This week, deputy general counsels from numerous retailers across the country gathered in D.C. to attend RILA's bi-annual Legal Direct Reports (L2) Committee meeting. The meeting serves as a forum for the upcoming legal leadership within the retail community.
The committee heard updates from RILA's policy experts regarding front-burner issues for retailers such as tax reform, trade, health care, privacy, cyber security and financial reform.
Meredith Slawe and Kate Deal, partners at Drinker, Biddle & Reath, provided a detailed primer on recent class action litigation trends and discussed practical proactive steps that companies can take to minimize class action litigation risk.
Lisa Harris, a partner at Shepherd Mullin, spoke on the current labor and workforce issue landscape and what retailers can expect as they navigate and comply with federal, state and local labor and employment laws.
Deborah White, President of the Retail Litigation Center & General Counsel for RILA hosted a lively panel focusing on updates from the U.S. Supreme Court. Eric Citron, Partner, Goldstein & Russell, P.C. and Adam Unikowsky, Partner, Jenner & Block provided insights into the impact that recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch will have on key litigation impacting the retail community at large.
The group turned towards technology and innovation with an update from the RTech Center for Innovation and a discussion of the role of legal departments in driving retail innovation. Tom Keegan, Principal Forensic Advisory Services, KPMG and Brian Blush, Manager Forensic Technology Practice, KPMG discussed the use of predictive data analytics by companies to proactively address high risk issues and use of the EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model) to streamline litigation discovery workloads.
The L2 Committee also had an opportunity to benchmark on strategic issues related to the day-to-day management and oversight of corporate legal departments.
For more information about RILA's L2 Committee, please contact Kathleen McGuigan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As retailers continually increase their investments and commitments to sustainability, one area that has long been a cornerstone of these initiatives is energy management. Often considered the so-called "low-hanging fruit", energy consumption is highly quantifiable, which makes projects to curb consumption easier to measure and verify. So how are retailers approaching energy management?
A new report developed by RILA offers a snapshot of retail energy management programs with an eye on identifying paths forward. Building on the report last issued in 2016, the 2017 Retail Energy Management Industry Report showcases retail respondents' adoption of various energy management practices over the last year as well as since the first report in 2014 and allows retailers to benchmark their progress against their peers.
The report dives into 23 dimensions such as executive engagement, building auditing and re-tuning, and lighting, that together define an effective retail energy management program and marks the average maturity of 44 retail respondents across each. Subsequently, the report identifies several areas in which retailers were most improved over the last three years, as well as areas in which they aim to improve the most by 2019, among other analysis points.
Areas most improved:
- Financial Management
- Project Tracking & Benchmarking
- Landlord Engagement
- Aligning Incentives
Areas to watch:
- Store Engagement
- Systems Procurement
- Strategy & Goals
- Energy Management Systems
- Employee & Vendor Engagement
As energy management continues to be a growing opportunity for retailers to expand their sustainability programs, RILA will continue developing industry resources and helping retail energy executives leverage their collective learnings.
To access the full 2017 Retail Energy Management Industry Report, visit here. For more information on RILA's Retail Energy Management Program, please contact Erin Hiatt at email@example.com.
The retail asset protection industry is making groundbreaking advancements in adopting the Total Retail Loss typology, though often these evolutions happen behind the scenes. Retailers gathered in Seattle last week for RILA's spring Asset Protection Leaders Council meeting to, among other things, discuss how Total Retail Loss is changing the way they measure loss and its impact on the business.
RILA's APLC, sponsored by Profitect, is composed of the senior-most asset protection executives from among RILA member companies. The group convenes several times each year to share insights on priority issues, address common challenges, and advance the industry through collaboration.
This month's meeting featured case studies highlighting how retailers are leveraging Total Retail Loss to deliver value to their business, a guided tour of Amazon's highly automated fulfillment center, a walk of REI's flagship store, presentations by Gap Inc. on E-Commerce loss and the role of AP as well as British multinational retailer Tesco on the Internet of Things and a brainstorming session led by the industry's thought leaders.
The June meeting is also a lead-up to the APLC's Fall meeting, September 20-22 in Nashville.
For more information on RILA's Asset Protection Leaders Council, contact Lisa.LaBruno@rila.org.
As the nation's largest private sector employer, the retail industry supports over 42 million American jobs from supply chain to store to the C-Suite. RILA members' commitment to training our American workforce is highlighted through the actions and investments they make, each and every day.
As retail is one of the largest employment sectors of our economy, there is great responsibility not only to provide opportunities for employees at all levels but to also provide the tools and training needed to grow and innovate our workforce. From entry level to high-skilled positions, retailers offer upward mobility and a path towards success for millions of employees.
Whether it is creating new programs that target at-risk youth or investing millions in workforce development and increased wages, we take pride in leading the way in career training, wage growth, workforce development, and innovation for employees of all backgrounds and skill levels.
