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From the Desk of Kim Zablocky: How to Reduce Time and Cost in 2017

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 17, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Let me start with a big "thank you" to all who participated in the RVCF Fall Conference earlier this month in Scottsdale. Thank you to the attendees, presenters, speakers, discussion moderators, and exhibitors for making this such an inspiring, productive event. Feedback from retailers, merchandise suppliers and service providers has been tremendous, and we look forward to carrying this momentum into the new year.

In 2017, RVCF will be zeroing in on process improvement. How can we help retailers and suppliers improve and measure their business processes? How can the time and cost of these processes be reduced? How can visibility be improved up and down the supply chain? How can efforts to deliver the perfect order be expanded to e-commerce?

Most importantly, how can we ensure that the end consumer gets what they want, how they want it, when they want it, and where they want it?

We want to help suppliers better understand the exception-based receiving software being used by retailers to audit inbound shipments down to the SKU level. Years ago, counts only went down to the carton level. Then they went down to the item level. Today, they go down to the SKU level, and the physical shipment must match up with the purchase order and ASN.

As a result, we'll be investigating ways to improve shipment accuracy and help suppliers justify the cost of supply chain improvements that will enable them to keep up with increased order scrutiny and reduce chargebacks.

We'll also be working on ways to improve drop ship processes. Historically, it costs a retailer much more when the customer makes a purchase online compared to an in-store purchase. You can have what seems like an effective e-commerce program but have poor financial results. It is extremely difficult for a brick-and-mortar retailer to change that paradigm when they never physically handle the merchandise. This is another issue we'll tackle in 2017.

We want to help retailers and suppliers improve their processes for customers who buy online and pick up their orders in a physical store. Walmart recently announced that they're paying store employees more money. Do you think they did this out of the goodness of their hearts?

Walmart increased wages because their model is shifting. Employees are now expected to fill more orders from the store, which means you need to be able to attract and retain more capable employees. The goal must be to transform this process from a cost center to a profit center by ensuring that these orders are fulfilled quickly and accurately.

In addition to focusing on the perfect e-commerce order, RVCF will continue to focus on our core initiatives, including scorecarding, portals and enhanced communication. As always, trading partner collaboration must be the foundation of all efforts to improve business processes that increase profits and get products into the customer's hands faster.

Although the dust has barely settled on the 2016 Fall Conference, preparations are in full swing for our 2017 conferences.

We're excited to bring the RVCF Spring Conference to the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA, just minutes from Washington, DC from May 7-10, 2017. In addition to collaboration and networking opportunities, educational sessions, and keynotes, attendees can take a guided tour of our nation's landmarks, monuments and memorials, and enjoy a sunset cruise on the Potomac. Early bird registration is available through February 1, 2017, so we encourage you to register as soon as possible.

Looking ahead to the RVCF Fall Conference, we're thrilled to be returning to the desert at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix, AZ from November 5-8, 2017. Please save the date for our signature event and start making travel plans soon!

On behalf of the entire RVCF team, I'd like to thank our members and all who support and participate in RVCF initiatives for a great 2016. I wish you all the best this holiday season and in 2017. After you've had a chance to relax and enjoy the holidays with family and friends, please join us as we roll up our sleeves to do the work required to move the retail industry forward.

(646) 442-3473

CLICK HERE to return to the NOVEMBER 2016 RVCF LINK

Tags:  RVCF Fall Conference 2016  RVCF Spring Conference 2017 

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RVCF Fall Conference Sets the Tone for a Successful 2017

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 17, 2016
Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2016


During a memorable four-day period wrapped around a historic election night, retail industry professionals came together for the RVCF Annual Fall Conference at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ. Let's start with a quick look at the conference by the numbers:

