Coming out of the Retail Value Chain Federation Fall Conference, it was clear that retailers, merchandise suppliers and even service providers are facing a do-or-die situation. It's a simple choice – adapt to meet the needs of today's consumer or become obsolete. Period. That means optimizing drop ship and direct-to-consumer operations, practicing strategic trading partner relationship management, expanding into untapped markets, and increasing face-to-face collaboration. -Kim Zablocky, Founder and Chairman, Retail Value Chain Federation (RVCF)
Industry heavyweights such as Amazon, Walmart and Target have gone "all in" to meet heightened customer expectations. RVCF plans to lead and support stronger initiatives that bring this "all in" approach to the entire retail industry to ensure the consumer gets the product they want, at the price they want, when they want it, and how they want it.
Issues that must be addressed in 2018 include:
Drop ship and direct-to-consumer challenges must be overcome. How can processes be streamlined to reduce costs and accelerate the flow of goods? What areas require standards to achieve these goals? How can the store be best utilized to support online order fulfillment and reduce costs? How is performance being measured? Based on conversations at the RVCF Fall Conference, it looks like using third parties, in many cases, is more of a quick and potentially costly fix than a long-term solution. Retailers and suppliers must collaborate directly to identify the best path forward.
Omnichannel may have run its course. By definition, omnichannel retail recognizes multiple shopping "channels." In 2018, all retail operations and strategies must be unified and integrated. Rather than brick-and-mortar commerce, e-commerce, mobile commerce, social media commerce, etc., there should be a single, all-encompassing commerce. It's time for the industry's view of retail to catch up with the consumer's view.
There's a big, untapped world of customers. At the RVCF Fall Conference, retailers and suppliers discussed expansion into Europe to increase profits. Instead of constantly competing for the attention of the same consumer base, look for ways to reach new consumers in Europe and other untapped markets.
Win market share through strategic relationship management. Retailers and suppliers must look at their trading partner relationships and determine which ones are most valuable and which ones might cause more pain than they're worth. Retailers, which suppliers are increasing profits and meeting compliance requirements? Suppliers, instead of making every product available through every retailer, would you benefit by shipping certain products direct-to-consumer? Strategic relationship management is essential to increasing profits.
People must start talking to each other again. The Dale Carnegie keynote at the RVCF Fall Conference was a direct response to requests for communication training from RVCF members. Younger, gadget-obsessed generations entering the workplace are often ill-equipped to have productive conversations and work through issues. Technology such as video conferencing can be a valuable tool, but it's time to stop texting and e-mailing and start having a face-to-face conversation. Problem solving and change can only occur through collaboration, so training people to become better communicators is a high priority in 2018.
Retail organizations that evolve have the opportunity to grow and thrive. Those that follow an outdated model will be left behind. There is no middle ground. In 2018, RVCF is devoting significant resources to overcoming retail industry challenges.
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