As the economy continues to evolve and become more technologically advanced, investments in workforce training will be even more important. Like all competitive businesses, retailers want to attract, train and retain workers of all types to ensure competitiveness in an increasingly tech-focused and disruption-minded economy. RILA members have and will continue to lead the way in creating forward-thinking development programs to ensure growth and opportunity for our workforce.
Is your supply chain keeping up with the times? That's the question RILA and Auburn University's Center for Supply Chain Innovation are exploring in our annual "State of Retail Supply Chain" report.
For the past seven years, RILA has worked with today's top retail supply chain executives to find out what challenges and wins they're seeing as supply chains continue to evolve.
This year's report is the culmination of research derived from industry hot topics, executive input, and emergent issues. To obtain the most comprehensive research, we sought participation from organizations with annual revenues above $1 billion, omnichannel capabilities and broad geographic activity.
The report provides in-depth analysis of the most front-burner issues facing America's retail supply chains and highlights tools and best practices to compete in an evolving marketplace.
When delving deeper, we've found that retailers identify three supply chain capabilities that are augmenting the digital transformation of industry:
- Enhancing order fulfillment capabilities
- Incorporating extensive use of stores for fulfilment
- End-to-end supply chain planning
One of the main takeaways from the report focuses on striking the balance between omnichannel costs and revenue growth. Retailers are realizing that an increased focus on the supply chain is the key to profitably serving customers. To achieve success, retail must invest in supply chain teams that excel at primary fulfillment roles, figure out how to best utilize stores that were never designed for large scale fulfillment, and develop strong capabilities in areas previously managed by other groups. With the proper oversight and investment, supply chain success will enhance retailers' financial vitality and outlook.
Are you getting the most out of your retail supply chain? Find out more here.
After months of hard work in partnership with industry stakeholders and RILA member companies, House Republican leaders announced last week they have removed language that sought to repeal debit swipe fee reform, a.k.a. the Durbin Amendment, from the Financial CHOICE Act. This is major win in the retail industry's fight against the big banks and the Visa/MasterCard duopoly.
Debit swipe fee reform introduced competition into the debit marketplace, giving merchants a choice in which company they wanted to process debit transactions, and holding banks accountable for the fees they charge merchants at the checkout counter. Since the passage of these reforms in 2008, consumers have seen billions in savings; this is why RILA and the entire retail industry are committed to keeping debit swipe fee reform intact.
Since news emerged earlier this year that House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) planned on reintroducing repeal language as part of the CHOICE Act, RILA has led a robust campaign to uphold these reforms, which are vital to our industry. Over the past five months, RILA's Austen Jensen has guided our collective efforts to strip the repeal language from the bill. Over this time, RILA has met with over 120 Members of Congress to discuss the impact repeal would have on the industry at-large.
With the news that repeal language was removed from the Financial CHOICE Act, the industry is hopeful that efforts to undo these vital debit reforms have been put to rest. RILA now looks forward to supporting key provisions in the CHOICE Act as this legislation moves forward in the House in June.
For more information on RILA's efforts to protect swipe fee reform, visit here or contact Austen Jensen at Austen.firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Evan Armstrong, vice president, government affairs
Imagine an 18-year-old named Mary starting her first job stocking inventory at a local retailer.
One day, the store is short-staffed and Mary is offered the opportunity to temporarily work as a cashier helping to process customers. After filling-in a few more times, Mary is promoted to a full-time front of the store employee, serving as a cashier in various departments.
Over time, Mary moves up the ranks and is promoted to a store manager.
This specific story may be fiction but it a very common path for individuals working in the retail industry. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, providing jobs and opportunity for 42 million Americans.
Retailers offer countless ways for employees just stepping into the workforce to learn new skills. Workforce training and flexibility is the hallmark of the industry and one of the ways in which retail employees learn the ropes is by cross-training in different departments.
Learning new skill-sets leads to upward mobility but bad policy is threatening that opportunity.
Unfortunately, due to regulations adopted by the Obama Administration and its activist National Labor Relations Board, opportunities for employees to move through the ranks have been stifled as the NLRB’s top-down regulatory approach prevents employee mobility within departments.
One of the most egregious examples of the Board’s overreach is their decision in the Specialty Healthcare case. In summary, the NLRB’s decision upended years of established law in favor of allowing micro-bargaining units — small units of an entire store — to organize without the consent of the majority workers at a company.
In fact, micro-units can be now validated by the NLRB even after a full vote rejected unionization. The Retail Industry Leaders Association recently issued a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review the NLRB’s decision to allow a micro-union at Macy’s after the entire workforce rejected unionization. This decision is not only a setback for retailers but has a widespread negative impact on employee mobility.
Without a majority of the NLRB willing to overturn the damaging Specialty Healthcare decision, instances of micro-units will increase, creating static workplaces where unions force employees to remain within a unit rather than learning new skills and advancing careers.
Unfortunately, this is the end result of human resource operations dictated by an overreaching NLRB and its big union allies.
