From The Editor | August 6, 2013

RSPA RetailNOW 2013: What You Missed At The General Session

By Bernadette Wilson, associate editor, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @bernadeditor

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"The channel is in a state of rapid change," Joe Finizio, president and CEO of RSPA told the general session at RetailNOW Monday morning at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV. How to keep up? Information and action.

RetailNOW is challenging attendees this year to ask themselves if they are “true solutions providers.” Finizio said true solutions providers understand technology and their customers’ needs and connect the dots, provide complete solutions, and are trusted advisors. He added that dealers are “agents of empowerment,” explaining that this means “empowering customers to bring solutions to their customers — whether it’s a great meal or a great experience with that 70-inch TV.”

Finizio also said that for the industry to not only sustain, but to thrive, in this time of change, it will take well-trained, trusted advisors. He said for some technology providers, the marketplace is a confusing place. “Imagine how it looks to the customer,” he said, adding it’s a challenge, but also an opportunity to become a trusted advisor.

He stressed education, the importance of knowing your field well, and being certified. Along with the changes in the industry, are changing, more well-informed customers. He discussed the growing and changing opportunities in the $18 billion retail technology marketplace — including the mobile marketplace growing at a rate of 39 percent annually and the digital signage market that has grown to $50 million per year.

Mark Olson, chairman of the RSPA board of directors said in his remarks to the general session, said, “We have to constantly be improving what we do and run a little faster or we’re not going to keep up.”

“We all have competitors, and, frankly, they’re getting smarter, and they want to take business from you. So part of what you’re going to learn [at RetailNOW] is where some of the opportunities in the future are,” Olson said.

Finizio also addressed the general session on behalf of Dave Matthews of the National Restaurant Association, who was unable to attend due to illness. Matthew’s presentation stated in 2013, the restaurant industry had $660 billion in sales, 980,000 locations, and 13.1 million employees. The industry’s annual growth rate is 6.6 percent. Data shows opportunity for continued growth — about 1 in 3 adults do not eat out as much as they would like — and room for improvement — over half of restaurant owners assess their technology as lagging. The report cited three reasons for change in the restaurant industry:  the legitimacy of cloud computing, the consumerization of technology, and the mandate to migrate to EMV.

Matthews wrote in his presentation, “The world is changing and you have two choices; adapt or exit the business.”

Inspiration From The Power Of Purpose
Keynote speaker Roy Spence reflected on the “Power of Purpose” in Monday’s general session. Spence is speaker, advisor, author, and co-founder of two companies—GSD&M, a national marketing communications and advertising company, and The Purpose Institute, a consulting firm that helps individuals and businesses live their purpose.

Through examples and anecdotes, he defined purpose as becoming great at what you love to do.  He also said it is “where your talents and the needs of the world interact.” And addressing members of the channel facing change, he stressed, “Purpose defeats chaos.”

He also reflected on people who invested in his life and influenced him. “Purpose starts with the idea if someone helps you, then you help somebody else,” said Spence. He shared the story of how he met and was hired by Sam Walton, founder of Walmart. “You know what I learned from Sam Walton? Curiosity doesn’t kill the cat, it kills the competition,” said Spence.

The State Of The Association
Finally, in the general session Monday, Finizio updated RSPA members on the association. Financially, it’s been the association’s best year. Membership has increased to 1,300 — it tripled in the last six-and-a-half years — and attendance at RetailNOW, more than 2,000, is the highest ever.

Finizio concluded his remarks by announcing RetailNOW is moving from Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, to Gaylord Palms in Orlando for the next two years. RetailNOW 2014 is scheduled for Aug. 3-6, 2014. He also announced INSPIRE is set for Feb. 2-5, 2014 at the Gran Melia Golf Resort in Puerto Rico.

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