Social Media Power

I know I’ve said it before but I am always amazed at the power of a social media post. The scope and reach is just amazing.
I posted on LI yesterday about going to NRF and so far, I have 3 new connections, and over 1200 views. In one day.
Hopefully this will be a great trip – want to see new tech, hear new ideas, and possibly find a place to use both!
Connect with old friends, make some new ones, and just revel in all things #Retail

I’ll post more from NYC~~
Your Man on the Street-
That Planning Guy

Week 8 picks – lets get paid !

Back from the week at sea, completely disconnected, and recharged.

Last week I gave 3 picks and a teasers, and was PLUS money, so lets keep that strategy.

This week –
Steelers Over 49
Bears Over 42
And Seahawks getting 3 – But Seahwaks +125 is even better

Teaser Gift: Chiefs, Rams, Eagles (-2.5,-1.5, +10.5)

Refreshed Planning Guy, at your service


Sad Day

So here we are on PI day, and a lot of sad news.

Possibly the smartest guy on earth passed away, Stephen Hawking.  76 years, and an inspiration on so many levels. Amazing guy, amazing story, and sad to see him pass.

Then Toys R Us announced they are the latest victim of the Retail Apocalypse – Closing all stores.  Cant make money selling toys to kids is a brutal end.

Both stories in a way reinforce the message in my head: The only way to survive is to offer something no one else is.   You cant compete on someone else’s terms, only on your own – and be the BEST at your yours.
Hawking did what he did his way – and will be forever remembered as a genius, not a victim, or a sad tragic figure, or some kind of handicap-related stereotype.  I would assume he could have just retreated, but he didn’t and he did breakthrough work.
Toys R Us never really found their WHY people should shop there, so they simply didn’t enough.

You cant compete on Price Only with Walmart or Amazon.  You cant win a convenience war, or a E-Com war all in a vacuum.
I still look back to Best Buy vs, Circuit City.  One thrived, one closed.  The difference was not product, price, locations – they were pretty similar.  They were separated by the WHY people shop.

Who wins and who loses, who survives, and who disappears all come down to simple basic choices, I hope.  Choose wisely. As if your life depends on it.

-That Planning Guy
PS- ShopTalk next week!  Looking forward to seeing some old friends in my city!


Pricing Strategy

My usual grocery store sells my favorite energy drink as $2.50 each.  A 4 pack is $7.99. 8 pack is $14.99

This week’s  sale (and often is) was 2/$3.00. Isn’t the idea of promotions to drive SOME form of incremental gains? This promotion drove down both units and basket size.  Nice.

I wise man said  “we all know only 50% of promotions work, but we don’t know which 50%.”  (Wise is a gross understatement, by the way. Possibly one of the smartest people in the universe, and a Chief Science Officer of a company just full of genius-level scientists)

So to my grocery friends- if you would like to run your promotion ideas past me, I would be happy to vet them and crunch the #’s for you in my spare time.  Stop doing things that throw away money. Just stop.

To the rest of you, another good quote from the week:  Never miss the opportunity to take advantage of a crisis.  When someone leaves money on the floor, be sure to pick it up.

I love the smell of money in the morning.

-That Planning Guy

Never stop learning

This week we are being trained on Power BI- and I am looking forward to this on a lot of levels.

First and formost, I get to be a #datanerd for an entire week.  Build models, mold data, make analytics, visualiztions, make data sing and dance. Cant stress enough what a great escape from day to day that will be.

But even better, I actually get to learn. I realized a few years ago  that I spend a lot of my time teaching, educating, mentoring, role-modeling, and lot of other buzzwords that are synonoms for giving back and passing on expereince.  But I spend very little time focussed on my learning.  And I miss it.  Its hard to be a servant leader and selfish at the same time!

When you are young in your career, you think you know a lot more than you do, so you almost resist learning opportunities, and resent them when forced upon you.  But now I actually clamor for such opportunities,  to learn and broaded for the sake of learning.  Locked in a room, surrounded by  smart people, absorbing information. Awesome.

I’ll give a review next week on Power BI and the coolness thereof, and I have VERY high expectations, but for now, I am eager to be a student for a bit.  Open mind, juiced up laptop, fast WiFi, and a wookie-mug of coffee.  Giddieup.

But I am still,
-That Planning GUy

Planning, Pricing, Purchasing, OH MY!

A few disconnected situations floated by me this week, and of course That Planning Guy has to make the connections.  Nothing is truly random.  (Old Dilbert joke about an accounting Troll, generating random #’s… he is yelling 7,7,7,7,7,7,7.. Dilbert asks “Is that random? How can we really know?”)

First, someone commented about how strong the demand was for advanced Planning and Assortment tools in the marketplace today.  Very true: I have preached for years, it all starts with great planning. Planning drives assortment. Assortment drives replenishment.  Replenishment removes stock outages. Throw in good product, of course – and the right product, at the right time, in the right amounts makes money. The consolidation in software makes everything both very specialized and homogenized.  Hard to differentiate one great tool from the next, without a DEEP understanding of what the tool brings. Feature-Advantage-Benefit. “How does THAT help me” is the question I often ask.

