Retail Focus 3/16/18 – Party City’s Growth; Big Lots’ Margins Expand; American Manufacturing & Retail

March 17, 2018

We begin with a pair of earnings calls—despite same-store sales declines, Big Lots sees margin growth, and Party City continues to see success in both their retail and manufacturing segments. Additionally, we look at Express’ plan to convert full-line stores to outlets and Ikea’s idea to assemble customer satisfaction. Our interview guest is Racked senior editor Meredith Haggerty, who joins us to talk about her piece connecting U.S. manufacturing with fashion retail. We’re brought to you by the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition; visit and use the promo code RETAIL18 to get 10% off IRCE 2018 conference passes.


Retail Focus 3/9/18 – Target Earnings; Toys “R” Us Rumors; Advanced Stats & Staffing in Retail

March 10, 2018

We start with positive moves from Target released in their latest earnings call—even if the market doesn’t see them as such. Our news section is rounded out with discussion of rumors that Toys “R” Us may exit the U.S., the Walking Company’s bankruptcy, and Walmart meal kits. Our interview guest is Percolata Founder & CEO Greg Tanaka, who discusses how use of advanced analytics in retail can help companies to more accurately schedule employees. We’re brought to you by the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition; visit and use the promo code RETAIL18 to get 10% off IRCE 2018 conference passes.


Retail Focus 3/3/18 – Kohl’s & Aldi Team Up; Lowe’s Initiatives; Kiosks in Retail Stores

March 4, 2018

We lead our podcast with the news that captured headlines this week: that Kohl’s is partnering with Aldi to fill vacant real estate in reorganized stores. We’ll also discuss new initiatives from Lowe’s (and their earnings), a new material debut from Crocs, and Best Buy’s planned closure of their mobile stores (and lease issues that might make it a less-than-smooth process). Our interview dives into innovations surrounding in-store kiosks in retail. We’re brought to you by the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition; visit and use the promo code RETAIL18 to get 10% off IRCE 2018 conference passes.


Retail Focus 2/23/18 – Walmart Earnings, Rite Aid-Albertsons Deal, Printing Technology in Retail

February 24, 2018

Two big stories in retail this week lead off our show: Walmart earnings and the potential sale of Rite Aid to Albertsons. In addition, we look at areas of growth for Sprouts, and why investment in employee training may give them a long-term competitive edge. Our interview guests are Michael Zolot and Jeff Sandler of Brother, who discuss the changing relationship between retailers and printing technology. We’re brought to you by the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition; visit and use the promo code RETAIL18 to get 10% off IRCE 2018 conference passes.


Retail Focus 2/17/18 – Seasonal Hiring at Home Depot, Lowe’s; Mobile as an Employee Resource

February 18, 2018

We lead off with a lengthy look at Home Depot and Lowe’s seasonal hiring efforts for the spring, and how they compare historically to endeavors of years’ past. We also discuss a possible Lids sale, GNC, and Chipotle’s new CEO. Our guest is Stratix Chief Solutions Officer Gary Lee, who discusses how retailers can best put mobile solutions in the hands of employees to remove friction for the customer. We’re brought to you by the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition; visit and use the promo code RETAIL18 to get 10% off IRCE 2018 conference passes.


Retail Focus 2/10/18 – Amazon Earnings; Finding Retail Real Estate; Collecting Floor Feedback

February 13, 2018

In our news portion, we discuss Amazon’s latest earnings (and other endeavors), Bon-Ton’s bankruptcy, Kroger’s c-store selloff, and Lululemon’s management shakeup. Our first guest is Mike Christenson of Sites USA, who talks about the latest information systems that allow retailers to find the perfect real estate. We’re also joined by Todd Thiesen and Ville Levaniemi of feedback generator HappyOrNot, who discuss their system to collect real-time customer feedback on the retail floor.


Retail Focus 2/2/18 – Super Bowl Sales Projections; Retail Staff Training; the New Era of Cash Drawer

February 2, 2018

We first dive into the NRF’s new projections for retail sales surrounding the Super Bowl in the U.S. before discussing how Simon’s latest earnings call represents surprising strength in the mall space. Our guests are Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify (who chats about refining retail staff training) and Stephen D. Bergeron of APG Cash Drawer (who tells us of a new technology that can save retailers time and money on the front end).


Retail Focus 1/28/18 – P&G Tries to Keep Up; Shelf-Edge Technology; Keeping Carts Germ-Free

January 29, 2018

In a packed edition, we begin by discussing Procter & Gamble’s attempts to keep up with emerging consumer brands, Amazon’s new location, and 7-Eleven’s big acquisition. Our first interview guest is Charles Jackson, President at shelf-edge technology leader Pricer who discusses adoption of electronic shelf labels. We’re also joined by Jeff Taylor, President of PureChem, who chats about the germ-ridden shopping cart and a technology allowing retailers to keep them clean for their customers.


Retail Focus 1/24/18 – Live From NRF 2018: Brandless, Retail Economics, and Store Lighting

January 26, 2018

It’s a star-studded special edition of the Retail Focus Podcast, as we broadcast from various areas at NRF 2018 in New York. Tina Sharkey, CEO of Brandless, is our first guest—she discusses the launch of their direct-to-consumer platform in summer 2017. After a look at the holiday shopping numbers, we’re joined by Jack Kleinhenz, NRF Chief Economist, who talks modeling and retail projections. Finally, Charles Zimmerman, former VP of Design and Construction at Walmart, chats about their partnership with Current to implement LED lighting in 6,000 locations worldwide.


