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New Consumer Product Laws for 2020 You Need to Know About

Posted By RCVF Admin, Saturday, December 12, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2020

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New Consumer Product Laws for 2020 You Need to Know About

By Bao M. Vu, of Counsel, Stoel Rives LLP. 

 

Nationwide, states have and are in the process of implementing new laws and regulations that affect the makeup and disclosures required on a variety of consumer products.  Below is an update on some new laws and regulations that might affect you.

California’s Ban on Animal Testing in Cosmetics:  California’s SB1249 became operative January 1, 2020.  It generally bans the sale of any cosmetics in California that were developed or manufactured using an animal test that was conducted before January 1, 2020.  It includes numerous exceptions, including where animal testing is required to satisfy requirements of a federal, state, or foreign regulatory authority.  There are numerous requirements to this and other exceptions under the law, and more information about the new law can be found here (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1249) or by contacting the author below.

Utah’s Down Sterilization LawAt the end of 2019, Utah’s Administrative Code Rule R70-101 became effective, and it requires very specific labels for down bedding and furniture.  Among other requirements under the law, labels for these types of products need to now include statements such as “CONTENTS STERILIZED” and the Sterilization Permit Number of the sterilization facility from which the material was obtained.  These and numerous other statements must meet specific size and placement requirements.  More information about this law, its requirements, and its exceptions can be found here (https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r070/r070-101.htm) or by contacting the author below.

Washington State Passes Chemical Content Law: Washington State’s SB5135 has the goal of reducing human and wildlife exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products.  That law, called the “Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act,” requires the state’s Department of Ecology (“DOE”) to take on consumer products containing high-concern chemicals, identifying as priorities substances such as PFASs, phthalates, flame retardants, phenolic compounds, and PCBs.  It will probably be a few years before the DOE’s regulations under this new law take effect.  More information about this law and its potential ramifications can be found here (http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/Senate/5135-S.SL.pdf?q=20200210142234) or by contacting the author below.

About the Author:  Bao M. Vu is California-based attorney with the law firm Stoel Rives LLP.  He regularly advises clients on compliance with complex consumer protection and environmental statutes and regulations.  More information about his practice can be found here.  He routinely provides free consultations to RVCF members, and he can be reached at bao.vu@stoel.com or 415-500-6572. 

 

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Update on EDI & Electronic Communication Teleconference Series Launch

Posted By RCVF Admin, Saturday, December 12, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2020

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Update on EDI & Electronic Communication Teleconference Series Launch

By Susan Haupt, RVCF


RVCF has expanded it’s Open Forum teleconference offerings for 2020 with the launch of a new series of calls focused on EDI and Electronic Communications. 
 

What makes these calls unique is that both Retailers and Merchandise Suppliers are eligible to attend.  The fist session took place on January 15th with over 50 participants. Discussions focused on: 

  • Best practices for handling existing PO’s when entering into new EDI relationships
  •  Scorecarding for EDI
  •  EDI vs. API technology
  •  Handling retailer specific data requirements
  •  The adoption of Blockchain as a transmission medium in the supply chain
  •  EDI transactions relative to returns  

Based on the discussions during the call, there is tremendous interest in this topic.  With the input of peers and our facilitator, Michael Kotoyan with EDI Academy, a wealth of information was shared to the benefit of both the Retailer and Merchandise Suppliers represented.  

The next call in this series is 3/18/20, followed by 5/13, 7/15, 9/16 and 12/16.  Check the RVCF event page for times and registration.  There is no cost to participate, but registration is limited to RVCF members.  To further support the content of the calls, all participants are granted access to a private, secure community within the RVCF website that houses minutes from each session, other reference materials, plus the ability to interact with one another for further collaboration. 

We look forward to continued work on this initiative.  Questions about the call or other RVCF Member Benefits, please contact shaupt@rvcf.com.

 

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The Best (And Cheapest) Insurance Against Unforeseen Loss:Limitations on Liability

Posted By RCVF Admin, Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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The Best (And Cheapest) Insurance Against Unforeseen Loss: Limitations on Liability

By Steven T. Lovett, Partner, Stoel Rives LLP. 


Introduction

As essential and common as limitation of liability clauses are, lawyers still see with surprising frequency disputes where the defendant did not have such a clause in place.  Limitation of liability clauses look like something this:

LIMITS OF LIABILITY.  NEITHER PARTY SHALL BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THIS AGREEMENT, HOWEVER CAUSED AND UNDER ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), EVEN IF SUCH PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES AND NOTWITHSTANDING THE FAILURE OF THE ESSENTIAL PURPOSE OF ANY LIMITED REMEDY.*

The following scenario is intended to highlight why such clauses are the best, and cheapest, insurance against unforeseen loss.

