The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is one of the largest US trade associations for leading retailers. We convene retail decision-makers and key strategic partners, advocate on behalf of the industry, promote operational excellence, and inspire innovation. RILA’s over-arching aim is to elevate a dynamic industry by transforming the environment in which retailers operate.
We are member-driven. That means we listen to our members and are guided by their perspective. We identify big challenges that are common across our membership, and work alongside our members to drive effective and sustainable solutions. We follow a similar script across RILA’s offerings, leveraging the collective brain trust of retail executives who participate on over forty committees led by the RILA team.
What Sets RILA Apart
Our Members. Because RILA member companies are among the most successful retailer brands, we have an unparalleled ability to convene the industry’s thought leaders. RILA’s Asset Protection Leaders Council (APLC), Crimes Against Business Committee, Workplace Safety Committee, and other working groups that are comprised of top-level executives from the retailers we represent meet regularly to discuss persistent high-priority challenges, share best practices, and problem-solve together. RILA’s AP network is a community—we feel a sense of fellowship with each other through shared interests and goals.
Our Team. At RILA, we’ve assembled a cross-functional team of subject-matter experts uniquely equipped to tackle the multifaceted challenges faced by today’s AP practitioner. Retail Operations, Federal and State Government Affairs, Corporate Social Responsibility, Regulatory Affairs, Legal Affairs, and Media Relations are just some of the many functional areas at RILA that play a key role in tackling AP-related issues. Creating an in-store COVID protocol resource library; fighting for legislation to make it tougher to sell stolen product online; developing guidelines to mitigate unconscious bias in AP routines; representing retailers’ interests in response to OSHA proposed rulemakings; intervening in a premise security legal action to prevent an unreasonable duty of care being placed on retailers; or securing an interview with a top media outlet to get our members’ message out—no single RILA team member is equipped to handle the broad range of issues that involve and impact AP.
“RILA’s steady guidance and support to the industry through impactful awareness campaigns and legislative action, collaboration calls, benchmarking, meetings, and other events continue to help collectively level up the industry on critical issues surrounding physical and digital customer and associate experience and outcomes, shrink, crimes against businesses, health and safety compliance, security, asset protection, and the crisis management landscape,” said Meredith Plaxco, LPC, vice president, loss prevention and safety, PetSmart and RILA APLC vice-chair. “The RILA partnership helps to create sustainable synergy across today’s complex safety and asset protection space that’s never just talk, always action that continues long after collaboration calls end. We are grateful for the networking connections, problem solving, and development offered through RILA’s forums and APLC that continues to develop future industry leaders and solve relevant current and future retail challenges.”
It takes a village to address these complex challenges. RILA’s cross-functional team and the members we serve comprise that village.
INFORM Consumers Act
One of many complex problems that is top of mind for RILA member CEOs and AP leaders is the impact of retail theft on safety in stores and company profitability. Over the past year, large retail chains have closed stores in high crime areas or warned of impending store closures if they are unable to safeguard employees and keep product on shelves. Other retailers have referenced losses from theft in earnings reports. This shows an unprecedented signal of retailers’ sense of urgency around this issue.
Working with our asset protection and government affairs communities, RILA launched the Buy Safe America Coalition in 2021, bringing national attention to organized retail crime (ORC) and the role played by online marketplaces in perpetuating the problem, and calling for federal legislation to compel online marketplaces to do more to stop the sale of stolen product on their platforms. Working tirelessly with members of Congress, RILA and its members celebrated the passing of the INFORM Consumers Act earlier this year.
“Seeing this legislation become law is the culmination of three years of collaboration and commitment from a broad and diverse group of stakeholders who all recognize the magnitude of this problem and were able to coalesce around this common sense solution. That INFORM ultimately made its way through Congress and to the president’s desk with strong bipartisan and bicameral support is a testament to all that hard work,” said Brian Dodge, RILA president.
The INFORM law requires online marketplaces to collect and verify basic seller information and sellers to provide that information to consumers. Basic transparency and verification requirements will make it harder for criminal actors to deceive online purchasers. It will also provide law enforcement with an important tool to track and prevent the illegal sale of stolen goods. Enacting these commonsense measures that promote safety, transparency, and accountability was a concrete victory for retailers and was achieved through the hard work and commitment of RILA member asset protection leaders. There is more that online marketplaces can and should do voluntarily to stop the sale of stolen goods on their platforms. For that reason, RILA will continue its pursuit of online marketplaces to step up and lead on this issue rather than sit back and wait to be compelled to do more.
