The retail industry received a warm welcome from sunny Orlando, FL, on Monday as the Retail Industry Leaders Association kicked off the 2018 Retail Asset Protection Conference. Following Sunday’s Asset Protection Leader’s Council meeting and an evening welcome reception, this year’s conference once again commenced with introductory statements from Lisa LaBruno, senior vice president of retail operations.
“Now more than ever, asset protection is a key strategic component of retail’s new operating model for serving the customer—wherever, however, and whenever she chooses,” said LaBruno. “Gone are the days when AP can get away with being siloed in their organization, singularly focused on the malicious causes of shrink and fully reliant on theft-deterrent strategies that impede the customer experience. That’s why this year’s theme is The AP Revolution: Growth, Relevance, Influence.”
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The day’s events then kicked off with a general session led by Rankin Gasaway, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for 7-Eleven, on “Accepting Chaos, Returning Order: Leadership in Action.” Given the daily challenges facing retailers today and the unprecedented speed with which the industry is changing, Gasaway discussed how critical it is for retail leaders to anticipate challenges, proactively address them, and be a voice of reason when chaos presents itself.
“Leaders aren’t born—they’re made,” says Rankin. “A good leader absorbs chaos and returns order.” He also shared some of the keys to 7-Eleven’s success and how their asset protection team embraces change, stays relevant, and influences decisions across the enterprise.
This was followed by a discussion with Carol Spieckerman, president of Spieckerman Retail, who shared her insights on “Growth, Relevance, Influence: Reimagining Your Retail Trajectory.” Retail isn’t dead, but it will operate very differently in the years ahead. “The old rules no longer apply, and that’s great news for companies that embrace change and push past traditional boundaries. When it comes to growth, diversify or die,” said Spieckerman. She then shared her thoughts on the retail organization of the future, the digitization of brick and mortar, the new definition of scale and much more.
Morning and afternoon breakout sessions for each of the session tracks were next on the day’s agenda, sandwiched around lunch in the main ballroom. The breakout sessions featured many open forums that allowed the audience to actively participate in the conversations, leading to productive discussions that were informative and engaging. The day’s speakers were knowledgeable and well prepared, getting the most out of the information and the audiences while sharing their presentation messages.
Following the afternoon breakout sessions, a general session on “Game Changers: Innovative Tech to Revolutionize Retail AP” featured the (R)Tech AP Innovation Award finalists, each of whom offered insights showcasing their cutting-edge technology prior to the announcement of the Innovation Awards, which will take place on Tuesday. As their presentations clearly highlighted, the true winners will be those in the retail asset protection community, as there will be many valuable and exciting innovations available to the industry in 2018.
This was followed by a general session featuring three of asset protection’s newest and brightest asset protection leaderss, as Quinby Squire, vice president and head of asset analytics and insights at CVS Health, Richard Peck, senior vice president of loss prevention with the TJX Companies, and Oscar Arango, vice president of assets protection with Target, spent time sharing their thoughts on innovation, company culture, leadership, and other aspects of the business they are passionate about. Each presentation reminded us of the energy that comes with growth and change, the stability of strong leadership, and the promise of what lies ahead.
The day’s events ended with a networking session in the exposition hall. The traffic in the hall was strong and steady on the first day of the show, and conversations appeared productive. Many seemed intent on speaking with specific solution providers, and will likely use Tuesday’s opportunities to investigate new products and solutions.