A Common Scenario

It’s Monday morning at 9 am.  You get a panicked call from a footwear manufacturer downstate.  The component you supply that customer is critical to the operation of machinery essential to both his manufacturing lines.  He tells you that Line 1 went down Sunday due to failure of that component, and Line 2 just went down for the same reason.  They are wear parts not covered by warranty.  To his surprise, the customer found that the only back up he has on site is a part removed last time he upgraded the machine and it is no longer operable.

Both his lines are down until you can get new parts installed at his plant.  You tell him to shoot over a PO for the two critical components, at $2,500 per part plus $700 for expedited service and installation, and you will get a service person to his plant with the parts by 1 pm.  With an hour to install each component, your service tech will have Line 1 up by 2 pm and Line 2 up by 3 pm.  You receive his PO and respond with an invoice for $5,700 for parts and service. 

Neither the PO nor the invoice include terms and conditions.

Within a half hour, your service tech has loaded the van is heading downstate.  Then the fun starts:  At 11:30 am, two hours into his run, the tech calls to say that the van has broken down on a barren stretch of highway, a good half hour from a service station.  You figure it will take at least three hours to get a tow truck out, tow the van back to the service station and then fix it (if they have the parts).  By then it would be 2:30 and he would still over an hour away from the customer’s factory.  Your other techs are out on calls, so you send your office manager to drive to the van, pick up the driver, the components and the necessary tools, and drive on the customer’s plant.  That way, the tech should arrive and begin work by 2:30, 3 pm at the latest.

Sure enough, your two employees arrive at the customer’s shoe plant at 2:45 pm ready to install the parts.  Except the tech misread the paperwork and only brought one component.  Due to the delays, Line 1 isn’t back up until about 5 pm, a two hour delay.  But by the time you can get the additional component to the plant and have it installed on Line 2, it’s 9 pm, six hours later than expected. 

What’s Your Exposure Without A Limitation Of Liability Clause In Place?

As a consequence of your failure to timely deliver and install the product, your customer lost two hours on Line 1 and six hours on Line 2.  His profits are about $10,000 an hour per line, or $80,000 in lost profits for the eight hours in lost line time.  That $5,700 job, which was worth maybe $3,000 to you after time and costs, just exposed you to almost twenty times that in damages.     

That is why you must always have in your contracts a clause disclaiming consequential and incidental damages and limiting your liability to, say, the cost of the part or the cost of the job.  It can be as simple as including that term in standard terms and conditions on the back of your standard invoice (be sure to include those on all electronic invoices and on your website, too).  A limitation on liability clause is the cheapest insurance you can get against unforeseen legal exposure.

*Provided as an example only.  Consult with a lawyer familiar with your business and jurisdiction to ensure effectiveness of such a clause to your situation. 

About the Author:  Steven T. Lovett is a partner with the law firm Stoel Rives LLP.  Based on Steve’s partnership with the RVCF, he’s happy to provide free initial consultations to RVCF members.  Steve focuses on commercial disputes between competitors and within the supply chain.

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What EDI Documents are Retailers Using with Suppliers? Retailer EDI Usage Database

Posted By RCVF Admin, Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, August 5, 2020

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What EDI Documents are Retailers Using with Suppliers? Retailer EDI Usage Database

By Victor Engesser, RVCF 

 

Earlier this year, RVCF launched a series of Open Forum teleconferences focused on EDI.  These sessions have been well attended by both the retailer and merchandise supplier communities and have included participation from various industry experts.

On our last EDI group call on 7/15/2020, a question was asked about EDI and retailer Compliance programs. RVCF can confirm that EDI compliance is a part of most every retailer compliance program. The most common compliance requirements are around the ASN (856) as well as the UPC catalog (832), followed by the Invoice (810).

Below is a general recap of these 3 documents showing the most frequently called out violations along with the average range of fees commonly charged.

  • 856 ASN, Late, Invalid, Missing or Not Matching PO. $50 to $500 per PO plus a "per carton" fee
  • 832 UPC Catalog, Not in, Changes doesn't match, no access. $100 to $750 (plus sometimes a per UPC or sku fee)
  • 810 Invoice, Failure to transmit, Incorrect, Incomplete. $150 to $500

Other EDI documents that some (but not most) retailers have added to their compliance programs include the:

  • 850 Purchase Order, Failure to receive, $50 to $500
  • 855 PO Acknowledgement, Missing, Late. $50

and for a smaller number of retailers the 860, 820, 812, 204, 211,214, 215,240, and 997.

