Today, Target CEO Brian Cornell signed on as the Retail Industry Leader's Association (RILA)'s chairman for 2018 and 2019. It's a big honor—RILA is a leading trade association that helps advance the retail industry through educational forums and public policy advocacy, and its board includes leaders from companies from across the country. A longtime partner of Target, RILA was instrumental in bringing retailers together to lobby against the border adjustment tax last year. We asked Brian what he's most looking forward to in the new role.
As you kick off this new two-year role, what will your focus be?
After nearly three years on the RILA board, what's made the greatest impression on me is that, when we work together as leaders of the 42 million American people who make up the retail industry, we have an incredibly powerful voice to advocate for our customers, our teams and our communities.
Without a doubt, the battle over the border adjustment tax was unprecedented, and it showed us that there's an opportunity for more retailers to engage in public policy on an ongoing basis and advance our common agenda. But the opportunities for collaboration extend well beyond Washington, and my goals include working together to support the retail industry's transformation and create a more diverse and inclusive next generation of retail leaders.
Retail is changing at a rapid pace. How are you taking that into account as you move into this role?
We're coming off a year of "retail apocalypse" headlines—2017 was a difficult year for our industry in many respects. Some once-great brands disappeared, and we saw record store closures and layoffs at levels not seen since the great recession. But, I can assure you, retail is anything but dead. The numbers are in, and this holiday season was one of the strongest in years. People all over the world still love to shop, and that's not likely to change. Consumer preferences and shopping behaviors continue to evolve and we're moving fast to respond and anticipate what's next. Our job is to create more new and exciting ways to elevate the experience in this digital era.
RILA's (R)Tech Center for Innovation is a great example of how this is happening. It's all about demonstrating to entrepreneurs, investors and venture capitalists that there is a sizeable market for people and companies who want to develop new tools and applications, services and technology to support our industry. Things like innovating AI applications for Assets Protection, more advanced scheduling technology for hourly workers, tools to promote transparency in our supply chains, and new services that bridge the physical and digital experiences. The work RILA has already done in this area is tremendous, and as we move forward, the sky's the limit on where we can go.
How do you hope to set the stage for future leaders?
Just as consumer shopping habits continue to change and evolve, so do their demographics. As retailers, we know how important it is for our teams to reflect the people who shop with us—from diversity in gender, ethnicity and race to including a broad range of cultural perspectives. That's the only way any of us will truly understand our customers and be ready to meet their needs.
At Target, we've been intensely focused on this, starting with our board and the leaders at the very top of our organization. While I'm proud of the progress we've made, we still have lot of work to do. But this is not a challenge we can solve all on our own. To effect meaningful change, it will take the full industry—making the most of the resources available through RILA and within our own companies, and prioritizing hiring, training and leadership development opportunities. Building the next generation of leaders in retail, from store teams to CEOs and everyone in between, will be an important step in ensuring the nimbleness and vitality of our industry now and in the future.
This is a guest blog post by Jeff Ashcroft of SupplyChainNetwork.com
In roughly 50 days from now we'll all be gathering in Phoenix once again for this year's RILA Retail Supply Chain Conference 2018 and exposition. The theme of this year's event is 'Re-Imagining the Retail Supply Chain: Accelerating What's Possible' and the word cloud below was created based on the agenda for the event highlighting Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Automation and Robotics.
Blockchain is becoming the most topical of these technologies and for those just getting their feet wet, here's my primer piece to help get you started: Videos & Visions: of Logistics and Blockchains. For more Blockchain info and to join the conversation you may also wish to join almost 4,400 professionals in the Blockchain – Supply Chain Network – Commerce Group to learn more.
RILA Retail Supply Chain is my favorite retail logistics event of the year, and represents the best opportunity to hear from, meet and discuss emerging technologies with true retail practitioners and experts to help further plan and develop your own integration of technologies into your retail logistics strategy.
Wholeheartedly expect that this year's event will be no different, but in my mind there is one thing that has changed. In the past we've tended to evaluate each new technology on its' own merit as they emerged and then best determined how to implement them.
By the very ubiquitous nature of the technologies now emerging, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and of course the Blockchain it appears that a more holistic or converged approach is required in order for supply chain professionals to be successful.
