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Lessons from NRF: Leading Practitioners to Flourish and Grow
What a show. The National Retail Federation‘s Big Show, experienced higher attendance than last year by an un audited 25% increase – to approximately 20,000 plus in attendance. With comp-store retail traffic up, the leading indicators for retail in 2012 is strong, alive, and well.
Some areas of specific interest that resonated throughout the show were in strategic human capital management, mobility in retail operations, and visibility.
Strategic Human Capital Management is taking meaningful shape as we saw more and more retailers discussing the convergence of merchandising, human resources, finance, and operations. In fact, this year we saw many presentations where these topics were merged together while executives from operations and finance presented alongside their HR and payroll peers. Hibbett Sports and Aeropostale presented on topics such as how to connect with the Millennial generation and the importance that ambassadorship and role models have in the “internal customer experience”, how to connect with this generation, and the role mobility and the form factor play. In addition, these executives spoke about how compliance, workflow, analytics, and self-service helped bridge the areas of HCM acquisition, management, development, and assessments.
In many growing specialty soft goods retailers, the demographic is significantly tilted to the millennial generation who were born between 1981 and 2000 – goal oriented, tech savvy, and ambitious. It is important to dis-spell the myths about this eco-boomer generation and focus on how to connect with them through their work environment, recognition programs, and the mechanisms they like to communicate with (i.e. smart phone, Skype, Facebook, etc.). This generation expects certain levels of technology at work, that typically in retail is struggling to keep up with their “at-home” experience. Mobile devices (specifically iOS and Android) help retailer provide the interaction and communication that helps
improve the reputation of the retail employer as well as provides an upgraded position and a better work-life balance.
Overall, I came away from this year’s conference feeling great about the retail industry and momentum and the foundation built around natural market pressures and capitalism will allow the retailers and vendors alike to continue to grow – if they are providing excellent customer care and a product and/or service that provides quick and direct value to the customer. The chaff and wane will continue to churn the under-performers, leaving the leading practitioners to flourish and grow.