Based on a survey conducted this Spring, we created a Retailer EDI Usage Database to summarize EDI transaction sets supported by various retailers.  If you are a retailer looking to benchmark your EDI transactions against what your peers are regularly supporting, or if you are a supplier working to build out additional EDI capabilities,  you may access this document at rvcf.com, Solutions Tab.   This database will be updated annually and is available to all RVCF members.

The "Retailer EDI Usage Database" was developed by RVCF as the response to a topic discussed on our monthly "Open Forum" conference call. Join the Open Forum calls, ask the questions that matter to you, and let's see what we can build for you!  

Our next EDI Open Forum Call will take place on Wednesday, September 16th - Registration is open to both Retailers & Merchandise Suppliers.

 

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The Future of Retail Will Demand Courage, Commitment, and Compassion

Posted By RCVF Admin, Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Updated: Friday, August 7, 2020

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The Future of Retail Will Demand Courage, Commitment, and Compassion

By Inez Backburn, President of MTI Market Techniques and Innovations Inc.


For the last six months, it has felt like we are living in a Stephen King novel as our way of life has been turned upside down. The way we work, learn, shop, socialize, exercise, and escape has changed, and this new world order may continue into 2021. Going shopping, visiting friends dropping by the office demands preparation as you need a mask, sanitizer, and gloves.  Long gone are the days for spontaneity, large social gatherings, and family events. This new world order has placed tremendous pressure on retailers and their suppliers as they struggle to adapt to emerging technologies, new retail formats, multi-ethnic and multi-generational households, and a very bumpy and rocky path to purchase.

Price Promotion and Place will be displaced!

Traditional marketing tactics focused on price promotion and place have been displaced by consumers who are shopping in a “Survival Mode,” stocking up on toilet paper, canned goods, dry goods, and for many of your alcohol.  Shopping is now a planned event with line ups and many retailers struggling to keep necessities in-stock. E-commerce is experiencing geometric growth due to the pandemic as assortments in-store have been scaled back. The demand for a robust product assortment, endless aisles, and 24/7 convenience that drove Gen Y & Z online is enticing to all generational cohorts. Unfortunately, many retailers who failed to embrace the potential of e-commerce and prerequisite business processes and technologies before the pandemic have been rendered obsolete by the tsunami of change. Click and Collect, Drive, and Curb Side Pick Up will continue to evolve as consumers embrace this new normal. Consumers will continue to demand value and convenience as they no longer have to schedule a delivery time when they are home because they are home all the time!

Many of you reading this article may have lost your job or significant revenue and are struggling to make ends meet, and I feel your pain. I had many contracts put on hold at the start of the pandemic, and it has been challenging. In less than 24 hours, we shifted from being an employee or boss to a teacher, caregiver, health and wellness expert, mentor, “Chief Inspiration Officer” or, in my case, “Chief Crap Eliminator.” While navigating these uncharted waters has been trying, there is light at the end of the tunnel as we discover new ways of living, learning, working, and shopping.

Retail will continue to evolve as there will always be new formats, new technologies, new products, and more stressed and demanding customers. Retail will not, however, return to normal as consumers will not embrace previous shopping behaviors. The work, learn, and shop from home reality could be here to stay, which will have a significant impact on retail. We learned a lot about consumer behavior from the financial collapse in 2008 as things did not go back to normal. Wealth was lost in addition to jobs, and the fiscal conservatism continued for many years. The pandemic will impact shopping behaviors; we will face health and safety issues in addition to economic realities.

Will changes in consumer behavior become the new normal?

It is essential to remind ourselves that human beings are social creatures by nature, and there are significant generational differences in shopping in a post-COVID 19 world. Gen Z is struggling with no school, no socializing, no shopping, and hanging out with friends and is “Zoomed Out” by online learning. Gen Z is also checking out of traditional “Social Media” platforms where getting “Liked” could make or break your day. Baby Boomers and Gen X are also feeling the pressure as they struggle to find sanity in a crowded workspace. Your home is your castle, workplace, source of entertainment, restaurant gym, and social setting. Time is at a premium, and convenience reigns as we all struggle to create a work-life balance.  