With this in mind one of the sessions I'm most looking forward to is:
Convergence of Cognitive, IOT and Blockchain, presented by Steve Laughlin, Vice President & General Manager, Global Consumer Industry, IBM on Tuesday Feb 27th from 2:45 to 3:30 pm which looks like one session not to be missed!
Suffice it to say, looking at and understanding each of these technologies individually can be challenging enough, but defining the best methods of implementing them all synergistically is likely the most monumental task ever to face retail logistics and supply chain professionals.
The stakes couldn't be higher and my personal point of view is that those who aren't able to make this leap and fully digitize their supply chains utilizing these powerful technologies in unison will face a very uncertain future.
At the top right of the image above you'll also notice the picture of the REI Distribution Center just outside Phoenix which is one of the optional DC tours being offered this year. For those of you trying to green your DC operations this is one of the best available examples as it is a Net-Zero facility and is one of the first LEED Platinum distribution facilities that I'm aware of so another opportunity at RILA Retail Supply Chain not to be missed!
Here's the description of the facility if you need more convincing: "REI's latest distribution center is a cutting-edge facility located in the desert outskirts of Phoenix. In addition to innovative material handling equipment, the building features a 280,000 square foot solar array on its roof, which harnesses the desert sun to provide 2.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the net-zero facility. In addition to energy efficiency, the building has innovative management of resources including water, like a non-evaporative HVAC system that keeps the building pleasant even in the desert heat. But the real showpiece is the operations — industry-leading performance that has been meeting and exceeding goals."
Look forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones at RILA Retail Supply Chain Conference 2018 and in the interim feel free to reach out to me through Twitter @JeffAshcroft or Jeff Ashcroft on LinkedIn to share any ideas or thoughts on how you're planning to re-imagine your retail supply chain.
Jeff Ashcroft is founder and principal facilitator at SupplyChainNetwork.com
Much has been said about all the ways the retail industry is transforming and the rapid speed of change. America's biggest retail brands are constantly rethinking about the products they sell, ways to increase engagement with customers, and how to more efficiently transport products from manufacturer to store shelves and customers' homes. In addition to evolving consumer-facing operations, retailers are also analyzing their internal operations and finding new ways to approach things like compliance, risk assessment, and audit planning.
As part of this effort, RILA recently hosted a joint meeting of members' chief compliance and ethics officers and chief internal audit executives in Washington, DC. Creative and innovative use of new and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing and predictive analytics was a major theme of the meeting's presentations and benchmarking discussions.
Presenters included Dan Click, KPMG, presented on the use of AI and predictive analytics to enhance audit planning, and Kevin Lane and Maureen Mohlenkamp, Deloitte, discussed the use of technology to assess companies' culture of compliance and as part of a crisis management plan.
Several retailers in attendance shared the ways in which they are currently using technology to help enhance and streamline compliance and audit operations. Cindy Moehring, chief ethics and compliance officer at Walmart, presented a case study to the group highlighting several company pilot projects demonstrating how the nation's largest retailer is creatively using innovative technologies to reduce costs and compliance burden on store personnel while strengthening compliance programs overall.
Tabitha Jenkins, vice president and assistant general counsel for Burlington Stores and Anthony Leusner, director of internal audit, drew on their experience to share practical tips and insight on how internal audit and compliance departments can effectively collaborate and leverage limited resources.
In addition, the meeting also served as an opportunity for the committee members to benchmark with each other around top challenges facing the industry and best practices for addressing them. The group discussed key topics like business continuity and disaster response, loyalty program audits, inventory audits, performing internal quality review of audit work, website accessibility, and more.
For more information on RILA's Internal Audit Committee or Compliance Council, please reach out to Kathleen McGuigan, RILA's SVP and deputy general counsel.
Seeing is believing. It's one thing to read about advancements in technology, but there's no substitute for experiencing them in action.
That's why RILA has added distribution center tours to the lineup of activities at this year's Retail Supply Chain Conference. When the conference heads to Phoenix, AZ, this February 25-28, in addition to the usual blockbuster lineup of top speakers and educational sessions, attendees will also have the chance to tour two cutting-edge retail distribution facilities nearby.
