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Sean Wargo

VP of Research, BDS Marketing LLC
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Has Rainbow Shops created a compensation model aligned with omnichannel realities?

    Kudos to Rainbow Shops for working to address the challenges of an Omni-channel world! What I particularly like about this approach is its additional benefit to the issue of show-rooming (shopping in the store but then purchasing online later). By assigning credit to the store for sales within its zip code, Rainbow is better accounting for the fairly common approach to purchases consumers take today. Now sales associates have an incentive to spend time with the consumer knowing a later online purchase can still count. I'd further echo Alex Senn's idea above with going a step further and linking to a specific associate for commission. As brick and mortar becomes more and more a showroom for browsing consumers, removing the distinction around place of purchase just makes good sense.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2017

    How can companies avoid the seven deadly sins of retail laggards?

    Well said, Craig. As I read the article and your comments, I find myself wrestling with the notion that leadership makes decisions based upon the information they have available at the time. Thus one could say this falls into the category of ignorance by not seeking out more data, more input, or more perspective. That may be true, but at a certain point a decision has to be made, even if its a "bad" one over the long term. All of this reminds me of a particular local retailer in my area who sold high-end home entertainment solutions. As prices for technology, in particular TVs plummeted thanks to online sales and low-end providers, this company got into panic mode. Next thing you know they had a sign on their roof saying they offered the best prices on flat panel TVs. This from a company who sells high end and a custom solution. You can guess what happened -- they closed within a year, unable to truly compete on price. But that's just it. They made the decision to compete in a way they couldn't and shouldn't and so paid the ultimate price for it by closing their doors. It's something retailers can definitely learn from as they look at how to change in the face of the new reality of the digital marketplace -- adapt but adapt in the RIGHT ways.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Will artificial intelligence replace CEOs?

    Put this one in the category of fun to think about, but not all that likely. It comes down to (and somewhat depends on) one's definition of the primary function of a CEO or other position. For a CEO, one would think, this would center around leadership. Underneath this is a need for charisma, emotional intelligence, problem solving, creative thinking and a host of intangibles. Translating this into a set of algorithms which sort, weigh and interpret the relevant data is no small task. Even harder is translating this in an emotionally compelling way back out. The proof of the Herculean nature of it is the sheer fact that many humans don't even do it very well. Sure machines can sometime exceed their human counterparts through their tireless ability to repeat a task with no fatigue or emotion, but this would seem to be more complicated. Then again, perhaps taking the emotional element out of being a CEO would improve performance? I guess we'll one day see whether some of us would rather follow a robot.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2017

    Can parking lots save the mall?

    I agree with the notion that this is a Band-Aid approach to the underlying problem. Or put another way, the lipstick on a pig in some cases. Sure a festival brings a crowd, but for what lasting purpose? These crowds are attracted by the event and when it is gone they are gone. The theory may be an awareness campaign sort of idea, in which the event gets customers to see what the mall has to offer and they will then come back. More likely, they don't get past the parking lot. Thus we have to ask, what are the real reasons why mall crowds are down? The shift to e-commerce is a part of it. But there is also some needed change in the typical store experience in order for consumers to come back. More than outside events as social experiences, the stores themselves need to figure out how to bring the social aspect into the store and to do a better job of extending the online experience into the store. Sure these are harder changes, as it is one retailer at a time, but it is a better guarantee of long-term success.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

    Should Bloomingdale’s sales associates receive commissions for online sales?

    Absolutely! In the current landscape of fluid online and in-store purchase paths, consumers are bouncing back and forth between associates and digital sources. Within this context it is only fair that an associate who has helped qualify a customer and lead them towards a purchase should get compensated for that action, even if the purchase ends up being made online. This is a common activity in consumer electronics as well, where product demos and comparison shopping is done in-store, but then the consumer opts for an online purchase due to an inventory issue. One possible way to handle this is by providing associates with the ability to complete the transaction for the consumer regardless of the ultimate source. Though with digital and brick-and-mortar coming together more and more, likely other solutions for connecting the dots will emerge.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    What’s needed beyond KPIs?

    While KPIs are clearly important for helping us understand company performance, the challenge is in the old adage "That which gets metric-ed, gets managed." Thus if the goal is to lift impressions or some other metric then the business shifts its focus to impacting this variable, sometimes at the expense of others, creating blind-spots for the organization. The point being, it's important to look beyond with some exploratory research to see how the market, the consumer or the competitors are changing. This may necessitate a shift in both the tactics employed and the corresponding KPIs. Plus, as noted by others, context is everything and so keeping a lens towards the factors and situations impacting KPIs remains important to helping determine when it's time to abandon the ship of an existing tactic or metric.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2017

    Should stores charge customers extra to use disposable cups?

    Ultimately, I'm not sure this solves the problem. In an affluent society consumers may not like the extra fee, but they will often pay it, thereby perpetuating the use of disposable cups and the waste they entail. As pointed out by Lyle Bunn, a better answer would seem to be materials science. Why couldn't the premium price for your favorite hot beverage cover the R&D needed to develop ultra-degradable cups? Or perhaps go towards community composting options? There are many up- or down-stream possibilities with potentially unforeseen benefits. All of that seems more likely than getting consumers to shift habits, particularly when a reusable mug is more challenging (and potentially less sanitary) for the in-store process.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2017

    Why is digital advertising underachieving?

    Part of what we are seeing is a disconnect between the vision of what we'd like to be possible and what is actually easy to accomplish. Take the data side of digital advertising in particular. While the collective vision these days is enamored with Big Data and mapping the customer journey, the actual logistics of doing so are much harder than one might think. Companies today are inundated with data from multiple sources. Coherently and effectively mapping that data together is a large challenge which can't simply be wished away. It requires significant investment in the appropriate BI skills, tools and processes to accomplish -- something which is still evolving. Yes, some cool solutions for data integration and visualization exist, but a company still needs to provide infrastructure to support it. Chalk it up to an area of major opportunity for firms with the savvy to help guide this process of integration as we go from here.
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