Social Media has shifted (Politics Aside) towards more genuine and authentic messaging rather than the pursuit of likes. Every generation is focusing on messages, videos, and posts designed to help others during the pandemic. Delicious meals on a budget, family games, exercising without equipment, building confidence and self-esteem at home, meditation, mindfulness, fashion advice, and staying sane while working from home are trending across all platforms. How has your social media and digital strategy changed to address the need for more relevant messaging?

Harvard Business Review recently published an article advising retailers to avoid being complacent and to focus on the customer experience. Delivering an exceptional customer experience will demand health and safety measures that include masks and physical distancing and extreme cleaning and disinfecting. There will also be an increased demand for contactless payment, as many retailers and shoppers raise concerns about handling cash. Social distancing will result in fewer shoppers in the store as well as the emergence of one direction shopping patterns with the reduction of in-aisle displays. The increase in self serve options will require 100% data integrity and full and seamless integration of loyalty programs and promotions.

Before the pandemic, traditional “Bricks and Mortar” retailers were in a battle with Amazon and leaders in E-Commerce, and subsequently declared war on the status quo.  Unfortunately, the retail wars will continue, and the current path to purchase could become harder to predict and navigate in the absence of a focused strategy.

Embracing and leveraging E-Commerce, automation, AI, and deploying more sophisticated forecasting and replenishment models will, however, become more critical in the near and long term.  More importantly, what will endear your customers to your brand, store, or business will be how you treated them during the pandemic and, more specifically, how you made them feel. Please take a moment to consider the following questions as your answers will determine whether your company will find shelter in the current COVID 19 storm.

  1. Do you greet your customers when they entered, did you thank them for their business, did you say “stay safe and healthy” when they left?
  2. If a customer came without a mask, did you offer them one or ask them to leave?
  3. Did you limit purchases of necessities so every shopper could get what they need?
  4. Did you train your employees on best practices for health and safety when dealing with customers?
  5. Did you deploy health and wellness protocols for your employees?
  6. Did you reach out to suppliers to work with them to address disruptions?
  7. Did you change your social media and digital strategy to include messages of hope and support?
  8. Did you go out of your way to thank first responders?

Will our online behavior result in significant growth for Big Tech?

We should also consider how all the information that we currently share online will be used? Data is the fuel that feeds AI, and the data collected during the pandemic will accelerate AI adoption and create deployment opportunities. What will Google, Facebook, Amazon, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter do with all this data? Will they independently or collectively leverage our information? Will big tech companies analyze our data to the point where we become the product and accurately predict how we will live, learn, work, and shop.  Is all the activity online tracking human behavior evolving into the creation of behavioral products that can be bought and sold? Shoshana Zuboth, in her book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” raises many red flags concerning big tech companies who are using the pandemic to become even more prominent.

Will Google’s offer to develop contact tracing applications open a direct channel to healthcare and a significant revenue stream.  Early signs point to Tech companies benefiting from the surveillance capitalism economy as they become more adept at predicting our behavior while simultaneously lobbying governments around the world to postpone enforcement of privacy laws.  Every day billions of smartphones are generating digital footprints from the web and social media platforms that are currently inaccessible to universities, governments, and leading researchers. Just imagine what could be accomplished in healthcare, global contract tracing, communication, and outreach if this information was shared.

A message of hope and inspiration

The pandemic will one day end, and we will emerge healthy and triumphant.  I, therefore, encourage everyone reading this article to remind yourself that it is more important to determine who you want to be rather than what you want to do. Who you want to be personally and professionally will be dictated by your beliefs, and those beliefs will influence your actions? The actions you take during the pandemic will secure or negatively impact your future. Take care of yourself, your family, and your customers with courage, commitment, and compassion.

 During the pandemic, I baked Lindt chocolate brownies for first responders, shopped for seniors who could not get out, tutored children who needed help with math, called friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while to make sure they were ok.  I sent cards of hope and sympathy to those who lost someone and dropped off meals for neighbors who were struggling.  I also spent a great deal of time standing in lines outside retailers and conducting informal research studies. Many of you have heard the phrase dance like no one is watching well. I cleaned liked no one is watching and started writing two books, “Eat Pray Clean” and “Storemula.”  I may not have been able to work the way I was used to during the pandemic, but I was able to make a difference.

Final thought; There are many good and kind people on this planet and if you can’t find one, be one! 

