Learning and Helping
Of the many reasons retail IT professionals attend the annual National Retail Federation (NRF) Convention & Expo each January in New York City, keeping current with all the latest industry topics and trends is surely at the top. Each year, RetailROI independently offers SuperSaturday, a one-day event held the Saturday before the official Sunday kickoff to the NRF Convention.
This year, SuperSaturday falls on Jan. 11. Held at the PwC Auditorium in New York from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., SuperSaturday brings together top retail analysts and C-level executives to converge on retail trends in marketing, technology, mobile and social media, with all proceeds from vendor sponsorships donated directly to RetailROI. SuperSaturday is the conference before the conference, and in addition to providing valuable data in a forum you won’t find anywhere else, it also provides even more return on hope for some of the world’s most deserving and least advantaged inhabitants. What could be a more profitable way to spend the day?
Learn more about attending and getting involved with SuperSaturday at Retailroi.org/supersaturday.
A Return on Hope
Retailers usually measure the success of project spending by ROI, or “return on investment.” ROI measures how many dollars you get back for every dollar you invest. This is a prudent and necessary way of justifying investment in things like IT systems, facilities and processes.
But not everything of value can be measured by simple dollars and cents. How do you measure the return on hope given to hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged children, both in the United States and around the world?
You can’t, at least not by any conventional means. But many in the retail industry are already well aware of the incredible human return on the efforts of the Retail Orphan Initiative, or RetailROI (Retailroi.org). Since its founding five years ago, RetailROI has helped more than 110,000 orphaned and vulnerable children through education, computers, food and medical care.
RetailROI — Giving Kids a Better Tomorrow
RetailROI is a nonprofit group inspired by the late Paul Singer, former senior VP and CIO for SuperValu and Target Corporation and a champion of adoption initiatives. Singer brought RetailROI to life with the active involvement of IHL Group president Greg Buzek and RetailConnections president Marc Millstein. It brings together retailers, analysts, technology vendors and many others affiliated with the retail and IT industries to devote their time and resources toward both raising awareness and providing real relief and assistance to orphaned and at-risk children all over the world.
Since its founding in 2008, RetailROI has undertaken 69 individual projects aimed at bringing hope to and improving the lives of children who otherwise would be left in dire and even life-threatening circumstances. Just a few of these noteworthy projects include:
- Helping expand Safe Families from 12 to 65 cities in the United States and three in Canada as well as the U.K., providing support and hope to families in crisis;
- Helping 4KIDS grow projects from four to 32 states, with training and support for foster families;
- Rescuing more than 350 girls from human trafficking in Nepal and India;
- Impacting nearly 2,900 adoptive families in the United States with funds and education;
- Building schools in Liberia, with a new school in Haiti currently under construction;
- Building computer labs in Liberia, Honduras, Ethiopia, Zambia and the Dominican Republic, with nine computer labs competed so far;
- Funding clean water projects in Haiti, Liberia, Uganda and Ethiopia;
- Funding children’s homes in Cambodia, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Honduras; and
- Providing more than 1.3 million meals in famine/relief areas and for orphans, through RetailROI and partners.
While stories circulate of how in some cases more than 90% of money donated to certain charities goes toward salaries and more fundraising, RetailROI ensures that there is a true monetary return on investments made in its efforts, as well. More than 94% of the funds raised by RetailROI in the past five years have been used in direct support of charities that provide hands-on relief around the world for orphan care, adoption relief, foster care support and rescue of children from human trafficking.
Rose Spicer, senior director of Oracle Retail Marketing, knows firsthand of the positive impact RetailROI has on both the recipients and participants of its efforts.
“In October 2008 I partnered with Paul Singer to create a platform for his personal passion for orphans and adoptions,” said Spicer. “We combined a case study with his personal mission at Oracle OpenWorld 2008. That keynote speech created a spark and divinely inspired action to create the RetailROI initiative. I am incredibly proud to be a part of this amazing initiative and everything that our entire retail community has given toward the success.”