Fortunately, common sense legislation has been reintroduced to turn back this harmful policy.
The Representation Fairness Restoration Act, introduced by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) aims to reverse the Specialty Healthcare decision, which would restore well-founded, proven years of legal precedence.
As leaders in the workforce arena, we want to continue to train our employees and help them grow. We must not let red tape get in the way of progress.
Congress would do right by America’s employees to pass this important legislation.
Armstrong points to the Representation Fairness Restoration Act, introduced by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) this week, as a common-sense solution to restore workplace mobility and flexibility.
To learn more about RILA's efforts to protect workplace flexibility, contact Evan Armstrong at email@example.com.
*This op-ed was originally published in The Hill, May 25, 2017.
After months of public debate surrounding the proposed border adjustable tax, yesterday the House Ways & Means Committee formally began review of the potential impact of the tax on the economy.
Target CEO and RILA Board Member Brian Cornell led the charge for retail, explaining in detail for members of the committee why retailers are opposed to the BAT. In his testimony, Cornell pointed to the 42 million jobs currently supported by retail, and insisted that implementing a border adjustable tax would stifle retail job growth and investment, and hurt Target customers. He added that the economic theories used to support the border adjustment tax were "unproven and untested," and urged Congress not to gamble with American families' budgets.
Watch Cornell's full testimony here:
Retailers have been vocal about the harmful effects the proposal would have on businesses of all sizes and on American families, most notably citing the inevitable cost it would pass on to consumers in the form of higher prices for everyday household items.
Earlier this week, RILA released a report developed by Capital Economics which debunks the theory that the border adjustable tax will appreciate the dollar enough to offset the impact on U.S. businesses and consumers. Report authors go so far as to label the dollar appreciation argument as "unreliable," so much so that it makes the border adjustable tax "not worth the risk of attempting it."
In fact, when asked by Representative Jim Renacci whether they can assure a border adjustable tax would have no economic effect on consumers, the hearing panelists all agreed they could not.
After yesterday's hearing, RILA Senior Executive Vice President Brian Dodge said, "anyone who viewed today's border adjustable tax hearing looking to understand if this would work in the real world could only be left deeply concerned."
As the conversation around tax reform and the border adjustable tax continue in the coming weeks, retailers will remain engaged with lawmakers and will continue working to inform consumers and businesses alike about the damage this proposal would have on the economy.
It's no secret that the retail industry is undergoing a period of immense change. Companies are having to adapt to changing consumer habits, but they're also proactively making changes internally to ensure company resiliency and longevity. One growing component of this transformation is increased investment in sustainability programs. Now, more than ever, retailers are leveraging sustainability as a catalyst for innovation in their operations, service offerings, and products. We at RILA consider ourselves a partner in this journey and are committed to helping our member companies accelerate their sustainability programs.
The 2017 Retail Sustainability Management Report released this week serves as a cornerstone of these efforts in helping retailers understand how they compare to others in the industry, and how they may want to progress in the future. Last released in 2015, the new report highlights the strides retailers have made over the last two years in fulfilling past goals, committing to additional goals, and honing their overall approaches to sustainability.
By breaking down an effective retail sustainability program into 30 dimensions, retailers can use the report to track their progress along each category, identify the highest leverage opportunities for improvement, and benchmark their program's maturity against peer companies.
This report is the result of an online survey disseminated to RILA members in March of 2017, which yielded responses from 31 retail companies, representing more than 30,000 locations and $600 billion in global revenue.
Access the full 2017 Retail Sustainability Management Report here. For questions or to learn more about RILA's sustainability program, please contact Erin Hiatt.
Today, RILA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center and the Sustainability Consortium (TSC) launched the Circular Economy Toolbox, an online platform to help companies incorporate circularity into their core principles and business practices.
For retailers, the business community and the public at large, the term "circular economy" might seem like a reference to high school geometry. In reality, the concept is really quite simple. The circular economy moves beyond sustainability to emphasize longevity, reuse, and recycling within business operations. This concept is a transformation of the traditional linear economy which focuses on a 'take, make, waste' model of production. As businesses look to innovate their supply chains and focus on sustainability, the circular model can help them stimulate development and growth.
We teamed up with the U.S. Chamber Foundation and the Sustainability Consortium to create the toolbox as a resource for brands looking to learn more and participate in this growing concept.
The toolbox assists organizations in the development of programs that capitalize on the business value of the circular economy, providing actionable tools and steps for companies to adjust their practices and take advantage of the long-term benefits of becoming more circular.
It features a repository of projects that profile companies' circular activities and also provides useful information for businesses, including:
- Overview of the circular economy;
- Background on the differences between circularity and sustainability;
- Glossary of terms and keywords; and
- List of circular economy resources.
As America's retailers focus on promoting sustainability from shore to shelf, we want to help them every step of the way. This toolbox is a new way to help move industry forward.
Questions about our toolbox? RILA is here to help. Email Adam.Siegel@rila.org to learn more.