 

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Complying With The Law While Marketing That You're "Going Green"

Posted By RCVF Admin, Wednesday, June 10, 2020

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Complying With The Law While Marketing That You're "Going Green"

By Bao M. Vu, of Counsel, Stoel Rives LLP. 

 

Consumers care about “green” initiatives, which are generally steps that businesses take to make their products and operations more environmentally friendly.  And because consumers are willing to pay a premium to businesses that have such initiatives, having and marketing these initiatives is nearly a requirement for today’s premium brands. 

With the financial incentives involved and the difficulty of confirming claims in such marketing, numerous federal and state laws and regulations now exist to help explain what claims are permissible and which are not.  This article is not intended to be a treatise on those laws and regulations.  Instead, we want to give you an overview of some of the applicable law and provide an example of how such laws apply to a claim that is popular at the moment:  the reduction of carbon emissions.

Background

At the federal level, the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides govern what claims can be made and how such claims can be made.  The Green Guides have a few general principles and include specific regulations dealing with claims ranging from “Carbon Offsets” and “Renewable Energy Claims” to “Recycled Content Claims,” just to name a few. 

The Green Guides’ general principles require that claims not be misleading, which mandates that claims be specific and substantiated.  Claims must, in turn, typically be qualified and contain disclosures to satisfy these requirements. 

For example, a plastic package containing a new shower curtain that is labeled as “recyclable” is misleading if any component of the packaging or the shower curtain (other than minor, incidental ones) can’t be recycled.  To comply with the Green Guides, the packaging should say “recyclable packaging” or “recyclable product; packaging not recyclable,” or some other specific disclaimer, as appropriate.

In addition to the Green Guides, there is a patchwork of state laws.  Those laws are mostly consistent with the Green Guides, but there are distinctions.  For example, California has a specific law dealing with degradability claims in connection with plastic products that is far stricter than the Green Guides.

Violation of these laws and regulations can result in a government enforcement action with substantial penalties or costly claims by competitors or consumers seeking, among other things, disgorgement of all profits in connection with a product or a full refund for all consumers.

A “Carbon-Free” Example

Numerous companies have sought to market that they are “carbon neutral” or have “reduced their carbon footprint.”  But under the Green Guides and other similar laws, marketers need to ensure their claims are specific and substantiated.

To be specific, such claims should explain the specific steps taken, the specific time periods those steps will result in reductions (or offset existing reductions), and the specific business operations those steps affect. 

For example, a claim that “we are carbon free” is misleading, since a business cannot be “carbon free,” considering the carbon output involved with its vehicles, operations, electricity use, business travel, employees’ commuting, and supply chain. 

Instead, a more accurate claim may be that “We have offset our carbon emissions associated with all company air travel by funding carbon recapture projects at local landfills in our state.  Those projects will be operational within a year.” 

To be substantiated, such claims should also use an accepted methodology to determine a business activity’s baseline carbon emissions, such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which is one of several well-accepted methodologies for determining baseline emissions.

Further, to substantiate such claims, the steps taken to reduce or offset those baseline emissions should also be well-documented.  For example, if a company is buying renewable energy credits (RECs) to offset its electricity use, it should ensure that those RECs are verified and that the company has a contractual right to exclusively claim those RECs (to avoid double-counting), among other considerations. 

Conclusion

We hope this brief article helps to highlight complexities with popular “green” marketing claims.  Because science is constantly evolving, along with consumer perceptions, it’s important to work with experienced counsel when making “green” claims. 

About the AuthorBao M. Vu is an attorney with the law firm Stoel Rives LLP.  He regularly advises clients on compliance with complex consumer protection and environmental statutes and regulations.  More information about his practice can be found here.  Bao routinely provides free consultations to RVCF members, and he can be reached at bao.vu@stoel.com or 415-500-6572. 

 

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From the Desk of Kim Zablocky ... RVCF Fall 20th Anniversary Conference

Posted By RCVF Admin, Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Updated: Monday, June 8, 2020

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RVCF Fall 20th Anniversary Conference

From the Desk of Kim Zablocky 

 

Greetings from my home office. There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully it’s not a freight train! That said, the Coronavirus has changed every facet of our lives. But life moves on, we simply need to deal with it smartly. Wear mask, wash your hands etc..

Now for a fantastic announcement …The RVCF 20th Anniversary Fall Conference is on! We plan to reflect on the 20 years of retailer/supplier collaboration. We hope to have some original past members in attendance, plus we are hosting the famous Mummy Mountain cookout!

