Drop ship/direct-to-consumer. Working with Amazon. Relationship management. E-commerce scorecarding. New technology. New research. Networking. And most importantly, problem solving and collaboration. This is just a small sampling of what people who attended the RVCF Fall Conference experienced last month in Phoenix.
"The RVCF Fall Conference offered food for thought from multiple perspectives on the current state of retail, from sourcing to direct-to-consumer shipping," said RVCF Founder and Chairman Kim Zablocky. "Every session provided attendees with ample ideas and strategies to immediately implement when they returned to the office."
Here is a recap of conference highlights that attendees were buzzing about.
One-on-One Meetings: More Participants, More Value
It's not just RVCF staff talking about the value of our One-on-One Meeting program. It's the people who participate as the program continues to gain in popularity and importance each year.
One-on-One meetings provide trading partners with an opportunity to sit across the table from one another during pre-approved, pre-scheduled meetings in a controlled, closely monitored environment. One retailer and one merchandise suppler can then discuss business objectives and issues that are specific to a single relationship.
The financial benefits are obvious. Meeting with multiple trading partners in one location will save you thousands in travel costs and many days away from the office. But in this age of faceless, emotionless, and terse communication via e-mail, text, and instant message, in-person conversations have never been more important. More on that in the next section about the conference keynote.
This year, our growing list of One-on-One participants included American Eagle Outfitters, Belk, Big Lots, BJ's Wholesale, Buckle, Burlington Stores, Cabela's, CVS, Dick's Sporting Goods, Dillard's, Dunham Sports, Genesco, JCPenney, Kohl's, Hudson's Bay, Lord & Taylor, MCX, Nebraska Furniture, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Office Depot, PacSun, PetSmart, REI, Saks Fifth Avenue, Stage Stores, Sun & Ski, TJX, Tuesday Morning, and Zappos.
The bottom line is this – if you want to resolve issues or simply build on prior success, you have to get in front of your trading partners. Positive change is not achieved by typing and tapping. No other event or organization provides such a valuable platform for collaboration.
Dale Carnegie Training on Communication
Led by Ken Beyersdorf, the Dale Carnegie workshop, titled Learn How to Present to Sell Change and Communicate with Diplomacy and Tact, was extremely well-received for two reasons.
First, our members asked for this type of session. They're frustrated by the hesitancy or outright refusal to pick up a phone or schedule a meeting, as well as the inability to have a productive conversation that resolves issues and benefits both sides. Second, tight budgets and schedules don't allow for much formal training, especially on this critical topic.
When selling change, Mr. Beyersdorf encouraged attendees to spend less time talking and presenting and more time listening and gathering input. A presentation shouldn't be a one-way delivery of information. A presentation should involve all participants and focus on achieving productive outcomes to move processes forward.
The workshop explained the importance of self-assessment with regards to diplomacy and tact, and how to sell innovation, solicit questions, and close the presentation. Participants also learned how, as the facilitator of such a presentation intended to sell change, to remain in control and move the presentation along while encouraging relevant discussion.
The Challenges and Risks of Global Transportation
Sourcing is moving all over the place in southeast Asia. Many factories in China have been shut down due to pollution concerns, which has created immediate and unexpected supply chain disruptions.
To make matters worse, retailers and merchandise suppliers typically fail to manage and mitigate supply chain risk, which can only be achieved through collaboration. In fact, most retailers expect the supplier to navigate and resolve such risks, even when they're caused by political unrest, weather and other uncontrollable issues. If these challenges are overcome, products then have to move across oceans and through ports, and travel many highway and/or air miles to reach their final destination.
In this session, retail and logistics experts discussed current obstacles in global transportation networks and how to overcome them. Retailers and suppliers must work together to develop and implement strategies to get products from factories to customers as quickly and efficiently as possible, even when unplanned interruptions occur.
Advances in Global Factory Communication Portals
The customer is in charge. Period. If your products aren't where your customers are, you risk lost sales, excess inventory and markdowns. Communication took center stage again during this session, but in this case, the right technology is critical. Retailers and merchandise suppliers must have real time visibility into their supply chains and instant access to data to ensure the right product is in the right place at the right time at the right cost.
The number one challenge retailers face today is the digitization of their supply chain. However, this is an essential process if you expect to remain competitive in 2018. This session discussed the latest portal technology and capabilities that enable supply chain visibility and customization at the local level at a never-before-imagined level.
RVCF Conferences in 2018
The dates and venues for next year's conferences have been set for some time, and we're already finalizing the agenda for the RVCF Spring Conference, May 6-9, 2018 at Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key in Clearwater Beach, Florida. The RVCF Fall Conference will be held October 14-17, 2018 in the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, California.
We encourage you to take advantage of early bird pricing and make hotel reservations as soon as possible. If you would like to participate in an RVCF Conference as a speaker, panelist, or in some other capacity, please contact Kim Zablocky at email@example.com or 646-442-3473.
2018 could be the most consequential year ever in retail. The time for sitting on the sidelines and waiting for solutions to fall onto your lap or into your inbox is over. Please join us in doing the critical work necessary to overcome industry challenges and move the industry forward and upward.
Left: Passport winner Jennifer Baiker, American Eagle Outfitters
Other winners included:
Jim Day, '47 Brand, LLC
Diane Hartjes, Belk, Inc.
Andy Anderson, BJ's Wholesale Club
Lauren Piontkowski, Burlington Stores, Inc.
Jami Kuntz, Caleres Inc.
Denise Byrd, CIT Group Inc.
Robbie Camerer, Fila USA
Tonya Walker, Guntersville Breathables Inc. dba Frogg Toggs
Rita Poloncsak, LT Apparel Group
Sue Hebert, Nordic Ware
Jennifer Skeen, Sun & Ski
Congratulations to all!
CLICK HERE to return to the DECEMBER 2017 RVCF LINK