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Managing Editor

Retail Rants & Raves

By Joe Keenan

About Joe

Joe Keenan is senior editor of Retail Online Integration and Target Marketing Group's web-only brand, eM+C. In addition to his work on those publications, Joe has contributed articles for fellow Target Marketing Group publications Book Business and Publishing Executive magazines. Previously, he served as senior editor at Reed Technology & Information Services for five years. Retail Rants & Raves covers the wide spectrum of retail marketing, from the very best it has to offer to the very worst.


Designed to Convert

Tim Ash
3 Things Every Retailer Should Know About Mobile Visitors
Apr 23, 2014

Even as smartphones, tablets and wearables become ubiquitous aspects of consumers’ daily lives, digital marketers continue to struggle to figure...

Return on Inventory

Joe Palzkill
Good Plans, Great Reactions
Apr 22, 2014

An underappreciated component to inventory planning excellence is careful alignment of the planning calendar to the timing of marketing activities....

ThinkAbout: Inspirational Verve for Your Product Line!

Andrea Syverson
What's Waiting to Be ‘Just Born' in Your Production Line?
Apr 17, 2014

What holiday best represents your brand? How might the successes from that season be a springboard for others? What whimsical...

Retail Revelations

Melissa Campanelli
’Tis the Season for Experienced Retail Sales Associates
Nov 15, 2013

Many retailers are preparing for the busy holiday shopping days ahead by making sure their websites are working properly, their...

Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
Why Catalogs Aren't a Bunch of Ads Stapled Together
Apr 11, 2014

PATIENT: "Doc, our new owners want to change the catalog so it's more like a series of ads — aspirational, exciting,...

B-to-B Insights

George Hague
2 Must-Have B-to-B Metrics
Apr 9, 2014

Smart CEOs know two essential B-to-B metrics to successfully grow their businesses: contribution per order (CPO) for new customers and...

The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
3 Ways Retailers Can Avoid Warehouse Scalability Problems
Apr 2, 2014

Although growing quickly may seem like the ideal scenario, it can cause operational issues for retailers who are ill equipped...

Return on Intelligence

Jim Gilbert
2 Simple Ways to Become a Social Media Thought Leader and Build Your Following
Mar 18, 2014

Today I begin a new series about social media marketing. The goal is to help you become more adept at...

Shipping Insights

Rob Martinez
2014-2015 Conference Calendar for Supply Chain, Distribution, Postal, Specialized Industry and More
Mar 4, 2014

The value of attending conferences is significant: learn from a combination of expert and peer-led presentations on trends and strategies...


Stephen Lett
Actions to Take (or Not Take) When Response Rates Decline
Feb 19, 2014

Catalog response rates have been flat or trending down the past few years … or so it seems. The web...

Email Applied

Reggie  Brady
Taking Advantage of Events, Not Just the Big Holidays
Sep 16, 2013

Most marketers develop an editorial and promotional master calendar to help organize their upcoming email schedule. You want to have...

Tips for Customizing the Online Shopping Experience

In an effort to give you a sneak peek into the upcoming Retail Online Integration webinar, One Size Does NOT Fit All: Delivering Customized Shopping Experiences for Your Customers (you can register for free here!), I conducted an interview with Catherine Frye, marketing and customer services solutions manager, IBM Business Analytics. Frye will be co-presenting the webinar, and offered a few of her thoughts on the value of personalization in e-commerce. Here's a portion of that interview:  Read More >>


Familiar Themes Resonate at IRCE 2013

Having had a couple of days to regroup and recover from last week's Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, I wanted to take the opportunity this space provides me to offer my thoughts on the event. So, in no particular order, here they are:  Read More >>

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From Game Show Hero to Retail Innovator

One of the more interesting developments to come out of the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Nashville this week, from which I've just returned, is the launch of IBM Watson Engagement Advisor. The "super computer," named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was designed as a computing system that could rival the human brain's ability to respond to questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.  Read More >>


Reflections on NRF 2013

Now that a full week has gone by since the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York City, I've finally caught up and found the time to put together a post on what I took away from the show. Here are my thoughts (in no particular order):  Read More >>

