PROFILE

Zel Bianco

President, founder and CEO Interactive Edge

Zel Bianco and Interactive Edge have been helping companies, specifically in the Consumer Goods industry, run more efficiently since 1994. Zel’s focus is always on the needs of the client. He strives to be a real business partner to every customer — no matter what the size of the contract or the scope of the implementation. He wants to help companies eliminate the cumbersome and time consuming tasks associated with data management and organization in order to free up users time so that they can do what they were hired to do: generate insights to grow their business. Zel enjoys helping clients bridge the gap between category management and shopper insights. He collaborates with clients in the development of a process that streamlines the flow of qualitative data into customer facing presentations and reports.

As the president, founder and CEO of Interactive Edge, Zel is responsible for setting the company’s strategic vision and developing business alliances. He is also an industry thought leader who has enjoyed presenting at many industry conferences such as the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the International Committee of Food Retail Chains (CIES), SAP’s SAPPHIRE and SAP’s TechEd Demo Jam. He has been honored to speak at both DePaul University and Michigan State University, and has donated the Interactive Edge XP3 software for use by students at both of their business schools. Interactive Edge and its customers have won numerous industry awards in areas including Customer Management, Visionary Innovation, and Demand Data Analytics.

Prior to founding Interactive Edge, Zel held senior account management positions in the advertising industry, at Young & Rubicam and other large New York agencies. He worked with many consumer package goods clients and was a part of the account management team that introduced the IBM personal computer.

More information about Zel and his solution for presenting demand data analytics can be found at the Interactive Edge website.

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  • Posted on: 07/31/2020

    Nov. 2021: How should retail plan for a return to normal?

    Those retailers and brands that have continued to move forward, plan, automate and work collaboratively will be the ones that will increase their chances of navigating through this very challenging period and will emerge stronger. Those that cower in the corner and are afraid to pivot, take action and stop doing things the way they've always done them will be left behind. This is not the time to put off the very technologies that will help sales, category management, and operations become more nimble and efficient so that more time can be devoted to all of the new challenges we will need to get through in order to ever get back to anything that looks like normal.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2020

    What didn’t Jeff Bezos know and when didn’t he know it?

    Did he really not know the answers to those questions or was he displaying his version of CYA?
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    What can you learn about ecommerce sales driving on the NJ Turnpike?

    Our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter live in Northern Virginia so we find ourselves on the New Jersey Turnpike quite often, as least we did before COVID-19. It seems like Ron's "survey" is quite accurate as I joke to my wife who is a heavy Prime user that at least one of those Prime trucks is on their way to our apartment in Manhattan! Yes most are Amazon, followed by Costco and UPS and then I would say Frito-Lay trucks, Pepsi and Coke, as DSD is still a thing followed by the occasional Stop & Shop and Giant trucks. The real proof that e-commerce is through the roof is when picking up packages from the doorman/package handler. Lobbies of large buildings have turned into their own distribution centers with makeshift lanes for Amazon, UPS, and USPS, etc. It is a well oiled machine that is constantly churning to deliver what we think we need or what makes us just a little happier during these difficult and challenging dog days of summer.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2020

    Are boycotts becoming bigger risks?

    So many of us are so frustrated with feeling helpless and sometimes hopeless with the current administration that speaking out or boycotting companies and brands makes many feel empowered or at least like they're taking a stand. The problem for most companies is they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Politics is one of those subjects you never bring up with a client or customer and so retailers, manufacturers, and brands could stay above the fray, but if they do they risk being positioned as cold and uncaring. It is a difficult time and the truth is there are no easy answers.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2020

    Best Buy connects strong sales to frontline worker performance

    Pleasant, knowledgeable frontline workers are likely the most important connection to sales, whether it is Best Buy or any other retailer. Clearly, Best Buy sales associates need to have the technical knowledge to help shoppers wade through the wide range of choices and prices. I believe a reasonable level of knowledge should extend to all retailers who want shoppers to walk out happy. I happened to run into a Walmart recently to buy a heavy duty extension cord and after asking three different associates for help, I gave up. I looked up what I wanted on my phone and actually showed the associates that there were four of the brand I wanted in stock, but could not get a straight answer. I realize that not every associate can be perfect, so off to Best Buy I went.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2020

    Why does it take a crisis for retailers to get innovative?