  • Approximately 500 attendees participated in 50 sessions, including educational programs covering areas such as product safety requirements, ASN accuracy, warehouse automation, omni-channel, supply chain data mining, RFID, sales and operations planning, deductions management, and images and attributions adoption.
  • 700 one-on-one meetings were held at the conference, with some retailers hosting as many as three tables. The ability to hold face-to-face meetings and discuss issues with multiple trading partners during a single event continues to offer tremendous value to RVCF conference attendees.
  • Eight retailer-specific breakouts made it possible for suppliers to obtain firsthand knowledge of the retailer's expectations, upcoming initiatives, and updated procedures. These sessions also allow suppliers to ask questions, offer feedback and share ideas for optimizing supply chain operations. Suppliers also requested and received an extended supplier-only open forum, which allowed more time for insightful feedback.
  • The findings of RVCF surveys conducted over the summer were presented at the Fall Conference and point to the need for further alignment and best practices in three key areas: distribution receiving compliance, the investigation and reconciliation of deduction claims, and drop ship compliance. Sessions focused on drop ship were especially well-attended and provided the foundation for the roadmap for best practices.
  • Our Casino/Election Night was a big hit! Attendees traded in $1,000 of OpenText funny money for casino chips, and the winnings were converted to raffle tickets. Tickets were drawn to award 15 prizes, including gift cards, electronics, apparel and footwear. Three American Express gift cards were also awarded to those who collected the most points in our passport game. Then, it was on to the casino hall entrance to watch the election unfold.

Here is a recap of several of the most talked about sessions at the RVCF Fall Conference:

Keynote: Barry Elms, the King of Managing Conflict
"There is no such thing as difficult people, only difficult situations." Not so, says Barry Elms, President of Strategic Negotiations International. According to Mr. Elms, there are indeed difficult people in the business world. You just have to know how to approach conflict in a way that doesn't allow those people to get to you – or change you into one of those people.

Mr. Elms discussed the five positions for gaining agreement, which fall into two categories. The first category involves using persuasive arguments and includes the following three positions:

  • Logic: A fact-based argument that requires the validation of facts to be persuasive.
  • Power: An attempt by one side to impose their will on the other.
  • Emotion: An argument is based on how the person feels about the problem.

The final two positions fall into the category of creative solutions. The first position is trade, in which you give something to receive something. The second is compromise, in which one or both sides make a concession to reach an agreement.

Mr. Elms also spoke about the importance of emotional control, self-awareness and empathy during conflict. The goal should be to "get out of the movie." In other words, deal with the situation from the perspective of an observer, or audience member, rather than one of the involved players. If you're unable to identify where conflict resides and control your emotions, you'll never see a solution to the problem.

50 Shades of Red (Ink): Setting Up a Business in China
Ken Gordon, President; Dan Dionas, Consultant; Hai Yan Zhang, Managing Partner at Gordon Pacific, LLC
This session offered unique insights about how to overcome the challenges and maximize the opportunities of operating in China. This begins with understanding how the Chinese approach relationships and business. Everything is personal. Personal feelings, connections and commitment drive business relationships. Face, or how you are perceived by others, is based on status, dignity, power and respect.

To the Chinese, the opportunity for success is based mostly on luck supported by human effort. Gaining respect and achieving a certain social status are vital in China because enforcement of rules is based on relationships. If an American brings a lawyer to a meeting, it is a sign that they anticipate a hostile relationship. Even if you sue, you might win a battle, but you'll lose the war, because you'll kill the relationship.

All contracts are written in both English and Mandarin, but only the Chinese contracts are legal. The Chinese may alter a contract before filing to ensure they are the beneficiaries in any agreement. Any document can be forged, so perform due diligence and verify everything.

In China, relationships are viewed as personal between two individuals. However, Americans assume the relationship is not with the individual, but with the entire company. As a result, all communications should be addressed to the head of the company, not just the point of contact.

Ultimately, doing business in China requires you to stop thinking like a Westerner. Respect the Chinese culture and their emphasis on personal relationships. Plan ahead in terms of both negotiating and reviewing agreements and approaching relationships in a way that is aligned with Chinese belief systems.

The Future of Retail in an Omni-Channel World
Chris Petersen CEO, Integrated Marketing Solutions
Omni-channel is the new normal for consumers, so it must be the new normal for retailers. Consumers expect seamless, continuous choices across all channels, which requires retailers to be able to sell anytime and everywhere. This begins with knocking down the silos between in-store and e-commerce operations and sales once and for all.