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Back to Basics at

All of us that are either in or cover the retail industry for a living have undoubtedly heard the sentiment, "You must adapt your business to meet the needs of today's changing consumers." While I agree with this statement for the most part — consumers today have access to more information on your products and more avenues to buy those products than ever before — the last two words I take issue with: changing consumers. Are we really?  Read More >>

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International Expansion, Showrooming, Online Marketplaces Trending at IRCE

Having spent last week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, I came away with three key takeaways: One, if you're an online retailer not selling internationally, particularly in Australia, what are you waiting for? You're missing out on a potential growth opportunity for your brand. Two, brick-and mortar retailers must develop a strategy to deal with "showrooming," — i.e., consumers using stores as showrooms to check out products, then buying those products online at a...  Read More >>

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Really ‘Fair and Square’? How J.C. Penney Alienated a Valuable Customer

Shoppers want to think they're getting a good deal. By taking advantage of sales and using coupons, they get that feeling. J.C. Penney claims it's offering "every day" low prices, which isn't true. It may fool the nonshopper, but not the shopper.  Read More >>

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What I Learned at NRF 2012

The National Retail Federation's Annual Convention & Expo (aka Retail's BIG Show) in New York City wrapped up this past Wednesday. Here are some random conclusions I've drawn after roaming the cavernous Jacob Javits Convention Center for three days covering the event:  Read More >>

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Digital Shift in Plain Sight at Conference

It's no surprise that the majority of cross-channel retailers are focusing their attention online when analyzing the future growth of their companies. Consumers spent $165.4 billion online last year, an increase of 14.8 percent compared to 2009, according to the U.S. Commerce Dept. While certainly eye-catching numbers, that $165.4 billion accounted for less than 5 percent (4.2 percent to be exact) of total retail spending. So you can see why there's such excitement over the future of...  Read More >>

A Bright Spot Amid the Darkness

I’ve just returned from the eTail conference in Boston, and I got to say, the mood was pretty upbeat considering the economic news swirling around the event. A plummeting stock market, stagnant unemployment numbers, downgraded credit rating and talk of a double-dip recession seemed to be mere afterthoughts for those at the event. Heck, the only double-dip that internet retailers may be familiar with these days is scoops of ice cream as they celebrate their latest round of good news.  Read More >>

Thoughts on Another IRCE Gone By

While bad news around the economy continues to pile up — a plunging stock market, troublesome unemployment, a soft housing market, national debt that's out of control — the e-commerce industry seems unaffected. E-commerce sales are steadily rising and for many cross-channel retailers the channel is a bright spot in an otherwise dark place. This mood was certainly reflected at IRCE, where people were upbeat with where they were at and optimistic about their future.  Read More >>

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Mobile Marketing to the Rescue

I have a great example of how mobile/location-based marketing earned a retailer a customer last week. Retail Online Integration hosted its first Retail Roundtable Dinner Event at the super fancy Union League Club in New York City last Thursday. When one of the roundtable panelists showed up to the event in jeans and was denied entrance into the club by Union League staff, plan B quickly sprung into action.  Read More >>

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Mobile All the Talk at 'Catalog' Conference

In a testament to the evolution of the catalog industry, this year NEMOA introduced a new name for its conference. directXchange speaks to the multiple ways merchants can engage with consumers (not unlike the reasoning behind the renaming of this very publication a couple years back from Catalog Success to Retail Online Integration). It's not just about mailing catalogs anymore — and hasn't been for a while. If I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times: Consumers decide how,...  Read More >>

Another Stop on the Retail Conference Circuit?

Greetings from sunny San Diego, where I'm covering the Online Marketing Summit (OMS) for sister publication eM+C. I know, San Diego in February, tough gig. 

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New York & Company Risks Customer Relationship With Return Mishap

As is my custom here in this space, I like to bring to light retail experiences that either are worthy of praise or derision. Unfortunately for cross-channel women's apparel retailer New York & Co., this post falls into the latter category. The source for nearly all of my retail stories, my wife Stephanie, brought to my attention this latest incident involving her sister Christine and New York & Company.  Read More >>