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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.


Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
Benefit + Unique Sells
Apr 23, 2015

Are your catalog and products unique? Are they loaded with customer benefits? If "yes" to both, are you also telling...

Return on Intelligence

Jim Gilbert
How to Beat the 140-Character Limit on Twitter
Apr 21, 2015

A few weeks ago, Twitter made a major change to its user interface allowing marketers to break the barrier of the 140-character...

The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
Become Part of the Problem-Solving Business
Apr 17, 2015

A great fulfillment partner is one that can help business owners accomplish their goals by providing trust, excitement and new...


Stephen Lett
50 Best Tips for 2015
Feb 9, 2015

It's a new year and the Lett Direct team has put together "50 Best Tips for 2015" that will help you increase...

Shipping Insights

Rob Martinez
FedEx SmartPost to Raise Rates Again?
Mar 30, 2015

While FedEx SmartPost hasn't made any public announcements as of this publication, select customers have received written notifications of a...

Designed to Convert

Tim Ash
If You Need More Darned Clutter on Your Site ...
Mar 27, 2015

You've probably heard this one before: When you're trying to get a visitor to your site, you should be screaming...

Return on Inventory

Joe Palzkill
Get Returns on Your Returns
Mar 5, 2015

With the advent of omnichannel retailing, the subject of customer returns has become a hot topic for retailers. The financial...

Retail Revelations

Melissa Campanelli
When Email Snafus Happen to Good Companies
Nov 12, 2014

Say it ain't so! I was actually sad when I read in MarketWatch this week that Seattle-based online retailer Zulily’s...

Email Marketing Bites

Liz Ryan
The Email Hierarchy of Needs: Deliverability is the Foundation
Jun 18, 2014

If you're not getting the most of your email messaging, you might not be asking the right questions. How many...

Email Applied

Reggie  Brady
Subject Lines That Work
Jul 18, 2014

Standing out in the inbox isn't easy. A lot of promotional emails I receive have subject lines that aren't special....

ThinkAbout: Inspirational Verve for Your Product Line!

Andrea Syverson
Springboard From Your Brand Filter
Jun 26, 2014

One of the most important ways I strengthen my clients’ brands and product lines is by collaborating with their leaders...

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...

Retail Jobs Not so Bad After All?

The National Retail Federation (NRF) today released a study authored by a University of Georgia economist who found that retail jobs pay wages that are highly competitive with those in other industries. The NRF's report, Wages in the Retail Industry: Getting the Facts Straight, is part of its Retail Jobs Week, an initiative from the trade association to educate Washington lawmakers about the value retail jobs deliver for millions of workers and the economy as a whole.  Read More >>

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Urban Outfitters Crosses the Line With 'Bloody' Kent State Sweatshirt

In case you haven't seen or heard the news yet, Urban Outfitters is embroiled in yet another controversy. The apparel retailer decided it was a good idea to sell a red-stained, seemingly blood-splattered "Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt" on its website. The university in Kent, Ohio was the site of a deadly confrontation between students protesting the Vietnam War and the Ohio National Guard. Four students were killed and nine others were wounded on a fateful day in May 1970. Yet Urban...  Read More >>

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 >>