Click and collect is already a hot trend as consumers buy online and pick up merchandise in store with a wait time of less than five minutes. 65 percent of consumers expect to be able to return online purchases in the store. This may sound complicated, but retailers need to embrace omni-channel for the sake of sales. In fact, omni-channel consumers buy three times more than consumers who only buy in physical stores.

That doesn't mean brick-and-mortar is destined to crumble. Malls will become destinations for omni-channel, combining online capabilities with the engagement and experience of in-store shopping. People still like to touch and feel what they buy, and you can't do that on the web.

Buyers and salespeople need to stop asking how to determine if a sale is an online sale or store sale. It doesn't matter. It's about the relationship with the end consumer. The biggest void in retail today is the lack of customer relationship management (CRM). If you want to be successful, you have to build a relationship with the consumer that transcends the sale. Follow up, thank them and reward them.

Retailers must recognize that shopping is a continuous experience, and the decision to buy is a process. Merchandise is purchased at a moment in time in which the consumer completes the journey, not in a physical or online "store." Consumers are the new point of sale.

How to Survive the Next 3 Years in Retail - Growing Revenues by Understanding the Human Element
Phil Rist, EVP, Strategic Initiatives, Prosper Insights & Analytics
Consumer sentiment is in decline. Only 42.7 percent of consumers are confident in the economy, a two-point drop from last year. People shop for practical purposes, with more than four in 10 purchasing only what they need, not what they want.

Back in 2005, it was predicted that the following big market forces would dramatically alter the retail landscape: energy volatility, debt overload, practicality, aging boomers, and social networks. This prediction was accurate and is still valid today.

However, forecasts of the past have been and continue to be disrupted by technology, such as Facebook in 2005, the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. Historical forecasts that do not account for these factors are still in use, which is a big reason why most companies miss sales projections. Alan Greenspan said most companies get forecasting wrong because forecasts aren't based on the consumer, who ultimately decides if your forecast is correct.

Forecasting must look forward, not backward. It must combine good data with human expertise to support the creation of innovative applications that solve problems. By integrating consumer intentions into predictive models and marketing programs, retailers and suppliers gain better insights into the needs of the end consumer and how to win their business.

Thank You!
The RVCF Fall Conference was a huge success. Thank you to all who attended and participated! We look forward to seeing you at the RVCF Spring Conference, being held May 7-10, 2017 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA, just across the river from Washington, DC.

CLICK HERE to return to the NOVEMBER 2016 RVCF LINK

Tags:  RVCF Fall Conference 2016 

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Updated List of Retailer Participants at RVCF Fall Conference Announced

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 13, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2016


One of the primary reasons why suppliers attend RVCF conferences is because these events provide suppliers with access to multiple retailers at one location over the course of several days. Face-to-face meetings with trading partners, under normal circumstances, would require weeks of planning, significant travel costs, and multiple days outside of the office for each meeting.

The cost and time savings are enough to justify attending the annual RVCF Fall Conference, being held November 6-9, 2016 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, AZ. But that's just the icing on the cake. It's the work that gets done during those meetings that provides the greatest short-term and long-term value to both suppliers and retailers.

If you have any doubts about the retailer community being well-represented at the Fall Conference, take a look at the latest list of retailers that will be attending and have committed to one-on-one meetings:

  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Belk
  • Big Lots
  • Buckle, Inc.
  • Burlington Stores
  • Cabela's
  • Dick's Sporting Goods
  • Dillard's
  • Genesco
  • Gordmans
  • Hudson's Bay Company
  • JCPenney
  • Kohl's
  • Lord & Taylor
  • Marine Corps Exchange (MCX)
  • Neiman Marcus Group
  • Nordstrom
  • REI
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Stage Stores
  • Stein Mart
  • The Exchange
  • The TJX Companies

Retailers that have committed to breakout sessions include:

  • Belk
  • Burlington Stores
  • Dick's Sporting Goods
  • Dillard's
  • Kohl's
  • Neiman Marcus Group
  • Stage Stores
  • The Exchange
  • The TJX Companies

