2016 Predictions by Company Discipline 

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2016 Predictions by Company Discipline 

By Harry Stagnito - 01/20/2016

Rodney McMullen, CEO of publicly traded general retailer Kroger, and Chris Gheysens, CEO of the Wawa convenience store chain, both are risk-takers in emphasizing true innovation, a tangible point-of-difference value proposition, and a rare high-quality company culture.

You'll enjoy reading about how these highly effective leaders have continued to grow these firms in our very competitive industry.

And in the spirit of forecasting the most important changes impacting the retail market this year, let me capsulize several critical areas by company discipline.

COLLABORATION. There has been improvement with critical information exchange during the past couple of years, driven by better developed and focused data, and insights interpretation. Retailers and suppliers are using this information to introduce new business models, true innovation, and measurable strategic concepts to invest with less risk. Also, with new functions and titles permeating companies, it is resulting in better internal and external communication, and slowly breaking down silo management.

CAPITAL MANAGEMENT. As long as interest rate increases are controlled, we can expect M&A activity to continue. These transactions will be of all sizes in the quest to buy growth-oriented products, strategic add-ons, and EBITDA. This will occur in all segments of the market with an emphasis on businesses that can enhance value-added, higher-priced goods. Real estate, property values and the cost of equipment and services will become even more important.

HUMAN CAPITAL. The next five years of growth, or not, will be determined by the rapidly changing workforce. Technological skills, work/lifestyle balance and continuing education of current top management will dictate the future of the industry. We are working with DePaul University, which has formed a universities/industry consortium to create new curriculums and majors leading to degrees in Retail Sales and Category Management. A major need, long past due.

CONSUMER INSIGHTS. This long list includes better, and less contradictory and conflicting, data; improved, workable solutions in applying the insights; top management buying into the value and measurement of this information; recognition that everyday low prices aren't necessary if shoppers are willing to pay more; and boomers offering more revenue and profitability than millennials for the next few years.

TECHNOLOGY AND LOGISTICS. You can't cost-contain your way to success. Incredible new tech capabilities include e-commerce; social interaction and online shopping; impressive and increasingly Star Wars-like in-store tech tools; and most intriguing, shopper and promotions metrics and analytics to reveal amazing personal profiles, shopping patterns and loyalty... Invest or disappear.

It will be a fascinating 2016, with tremendous opportunities for adventurous, innovative companies, and potentially troublesome for the fainthearted.

Retail Leader is pleased to announce a couple of very positive changes on the editorial staff. Joan Driggs assumes the title of editorial director, in addition to this same role on Progressive Grocer. Pan Demetrakakes is now executive editor. And Randy Hofbauer moves over from Store Brands magazine as senior editor. This knowledgeable trio brings many years of leading retail editorial content to RL.

It will be a fascinating 2016, with tremendous opportunities for adventurous, innovative companies.

– Harry Stagnito,

President and CEO,
Stagnito Business Information