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: 10/15/2020

    Macy’s is turning stores dark for the holidays

    As others have noted, Macy's hand has mostly been forced in this situation. Too many stores and too little foot traffic had them on a downward trajectory even prior to the pandemic. That being said, I think this is a smart move which drives some value out of underperforming locations and likely helps consumers get online orders fulfilled quicker. If nothing else, Macy's is at least recognizing the PR value in a headline that reads about converting to a dark store to meet surging online demand vs. a headline that reads about having to close yet more stores before the holidays.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    Staples to accept returns from other stores

    Staples has been looking to expand beyond just an office supply and printing solutions organization for the past several years, and the partnership with Optoro appears to be the next step in their roadmap. Their Staples Connect format suffered the unfortunate timing of launching just as the COVID-19 outbreak hit the U.S., but it showed their commitment to be an overall solutions-oriented destination for businesses and individuals. Staples needs foot traffic for their physical store approach to make both sense and money, and with the large number of retailers which Optoro supports, this partnership should indeed drive consumers to their locations where they'll hopefully make some home and home office purchases while processing their returns. Even though Kohl's has been one of the larger retailer which has embraced this concept, I would not be surprised to see others join the fray, such as convenience locations that have already dipped their toes in pickup lockers or struggling mall tenants that may use this as a last gasp for foot traffic.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2020

    Can one site make men love, not hate, shopping online?

    To me, it's less about having a strictly "male selling approach" and "female selling approach" and more about tailoring unique shopping experiences for your key customer personas. It may be that general differences exist between male and female shoppers at the macro-level, but as retailers define the customer expectations and attributes for the subgroups that really make up their target market, that is where a curated experience can drive the most value. Busy professionals who require assistance with pulling together outfit ensembles can span across gender lines, just as a target group of stylish urbanites wanting the latest and most exclusive merchandise. And online shopping and modern e-commerce technology offers a tremendous opportunity to deliver these different experiences to consumers once they are able to identify their expectations.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2020

    Did CDC’s announcement boost retail’s online sales prospects for Christmas?

    I wouldn't underestimate the amount of people who won't listen to common sense and will head out to crowded malls en masse to continue their annual tradition of holiday shopping in person. That being said, it's a near certainty that stores won't be as crowded as in years past, and that online shopping will be up dramatically as a percentage of holiday sales. And like other convenience and safety practices adopted during 2020, new entrants to the digital holiday shopping experience will likely see the benefit long-term and increase their percentage of clicks-vs-bricks shopping going forward.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2020

    Will lockers help Lowe’s pick up more sales?

    You had me at "skip the pickup line." Lockers provide tremendous convenience for shoppers on the go who don't require any associate interaction. Lockers may not be for every retailer as considerations must be made for item size, basket size, product tag removal, customer ID validation, etc. But for those who have the real estate and a high enough volume of BOPIS orders, it can provide efficiencies on both ends of the shopping transaction.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2020

    Will Apple’s Express pickup concept drop off post-pandemic?

    A store location which provides a safe and efficient way to pick up purchased product or have a product consultation on an existing product is a great example of how Apple continues to be innovative in response to the current environment. The appointment-only concept around the Genius Bar is similar to how Best Buy successfully deployed its own appointment-only browsing approach a few months ago. Converting existing Apple retail stores to Apple Express locations would not make as much sense long term because it doesn't fully align with Apple's long-term goals around their in-store customer experience. However, utilizing a much smaller footprint, it is possible that these Express locations could co-exist with their traditional stores in certain markets to address an ongoing need for quick pick up/consultation.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2020

    J.C. Penney rescued. Will it now find success and save the mall, too?

    While it's always great to see jobs saved, especially at that magnitude, I'm not overly optimistic about the long-term sustainability of J.C. Penney. The truth is that they failed for a variety of reasons: lack of a clear strategy, poor merchandising, an inability to capture modern shoppers, and more which led to confusion around just where their brand was trying to position itself. So while the Simon and Brookfield deal is likely a better approach than being bought up by a private equity firm, until J.C. Penney can address their core problems and align on a go-forward brand strategy, they will likely continue to experience the same big box retailer problems they have been dealing with for the past decade.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2020

    Has COVID-19 revealed pickup’s pain points?