DICK'S Sporting Goods is the country's leading sporting goods retailer, and recently opened its Phoenix distribution center to support its expansion in the western United States—both via stores and direct-to-consumer operations. The 600,00 square-foot facility is the fourth addition to DICK'S growing distribution network, and features the latest in material handling technology. It's also a sustainability showpiece, with environmentally-conscious building materials as well as operating technology and processes. DICK'S will share the journey of how the facility plays an integral role in serving the customer.
REI's latest distribution center is a cutting-edge facility located in the desert outskirts of Phoenix. Groundbreaking application of innovative material handling systems and processes has helped consistently exceed performance targets, to better serve and delight customers. The net-zero building powers itself, with a 280,000-square foot solar array that generates more electricity than it uses. In addition to energy efficiency, the building has innovative management of resources including water, like a non-evaporative HVAC system that keeps the building pleasant even in the desert heat. REI and solution provider DMW&H will be on hand to share inside details of the design, build, and operation.
Join us at the Retail Supply Chain Conference in Phoenix, and get a behind-the-scenes look at two of the top distribution centers in the industry today!
As a member-driven organization, RILA works to deliver actionable research and resources for our member companies and their leading executives. We cover a variety of business operation topics and committee benchmarks so retail professionals can make better informed business decisions.
As the year comes to a close, we're taking a look back at the key reports that made a splash this year. These resources reflect the varied areas of the retail business, from supply chain management to innovating the customer experience. Explore below to learn more about what's been driving America's leading retailers.
2017 Retail Energy Management Report
Now in its fourth year, the Retail Energy Management Report portrays a high-level view of the industry's adoption of various energy management practices. Specifically, we asked the largest retail companies about their teams and operations as well as the level of maturity at which their companies operate for twenty-three energy dimensions.
2017 Retail Sustainability Management Report
Aligned with RILA's Retail Sustainability Management Leadership Model, the 2017 report summarizes retailers' current progress along the Model. For each dimension of the Model, we report not only retailers' current progress, but also the retailers' outlook for 2019.
Organizing for (R)Tech
Guided by RILA's (R)Tech Center for Innovation, this report dives into the Four Cardinal Challenges that retailers face in innovating that retailers face in innovating. These challenges emerged from a survey of (R)Tech Center members and a series of interviews.
Now in its seventh year, the Annual State of the Retail Supply Chain report provides in-depth analysis of the front-burner issues facing America's retail supply chains. The report also highlights tools and leading practices to compete in an evolving marketplace.
Beyond Shrinkage: Introducing Total Retail Loss
Commissioned by the RILA Asset Protection Leaders Council and carried out by Professor Adrian Beck from the University of Leicester in the UK, this provides the retail industry with a better understanding of what constitutes retail 'loss', moving beyond the traditional confines of 'shrinkage', to develop the much broader concept of 'Total Retail Loss'.
In addition to the current portfolio of industry annual reports, new research in 2018 will explore ubiquitous shopping and the customer journey; the retail talent and skills challenge; the importance of a robust retail compliance program; and retail accounting practices.
Learn more about RILA research here or contact Charmaine Wiggins, director, research.
Earlier this week, RILA made an exciting announcement about the featured speakers confirmed to present at the 2018 Retail Supply Chain Conference in Phoenix, February 25–28. The educational content and the caliber and quality of speakers that make up the agenda are a large part of what makes the event the best-in-class, must-attend event for retail supply chain executives. Register now and prepare to gain insights to answer questions like:
What are the most valuable leadership lessons of the retail industry's top executives?
Kohl's Chief Operating Officer Sona Chawla will open the conference with firsthand insights on becoming a best-in-class omnichannel retailer, navigating today's fulfillment landscape, meeting the customer where she is and the supply chain of the future. The top supply chain executive from The Home Depot, Walgreen, and Walmart, will present their unique approaches to the complex challenges facing retail supply chains today.
What do the latest technologies transforming retail logistics mean for my supply chain?
From drones to AI to self-driving trucks, we have several sessions planned featuring leaders in supply chain solutions and retail technology to help you stay up-to-date on the innovations just around the corner. We'll have leaders from Google Express, IBM, DHL, and more discussing how these technologies are revolutionizing the way retailers deliver products to consumers.
How are America's largest retailers accelerating their own supply chains?
Hear directly from supply chain pros from Walmart, Five Below, PUMA North America, and more as they share how their companies are approaching supply chain management in the digital age. They'll cover everything from network design to fulfillment strategies to growth strategies, and more.
