PROFILE

Ryan Grogman

Managing Partner, Retail Consulting Partners (RCP)

Ryan is a respected advisor in the retail technology industry. His diverse background includes several senior positions both as a retail executive as well as a consultant. Ryan has worked with a variety of retailers across home entertainment, luxury goods, apparel, specialty hardware, book publishing, tires & batteries, consumer goods, and wholesale goods. He specializes in developing technology strategies that align with corporate and customer objectives, along with technology selection and implementation projects for in-store, mobile, order management, and e-commerce solutions.

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  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    They were and are a great first step, but retailers across all segments absolutely have to move beyond the playbooks and customer-facing signs. Shoppers ultimately spend their money with brands they trust, and that trust is now extending beyond traditional product quality and value into their own health concerns. As stories continue to emerge about how retailers are handling non-compliant employees or patrons, customers will have to decide if the right accountability measures are in place for them to maintain their trust in that brand.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Will Facebook Shops launch social commerce into the mainstream?

    Facebook Shops will accelerate online sales via social media simply due to its 1.7 billion daily user count who may find this a more simple path to purchase than navigating to another checkout site. However, with their core site demographics skewing towards an older audience who will be reluctant to move en masse from preferred shopping sites, I do not see Facebook Shops becoming a serious competitor to Amazon or even Google. Their decision to also focus on WhatsApp and Instagram will be critical.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Are store brands set for a big growth spurt?

    Similar to increases in digital purchases for groceries and the use of curbside services, the pandemic has also brought about impressive growth in private label purchases. And as with those other shifts, I expect to see the gains in these areas recede from current levels, but certainly stay above comp levels from before the pandemic. The overall quality in private label goods, especially in the CPG space, continues to increase and consumers who have shifted to private label due to either lower price points or in-stock availability are recognizing their value. And it's this higher quality, coupled with retailers' desire to control as much of the supply chain as possible, which should see some of those gains maintain traction.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2020

    Can influencers connect during a pandemic?

    Influencers have found a tremendous audience in Millennials and others as they post their adventures and lifestyles for others to vicariously follow through their favorite social media medium. However, like all advertising during the pandemic, there are risks and rewards to be had. Put out the wrong type of message or push the wrong type of activities, and you're going to be criticized heavily. However, with more eyes than ever on sites like Instagram and TikTok, there is also tremendous opportunity to utilize influencers via the right messaging. Quarantining just brings about different types of activities and products (lounge wear, swimwear, fitness gear), and these can often resonate stronger and create even more connection if they tie into the "we're all in this together" messaging dominating pandemic marketing.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Wegmans breaks price increase news to its customers

    As Richard noted, transparency is always the best strategy. That being said, Wegmans needs to tread carefully during these times. While some customers will be empathetic to meat plant closures resulting in availability shortages and potential increases, others will be less than receptive to grocers who have obviously seen dramatic revenue spikes as a result of the pandemic and won't want to be the ones to carry the costs for sneeze-guards or employee bonuses. For those who do communicate these types of increases, honest emails from company leadership and founders tend to be a safer way of being able to show a more heartfelt outreach vs. in-store signage.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2020

    McDonald’s publishes playbook for reopening restaurants

    Uncertainty breeds discomfort, and people don't like discomfort. This sort of playbook provides communication, guidelines, and an overall plan. It will absolutely make workers and customers feel more comfortable. And even though not everyone will be ready to start dining in, it's imperative that they too see there are approaches like this being put out so they can make their own informed decisions.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    PepsiCo launches direct-to-consumer sites for its brands

    If combined with a strong marketing campaign, there will be small to moderate demand in the short-term. But more curious will be how this impacts their relationships with their distributors and wholesalers. What will be their pricing strategy, and how will that impact forecasting and buying on the part of the wholesalers/food and beverage retailers? Those relationships are a constant battle for buy quantities, prices and ultimately shelf-space, and a large DTC push may cost them some leverage.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    The list of recent occurrences is highlighting the fact that there are built-up tensions regarding the handling of businesses reopening. Fortunately, retail stores already have processes in place for how to handle unruly customers, and the list of non-COVID related infractions for any given week in past years would be exponentially longer. Unfortunately, the current environment is highlighting that there is a growing divide about what measures are perceived appropriate for retail stores to mandate, and the spotlight will shine brightly on these types of incidents as they arise. The best advice retailers should follow: be gentle, be a good listener, but be firm. Patience is required as retailers cannot overreact too quickly to a perceived infraction and store managers should handle the situation in a gentle fashion, being careful not to stoke a fire or further provoke someone intentionally looking for an argument. But ultimately, we have to remember there are significant underlying health concerns which are driving these social distancing policies. Therefore, retailers must be firm in their resolve to remove customers who are violating these policies, just like any other policy in place. No shirt, no shoes, no social distancing, no service.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2020

    Is curbside pickup just getting started?