The Conference will be held at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn and Spa, November 8th-11th 2020, hopefully the election will be over by then 😊. A tremendous amount of planning will go into this year’s event.  We are hoping that by November there will be some form of normalcy.

Let me highlight a few sessions that I feel need promotion, that is EDI 856 and 860 workflow best practice, respectively. Both the perfect order and On Time In Full can be gained by improving your supply chain performance with these tools. We will hear from both retailers as well as brands on how they have collaborated to achieve improved efficiencies.

In addition, Managing TMS & Routing to Improve OTIF, Inbound Audit Best Practice and new digital tools for on-boarding new and existing merchandise suppliers. Not to be forgotten, there will be plenty of sessions focused on Drop Ship/Direct to Consumer Speed/Efficiency.

Once again, as is our custom, the Conference will include; Open forums, full day Design Thinking session, and of course one-on-ones.

RVCF will make sure that the Fall Conference is safe, with plenty of distancing that meets CDC requirements. Also, keep in mind that the Marriott International is doing all it can to assure you a healthy and sanitized environment.

Let me leave you by saying, have a wonderful and safe Summer! We’ll see you soon.

 

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COVID-19 vs. the Office of the CFO: 75+ Pages of Research Summarized

Posted By RCVF Admin, Monday, April 13, 2020

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COVID-19 vs. the Office of the CFO: 75+ Pages of Research Summarized

By HighRadius 


The profound humanitarian fallout of the COVID-19 crisis carries with it the potential equally disruptive economic fallout. The path ahead is hence a precarious one, driven by epidemiological uncertainty, the unique blend of resulting shocks to both supply and demand, and “preexisting conditions” in the global macroeconomy.
 

“From an economic perspective, the key issue is not just the number of cases of COVID-19, but the level of disruption to economies from containment measures,” Ben May, head of global macro research at Oxford Economics, said in a report this week. 

The outbreak has led major institutions and banks to cut their forecasts for the global economy. One of the latest to do so is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

                                 Global Economic Growth Slowdown Graph

                                    Source: OECD March Interim Report
 

In addition to launching a COVID-19 Response Center For Order-To-Cash, we did a literary review of the latest insight from four of the world’s leading research organizations that are constantly exploring the latest at the intersection of technology and business. Most of the firms have different takes on the essentials in these tough situations.

Gartner

Gartner advises organizations to conduct preparedness planning work for a pandemic because resources (internal and external) won’t be available soon. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic leaders should share a common goal: Protect employees first.

OBJECTIVES

      Minimizing the impact upon staff

      Minimizing the impact on the organizational supply chain & service delivery

      Minimizing the impact upon the IT infrastructure

      Protecting the corporate reputation

      Reducing the financial impact

      Enabling the organization to return to a new normality sooner

Gartner is actively publishing research on COVID-19 to help these uncertain times. Their collection of research and tools could help you better equip them during these uncertain times. Learn more at gartner.com

The Hackett Group

As per The Hackett Group, this crisis is different from ones in the past, not only in its global reach but also in its devastating combination of financial, supply and demand shocks, which are putting unprecedented pressure on corporate margins.

THE NEAR TERM

  1. Run scenario analyses for forecasting cash
  2. Augment remote work processes
  3. Communicate your strategy
  4. Preserve cash & optimize Working Capital

THE MID TERM

  1. Pursue intelligent cost reduction
  2. Review the capital investment portfolio
  3. Tighten controls with technologies like RPA & AI
  4. Watch out for growth opportunities

FOUR THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

  1. The VPN is difficult to scale – shift to the cloud
  2. Streamline virtual work communication
  3. Focus on critical areas (revenue, AR, inventory, etc) for reserve calculations
  4. Reassess methodologies based on learnings for the next quarter/month

The Hackett group has gathered insights and best practices to help finance leaders identify what next steps to take in the near and longer-term. Visit their website for more information.

451 Research

As per 451 research, the outbreak of COVID 19 would place more emphasis than ever before on the growing primacy of the digital experience as we try to adhere to 'social distancing' requirements. Technology today can ensure that businesses rise to meet customer expectations, especially as businesses are redefined from a transactional relationship between people into a more nuanced relationship between humans and the automated systems and devices, they use to engage the world.

CHANGING DYNAMICS OF DIGITAL EXPERIENCES

  1. Measure Digital Performance:

It's important to bring experiences to life online for deeper engagement to make people feel as connected as in-person experiences. Since emotion is the currency of experience, businesses will strive to drive spending on new technologies that harness the power of digital experiences to ensure brand loyalty.

