Peter Schiff: The Bigger the Boom, the Bigger the Bust (Video)

During the New Orleans Investment Conference, Peter Schiff participated in a panel discussion with Ben Hunt and Mike Larson. They talked about bubbles, booms and busts. Hunt called it the “bubble of everything.” But he said the “gravitational force” created by all of the assets central banks have purchased over the last year have changed […]


How To Benefit From AI To Win The Market

0aaaAlexandr Galkin CompeteraRetail is changing at breakneck speed. The e-Commerce market is growing increasingly fast. Consumers are getting more demanding and sophisticated, as they expect personalized customer experience. Also, by using a variety of online tools, buyers have more means to instantly compare what different retailers have to offer. The amount of data retail teams need to process to set the optimal price is surging and becoming unmanageable for humans.

The retail market is embracing artificial intelligence and its core element, machine learning, to optimize pricing. For example, Amazon, which accounted for nearly half of the U.S. e-Commerce market, or $258.22 billion, in 2018, has come so far as to outsource a big chunk of the pricing process to AI. Its recommendations engine generates 35% of the company’s revenue by setting optimal prices based on customers’ purchasing history. It is easy to calculate how much artificial intelligence lets the U.S. giant earn.

What Makes Algorithms Beneficial?

AI-powered price optimization increases revenue by 1% to 5%, boosts profit margins by 2% to 10%, eliminates 80% of discount approvals and raises customer LTV by 20%, according to a Gartner report.

To deliver such results, the algorithm factors in patterns, processes massive amounts of data, develops a sort of intuition by taking in all the experiments, both successful and failed, that businesses paid for. Unlike humans, the machine understands when the market changes; it does not have “bad” days or hard weeks. The algorithm always offers the optimal solution for every situation, knows what outcomes the pricing and promo decisions will have, and predicts the short-term future. As machines take care of routine tasks, retail managers can finally switch to crafting a balanced strategy and ensuring a rewarding customer experience.

Why Are AI-Powered Solutions Not Yet Ubiquitous?

In its recent study, Deloitte states that despite heavy funding and optimistic forecasts, machine learning has not enjoyed much traction yet. Citing its 2017 survey of U.S. executives, the company indicates that no more than 62% of businesses using cognitive technologies or at least knowing what they are “had five or fewer implementations or the same number of pilots under way.”

Machine learning requires three elements to solve real-life business tasks:

  • High-quality data;
  • A well-oiled infrastructure; and
  • A trained and perceptive team.

These three factors make it difficult to deploy AI-based solutions fast. However, according to the same Deloitte report, the number of AI applications will grow by four times by 2020.

What Data Do Retailers Need In Order To Benefit From Algorithms?

The machine learning solution learns from historical, competitive and customer data spanning at least one year. The algorithm needs to “live” through every transaction and see the fullest picture of the customer journey for every product. If the data is of low quality or something is missing, the system will not work properly: the algorithm will not be able to calculate the right price and offer the right price prediction of sales or margins.

At the same time, the algorithm does not require the full body of data that retailers have. What the retailer deems important may be irrelevant for the solution. However, to identify what the system needs and what factors influence sales, it is essential to collect all the data in the right format.

How To Adopt Algorithms Effectively

Data preparation is considered responsible for over half of the success of the deployment of an AI-based solution. However, for businesses, the data is the beginning of the process. After the data is collected and structured, retailers need to take three steps to utilize machine-learning successfully:

  1. Choose an approach and build a model. Retail is an extremely complicated industry that depends on many variables, such as promotional and marketing activities, assortment and pricing, among many others. Each of these domains has hundreds of nuances that the system will have to take into account when predicting prices and sales. Therefore, retailers need to understand not only their business goals but also the steps that will benefit their business the most. Knowing what goals businesses have helps to identify the data algorithms retailers will need to work with.
  2. Roll out the infrastructure. The algorithm itself is not the answer to everything. To process massive amounts of data every day, the system needs a proper infrastructure powered by several levels of checking and notifications, which help to avoid errors in vital decisions. An in-house solution seems to be the most feasible option as it protects confidential data. However, only a small number of companies can deploy, maintain and update such a sophisticated system. As machine learning algorithms are becoming more affordable, external providers can be an option.  
  3. Develop and deploy the solution. This requires full engagement of the whole team of a retail enterprise. Quite often, managers either fear losing their jobs to AI or refuse to use the recommendations provided by AI as they do not understand its logic. Retailers can overcome this barrier with the help of a pilot: it proves the efficiency of the solution and wins the trust of the team.


To win in the modern retail market, businesses need to be agile, as it is the most feasible way to build a rewarding customer experience and thus to increase revenue. The capabilities of machine-learning are increasingly growing, and AI-powered solutions are becoming more affordable to a broader circle of retailers.

These solutions allow businesses to do two things:

  • Set optimal prices based on objective historical and competitive data while factoring in seasonality, customer behavior and any number of other parameters, including business goals.
  • Enhance their managers by allowing them to switch from routine tasks to strategic ones, which significantly benefits companies.

Without this technology, retailers are likely to be deprived of their market share in favor of those able to cater to their customers’ needs in real time.