How will the current political and economic climate affect your supply chain?
Forbes Publisher, Editor-at-Large, and Global Futurist Rich Karlgaard will lead a session on the U.S. and global economic outlook for 2018, focused on the rapid evolution of technology and how it will continue to alter the business landscape. Additional sessions will focus on the ongoing NAFTA renegotiations and their effects on retail operations throughout the continent, President Trump's trade policies and their impacts on global value chains, and, as infrastructure continues to become a hot button issue in Washington, we've added a diverse panel of the Executive Directors from West Coast, Gulf Coast, and East Coast ports to discuss the latest developments and key issues facing our ports today.
Where do I find "big picture" inspiration?
Retail Prophet Doug Stephens will give an amazing tour of the future, where the retail experience as we know it will be radically transformed. As we consider ways to navigate that change, Jake Woods, co-founder and president of Team Rubicon, will draw upon lessons learned in working with veteran volunteers responding to catastrophic eventsto provide a framework for becoming a better leader and building more agile organizations. Activist and Author Elizabeth Smart sharing her incredible story of perseverance in the face of unimaginable adversity.
Have more questions? See a speaker or session that interests you? Explore the agenda and register now for the 2018 Retail Supply Chain Conference. We can't wait to welcome you to Phoenix!
While most businesses conceptually understand the financial and environmental value in investing in energy efficiency projects, successfully proposing and greenlighting new energy projects internally can still be a challenge. Retail energy managers must navigate internal competition for funds, short- and long-term budget cycles, and cross-departmental buy-in as they seek to move projects forward.
The new Workflow and Approval Process Guide, prepared by RILA and the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), helps retail energy professionals think more strategically about the project proposal and budgeting process. It is the latest in a suite of financing resources produced through RILA's cooperative agreement award from the Department of Energy (DOE). From getting buy-in from all affected departments to aligning the project's objectives with the company's public goals, this guide considers the many factors that impact the approval process for energy projects and provides thoughtful insights on how to navigate them.
Using a graphic flow chart, the guide walks through the three phases of a successful energy project proposal, highlighting key questions to ask along the way and identifying common pitfalls that could slow or stop projects. The chart is designed to prepare energy managers for the final step in project approval: presenting to finance and senior management.
Use this flow chart to ensure your process yields a comprehensive project proposal.
In addition to the above flow chart, the guide includes an implementation model case study featuring Food Lion, detailing how the grocery chain's comprehensive approach to energy project planning helps them integrate energy efficiency into larger company goals like customer service and cost saving.
The model highlights how Food Lion already successfully applies many of the Guide's leading practices for project proposals, to help key stakeholders recognize the value of energy management to the company's long and short-term goals.
Access the full Workflow and Approval Guide, including a full-scale flow chart pictured above, here. To learn more about RILA's energy management program and its similar resources, please contact Erin Hiatt, RILA's director of energy, sustainability, and research.
It's no secret that retailers have long been advocates for tax reform. The industry is a significant economic driver in the US, supporting over 42 million jobs, yet the industry pays among the highest effective tax rates of all sectors, at 35 percent.
That's why, when Congress set its sights on tax reform earlier this year, retailers rejoiced. If you've been following the news, you know that over the last few weeks, both House and Senate leadership have introduced bills aimed at fixing our broken tax code. The House passed their bill last week and the Senate is expected to vote on their version of the plan in the coming weeks. After 31 years, it appears comprehensive tax reform that closes harmful loopholes, lowers rates, and puts money back in the pockets of consumers is finally within reach.
The industry is focused on getting comprehensive tax reform across the finish line, and as the association for the nation's largest retail brands, RILA is committed to doing our part to make sure reform reflects the needs of businesses and our customers.
Last week, we hosted a tele-town hall with one of the most important leaders in the debate, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. RILA member companies and partners from across the country, including state retail associations and small businesses, joined to learn more about the proposals and their impact on individuals and businesses.
Mnuchin explained how the Trump Administration views tax reform as critical to economic growth and is optimistic in the aggressive timeline laid out for passage by the House and Senate. In walking through the objectives behind the Administration's push for tax reform and details in the current proposals, Mnuchin was enthusiastic about the potential for job growth, increased investments from the business community, and more money in the pockets of consumers. The Secretary emphasized the role of retailers in the economy, namely as job creators, and thanked the industry for their support throughout the tax reform process.
