Retail lessons learned …

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Last week at the SAS Retail Executive Seminar held in Cary, NC, I was able to catch up with industry leaders and ask them a few questions about what’s going on in retail -- and their predictions for what’s coming next.

Keynote speaker Terry Donofrio, President of Retail Systems & Services, and two of our attendees – Frank Andryauskas, former CIO and Executive VP of Supply Chain for KB Toys and Val Trivisonno, VP of Commercial for The Body Shop Canada – had a lot to say about the lessons they’ve learned.

As for what’s coming next, check back for Part 2 -- and find out why you should start holiday shopping early this year.

Given everything that’s happened in the last 18 months in the retail industry, what are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned?

Terry Donofrio, President of RS&S:

1. Never take the customer for granted. They will react to the latest problems and issues they face and customer loyalty will take a back seat to resolving their present situation. Many department and specialty stores have seen their customers drop down to lower price points in dollar stores and super-discount environments.

2. Stay on top of customer buying habits. Demand, items purchased, focus on price and timing of purchases can all change very rapidly, and retailers need to be prepared to address these changes with assortments, promotions, new programs and new ideas. Maintaining customer loyalty and market share is, and will be, more difficult than ever. Price and value will drive all customers at all income levels.

3. Localization. Retailers (more than ever) need to be able to address their stores and customers at the local level. Localization and local characteristics are now the driving force in meeting customer needs and being successful. Retailers need to address the local competition and maintain their customer loyalty with various pricing programs and promotions.

Frank Andryauskas, former CIO and Executive VP Supply Chain for KB Toys

Preserve cash, which means you have to leverage inventory performance and have what you need in stock. The most powerful thing a retailer can do is use inventory more intelligently.

Val Trivisonno, VP of Commercial, The Body Shop Canada

We need to be smarter about the assortments we’re getting in stores; how many product lines, products and how we’re flowing goods into stores. We need to maximize our inventory.

Retailers must be agile and flexible – it’s all about accessing information and analyzing the market continually so that you can react quickly and change course as needed.

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Anne-Lindsay Beall

Senior Editor

Anne-Lindsay Beall is a writer and editor for SAS. Since joining the company in 2000, Anne-Lindsay has edited print publications, Web sites, customer success stories, blogs and digital publications. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in English from North Carolina State University. You can find her on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/annelindsaybeall

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