Other retailers attending the RVCF Fall Conference include:

  • AutoZone
  • Big 5 Sporting Goods
  • CVS Health
  • Do it Best
  • Indigo Books
  • Office Depot
  • PacSun
  • PetSmart
  • Sephora
  • Target (e-commerce/drop ship only)
  • The Home Depot
  • Zappos

Of course, retailers and suppliers have plenty of opportunities to meet throughout the conference during networking sessions, meals, golf outings, cocktail receptions, casino night, and privately scheduled meetings. Dillard's has also been gracious enough to once again open their doors and allow attendees to tour their distribution center. RVCF even employs a mobile event app that enables attendees to introduce themselves and schedule impromptu meetings.

However, one-on-one meetings and breakout sessions during RVCF conferences provide trading partners with a formal structure for identifying and addressing issues and strengthening business relationships.

In a retailer breakout session, only suppliers of that particular retailer are permitted to attend. This makes it possible to focus completely on the compliance requirements, business processes and initiatives of a single retailer. At the same time, suppliers have the opportunity to ask general questions of the retailer and learn from their peers in a group setting.

In a one-on-one meeting, it's just two trading partners – one retailer and one supplier – sitting at a table. These prescheduled meetings occur in a designated area that is closely monitored and controlled by RVCF staff to limit access to those who have scheduled meetings.

The goal of a one-on-one meeting is simple. Put issues on the table, determine the cause of each issue, develop mutually beneficial solutions, and plan next steps for implementing and following up on these solutions.

Those who approach one-on-one meetings as an opportunity to air grievances, make demands and play hardball will do little if anything to improve the trading partner relationship. Those who register early, lay out specific topics that they would like to discuss, and use meeting time to solve problems through collaboration will be most likely to solve problems and strengthen partnerships.

Representatives of merchandise supplier organizations who have registered for the RVCF Fall Conference should have received one-on-one surveys. If not, please contact Susan Haupt for assistance at (646) 442-3433 or One-on-one scheduling is underway and will be finalized soon. Click here for more information about planning for one-on-one meetings.

We encourage retailers and suppliers to meet with as many trading partners as possible during the Fall Conference. As RVCF Founder and Chairman Kim Zablocky said in this month's issue of RVCF Link, retailers are tightening up their compliance programs, primarily to improve inventory accuracy and fulfill e-commerce orders more effectively.

Tougher requirements will quickly become the new normal, so retailers and suppliers need to take advantage of opportunities for collaboration offered at RVCF conferences and chart the best path forward. These collaboration opportunities are why RVCF exists.

As the lists above illustrate, several dozen retailers will be in attendance and accessible at the RVCF Fall Conference. Suppliers, will you be there as well? For the full conference agenda and registration information, click here.

CLICK HERE to return to the OCTOBER 2016 RVCF LINK

Tags:  RVCF Fall Conference 2016 

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From the Desk of Kim Zablocky: Retailers, Don't Let Fear Overshadow Opportunity

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 8, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Retail is going through a paradigm shift. There's no doubt about it. We saw a massive change in 2009 when the economy tanked. People were hoarding money, nobody was spending, and retail industry CFO's were hiding under their desks.

Fast forward to 2016. Too many retailers seem to be paralyzed with fear. They're worried that Amazon and other online retailers will continue to take away market share and nothing can be done about it. Of course, e-commerce isn't new, but for some reason, a lot of retailers are in panic mode this year.

First, let's set the record straight about what Amazon is. Amazon has been around since 1994. They don't turn a profit from selling goods online. They don't make money be selling Kindles. Amazon makes money with Amazon Web Services, its cloud computing platform, and maybe with Prime, which is as much about video and music as it is about two-day shipping.

From a retail perspective, Amazon is nothing more than a convenience store. Actually, Amazon is not a retailer. It's a platform.

To be clear, I'm not saying Amazon is insignificant. But going into hiding is a losing strategy. A guy named Charles Darwin wrote about this.

Retailers have two choices. They can confront the issue of e-commerce and adapt. They can develop unique products. They can turn stores into destinations and shopping into a truly special experience.

