From the Desk of Kim Zablocky ... 2018 RVCF Annual Fall Conference Recap: The Energy Was Contagious
“I got more accomplished in five minutes face-to-face than I would in 50 e-mails.”
“Just wanted to say thank you for the conference. It was great. I enjoyed the sessions and one on one meetings. You guys put a lot of effort into it and it was visible to everyone.”
“I wanted to thank you for a great conference. I know that it is challenging to continuously find relevant content that speaks to the majority of the attendees, so wanted to let you know that there were quite a few takeaways and food for thought that made it worthwhile. As always, the retailer roundtables were a hit. This segment continues to be a winner.”
These are verbatim comments from retail professionals who attended the 2018 RVCF Annual Fall Conference in San Diego. As exhausting as it can be to plan and execute an event of this magnitude, I always feel energized when I head back to the office.
One can’t help but feel inspired while absorbing the energy of collaboration and seeing the faces of people who have met with peers and trading partners to bring specific issues to light, share ideas and solve problems.
Educational programs presented by industry thought leaders, academia, service providers and authors… more than 530 one-on-one meetings between retailers and merchandise suppliers… retailer breakouts bursting with enthusiasm and fresh ideas… this is what RVCF events are all about.
RVCF conferences are not “trade shows.” People don’t come to RVCF conferences to be entertained. Sure, we know how to blow off steam, whether at a golf outing or on a sunset cruise, but RVCF is a solutions organization. RVCF conferences are “roll up your sleeves and get work done” events. Our purpose is to improve trading partner relationships and correct issues that slow down the flow of goods through the retail supply chain. This can only happen if all sides come to the table to collaborate.
When I see attendees leave the event with information that can be immediately applied when they get back to work, and with stronger relationships than they had when they arrived, it makes me proud of RVCF’s mission and accomplishments.
Admittedly though, I also feel some level of frustration, sensing that many CFOs and COOs still don’t fully grasp the importance and bottom-line impact of having a highly trained order management team. Rather than focusing on reducing costs and headcounts, merchandise suppliers need to build teams that understand all facets of order fulfillment. More suppliers need to send representatives to RVCF conferences, where they can collaborate with retailers and peers, and benefit from educational sessions. By doing so, suppliers will improve relations with retailers, reduce friction, and prevent unnecessary receivable dilution caused by deductions.
Suppliers have long complained about deductions that retailers assess for failing to comply with requirements for order fulfillment. These chargebacks can cost tens of thousands of dollars in diluted sales dollars. RVCF was created specifically to address this problem. By meeting your top retail customers all in one place, you will save time, money and resources that would otherwise be spent traveling around the country for individual visits.
One final thought… how valuable would be to have a working, personal relationship with each trading partner? How valuable would it be to have a peer who you could call upon as a resource of ideas and solutions when potentially costly situations arise? Wouldn’t you prefer to be able to pick up the phone and call someone you trust instead of exchanging dozens of emails with a faceless name from a list of contacts?
RVCF conference attendees have these relationships. At the very least, they create a foundation for building such relationships. Ask any retail industry stakeholder to identify the key to solving problems in a way that benefits everyone, and they’ll put better, more frequent communication at the top of the list.
I encourage all retailers and suppliers to start planning for the RVCF 2019 Spring Conference, May 5-19, 2019, just minutes from Manhattan at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe in Teaneck, NJ. These are challenging times in retail, but there are also tremendous opportunities. Get involved, and join us in doing the necessary work to position the industry for a successful, profitable future.