  1. Catalyst for digital improvements:

Businesses need to invest in new digital tools/ intelligent platforms to work in a way that ensures that data, insights and key technologies connect people with information and processes.

  1. Use of virtual assistants to ease capacity issues:

The rise of virtual assistance and conversational interfaces provides a new avenue for businesses to achieve both the primary goals of self-service.

The 451 Research microsite will be continually updated with a selection of research, insight and data that are free to consume, helping organizations globally plan a way through this unique challenge.

Forrester

As per Forrester, Marketing and Communications teams should take a leading role in supporting their organization’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Their COVID-19 forum suggests a business continuity plan for an organization to deal with the repercussions of COVID-19 on their businesses and improve the overall customer experience.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY

  1. Create a task force, with each person understanding their responsibilities
  2. Develop a protocol for addressing emergent situations
  3. Create a wide range of critical content to keep the communication engine running, have it vetted by legal, and pushed out through channels as quickly as possible.
  4. Focus on creating a world class customer experience

IMPROVING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

  1. Start with empathy — Understand your customers in this moment
  2. Adapt Your CX Accordingly for all experiences and hit the pause button where needed
  3. Prioritize simplicity and clarity, now more than ever
  4. Help Your Employees Deliver Great CX Despite the Crisis

Forrester launched a hub featuring the latest insights and guidance to leaders to address the growing business and employee experience implications of COVID-19

Get to know more about how order to cash leaders are planning to brace for impact on April 21, 2020. Join the webinar to learn more.

 

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While Washington State Eyes Regulations Involving Electronics, Carpet, Printing Inks, Food Cans, Laundry Detergent, Thermal Paper, Vinyl Flooring, and Fragrances, You Should Start Planning Now

Posted By RCVF Admin, Monday, April 13, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2020

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While Washington State Eyes Regulations Involving Electronics, Carpet, Printing Inks, Food Cans, Laundry Detergent, Thermal Paper, Vinyl Flooring, and Fragrances, You Should Start Planning Now

By Bao M. Vu, of Counsel, Stoel Rives LLP. 


Introduction
 

Washington continues to move toward aggressively limiting certain chemicals in consumer products.  If you manufacture, sell, or distribute any of the following products into the state of Washington, or plan to in the future, you should start planning now for likely regulation:  electronics, carpet, printing inks, food cans, laundry detergent, thermal paper, vinyl flooring, and fragrances. 

Washington State’s New Act 

Washington’s first significant statutory scheme placing strict chemical content limits in consumer products was passed in 2008 and is known as the Children’s Safe Products Act (“WCPSA”).  The WCPSA principally limits the use of certain chemicals in children’s products, such as lead, cadmium, phthalates, and flame-retardant chemicals.  The WCPSA also gives the State’s Department of Ecology (“Department”) the authority to come up with rules to define and broaden reporting requirements for certain entities in the distribution chain,[1] including rules that broaden the reporting requirements for chemicals deemed Chemicals of High Concern to Children.   

More recently, Washington’s legislature passed Substitute Senate Bill 5135, also known as the Pollution Prevention for Healthy People and Puget Sound Act (the “Act”).  Pursuant to that Act, the Department developed an implementation program called “Safer Products for Washington.” 

What’s different about the Act, as compared to existing Washington law, is that it is designed to implement a “class-based” approach to regulating toxic chemicals.  For example, existing Washington law bans the specific chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in water bottles.  Complying with that ban, marketers advertised that their products were “BPA-free.”  Though those marketers were making accurate claims, they sometimes substituted BPA for bisphenol S (BPS), which, though not barred, has endocrine disruption effects similar to BPA.  

The Priority Chemicals 

The Act’s first set of so-called “priority chemicals” and deadlines demonstrate the class-based approach, as well as the products that manufacturers, distributors, and retailers should start paying attention to now.  Under the Act, the first set of priority chemicals, which were statutorily determined, are: 

  • Organohalogen flame retardants and flame retardants that are statutorily identified
  • Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 
  • Phenolic compounds
  • Phthalates 

Though the first set of priority chemicals were identified in the Act, by June 1, 2024, and then again every five years, the Department is required to come up with at least five more priority chemicals.  

