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Leading From The Front

Leading From the Front




By Monica Woo

Five minute read

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with D.G. Hague, CEO and President of VIPER EA LLC. Despite of the pandemic, VIPER EA is making great strides while enabling retailers to thrive.

MONICA WOO: Des, you had led several global corporations in C-suite roles, including being the CEO and President of Centerplate, IHOP and Safeway Corporate Perishables. What attracted you to join VIPER EA eighteen months ago?


D.G. HAGUE: I love retail; and VIPER EA offers a one-of-a-kind solution to solve a huge problem confronting most retailers: profitability.  With our proprietary data science tools, machine learning foundation, and practical application techniques –VIPER can pinpoint inefficiencies and quantify profit leakages.  These issues may be isolated in physical and/or digital channels, by location, market, or brand levels, or even within logistics processes and fulfillment centers.

Our turn-key service compasses analytics, strategy, and implementation.  We recommend specific, customized, and pragmatic actions to improve performance at each hierarchy tier, down to individual personnel and transactional levels.

For retail businesses with thin margin, cash conservation has always been important.  VIPER’s ability to maximize profit at both the scaled enterprise and hyper-local level is essential to the retailers’ survival, especially during the COVID pandemic.


MW: Talking about the pandemic, how is your company impacted?


DH: I’m delighted to report that we continue to grow.  Indeed, in the last few months, we have on-boarded and “launched” several multi-billion-dollar retailers as clients.  This clearly underscores how compelling and relevant VIPER is.


MW: Your business sounds amazing, but let me play devil’s advocate:  Many executives leading retail businesses have planned out profit improvement initiatives and are regularly courted by external providers touting their solutions.  Why should retailers pay attention to VIPER?


DH: I love your challenge! Retailers should pay attention because VIPER WORKS.

Multiple client success stories demonstrate that VIPER can deliver incremental annual profit ranging from 1 to 3 percent of revenue. Let me illustrate with two examples:  In a $40 billion retailer in healthcare and pharmacy, we delivered $900 million in incremental profit over six years.  For a $3 billion grocery chain, we improved the bottom-line by $38 million in two years.

VIPER works because our proprietary analytics and machine learning models can uncover profit improvements on multiple fronts. We help retailers eliminate shrink and all other areas of profit leakage.  We also optimize inventory (in stock) position, merchandising, pricing & promotions, and improve fulfillment & logistics efficiency.  VIPER leaves no stone un-turned.

As you know, the economic volatility and consumer behavior shifts caused by the pandemic has made year-over-year demand and financial forecasting irrelevant.  To improve visibility in short and long-term revenue and cost outlooks, retailers need to rely on rolling forecasts week over week, even day over day.  Planning based on multiple scenarios is also critical.  VIPER can do all the heavy-lifting in dynamic and scenario-based forecasting on behalf of our retail clients.


MW: Let’s say I am extra obstinate and need more convincing.


DH: You’re tough! Well, here are more reasons why retailers love VIPER.

Many analytics providers, especially SaaS-based solutions, have a “one-and-done” model.  Once the solution has been deployed, the client is left on their own to sink or swim.  VIPER is the only company that combines smart analytics, artificial intelligence and human intelligence.  As part of the onboarding process, our COO Johnny Custer and Chief Strategy Officer Ernie Deyle partner with our clients to develop the rollout and practical application strategies.  Our retail and analytics experts are then embedded with the client throughout the process to ensure success.

Our monetization model is based on sharing in the incremental profit generated for the client. We win only when our client wins.


MW: VIPER puts skin in the game. I like that a lot.


DH: Our win-win partnership works, because we are highly confident in our ability to deliver substantial profit return.  Here’s another bold affirmation: we are offering a VIPER $1 million Profit Improvement Guarantee™.  We commit to achieving a minimum of $1 million in profit increase or pay the difference.  That is major skin in the game!


D.G. Hague is the CEO of VIPER EA, has served as an operating partner/advisor of several private equity firms, and board member to a number of for-profit and non-profit organizations. Des was formerly CEO & President of Centerplate, President of IHOP and of Safeway Corporate Perishables. 


Monica Woo is the CEO of WooWorks, which invests in, as well as develops and implements growth strategies for digital commerce, Artificial Intelligence and retail companies. Previously, she was President of and Bacardi Global Brands, and FreshDirect’s Chief Revenue & Strategy Officer. Monica is an advisor to the Board of VIPER EA LLC.


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VIPER has created a proven, proprietary Enterprise Acceleration (EA) methodology - which gathers data from throughout the retailer client’s enterprise; then feeds this data into our NV® AI system, leveraging Machine Learning to identify leading performance indicators and predictive models. These models isolate and quantify systemic problems, operational deficiencies, breakdowns in training, and/or execution failures which lead to gaps between business expectations and actual outcomes. Throughout the engagement, VIPER does the heavy lifting; partnering with the client throughout the engagement to determine the root causes of these issues, and to implement best practice solutions. The result is a return of 1%-3% of yearly revenue delivered to bottom line of the P&L.  VIPER’s profit improvements are measurable and isolatable from other company initiatives.

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