Next, someone else commented about a price of water on their vacation being MUCH lower than they could have (a large bottle of premium-brand water for $4.50 in Cayman?? That’s just crazy talk. Piled of money laying on the floor.) Clearly whoever determines that price is not listening to the demand signals, and pricing based on a perceived IMU goal.  If the water was $4.95, would the guest even NOTICE, let alone care? No, and we all know that is true.  But your P&L would certainly notice the 10% profit flow-through boost.

Last, a guest service ‘situation’ came up, and I don’t often get to be involved.  A group of College students are coming to town to attend a large Apparel show, as they are in a merchandising-related major.  I spoke to the students last year who came, and I had a really good time. This year, they moved from a competitor’s hotel to one of ours and I helped them arrange it.  They made some # kids to room changes to be able to afford the new luxury hotel, and I appreciated that they preferred to stay in ‘our house.’ Long story, there was some mix up in the reservations, and they needed an accommodation added to the rooms that was not normally included, and reached out to me to see if I could help.  They were literally at the peak of their budget already by staying in a great resort. So I reached out to a partner at the property, and he reached out to one of his partners, and within a day, we had resolved this issue.  It cost the company ZERO to solve this problem.  What did we gain? This group will now stay here every year, hopefully forever.  The rooms and resort are beautiful, so 30 people per year, 10 years, that’s 300 new loyal customers.  AND— since College kids, I would assume they are all Social-Media fiends, as my college-age daughter is, so likely have 1000’s of connections.  This simple act may have changed the perception of tens of thousands of customers over time. 

So where is the correlation?  Listening to the customer, and not just superficially.  What are they saying, but what are they SAYING.  Spend patterns, buy patterns, hotel reviews, restaurant surveys, Yelp, FB and Insta, survey monkey, and simply asking the question – all these tell a story if you are reading it correctly. BIG picture, connect the dots.

And to react to it properly, you need to not just hear it, but understand it, internalize it, draw insights, and react to it – all in near-real time.

Right product+ Right time+ Right amount+ Right price = Right Profits.  Any of these fail, and the chain is broken.


Aloha Friday, fellow #datanerds

-That Planning Guy

Fourth Quarter


Great scene in a lot of movies, but the gesture originally credits back to Bear Bryant at ‘Bama- the fourth quarter belongs to us.

So we are having a good year, up well, good flow through, many new initiatives paying off.  Could easily coast through the end of the year. Ease back on driving business and relax a little.

I am having a good year as well. Planning dept doing great, amazing people.  New role, new challenges, new team members. Fun.  Could easily coast into the Holidays~~~ Ease back at the gym, come in a little later, maybe a few early outs.

We started the year with a BRING IT attitude.  We need to end it with a BROUGHT IT statement.  We’ll figure out next year after the ball drops on Times Square.

We play 4 quarters here.  Finish strong, finish what we started, finish to set the tone for the new year.

(“We play for the moments yet to come, looking for our place in the field”)

Stay tuned, faithful readers~~~

-That Planning Guy
PS- Go Gaels

ROI- Retail Orphan Initiative

I took part in the ROI event this year in NY at the NRF conference.  I can only say that I was truly proud to be a part of the great day for the great cause.

I ran across this in RIS this week: RIS ROI Article

All I can say is THANK YOU to Darren Singer and Shopko Stores for showing what caring looks like.

As SVP of Retail Health & Wellness for Shopko Stores, my mission is to improve the quality of life for the patients and families in the communities we serve. Joining the Retail Orphan Initiative and my compatriots in our industry in this righteous cause of caring for orphans and foster kids is aligned to this goal. This cause resonates with me as a father and a citizen of the world. I hope it does you as well.

For this reason, I am issuing a donation challenge to like-minded retailers and partners to join RetailROI make a difference. I have donated $1,000 and challenge my friends and colleagues in the industry to donate as well. $1,000 to RetailROI this month means 50 special needs orphans can move from an impersonal orphanage into a loving foster home.

Whether you are participating in March Gladness or simply want to make a donation, I urge you to get involved. You can donate here. 100% of the money raised after payment fees goes to help these children. Will you please join me?

Together we can make a HUGE Difference.

Darren Singer
SVP Retail Health and Wellness
Shopko Stores

The Retail Orphan Initiative is grassroots charity made up of retailers, vendors and partners in the Retail/Hospitality Industry to leverage our skills, networks and companies to make a real difference for orphans and vulnerable children in the US and around the world. Inspired by the work of the late Paul Singer (CIO of Target and SuperValu), RetailROI has helped over 180,000 children with clean water, schools, computer labs and business training in the last seven years. Please get involved. More information is available