Retail Focus 1/12/18 – Positives for Kohl’s and Target; Sam’s Club Pulls Plug on 63 Locations

January 13, 2018

It begins as a podcast of positivity, with Target and Kohl’s both releasing holiday sales updates that outpace most expectations. In addition, Kohl’s looks to repurpose some square footage, Sam’s Club’s reasons for shuttering 63 stores seem suspect, and Five Below displays same-store gains. We also take a deep dive into one state’s retail real estate report, which provides several surprises and also some optimism for brick-and-mortar.


Retail Focus 1/7/18 – Year-In-Review: Our Five Most- and Least-Successful Retailers of 2017

January 8, 2018

After starting with a note about Walgreens’ most recent earnings call, we launch into our annual year-in-review episode. We count down our rankings of the five most- and least-successful retailers of 2017, and hear from frequent podcast guests about their own lists. In closing, we briefly discuss even more closings for Sears Holdings, and what we see as positive holiday sales numbers for JCPenney.


Retail Focus 12/29/17 – Early Signs Point to Robust December; A New Era of Payment Processing

December 29, 2017

We begin with the most optimistic retail news of the week: several surveys find that 2017 might be the most robust holiday shopping season in several years. Meanwhile, Home Depot makes one acquisition and eyes another, Kroger continues project rollouts, and Hobby Lobby inks several notable real estate deals. Our guest is BIM Networks CEO Adam Frisch, who discusses who retailers can drive revenue using a payment processing system, all while reducing the burden of swipe fees and processing charges.


Retail Focus 12/22/17 – Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Spend; Mall of America’s Use of A.I.

December 22, 2017

After taking a look at some of Bed Bath and Beyond’s seemingly contradictory initiatives, we are joined by Dani Cushion, CMO at Cardlytics, who discusses how their research suggests holiday spend of the last-minute shopper might be larger than meets the eye. Additionally, Justine Santa Cruz of Satisfi Labs joins to discuss Mall of America’s recent A.I. investment, and we glance at the latest surrounding the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy.


Retail Focus 12/15/17 – Target Makes A Last-Mile Play; Dynamics Behind E-Commerce Glitches

December 15, 2017

The big retail news this week is Target’s agreement to purchase grocery delivery service Shipt, and we discuss the knowns and the yet-unknowns from the deal. C-store giant Casey’s continues to grow despite disappointing earnings, and GGP shoots down a potential acquisition bid. Our guest is Rebecca Herson, VP of Marketing at Anodot, who discusses the costly nature of glitches on e-commerce sites, and ways in which sites can minimize the resulting damage.


Retail Focus 12/8/17 – AutoZone Continues New Initiatives; the Reputation of Retail Brands

December 9, 2017

Although we begin our show looking at Big Lots’ latest earnings results and finish with Teavana and Duluth news, we spend time glancing at AutoZone’s recent push to expand their megahub program, and how that plus commercial sales may boost future revenue for the company. Our guests on this show are Mark Lange and Bradley Null with, who discuss their recently released study on retail brands’ reputation amongst consumers.


Retail Focus 12/1/17 – Kroger’s New Policy & an Earnings Beat; Micro-Influencers & Retail

December 2, 2017

We not only summarize early data from Thanksgiving weekend retail sales on this podcast, but we look at two strategic changes at Kroger and how their third quarter earnings bested expectations. Sears Holdings is losing slightly less money, Toys “R” Us executive compensation is under a microscope, and Albertsons partners with Instacart. Our guest is Gatsby CEO Brett Bernstein, who discusses micro-influencers, their importance to retailers, and the genesis of the company.


Retail Focus 11/24/17 – Thanksgiving Weekend Sales, Dollar Tree Improves Across the Board

November 25, 2017

In this Black Friday edition of the Retail Focus Podcast, we begin by discussing both survey data and anecdotal accounts in attempting to determine just how robust Thanksgiving Weekend sales may have been. Then, we look back to third quarter earnings calls from prior in the week, as Lowe’s continues positive home improvement retail momentum, Dollar Tree crushes it while boosting margins, and DSW blames hurricanes and weather for sub-optimal results.


Retail Focus 11/17/17 – Walmart, JCP, Home Depot Crush Expectations; A Different E-Commerce Perspective

November 17, 2017

It’s a podcast of optimism and positivity, as three major retailers all beat analyst expectations during earnings calls this week. JCP reduces the burden of inventory, Home Depot continues their hot streak, and Walmart posts increasing sales in nearly every facet of their business. Our guest is Anthony Ferry, CEO of PriceSpider, who discusses e-commerce from a manufacturer’s perspective, including evaluation of minimum advertised price agreements and customer feedback.


Retail Focus 11/10/17 – Pharmacy Grows, Front-Store Shrinks at CVS; Unifying Customer Data

November 12, 2017

We begin with CVS, as the pharmacy giant’s earnings call gave us several things to ponder. Additionally, we look at the gradual improvement plan and right-sizing of the retail base at Crocs, what may be the final HSN earnings call, and Kroger’s misgivings about using AWS. Our guest is Eric Keating, VP for Marketing at Zaius, who discusses the importance of unifying customer information across all platforms for retail companies.


Retail Focus 11/3/17 – Under Armour Scuffles, Customer Engagement in Grocery

November 4, 2017

Our lead is Under Armour, who for the first time as a publicly traded company showed shrinking sales in their most recent quarter. We also cover Lumber Liquidators (and more one-time legal expenses) and Albertsons’ latest real estate initiatives. Our interviews in this episode both explore grocery: Kelly Podzemny, who was the first social media coordinator for United Supermarkets, and Diego Maniloff with Unata, whose firm has developed voice ordering technology for independent grocers.