Earlier in the week, RILA Senior Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Brian Dodge sat down with radio and TV stations across the country to discuss why enacting comprehensive tax reform now is so important for the retail industry and consumers.
A few of Dodge's interviews can be seen via the following links:
RILA will continue to stay engaged in the tax reform debate in the coming weeks and remain optimistic about passage before the new year. For more information, visit rila.org/tax.
By every meteorological measure, 2017 has been one of the worst hurricane seasons on record — and it's not over yet. As of mid-October, this year ranks as the 7th most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history.
In dollar terms, the damage has been staggering. Moody's Analytics predicts Hurricanes Harvey and Irma alone will cost between $150 and $200 billion in combined property damage, likely making 2017 the second costliest hurricane season after 2005 when Katrina devastated New Orleans.
While the storms dominated all media channels during the height of their activity, there is relatively little coverage now, just over 60 days after Hurricane Harvey first hit the southern coast of Texas. But the reality is that thousands of families lost everything they owned and are still displaced with their lives having changed completely over the course of a few days. The challenge is that once the media has cycled to the next breaking stories, the disaster-impacted regions are often forgotten. But those communities will be on a journey to recovery for months, if not years.
Good360 takes a holistic, long-term view of disaster recovery and, with its partners, is prepared to support impacted communities through every stage of a disaster, from early response to long-term rebuilding. The string of massively destructive storms led us to engage our network of private, public, and nonprofit partnerships like never before. Within a few short weeks, we reached out to numerous corporate partners and secured commitments for tens of millions of dollars in critically needed goods. From Houston to Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico, we have met with dozens of nonprofit organizations to assess the immediate damage and to understand what will be needed for the long-term recovery.
As an organization, we have had to stay nimble and come up with creative and collaborative solutions to respond to ever-changing conditions on the ground. However, our core principle remains the same: to get the right goods to the right people at the right time.
A number of RILA members have already committed to help us with this goal by pledging support for the long-term recovery needs of hurricane-impacted regions through their partnerships with Good360. Throughout this tumultuous hurricane season, they have responded with a level of urgency, seriousness, and generosity that underscores their commitment to being leaders in corporate social responsibility.
- We collaborated with Rooms to Go to outfit 100 apartments for displaced hurricane survivors in Houston. The effort was part of the company's hurricane-related pledge to provide $2 million in funding and 2,000 rooms worth of furniture.
- American Eagle Outfitters announced it was donating $200,000 to Good360 for hurricane response efforts, tweeting that the "rain in Texas may have stopped, but the work is just beginning". The company also encouraged customers to make their own donations.
- Crate and Barrel committed furniture for the long-term recovery efforts and encouraged both employee and customer donations via a dedicated landing page.
- Nike pledged multiple truckloads of clothing to be made available to individuals in impacted areas over time as needs are identified.
- CVS Health donated two truckloads of water, snacks, and basic toiletries for survivors in Puerto Rico. They also shipped needed personal items to survivors in the Northern California wild fires.
- VF/Wrangler is working with Good360 and Cotton Inc. to direct insulation made from donated cotton apparel to long-term recovery projects in Texas. The program is part of the Blue Jeans Go Green initiative.
- Regis Corporation shipped over $100,000 in personal care products to survivors in Houston. These were used in shelters across the impacted area.
- The Home Depot shipped several truckloads of needed generators, tarps and other equipment and tools through Good360 to support efforts in Florida, USVI and Puerto Rico.
- Levi's committed 2 truckloads of highly needed socks and underwear; one to survivors of Irma and one in support of survivors of Harvey.
- Gap, Inc. committed 1 truckload of socks and underwear in support of survivors of Harvey.
- Target donated a significant amount of pillows to Good360 earlier in the year, some of which we pre-positioned for future disasters and have been able to distribute quickly when needs have been identified.
These corporate partnerships illustrate what's possible when we are able to creatively and collaboratively mobilize our private, public and nonprofit networks. Our unique position as an expert connector between corporations and nonprofits enables us to take the lead on disaster recovery efforts in ways that might not be possible for other nonprofits or even federal agencies. By working together to address needs in a thoughtful and purposeful way, we are collectively driving the long-term recovery of these communities.
This is a guest blog post by Good360