    Curbside services will absolutely remain in demand as more and more consumers take advantage of the experience during this pandemic and realize the inherent benefits and convenience. However, it will be key for retailers to ensure they don't continue to propagate a makeshift solution that was put in place hastily to address short-term need. Rather, they should take the time to define and develop their own Customer Curbside Journey. This will ensure that a roadmap is constructed with equal parts operational feasibility, technology supportability, and customer value.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2020

    Will free listings elevate Google Shopping?

    The key driver lies in the reference to the CivicScience statistics around product search between Amazon and Google. Google views this an opportunity to begin clawing back some of the product search market share, and the timing cannot make more sense given some of the recent flaws exposed at Amazon during the pandemic. I expect that Google indeed will pick back up some market share by the boost in listings, and they'll likewise see an uptick in ad spending as more eyes and clicks end up hitting their shopping links.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2020

    Has COVID-19 made the ‘shop local’ message more real for consumers?

    Local retailers have always been important to communities and the recent pandemic has heightened both the positive and negative impacts such a crisis can have on these businesses. It's been tremendous to see the surge in hyperlocal shopping in my own city as stay-at-homers look to support these merchants; however, it's equally as disheartening to see closed signs and hear tales from some owners of their inability to survive the downturn. Local retailers are an essential part of the community -- the money spent there helps to pay local workers, which in turn puts money back into local neighborhoods and other local businesses. Even though I do expect the shopping local sentiment to permeate in the short-term as stay-at-home orders are lifted, most often shoppers will eventually regress to their pre-pandemic behavior. However, the benefits being seen due to supporting our communities should have a lasting and real impact and will hopefully allow as many retailers as possible to keep their doors open once this storm is weathered.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2020

    Best Buy is getting back to business with scheduled appointments

    There are so many unknowns currently as states and their communities begin to reopen retail, and those uncertainties will keep many customers away until they see how things are going after a week or two. Best Buy is doing its part to take control of the unknown by providing a very clear and thorough approach to reopening their stores. Will it be for everyone? No. But is this the responsible way to start reopening retail? Absolutely, and Best Buy should be commended for taking this appointment-based approach coupled with in-store safety measures.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2020

    Do malls need to add curbside pickup service to reopen?

    I believe there will be medium appeal in the short-term as cities and states begin opening up "to-go retail" before fully reopening malls. For people who want near-immediate gratification for products that have longer shipping times or still charge for delivery, a curbside pickup at a mall will be an attractive option. However, the challenge to pulling this off successfully is logistics, logistics, logistics. There will be different processes for interior stores vs. anchor stores and malls will need signage to direct car traffic to designated spots where customers may need to have more patience than fulfilling a curbside restaurant pickup that they've been accustomed to the past four to six weeks. However, I expect this service to have a smaller appeal in the long-term once malls are fully reopened. No doubt it will continue to exist for many malls and process kinks will get worked out, but it will likely be supplanted by same-day delivery once the supply chain returns to normality.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2020

    Can grocers help sit-down restaurants stay afloat with to-go meal programs?

    Kudos for SpartanNash for helping bring this partnership to fruition. This is a synergistic arrangement benefiting hyper-local businesses that doesn't come off as tone-deaf as the Hy-Vee/DSW partnership amid this crisis. Other opportunities for grocers to support local restaurants include employing laid-off restaurant workers to assist with short-term areas of hiring needs such as after-shift restocking, grocery deliveries, and curbside delivery. Given the simple fact that most restaurants are built on the concept of sit-down meals and social settings, restaurants will absolutely have a tougher road to recovery as socially starved customers will soon start to dip their forks and pocketbooks back into crowded venues. Because of both distancing requirements and public uneasiness, it may be quite awhile before tables and reservations are full to capacity and at pre-pandemic levels. Another reason the partnership outlined in this article is a welcome read.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2020

    Will virtual trade shows replace in-person events?

    When I ask most attendees what they get out of trade conferences, the most common answers I receive revolve around reconnecting with members of one's network in person or making new connections with colleagues or prospects (although perhaps now people would say in retrospect that it's the endless amount of branded hand sanitizers that can be grabbed). For certain conferences, virtual may make more sense going forward as travel budgets will be tight on all fronts in the next year or two. However, I think most conferences will return to in-person venues. Even today's technology cannot replace the experience of walking an expo hall for product demos and the informal, spontaneous conversations with small groups. It will be interesting to see how in-person events evolve to address potentially long-lasting implications of the current pandemic environment: will social distancing limit some of the packed-in sessions, will there be less "hands on" evaluation of tangible products on show floors, and will other cities replace NYC or Las Vegas as key conference hubs?

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