The alternative is to continue to do the same old thing, hope for the best, and pinch pennies. However, this approach does little to meet customer demands, improve relationships with merchandise suppliers, or address the actual problem.

I understand the concern about e-commerce. But the fear I'm seeing is an overreaction. Yes, a paradigm shift is happening. E-commerce isn't going away. More stores will inevitably close their doors as the industry adjusts to this new paradigm.

However, with fear comes opportunity. 87 percent of shopping still occurs in a store. The online players still have a ton of catching up to do. Failure to seize the opportunities in front of you makes their job easier.

When it comes right down to it, all you need in life are your customers, your suppliers and your stores. Those are the three legs of the retailer stool. You need all three to keep your stool from tipping over.

Retailers need to be engaging suppliers like never before, not avoiding them. The RVCF Fall Conference is your chance to meet with as many supplier partners as possible and take advantage of the incredible opportunities that exist in retail.

Perhaps you say to yourself, "Money is tight, so I'll skip this conference. Maybe I'll go back next year." But how will that help? Is that saved money going to help you deal with the challenge of e-commerce? You can't confront issues and come up with solutions if you go into hiding.

Maybe FDR was on to something when he said, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

Don't let fear overshadow opportunity. The RVCF Fall Conference is one of those rare opportunities to meet with your trading partners and peers. Instead of being paralyzed by fear, take advantage of these and other opportunities. Remember, our conferences aren't a boondoggle. They're a solution with great ROI and no downside.

Let me close by telling you about a recent conversation I had with my daughter. She was planning to buy a dress for a family wedding, so I asked her where she was going. She said she only shops at Lord & Taylor. She wouldn't go anywhere else.

She's a 26-year-old woman and shops in a store. And she's far from alone. Hope and opportunity abound.

(646) 442-3473

CLICK HERE to return to the SEPTEMBER 2016 RVCF LINK

Tags:  RVCF Fall Conference 2016 

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Digging Deep into the Value-Packed RVCF Fall Conference Agenda

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 8, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2016


The 2016 RVCF Fall Conference is only two months away and we couldn't be more excited to roll up our sleeves and take on the issues that will be covered throughout the event. We take pride in the fact that our conferences aren't about putting on a show. Being held November 6-9, 2016 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, AZ, the Fall Conference will bring together retailers, merchandise suppliers, and service providers who are there to solve problems and move the industry forward through collaboration.

As we start to head down the home stretch to the Fall Conference, we'd like to highlight some of the sessions that are already generating the most buzz among registered attendees:

The Future of Retail in an Omni-Channel World
Omni-channel is the new normal, at least as far as consumers are concerned. The traditional, in-store purchase event has been replaced with a journey that often includes both digital and physical realms. Retailers must change their business models and organizational structures to suit this new paradigm. This session will illustrate how successful retailers are adapting.

How to Survive the Next 3 Years in Retail: Growing Revenues by Understanding the Human Element
Marketers and financial forecasters can only nail their sales projections if they understand the role that the consumer's future intentions and emotions play in this process. Learn how these intentions and emotions can be integrated into predictive models and marketing programs to better understand how to earn the end consumer's business.

Peace, Love and Drop Shipping
Drop shipping replaces the B2B commit-to-buy discussion with a commit-to-integrate discussion. This session will help suppliers and retailers understand this new dynamic and the new processes and technology required for successful drop shipping.

Improving the Drop Ship Financial Model
Once you master the process of drop shipping, you have to master the economics. This session will focus on two studies. The first uses transactional data from one vendor selling seasonal products through both wholesale and drop shipping channels. The second uses transactional data from multiple vendors operating exclusively through the drop shipping channel. The findings of both studies will be used to present a financial model for drop shipping.

Leveraging the Supply Chain to Drive Sales
AutoZone has embarked on an initiative to drive sales by improving inventory availability. To achieve this goal, the company has worked to improve in-stocks, bring parts closer to the customer, deliver more frequently to stores, and offer expanded parts assortments in Mega Hub stores. See how this initiative has evolved and how AutoZone's supply chain is changing to support this strategy.