Alexandr Galkin is CEO & Co-founder of Competera, price optimization software for enterprise retailers looking to increase revenue and stay competitive. He is a Forbes contributor, speaker at IRX, e-Commerce and RBTE conferences. 

from Latest Retail News, Strategies, & Trends – Retail TouchPoints – Retail TouchPoints

Exclusive Q&A With Grove Collaborative CEO: Building A Brand With A Foundation Of Conscientious Consumers

Stuart Landesberg GroveCollaborative 225pxIn this exclusive Q&A, Grove Collaborative CEO Stuart Landesberg talks about the product development, marketing and culture that has propelled the home care retailer focused on consumers’ health and wellness priorities.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): Can you fill us in on the background of Grove Collaborative?

Stuart Landesberg: I’ll start with me and my background…I always cared a lot about sustainability. As a kid I thought Seventh Generation was the biggest company in the world and it was my dream job to work there. As I started my career and got to know the CPG space better, I came to see that what was available to consumers at brick-and-mortar was not necessarily consistent with consumer values. In fact, about 70% of shoppers in the U.S. today prefer conscientious products. So, we started Grove…we think of our place in the market as converting folks who have been buying conventional products but want to make a better choice for their families and the environment. We started with excellent third-party partners, then launched our own brands as well.

RTP: Where is most of your customer base located?

Landesberg: About 50% of our customers have not tried natural products before. We actually do better in the middle of the country, including Texas, Kansas and Utah, vs. the coasts. What’s unifying for us is our core emotional territory around home and family. When my daughter drops an apple on the floor it should be ok if she picks it up and eats it, based on what I used to clean the floor. Our customer base crosses political, economic and geographical barriers. Everyone wants to create the best life possible for their families.

An example of our primary demographic is a 29-year-old mother of two working as a substitute teacher in Lawrence, Kansas.

RTP: What are the primary marketing strategies for the company?

Landesberg: We focus on the fact that Grove is an easy, low-risk way to bring great products into your home. You don’t have to care about sustainability to be a Grove customer; it just has to resonate as a connection to the home you’re creating. If we went to market with a heavy sustainability message it might feel too exclusive.

When we originally introduced the brand, it was by word-of-mouth in the early days of influencer marketing. Because it became an organic conversation among our followers, we were able to participate in the dialogue. That has been a core part of the business since we were tiny. As we have grown over time, we have maintained that close dialogue with people. Influencers were part of the mix for a long time. We work with thousands of people who speak about Grove and how it has impacted their lives. We don’t have celebrities speaking for the brand and that is ok.

RTP: Are there any technology partners that have helped Grove along the way? 

Landesberg: Although we have developed a lot internally, two partners that have been great for us are ShipHawk and Fishtown Analytics.  Both partners are folks who have helped us scale and have taken a truly collaborative approach to building solutions that drive shared success. 

RTP: Do all Grove employees share the core beliefs around sustainability, etc.?

Landesberg: One of my mentors shared an insight with me early on: if you work at a conscientious company you get conscientious customers and conscientious employees. My favorite thing to talk about is our employees. We have a phenomenal group of wonderful and brilliant people working at Grove. One of my favorite anecdotes happened when we were opening an office in Portland, Maine. I was doing back-to-back interviews to hire Grove Guides (like personal shoppers/helpers) and everyone who came in said they had been a Grove customer and couldn’t wait to join the company. That location has done extremely well.

RTP: How does your subscription service work? 

Landesberg: Our mission is to make it easy for customers to switch to more natural and sustainable products, and we’ve found that customers appreciate the ease that scheduled deliveries provide. These are categories where folks “run out” and so having a scheduled cadence allows us to fit into our community’s life over the long term.  That said, we have a lot of different ways to customize your experience, including without any auto-shipment.  No matter what though, each shipment is 100% customizable for what is best for you and optimized to ship in as few boxes as possible for the least amount of packaging and impact.

RTP: Can you talk about brand development and selection?

Landesberg: We sell our own brands as well as third-party partners’ brands. We don’t believe we are the only stakeholder in helping all families. We have strong partnerships with partners including Burt’s Bees, Method and Seventh Generation. We also started developing our own brands. The home care category is still sold 96% offline, so we are challenged with creating a unique relationship with consumers. It’s a different form factor focused on lower costs and a better environmental footprint. For example, we sell a reusable glass bottle for glass cleaner and a one-ounce concentrate as a refill. It’s hard to sell a one-ounce concentrate in a brick-and-mortar store where it won’t be as visible as a larger container sold by traditional brands.

RTP: Do you have plans to open brick-and-mortar stores?

Landesberg: It’s something we think about often. It could be interesting as we’re helping people transition from conventional brands to natural brands, but we don’t have immediate plans. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, to see us move to a physical presence within the next 12 to 24 months.

RTP: Have you had any mentors along the way?

Landesberg: I am fortunate to have had a number of really strong mentors, including investors, board members and collaborators, not to mention my parents. One in particular is the former CEO of Seventh Generation, John Replogle.

from Latest Retail News, Strategies, & Trends – Retail TouchPoints – Retail TouchPoints

United is Repainting All its Planes in a New Look — That Was Just Leaked

Nothing renews an airline like new planes but absent a giant plane order there always seems to be the thought that the airline can be refreshed by painting planes. It’s a years-long process and costly to undertake.

Ultimately though what United is unveiling is just an evolution. So for me at least it doesn’t induce a strong reaction at all, which is good compared to so many other attempts. But that leads me to wonder why bother at all?

Continue reading United is Repainting All its Planes in a New Look — That Was Just Leaked

from View from the Wing