    In the short-term, the majority of the curbside pickup challenges should be addressed via better execution. Retailers should focus on the following three C's: Communicating the process simply, clearly designated parking spots/lanes for pickup, and compliance with pandemic-related health measures and distancing. Customers we have polled indicate that the most positive experiences are those in which the process is clearly outlined, they have the ability to text their arrival and parking location, and the order arrives promptly with minimal interaction. Because curbside pickup will likely remain a long-term service, retailers should also start building the right supporting technology solutions that can streamline communications between the customer, the order pickers, and the order delivery person, while investing in customer identification options to further automate the verification and location of an arriving consumer.
  • Posted on: 09/02/2020

    Has Red Wing created a new standard for Labor Day promotions?

    I think this is a great idea by Red Wing and I applaud the concept. Labor Day originated as a way to celebrate the contributions and achievements of American workers but, over the years, it has become more known for retail sales and as a Monday off for most non-essential workers. With unemployment rates so high, a "promotion" which seeks to highlight job openings is not only helpful to American laborers, but on-brand with Red Wing's hard working image. I do not believe this will drive much of a spike in Red Wing's sales, but it certainly elevates the brand. And given some of the other retailers who are already joining in, I suspect this may be a way for the retail industry to drive awareness towards finding employment as opposed to another promotional weekend sandwiched between back-to-school tax-free sales and pre-holiday sales.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2020

    Can off-pricers overcome second-quarter turbulence?

    Discount retailers were faring quite well before the pandemic, and I have no reason to think they will not continue to thrive even more moving forward as personal finances are stretched thin due to job impacts and economic slowdowns. However, it's clear that even off-price retailers need to respond to the changing needs of their consumers. It's safe to assume that the revenue of TJX Cos. in Q2 was helped by their online sales, whereas Ross Stores' lack of an e-commerce site was a missed opportunity. Both brands would also further benefit from BOPAC capabilities.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2020

    Best Buy produces record results doing things differently in the pandemic

    An increased focus on localization, utilizing analytics to make informed decisions around consumer services, leveraging stores as fulfillment centers, and creatively addressing how to get product delivered as quickly as possible: these are all concepts that the industry has been discussing for the past few years and it's great to see an organization such as Best Buy really put them into execution and have positive results. Even though there may have been heightened demand for certain home products during the start of the pandemic, Best Buy's use of the appointment-only service was an agile response to consumer fears around shopping in crowded stores and provided an opportunity to allow high-conversion customers into their doors. It's this kind of innovation that should lend itself well to continued success for Best Buy.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2020

    Why is being stuck indoors boosting outdoor product sales?

    There are a variety of factors driving the surge in outdoor activity sales. For one, due to cohabitating, parenting, working and cooking primarily from home, many consumers are feeling pent up indoors, and just getting outside to take a walk is a release. Next, with gyms closed and many folks turning towards unhealthy eating and drinking habits during the pandemic, outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking and running are great opportunities to increase exercise. Like most changed habits during the pandemic, I don't expect the exponential growth to continue, but I do expect a lot of the gains to hold as a return to healthier lifestyles will provide immediate benefits both physically and mentally.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2020

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

    I think this is a tremendous example of an executive stepping up for the safety of her own associates and demonstrating a willingness to tackle front-line concerns and issues directly, and I applaud Ms. Spires for her leadership approach. While it likely won't resolve whatever issues anti-maskers might have about shopping with face coverings, it goes a long way towards declaring a willingness to have a dialogue with the organization from the top-down. I don't see a personal cell number being a risk to safety, although for more prominent national chains it might become quite a nuisance once the number is leaked and creates an opportunity for pranksters.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2020

    Build vs. buy: Is that still a question in retail IT?

    Buy for base functionality, configure for unique business rules, and custom develop proprietary differentiators. It's not always as easy as that, but it's a good guide when assessing the buy vs. build decision.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2020

    What does the pandemic mean for mobile pay?

    Mobile and contactless payments have been the future of in-person payments for the past several years, and like many other customer conveniences which have seen rapid adoption during the pandemic consumers are seeing the benefits and will likely maintain adoption. If you walk around a store, pre-pandemic or even now, you will find the majority of shoppers with phones in their hand but essentially none with their credit cards out. As the U.S. continues its push towards a cashless society, it's logical that frictionless payments become the more attractive option than taking the extra step of utilizing a physical payment card for payment. And for those who choose to use payment cards, a "tap and go" payment is certainly more convenient than a card swipe or insert. The challenge is the inconsistent adoption and support by the retail community which results in consumers having to utilize more traditional payment approaches at many of the stores they shop. However as the pandemic continues to drive consumer demand for mobile and contactless, the retail community is responding appropriately. Hopefully the banks and Federal Reserve will also do their part to make this customer convenience easier on retailers as well.

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