Kit + Ace recently closed the curtain on their large head quarters and all international stores, putting 100’s of people on the market; a week later Ingledew Shoes declared bankruptcy, putting an end to 60 years of family-run business. Earlier this year, American Apparel shut down all stores, and shoes.com shut its doors before their retail stores even opened.
Needless to say, when Deloitte’s BC Retail Leader, Rick Kohn took the stage to talk about their findings of the retail landscape in BC, I was very interested to hear what he and the panel of leaders had to say.
The big, pink elephant in the room was centred around the ever-increasing footprint of Amazon, and how to compete with the e-tailer mammoth!
The panel assembled was excellent. It felt like a true reflection of Canadian/ Vancouver-based organizations — the leaders had heart, passionate flare, a deep desire to grow their businesses in meaningful ways and some interesting ideas to boot.
Of notable mention:
- Dave Labistour, CEO at Mountain Equipment Co-op, shared that their recent rebrand was chosen based on it being the only option presented that had integrity when viewed on an iphone. MEC lost 15% of their female customers in 2008, which caused them to look at what they could do differently. And on the whole, MEC believes in stores — Dave believes that there is a bright future for creating spaces for humans to gather, even if sales per square foot is no longer the metric that matters most. Perhaps it will be about how to measure the value of a customer!
- Jon Hoerauf, President at Arcteryx, shared that they are relatively new to the retail store game having only opened their first location in 2012. Their goal is steady new doors in North America and even greater growth in China. Jon believes that human interaction is key and is clearly an on-brand leader — very cool to see!
- Peter van Stolk, Founder, Visionary, and CEO from Spud! Goodness — everyone needs a dose of Peter! Did you know that the grocery/food business is a $120B industry in the USA? BC alone is $8B! That’s crazy! He is thinking beyond the organic bananas, and sharing stories of farmers and how to use his delivery trucks/service to bring more to your door step. Food delivery is far more complicated that we give it credit for — I mean, how do you get frozen ice cream, organic meat, and all of your produce delivered without anything spoiling? Peter knows how!
- Katie Drechel, VP Marketing at Saje — the proud and solo female on stage! Katie did a great job of bringing a different perspective to the conversation about how a 25-year-old, family-run business is on the runway for some pretty incredible growth, including opening 20+ new stores across the US in the coming year. Katie had great insight into leveraging digital for retail, creating authentic communities and most of all, lessons on growing a business that is rooted in such strong corporate culture/mission/core values. My favourite line from Katie “I wish I could controlC/ controlV talent and move them into our new stores!”
Despite all of this great conversation, the most important questions of all seemed to go unanswered:
What about their talent? What about the future of retail as a career? Which people metrics matter most?
Because what we know is that attrition rates continue to soar. Talent acquisition continues to be a problem. The talent pool that could once be counted on for “retail work” are no longer dependable because there have never before been more options and opportunities to do interesting work. People will only choose to work and shop at organizations aligned to their values; yet people will stay at their work and shop more when there are reasons to do so.
You may think that the future of retail lies in omni-channel strategy and free delivery from Amazon, yet the organizations that are thinking about the the future of talent are the real golden eggs. These conversations get us most lit up!
’Cause heartbeats baby — the people running your shops matter too!
Meet Steph. She is a force. She is a firecracker. She is a lover of love.