Of course, “retail” is the key to RetailROI, and countless retailers have also dedicated their time and money toward RetailROI initiatives. Randy Cucerzan, senior director of IT/ enterprise services of footwear and apparel retailer Genesco, offered some thoughts on how being a part of RetailROI changed his life for the better.
“In just five short years, RetailROI has impacted the lives of thousands of orphans and economically disadvantaged children in the U.S. and around the world,” Cucerzan said. “Through donations and services, vol unteers have helped schools by offering their skills, business acumen and advice, as well as through donations of goods and supplies. I am proud to have been a part of RetailROI these past five years and have received back much more from participating than I have ever given.”
The analyst community is also heavily involved with RetailROI, as evidenced by the testimonial of Jeff Roster, research VP of Gartner. Roster also describes how his whole family has had their lives changed by engaging in RetailROI initiatives.
“My involvement in RetailROI has been life changing, both professionally and personally,” Roster said. “I’ve had a chance to work with the brightest minds in retail working to help some of the most desperate and vulnerable people on the planet. I’ve been fortunate to see my two teenagers thrive in a Honduran jungle while distributing aid. There are literally no words that adequately describe what this organization has meant to the Roster clan.”
Retail is all about the exchange of goods for currency. But RetailROI flips that equation around by making “good” the currency which keeps hope flowing for disadvantaged children and those who help them. That’s a return on investment with dividends that keep paying and paying.
Shrink is an unavoidable fact of life for retailers. But by leveraging electronic article surveillance (EAS) technology that places security tags on items, retailers can minimize the frequency and financial impact of shrink.
Matthews, N.C.-based Family Dollar Stores, Inc. has been using EAS technology to reduce shrink at select high-risk locations for more than 15 years. However, about three years ago, the retailer determined that using EAS tags on higher-priced items at all of its roughly 7,900 stores would help control external shrink throughout the chain.
RF versus AM
“We analyzed the acoustic magnetic (AM) system we had been using, as well as radio frequency (RF) systems,” said Chris Nielsen, VP loss prevention for Family Dollar. “We wanted store simplification, with one EAS system running in all stores so that we could tag items at the distribution center or supplier level and take the workload off store managers to let them focus on customer service.”
After researching RF-based EAS systems to test against its existing AM-based solution, in July 2012 Family Dollar decided to run a test of the Checkpoint Systems Evolve P10 Eco EAS system at 200 stores. The pilot ran six months in some locations and nine months at others. Upon conclusion of the pilot, the chain spent time analyzing results, including factors such as cost and ROI, as well as others.
“We liked the Checkpoint ‘soft tag,’” Nielsen said. “Both the soft tag and the AM tag we were using cause an apparel item to rip when removed, lowering the resale value for organized retail crime groups, but the soft tag can also have Family Dollar branding. The AM tag cannot be branded.”
Simple, but Effective
Around the end of the second quarter of 2013, Family Dollar decided to complete work with Checkpoint on a rollout plan of the Evolve solution. Checkpoint’s previous experience in performing fast EAS rollouts at other large retailers and its national field support organization also played a role in the decision.
“We scheduled stores and picked sites where we would roll out the new EAS system first,” Nielsen said. “We partnered with our store operations team.”
The actual technology install base at Family Dollar stores is fairly simple. Items are currently tagged at store level, although once enough stores are equipped with the Checkpoint EAS system to make widespread distribution of RF-tagged items practical, Family Dollar will shift to DC- and supplier-level tagging. Most stores have two pedestals that detect tag signals and also have tuning pads at each POS station. The store’s electrical system must also be accessible, and in some instances the retailer has to bring in electrical contractors to add power outlets. No software is involved.
To date, Family Dollar has rolled out the system to 1,600 stores and plans to complete chainwide rollout by December 2014. Shrink has fallen and sales have risen at stores where it is installed. And while so far the retailer is only using Evolve for loss prevention, it could expand the system’s functionality in the future.
“The system has the capacity to be utilized with RFID for things like inventory control if we so desire,” Nielsen said.