Innovative Retail Technologies

MAY-JUN 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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May-June 2017 8 Over the course of my 30+ years in this exciting industry, I have come to realize that some very basic core values hold most successful stories together. I would like to discuss those here with you. 1. Innovation. In the early '80s, as a young, energetic district loss prevention supervisor, I was cutting my teeth with a young upstart called Walmart. I remember vividly how exciting these times were. "Maverick" was a term of endearment afforded to those who threw caution to the wind and made dramatic positive moves — going against the grain of the established protocol. Many people proved successful and stand as part of the reason for the company's lasting success. I recall the implementation of scanners at the register, reducing the need for price labels, the adoption of electronic credit card readers speeding up customer transactions thus increasing sales — basic processes that we take for granted today. Fast forward to innovations being implemented today such as cash recycling systems, allowing retailers to speed up cash flow, and drone utilization for the delivery of product. Innovation is at the core of successful companies. 2. Teamwork. Ever been part of a bad team? Negative conflict, cross direction, poor leadership, paralyzed decision making. Of course, most of us have experienced these horrendous team settings. Rarely do these exist in successful companies. My experience is that solid team dynamics build the foundation for growth and success. Part of the teamwork process is knowing each team member's strengths and weaknesses. Once aligned, team members can focus on their individual strengths and work to cover and stand in to support each other's weaknesses. I have seen all kinds of teams in action: good teams, bad teams, broken teams, and exemplary teams. And my best memories and successes undoubtedly came from best teams; however, I was able to learn great things viewing bad teams in motion. Teamwork is how winners win consistently. 3. Risk. Even though imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, rarely does a business succeed by duplicating the model of another established business. In most instances, companies take risks by improving on the successes of others. Some of these are so-called "calculated risks," while others may be of the "swing for the fences" risk variety. Of the successful companies of which I've been a part, risk is a key part of the cultural DNA. Risk defines change — it encourages innovation. Risk is tantamount to developing a product or process, which sets companies apart from their competition and forges a trail that can be traveled toward greater and more innovative solutions and ideas. Risk for the sake of risk is not smar t. Risk with purpose is essential to success. 4. Trust. It is paramount to success and critical to bringing teams and ideas together. Without it, you have uncertainty, and in some cases, anarchy. Trust is built through a time-tested process. It takes time to build, and once betrayed, it takes even longer to repair. Businesses that function based on trust seem to be more agile, flexible, focused, and driven. A key part of trust is the acceptance of failure when the failure is the outcome of an honest attempt to do right. Putting your trust in others is not always easy; however, in business it is a necessary component of success. 5. Avoiding the Status Quo. Who wants to follow the herd each and every day? You may have heard the saying that the view never changes. This is a truism that more people should embrace. The Status Quo is akin to quicksand. Once you position yourself or your organization firmly into the grips of complacency, the dominoes of demise begin tipping. Real leading-edge companies and leaders lead with a boldness that is designed to blow the doors off of the Status Quo and forge a trail counter to that of conventional wisdom. If you look back at the emergence and dominance of online shopping and just peek back a few years, you will understand the trailblazing philosophy applied to the then-virgin territory. It takes real brilliance and fearless leadership to move in directions never before traveled. "Break from the Herd" should be imprinted on every retail executive's forehead. Go forward. Success follows. How does all this apply to our article regarding Kroger's innovative ideas and designs? For each of the five reasons above, that's how. Kroger took some very talented and skilled innovators, put them into a team setting, allowed them to focus on the future, and plied them with support. And Kroger, in its infinite wisdom, realized that, although the company had a great team, it was not complete, and thus company leaders reached out to partners they could trust, like Telaid and ZigBee, to support their initiatives and add the value which was missing internally. Kroger took a risk designing tools that other retailers could utilize. What other grocery company does this? None that I know of. The company was truly bucking the Status Quo in a way that is honorable. So when you think of Kroger as a leading grocery chain, stop and think about its innovative concepts, coupled with its internal focus on blazing a new trail to define the way retailers run their business. This is forward thinking — this is history being made. KROGER'S 5 CORE SUCCESS VALUES KEITH AUBELE DRAWS FROM THREE DECADES IN RETAIL TO SHARE THE COMMON THREADS OF SUCCESS. By Keith Aubele CPP, LPP, president & CEO, Retail Loss Prevention Group

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