.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2022

    How far will Marc Lore’s mobile ghost kitchen concept go?

    I live in the initial Wonder market and we've tried it three times so far. Haven’t been very impressed with the meal quality (mediocre at best), portion size (small) or customer service (flat). In each case, the Wonder truck showed up on time but took more than 30 minutes to prepare the food. One time, we ordered sushi so I really had to question the wait time. In terms of value, our local restaurants deliver better food for less. We may try it one more time but if it doesn’t taste amazing or is too expensive, we’re done.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2022

    BOPIS substitution processes need work

    As the shopper shares more details about her shopping behavior, the e-commerce systems at most retailers can better understand what to do and, more importantly, what not to do with substitutions. The challenge is that most retailers are still on defense with out-of-stocks and don’t dedicate the time or resources to analyzing that collected data and translating it into actionable information. It’s all about expectations. And today’s shoppers have been trained by Amazon to have very high expectations.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2022

    How can grocers prevail in inflationary times without winning on price?

    Can’t compete on price alone? Then come close to parity on price for essential items so value is clear to the shopper and compete on customer service and product assortment. That means understanding the profitable customer even better, engaging her at contact points where she’s most receptive to your messaging and rewarding her often. One more thing. Surprises are especially useful in marketing during challenging times. Grocers need to provide shoppers with fodder for their daily communications and if it isn’t something positive like a free entry into a sweepstakes then it’s likely to be negative like the out-of-stocks.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2022

    A bag ban is all part of the brand at Wegmans

    New Jersey resident here. I’ve been very surprised, even impressed, at how quickly my fellow New Jerseyans have adapted to bringing their own bags to stores. And not just supermarkets. I see shoppers with reusable bags at Home Depot, Wawa, even Best Buy. Obviously Wegmans has already stopped providing single-use plastic bags here. Also obviously, they have seen how the elimination of the single-use bags has transpired here and determined there is little to no expected negative impact for them as they expand the effort to the rest of their market area.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2022

    Walmart and other retailers are canceling billions of dollars in orders

    I’ve been to three dry and two frozen warehouses in the past month, all third party, and they were each stocked to the rafters. The move from just-in-time inventory to expanded safety stock has played havoc on the industry that will take months, maybe even a year or more, to straighten out. Forecasting, especially in fast moving goods, is improving, but not fast enough. When combined with the uncertainty caused by inflation and other market issues, it’s likely that retailers will still be using cancellations as a tactic through the end of the 2023 holiday season.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2022

    Is now the right or wrong time for retailers to invest big in their businesses?

    One area I’ve been hearing about retailers investing is in branded product. Not private label, but brands they develop or buy and want to make a run at distribution well beyond their own stores. I initially scoffed at this idea – creating a brand is incredibly difficult and buying a decent one may go well beyond eight figures. But the more I thought about it the more sense it made to me. Higher margins, direct input from shoppers at all stages of development and control over production similar to private label. It could actually work if the retailer doesn’t bite off more than they can chew and if they bring in brand managers that actually know what they’re doing.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2022

    How does smartphone shopping differ from laptop shopping?

    Smartphones are getting bigger and laptops are getting smaller. And then there are tablets. Where do they fit in to this? Retailers and DTC brands can easily fall into the trap of over analyzing this stuff. Some simple A-B testing can quickly tell marketers if specifically targeting smartphone, laptop, or tablet users is worth the resources required.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2022

    Is the time right for table-side credit card tech to go mainstream in America?

    Yes, yes, yes! And it’s not only European restaurants that have had this tech forever, as mentioned, Mexico is leading the US in adoption, as are Canada and much of Asia. The pace of deployment here is borderline ridiculous. The only reason for restaurants not to be using table-side credit card units had been the cost of having a few of these machines for the waitstaff and that’s not been a real limitation for a few years.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2022

    Are retailers missing opportunities to leverage location-powered experiences?

    Not sure I agree with the premise of the first question. Yes, retailers in the U.S. have been slow to implement location-based solutions – it’s really been a priority thing. But retailers in Asia and Europe were making solid progress prior to COVID-19, particularly around personalization and loyalty rewards, and the pandemic accelerated the effort. There are great examples from South Korea of digital panels at transportation hubs with personalized promotions for shoppers. And loyalty messages for shoppers at certain retailers in Germany. It’s coming to the U.S.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2022

    Should sports betting be served up in grocery aisles?

    The drug store industry was very upset when supermarkets started to add pharmacies. The supermarket industry was very upset when drug stores added food. The restaurant industry was very upset when supermarkets started to add prepared foods. The convenience store industry was very upset when supermarkets added gas stations. And every retailer was very upset when Amazon started selling whatever they sold. This is one of the oldest tactics in retail. Find something that’s selling well someplace else and start selling it in your store. Like all those other instances of hijacking a product or service, sports gaming kiosks will work in some places (certainly Vegas!) and not in others.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2022

    Is Amazon’s deal for iRobot all about mapping Americans’ homes?

    This is part of a much larger trend among retailers that goes well beyond Amazon. With their margins of 2 percent to 3 percent, retailers of consumer goods have long been enamored by the much fatter margins of most suppliers. Now they are doing something about it. Through acquisition, like this and other Amazon deals, or by product development through a contract packer or even the buying or building of a manufacturing/processing facility, retailers are getting into the supply business. And they’re not just doing it for their retail channels. They are actively expanding the product market region by selling to other merchants. And this is just the start.

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