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Retail’s Big Show 2017 – views from the top

bigshowYou’re only as big as your last sale or store.

That’s the rationale of the world’s largest retailer, Walmart and its US arm’s CEO Greg Foran.

The ex-Woolworths executive and 35 year retail veteran is responsible for 4600 stores – where 140 million customers are served weekly and revenues totalled $298 billion in the last fiscal year.

“I actually think of the business like that, I only think about a store a time, I know that if we get one store right, chances are that if we get 10 right, we’ll get 100 right,” he said speaking on a panel including department store Macy’s CEO, Terry J. Lundgren and James Rhee, executive chairman and CEO of Ashley Stewart at this year’s NRF Big Show in New York.

“That’s the way we focus on the business, so numbers are numbers but we’re only as good as our last transaction.”

Creating a “sticky relationship” with customers is every retailer’s aim according to Foran, which says ‘hey are you going to come back and transact with me because I’ve done something for you?’

This ‘stickiness’ involves one of the hot topics recurring through this year’s show and seemingly on the mind of America’s largest retail CEOs – engaging customers digitally by having responsive store associates.

“Not everyone is going to be a technologist, not everyone is going to work for an online business but almost everyone in America has a smartphone and so when they come into your stores, they have an idea about the product before they’ve even interacted,” said Lundgren. “So to make sure that we are training and focusing on credentialing these associates to get the right amount of info and that they’re armed ready to deal with our customers.”

In touring Walmart stores across the US, Foran said he sees plenty of customers pulling up mobile phones and conducting transactions while they’re standing in the aisle, ordering products online. “Take all of that complexity and what you have to do is create simplicity in your training programs and empower your people, your associates to be able to deal with this changing pace in retail.”

Inside Retail joined 35,000 retail leaders from over 95 countries at this year’s show – where over 500 exhibitors, 300 speakers and over 70 educational sessions provided insights into what’s driving retail of today.


Keep an eye out for Inside Retail’s coverage of the NRF Big Show in New York online and in our weekly and quarterly magazines, featuring big name retailers Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Target, Kohl’s, Ikea, Levi Strauss & Co plus Sir Richard Branson’s insights and more.

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