50 Shades of Red (Ink)
This keynote will discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of doing business in China based on decades of firsthand experience. Attendees will learn how to overcome challenges and maximize opportunities by better understanding the unique organizational, operational, managerial, and cultural issues that companies face when venturing into China.

Automating PO Change in Workflow Process
RVCF research revealed that retailers change orders an average of 4.4 times during the PO lifecycle. Most suppliers process these changes manually. The only way to effectively handle the increasing volume of 860 EDI PO change transactions is with automation. This session will show you what steps suppliers have taken to successfully automate change order processing.

How to Implement Executive Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)
Fundamental changes are required to implement a successful, sustainable executive S&OP process. Such an initiative must be a company effort, not a supply chain effort, that requires the ownership by upper management. This workshop will detail 11 components of an effective implementation pathway.

Keynote: Barry Elms, the King of Managing Conflict
We heard a nasty rumor that negotiations between retailers and suppliers sometimes include conflict. During this dynamic, entertaining program, world-class speaker and author Barry Elms will introduce attendees to his simple, practical model for dealing with conflict. Barry will share his own experiences and real world examples of business negotiations to help attendees better understand how to negotiate with minimal tension and conflict.

You Still Have Time to Register for the RVCF Fall Conference!
In addition to these and other educational sessions and workshops, the Fall Conference will offer a healthy dose of breakout sessions and one-on-one meetings, roundtable discussions, formal and informal networking, and plenty of opportunities to blow off steam. For more information about the 2016 RVCF Fall Conference, contact Susan Haupt, Vice President, Operations and Member Services, RVCF, at or 646-442-3433.

CLICK HERE to return to the SEPTEMBER 2016 RVCF LINK

Tags:  RVCF Fall Conference 2016 

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From the Desk of Kim Zablocky: It's Time to Expedite the Investigation and Reconciliation of Deduction Claims

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 11, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 9, 2016

If there's one thing that causes angst and frustration with merchandise suppliers, it's the excruciatingly tedious process of investigating and reconciling retailer deductions for errors in order fulfillment. These deductions represent up to 1 percent of gross invoice and a total of $4 billion to $6 billion per year.

For more than 20 years, suppliers have spent millions of dollars and man hours examining hundreds of deduction types related to pricing, shortages, missing tags, early/late shipments, improper labeling, illegible barcodes, and on and on and on. The problem is that every retailer communicates these charges differently.

Some retailers provide extensive data and supporting documentation. Others simply provide a reason code. Deduction information could be delivered via EDI, portals or e-mail. To be fair, 90 percent or more of these charges from retailers are valid, but the supplier still needs to investigate, reconcile and dispose of each deduction.

What does this inconsistency lead to? Unnecessarily high administrative costs, more time required to address compliance violations and implement fixes, increased risk of errors in future shipments, slower order fulfillment, unhappy customers, and tension in the trading partner relationship.

In an effort to improve this situation, RVCF is in the process of conducting a survey of merchandise suppliers to examine deduction data and the substantiation of claims. We're going to look at the top 25 deduction codes – the biggest reasons why retailers issue chargebacks – and ask suppliers what specific claim information is required to speed up the investigation and reconciliation process.

When the survey is complete and all feedback has been collected, we'll present the findings to suppliers for final analysis and discussion at the RVCF Annual Fall Conference, being held November 6-9, 2016 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ. We will then create a white paper that will lay out the best practices for the communication and substantiation of claims for each of the top 25 deduction codes. This document will be distributed to retailers at the end of the year.

I realize that retailers have their systems and technology in place and are locked in to their own methods for managing this process. I understand that what we're trying to accomplish could be perceived as the equivalent of pushing a boulder up a hill. But when this survey and white paper are complete, we'll have a roadmap of best practices that will enable suppliers to manage deductions as quickly and effectively as possible. At that point, it will be up to each retailer to make the choice to implement these best practices.

