Key takeaways from NRF’s BIG Show 2014

 Ian Rogers

Ian Rogers

National Retail Federation’s 103rd annual BIG Show broke records with 30,000 attendees, 500 exhibitors, and 120 educational sessions. As usual, all the hot topics on the minds of today’s retailers were on the agenda, as well as a broad range of diverse technology exhibits.

Leading retailers from across the country were present, with different business goals but a seemingly shared vision: improve the customer shopping experience across multiple channels—online and off. Here’s a rundown of some of the few key themes and notable technologies that came up time and again at this year’s show. Read more of this post

How cloud is transforming retail

Ian Rogers

The retail sector is experiencing a period of massive change on a scale not seen in at least a decade. Traditional lines of competition are blurred and the barriers to entry significantly reduced. Competition is no longer constrained by traditional rivals and the main differentiators of price, quality, brand, and location. The rise of new consumer technology has enabled competition from manufacturers, small online startups, and even long distance online retailers.

Read more of this post

Maximizing store space with localized inventory assortments

Ian Rogers

It’s an age-old challenge for retail: what is the ideal breadth and depth of product offerings in a store that meets competing objectives, including:

  • Maximizing store turnover vs. maximizing product selection and availability
  • Store-to-store consistency vs. local market customization
  • Store vs. digital product selection and availability

This challenge has become even more difficult in this customer-centric omni-channel environment. Customer expectations and shopping behaviors have changed, which is challenging the role the physical store plays. Stores used to be the primary way of selling products, so the focus was on how to drive foot traffic to the store. Sales were then driven by the product availability and customer service in the store. This role is changing as the relationship between customers and retailers becomes more complex and personalized. Stores are more and more becoming the medium for brand building, engagement, and product showcasing to drive sales across all channels. Read more of this post

Improving the Customer Experience with Responsive Design

Ian Rogers

For IT executives within retail, the digital world continues to evolve and become increasingly challenging as you develop your omni-channel capabilities and focus on delivering a consistent customer experience across all channels. This is due to the increasing growth of various mobile devices and form factors, along with mobile becoming the preferred method for customers to access information and perform transactions. We understand you’re under huge pressure to provide brand-appropriate, mobile versions of important tools and resources.

The tough technical hurdles and high development costs for an ever-increasing number of platforms to build and support custom mobile applications are incredibly daunting. Additionally, the need to create and support separate web and mobile sites is a huge burden for IT—and a source of confusion for customers. Read more of this post

Don’t Wait for Washington—Just Get on With It and Hire

Ian Rogers leads the Retail Practice at Slalom Consulting and is an accomplished business leader with 20+ years in retail/supply chain management, portfolio, program, and project management. Ian’s expertise comes from working in multiple countries (Canada, UK, US, China) and in multiple sectors including manufacturing and multi-channel retail (office products, mass merchandising, lifestyle brands). Over the years Ian has worked with Fortune 500 companies as both a senior line leader and as a management consultant in supply chain and IT. This broad-based experience provides him with the ability to take a holistic view, thereby understanding the potential impact changes in one area of the business will have on other areas.

Ian Rogers leads the Retail Practice at Slalom Consulting and is an accomplished business leader with 20+ years in retail/supply chain management, portfolio, program, and project management.

There was a huge push through multiple presentations by many senior retail executives at the 2013 National Retail Federation Annual Convention & Expo for the industry to take the lead on job creation. The nation has been suffering from paralysis waiting for someone to pick up the leadership gauntlet and do something. With both political parties continuing to share power after the 2012 election, it is unlikely that bold new initiatives to move the economy forward will come from Washington.

We know that the number-one issue to grow the economy is jobs. The retail industry doesn’t have to win an election, convince Congress, or pass a bill to do what we think is right. We can simply move forward doing what we know how to do best—grow our businesses. This sentiment was expressed in various forms by CEOs Terry Lundren (Macy’s), Walter Robb (Whole Foods), Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Kip Tindell (The Container Store), and Bill Simon (WalMart US Operations).

Out of the group, WalMart announced the most definitive initiatives to drive American retail renewal.

1) Retail has good jobs
Bill Simon was passionate about retailers being vocal on the great jobs people can have in retail. The retail industry provides 1 in 4 of the jobs in the USA. While some people say retail jobs are not good and poor-paying, this is just not true. The retail industry provides huge opportunities— providing part-time jobs for those who need them, like students, moms, and retirees. It also provides full-time jobs where people can build a career and go as far as their capabilities will take them, from stock person to CEO. A mid-level manager can earn $50 to $60K per year—similar to a policeman or fireman’s pay. And a store manager at Walmart can earn a base salary of $150 to $250K per year plus bonuses and benefits—similar to a lawyer or doctor.

2) Jobs for vets
“Beginning Memorial Day, Walmart will offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran within his or her first twelve months off active duty. We project that Walmart will hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years,” Simon said. These jobs will help vets earn an income while they determine their next career, or serve as a starting point if they want to enter the retail industry.

3) Support American manufacturing
By supporting more American manufacturing, more jobs can be created. Simon committed that Walmart will buy an additional $50 billion in US manufactured products over the next ten years by increasing the already two-thirds of American products it sells.

Here at Slalom we are continuing our strong growth. In 2012, we hired more than 600 consultants and our target is to hire approximately 900 more across our 11 offices in 2013.

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