The Priority Products & Their Correlating Chemical Concern 

For now, in light of the first set of priority chemicals, the Act requires the Department to identify by June 1, 2020, priority consumer products that are a significant source or use of one or more of the priority chemicals listed as the first set under the Act.  The Department’s Priority Consumer Products Draft Report to the Legislator:  Safer Products for Washington Implementation Phase 2 identifies the following priority products:  

  • Electronic and electronic equipment, specifically device casings (for flame-retardant content)
  • Carpet (for PFAS content)
  • Printing inks (for PCBs content)
  • Food cans, laundry detergent, and thermal paper (for phenolic compounds: bisphenols, alkylphenol ethoxylates, and bisphenols, respectively)
  • Vinyl flooring and fragrances in personal care and beauty products (for phthalates) 

To date, there is nothing that suggests that the Department’s final report, due in just a few months, will add or remove any of these products as priority products.    

Next Steps 

Next, by June 1, 2022, and every five years thereafter, the Department will come up with regulatory actions involving the specific priority chemical class in the specified priority products.  The Department has the option of taking no action (under certain circumstances), restricting the sale in Washington of specific products that contain specific chemical levels, and/or implementing a reporting requirement.  

There are numerous other deadlines and considerations under the Act and its implementing Safer Products for Washington program that may ultimately affect how the state will regulate priority chemicals and priority products, leaving much to be answered before any final regulation.  However, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers should start seeking priority chemical-free alternatives if their business involves the sale of the draft priority products.  At the very least, those entities should start learning of the chemical composition of those and similar products to be prepared for any forthcoming regulation.  

About the Author:  Bao M. Vu is an attorney with the law firm Stoel Rives LLP.  He regularly advises clients on compliance with complex consumer protection and environmental statutes and regulations.  More information about his practice can be found here.  He routinely provides free consultations to RVCF members, and he can be reached at bao.vu@stoel.com or 415-500-6572. 


[1]  The next reporting deadline under the WCPSA is January 31, 2021, for products offered for sale in Washington from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020.  

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Resilience in Difficult Times

Posted By RCVF Admin, Monday, April 13, 2020
Updated: Monday, April 6, 2020

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Resilience in Difficult Times

From the Desk of Kim Zablocky 


As of today, RVCF Annual Fall Conference is a go! This will be our 20th Anniversary Conference, and no virus, plague, war, locust or pestilence will stop it from happening!

Those who were at our first organizational meeting at the Hilton in Newark, NJ back in May 2000, will remember the shoot out across the street at a jewelry store, you can’t make this up. Then came the tragic day of 9/11, we had planned to go to Fort Lauderdale that September.  Instead we held that meeting on November 5th the same day the American Airlines flight to Dominican Republic crashed in Queens.  We were all physically shaken from these terrible events. But you know what?  We are resilient, and we survived…

Then came 2007.  The economy was flying, we held our Fall Conference Renaissance Hotel in Palm Springs CA. Another great turn out, but something was amiss.  I remember hearing on the radio that some mortgage broker had devised a new lending instrument, a 40 year mortgage. I thought yikes, they’re out of control, maybe we should step back.  At the end of 2007, RVCF decided to leave Manhattan, not sign an expensive lease, and become a virtually operated business. Thank Heavens, as we all know what happened in 2008. Once, again the Fall Conference in 2008, held at the Camelback, was a great success, though I remember a retail member of ours mentioning if it was held two weeks later, no one would have showed up.  Again yikes!

The following year 2009, was our toughest to date at the time.  In the Spring of 2009, few people made the Spring Conference, the economy was in free fall, the stock market was in a free fall and looking to go all the way to zero. But midyear, things started to turn around.  We downsized staff, became more efficient, and once again we all survived.

The retail world became different after 2009.  The consumer was enjoying the convenience of going on their computers and phones to search and buy products. Remember this? Delivery of the product actually took up to 5-7 days (or longer) to arrive, but it saved them a trip to the store if it was something they could live with out for a week.

We all know what happened after that. Over the last 10 years, delivery went from 5-7 days to in some cases, same day delivery or even sooner in some locations.

Here we are 2020, Covid-19 rearing its ugly head globally.  Who would have expected a global pandemic, after just celebrating the past Holidays. Sadly, we had to cancel our Spring 2020 Conference. It is the first time we ever canceled an event.

Regardless, the RVCF team is determined to host our 20th Anniversary Fall Conference at the Camelback Inn, Scottsdale, AZ - I’ll be there!!!  In the meantime we will continue to support our membership. (See article below.)

Our prayers go out to those afflicted by this virus. Be safe, be well.  We look forward to seeing you soon.

 

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