Suppose these best practices for communicating and substantiating deductions are widely adopted and, as a result, merchandise suppliers are able to improve process flow and reduce costs related to investigating and reconciling deductions. Suppliers will then feel less pressure to increase prices or push back as hard on retailers for trade spend in order to offset chargebacks. Business decisions will be based on how to increase sales and profits rather than squeezing each other for nickels and dimes to cover the cost of administrative inefficiencies.

The days of adversarial retailer-supplier relationships are quickly drawing to a close. The days of one side treating deductions as a revenue stream and the other side demanding exemptions or passing the cost of deductions to the customer are quickly drawing to a close. The only viable path forward is collaboration. Retailers and suppliers must work together and refine their business processes to improve efficiency and satisfy the end consumer.

This survey, conference session, white paper and best practices were conceptualized with these goals in mind. We encourage all retailers to take a hard look at how deduction claims are being communicated and substantiated, and see if these methods can be improved and simplified. We encourage all suppliers to evaluate their own investigation and reconciliation processes and determine if their concerns and feedback have been properly communicated to the retailer.

Only by shifting the question from "What's in it for me?" to "What's in it for us?" can true progress be achieved.

(646) 442-3473

CLICK HERE to return to the AUGUST 2016 RVCF LINK

Tags:  Deductions  RVCF Fall Conference 2016 

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From the Desk of Kim Zablocky: Negotiations and Conflict Management Expert Barry Elms Set to Deliver Fall Conference Keynote

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 9, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2016

We're just getting ready to welcome summer, but we're already putting the finishing touches on the RVCF Annual Fall Conference, scheduled for November 6-9, 2016 at the beautiful JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ. Based on input from RVCF membership, we've developed sessions that cover a number of topics related to current industry issues and trends, including the development of compliance programs for omni-channel, working with Amazon, using predictive analytics, boosting inventory productivity, and improving the drop ship financial model.

Today, I'm excited to announce that world-class speaker and author Barry Elms, President of Strategic Negotiations International, will deliver the Fall Conference keynote on dealing with business-related conflict in negotiations. Recognized by many as America's business coach in sales and negotiating, and often referred to as the king of managing conflict, Barry has delivered more than 2,000 presentations to every conceivable culture during the past 25 years.

Barry's presentations are as entertaining and engaging as they are enlightening, and his model can be instantly applied in any business environment. Those who attend often wish they had applied these principles years ago instead of digging in their heels and wonder how successful their negotiations could have been.

"I'm not an industry expert," Barry said. "I'm a negotiations and conflict management expert who uses a simple, practical model that translates to all walks of life. I use real world negotiation discussions as examples of how to deal and how not to deal with conflict in negotiations, and attendees can then connect the dots in their world."

It's no secret that not all trading partner relationships are filled with rainbows and sunshine. Some of the friction in these relationships can often be traced back to conflict in negotiations. When two parties are looking to protect their interests and their goals aren't necessarily the same, conflict on some level is virtually inevitable.

Barry will explain how negotiations and conflict both revolve around the same five positions. The first three positions – logic, power and emotion – are the persuasive positions in negotiations and the argument positions in conflict. In the logic position, one party's case is based on facts and principles. In the power position, which is often ego-driven, one party is trying to impose their will on the other. In the emotional position, one party is presenting their case based on how they feel about a problem.

By sharing stories of actual business negotiations, Barry will help us better understand these positions so we're better prepared to both present and combat them in a way that diffuses conflict. The goal is to negotiate with as little tension as possible in order to maintain a strong, collaborative relationship and reach the solutions phase of negotiations.

"This is where the two remaining positions come into play," Barry said. "Once you get the rancor out of the way, solutions come together through trade or compromise."

Barry will explain the six things in life that can be traded on a one-to-one basis, using a collaborative model in which a solution is created based on equal-value trading. If one party can't convince the other to accept their argument, and a mutually beneficial trade can't be agreed upon, both sides move from their positions and give up something to find common ground.

Drawing on his own experiences and involvement with negotiations between various companies around the world, Barry will show us how fair compromises come together and explain how to avoid unnecessary compromise. After all, if only one side is compromising, that's a concession, not an agreement.