    When it's do or die, people tend to do what they need to do to survive. There have been many other death threats to retailers for many years, but the COVID-19 crises has, I believe, scared them into taking real action this time.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2020

    Struggling retailers lay off workers and pay millions in executive bonuses

    It's one of the most tone deaf moves they could be making at this time. It follows the completely horrendous situation that small neighborhood businesses are in. Many of them are destroyed, which will lead to many more problems with families who have built their dream and put all they had into these businesses. The reality is that the government funds that were supposed to bail them out ended up going to major chains, lobbyists and private equity! Workers at Macy's, J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus should move to a retailer that is fair to their workers.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2020

    How murky has COVID-19 made retail data?

    It has absolutely rendered the process more challenging but not impossible. There are many trends and buying patterns, etc. that are erratic through the pandemic and will continue to be, but aligning your retail store shopper data together with your e-commerce data and trying to understand attributes can help guide your planning. No one has a crystal ball and that is why it is critical that retailers and manufacturers use this time of uncertainty to truly collaborate, share data and work together in order to emerge stronger!
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Has the pandemic changed shopping behaviors forever?

    Yes and no. It depends on the category. Many will continue to have groceries delivered until they get a few orders that are not up to their expectations -- the produce was lousy or the chicken was not what they expected, etc. Some will want to choose exactly what they want. Apparel may also be a category that many will be happy to continue to order if they are among those that have either been pleased with their experience during Covid. Others may be eager to return to how they shopped before, especially as they may have become frustrated with returns. The truth is that it remains to be seen.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2020

    Lululemon moves into in-home fitness with $500M deal for Mirror

    This definitely makes sense, as it both a practical way to get their customers in shape while also being a showroom of sorts as it is very likely that instructors will be showcasing new apparel.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2020

    Does Microsoft need stores?

    My only concern would be that shoppers would not have the ability to have the hands-on experience they had with Microsoft stores. Also if Apple decides to open their stores eventually, it may become a competitive disadvantage to not support physical stores.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2020

    Walmart teams up with Shopify to give Amazon a run for its money

    Never underestimate Walmart! They have a specific goal in mind for the percentage of revenue they want to have by 2024 and they have the logistics bones to make it happen. The combination of store fulfillment may make the difference in their approach and will be very interesting to watch. Fasten your seatbelts!
  • Posted on: 06/15/2020

    Do retailers need a chief health officer?

    Should there be someone in this position? Yes if you are an organization that is large enough to have one but in many cases, this is not possible. Small retailers and one- or two-location restaurant groups already have their hands full, so how do we expect them to be able to have someone on the payroll that handles this? This is an area where we should be able to rely on our federal government for an overarching plan. As we have seen our federal government drop the ball many times during this crisis, we have had to rely on the better judgment of state and local authorities to fill this void. In some states and cities, the void has been filled responsibly and in others, very poorly. This is where the National Restaurant Association and NRF have to come in to help the small guy have a chance to emerge from this and be able to stay in business.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2020

    Will retailers pass along or eat COVID-19 shipping surcharges?

    The industry has to be open to a more equitable share of the cost for shipping. If not, what happens? Either the retailer ends up paying more and reduces the chances of making a realistic profit or the consumer ends of paying more, which with over 40 million Americans out of work will create a more dreaded result. The very Americans that can least afford these new shipping costs will end up having to go into stores and increase their chance of testing positive for COVID-19. UPS and FedEx will need to share the costs for all to win.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Retail ensnared in nationwide protests

    The mayor of Atlanta said it best when she spoke. These actions by looters and rioters who burn police cars and loot stores are not helping the situation. She urged those that are understandably frustrated and fed up to go out and vote and put leaders in charge that effect real change. Change can only happen with legislation that is long overdue. Hurting retailers in neighborhoods where the local Target is the only place for customers to get their medication and other necessities helps no one.

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