Hardware Retailing

DEC 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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Independent Thinking A s we put a bow on 2018, I can't help but wonder what new developments will continue to define and re-shape the world of retail in the coming year. I recently read an article by Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF), that talks about the forces that will shape the future of retail. During a recent roundtable, the NRF had brought together a group of Wall Street analysts, leading economists, journalists and retail executives to discuss what retail's new future will look like. The group decided retail's ongoing transformation will continue to be "more diverse and fast-moving than ever before"—not to sound too cliché. They recommended developing "next-gen metrics" that measure more of a holistic (meaning online and in-store) shopping experience. There was also talk of omnichannel and digital capabilities starting to pay off for retailers who had invested in this technology as far back as a decade ago. And yes, there was even mention of using artificial intelligence to gain a better understanding of the customer and how to deliver the experiences they want when shopping. Armed with this information, I was eager to moderate NRHA's Information Technology (IT) Roundtable, which took place last month. We hosted a group that included some of the leading independent retailers in our industry. The agenda included discussions of omnichannel capabilities, data security and even PCI compliance. I admit I had a perception going in that it would be two days of techno-jargon that might require an interpreter for me, and that was partially true. And make no mistake, we did discuss these subjects in depth, as well as what the future might look like from a technological standpoint. But some of the most lively discussion was on the topic of employees, their roles, and how to train and retain them. I realized that whether I'm moderating a roundtable of IT techs, CFOs or even marketing and merchandising pros, the conversation ALWAYS turns to employees, and how to develop them. Of course, we need to continue contemplating where retail technology is headed and what's on the horizon for the next five or 10 years (as if we could predict that far out). But even Shay stated that "no one had definitive answers," and that all we can do is "work to advance our shared understanding with conversations between those in the industry and those who cover it." I completely agree. But I also think so much of it seems out of our control, at least to some degree. So what can we all do today, and in 2019, that will move us forward as an industry? While it's important to embrace technology and learn more about how customers shop, you must also remain focused on the needs of your people. You must develop them, and teach them to be good leaders and managers. You must create a culture in your stores that fosters employee engagement and retention. You must show them a career path that is exciting and rewarding. These are the things you have control over, and these are the things that will move the needle quickly for independent retailers. While there are too many unknowns that we can prognosticate about as it pertains to the future and the role technology will play, what we need to remember and embrace is that independent home improvement retailing will always be about employing people who can serve customers' needs. The NRHA's Retail Leadership Institute offers programs on leadership and retail management development that will help you take control of your future today. If you want to learn more, please call me at 317-275-9417 or visit nrha.org. We can help, and we're here to serve. Happy holidays! Scott Wright, Executive Director, Retail Leadership Institute swright@nrha.org " What we need to remember and embrace is that independent home improvement retailing will always be about employing people who can serve customers' needs. " Are You Ready for Your Future? HARDWARE RETAILING | December 2018 8

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