RVCF exists to bring trading partners to the table to collaborate and solve problems. Negotiation is almost always part of this process, but it shouldn't be an obstacle to forward progress. We're thrilled to have Barry Elms deliver the Fall Conference keynote about managing conflict during negotiations so our membership can use his formula to build stronger relationships and drive positive change.

We encourage all of our members and future members to start making plans now for the RVCF Fall Conference. Take advantage of early bird pricing when you register by August 1, 2016, and reserve your rooms as soon as possible the host hotel. We look forward to seeing you in Scottsdale in November!

(646) 442-3473

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From the Desk of Kim Zablocky: How to Extract Maximum Value from the RVCF Fall Conference, and a Special Offer

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 12, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Spring Conference is just barely in the books, but we're already putting the finishing touches on the agenda for the Fall Conference, which is being held November 6-9, 2016 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, AZ. Retailers are requesting breakout sessions. Suppliers will be requesting one-on-ones with their retail trading partners. Exhibitors are clamoring for booth position. Energy is already building for the biggest event on the RVCF calendar.

We look forward to seeing familiar faces each year. We look forward to hearing their positive feedback on the educational sessions. We look forward to hearing about how their meetings went with their trading partners. We look forward to hearing about the issues that were addressed in their peer-to-peer sessions. But here's the kicker. Those familiar faces will be able to extract even more value from an RVCF conference when they bring their colleagues.

Every RVCF conference has a very robust agenda, so it's impossible for a single person to experience the entire agenda. They can only digest so much information. They can only attend so many sessions and meet with so many people, so they have to make choices. Conflicts are inevitable because one person can only do so much.

It doesn't take a math wiz to realize that if you send two people to a conference instead of one, you can attend twice as many sessions, gain twice as much knowledge, schedule twice as many one-on-one meetings with trading partners, and network with twice as many people. Play your cards right and you'll solve twice as many problems. All of this is accomplished in a single trip during a single conference instead of incurring travel costs to attend multiple events and visit several trading partner sites.

It may sound cliché, but an RVCF conference truly is a one-stop shop for collaboration and learning. If you struggle to get your budget approved so you can attend, make sure you explain the value of the conference experience to your boss or manager instead of simply submitting a request.

Better yet, try to convince your boss or manager to attend the conference with you! Senior managers can accelerate the implementation of best practices that reduce costs and increase profits. Senior managers have the authority to respond to trading partner requests and make decisions on the spot.

Instead of bringing requests back to the home office, waiting for a response, and watching the momentum and positive energy from the conference disappear before your eyes, bring decision-makers to the event. Tell your boss that we'll be covering topics such as EDI/IT, planning and forecasting, order management, supply chain, operations, logistics, finance, product identification, synchronization of supplier and customer management best practices, and much more.

Of course, RVCF delivers value to its members every day, whether that value comes in the form of the Compliance Clearinghouse, Trading Partner Collaboration Groups, or RVCF Advisors consultancy services. The cost of RVCF membership is more than covered by the services we offer each day. But there is no substitute for attending an RVCF conference in person. None.

It's an experience that can be difficult to describe in a way that does the event justice. Again, it may sound cliché, but you have to see it to believe it. You realize from the outset that it's not about putting on a show or entertaining attendees. You see real work getting done. You see a real commitment to sharing ideas and solving problems. People don't just walk away from RVCF conferences with more knowledge and stronger trading partner relationships. They walk away inspired and motivated. That inspiration and motivation drives positive change and profitability.

This is why we want to see new faces at RVCF events, particularly among senior management. More new faces mean more expertise, more ideas, more solutions and more progress. For the 2016 RVCF Fall Conference, we're offering a special incentive for RVCF members who want to get their management and colleagues involved. If you register a first-time attendee for the conference, the first-timer will receive a 10 percent discount on the event registration fee. We're confident that first-time attendees will become repeat attendees when they experience an RVCF Conference in person.

For more information about this incentive and to register for the 2016 RVCF Fall Conference, e-mail Susan Haupt at or call 646-442-3433.

(646) 442-3473

CLICK HERE to return to the MAY 2016 RVCF LINK

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