By Sandy Kennedy, President, Retail Industry Leaders Association
When we established the (R)Tech Center for Innovation in March 2017, we did so with the goal of furthering retail's commitment to fostering cultures of innovation that benefit the industry and our customers. The industry is growing by leaning into innovation and meeting customers' demands for a streamlined and enhanced shopping experience.
As we head into our second year, we have witnessed incredible strides in things like supply chain efficiency, customer experiences, asset protection, and more – all as a result of the modern innovation capabilities retailers are developing. And we are proud to say RILA's (R)Tech community has been hard at work helping expose retail executives to the innovations, technologies, trends, and practices that can drive change.
One way we have promoted that culture of innovation within our member companies is through our (R)Tech Innovation Awards program. The Awards span several of our focus areas – supply chain, asset protection, human resources, customer experiences, and more – and serve to highlight innovations that are accelerating business and enabling the industry's future. For startups, applying and being chosen for the Awards is an unprecedented opportunity to gain executive exposure and expand their network. For retailers, participation means direct access to the cutting-edge solutions to the challenges they face every day. In short, it is a way for us to recognize companies with game-changing technologies of their own in front of the very retailers than can implement them.
After a successful first year of (R)Tech Innovation Awards that led to several pilot opportunities with retailers, the 2018 Awards series is already underway. Applications are currently open for our (R)Tech Innovation Awards in supply chain, asset protection, human resources, and starting today, the (R)Tech CEO Forum Innovation Awards, in which winners will be invited to showcase and pitch their solutions to the most powerful chief executives in the retail industry.
We are building on this and going even further by launching – later this month – an "open innovation" platform for all retailers to post their most pressing challenges for all the world to solve.
The myth that traditional retailers are sitting on the sidelines while technology and youthful startups disrupt the industry is just that, a myth. Retailers are investing aggressively in building their innovation prowess, integrating the (R)Tech culture into all areas of the business, and engaging directly with the industry's disruptors to bring customers ubiquitous and ultra-personal shopping experiences like never before.
Throughout the month of September, we will be highlighting all of the ways RILA's (R)Tech Center is engaging retailers, and all the way retailers are changing how they engage their consumers. Stay tuned for some rich new content and ideas.