The work to curb ORC doesn’t end with the passing of INFORM. Combating ORC requires a holistic approach with active participation by key stakeholders, including law enforcement and prosecutors.
Strength in Numbers
Last June, RILA and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) teamed up to host an industry-first roundtable attended by retailers and district attorneys from across the country to address retail theft and violence against retail workers. Building on momentum coming out of the ground breaking event, RILA and the NDAA announced a formal partnership to ensure ongoing dialogue and enhanced collaboration between the associations’ constituents along with a $100,000 investment to develop training materials and a nationwide education curriculum to assist law enforcement, prosecutors, and retailers as they work together to safeguard communities.
In addition to forging partnerships with district attorneys, RILA and its AP community consistently work closely with the various Attorneys’ General ORC Task Forces, the Department of Homeland Security, and local and state law enforcement. And we’re proud to have partnered with the Loss Prevention Foundation and CLEAR to develop an ORC training and awareness program for law enforcement. We’re optimistic that these and other RILA-led initiatives will help stem the tide of retail theft.
RILA and our AP community remain steadfast in the commitment to identifying and addressing issues that contribute to the increase in crime, violence, vagrancy, and blight in and around retail environments, business districts, and communities across the country. The deteriorating social and economic conditions that are plaguing many communities are affecting stakeholders committed to the communities in which they operate. The vibrancy of businesses in these areas is threatened and, in turn, so too is the vibrancy of entire communities. Economic disruption or weakness has traditionally been the catalyst—or at least a leading contributor—to increases in issues such as homelessness, addiction, and crime. But today, with unemployment at or near record lows in many communities, a growing economy is unlikely to meaningfully address these problems. The underlying causes today are numerous and complex, and no single organization is capable of addressing them alone. Instead, durable solutions will require collaboration between government, law enforcement, non-profits, and the business community. RILA is leading that charge.
“RILA continues to create venues and opportunities for business relevant topics that retailers are tackling as one of their top priorities. The collaboration of retailers, the identification of topic experts, and the willingness to lean in to create paths forward on resolving those topics are some of the benefits my team appreciates about our engagement as members of RILA. The discussions are thought provoking, relevant, timely, and very well organized and planned—whether it be in committee meetings, contferences, collaboration calls, or retailer survey and research that RILA produces,” said Paul Jaeckle, LPC, vice president, asset protection, Meijer, and RILA AP Leaders Council chair.
In addition to the substantive work RILA leads every day across many functional areas, we’ve earned a reputation for delivering best-in-class educational conference experiences at four key events.
Retail Asset Protection Conference
The RILA Retail Asset Protection Conference is a must-go-to event for AP professionals seeking a premier learning and networking experience. The educational content is developed by RILA’s AP steering committee, which is comprised of the industry’s top practitioners so the program reflects the needs and interests of those who attend. Every year the event includes retailer-led sessions, keynotes from industry leaders, interactive problem-solving exercises, and cutting-edge technology. And, our AP conference attracts a wide range of top-level AP executives, making for robust strategy discussions and great peer networking opportunities. This year we will be meeting April 30–May 3 in Denver, CO.
Some of last year’s speakers included:
- Alisa Dart, Group Vice President, Asset Protection, Albertsons Companies
- Ray Silva, Chief People Officer, Best Buy
- Jayson Sutton, Senior Vice President, Asset Protection, Burlington Stores
- David Lund, MBA, CFI, LPC, Vice President, Loss Prevention, DICK’S Sporting Goods
- Adam Alford, Vice President, Loss Prevention, GameStop
- Chris Nelson, Senior Vice President, Head of Asset Protection, Gap Inc.
- Tim Lapinski, CFI, LPC, Divisional Vice President, Enterprise Risk Management, Helzberg Diamonds
- Scott Draher, LPC, Vice President, Asset Protection and Safety, Lowe’s
- Joe Coll, Vice President Asset Protection, Operations, and Safety, Macy’s
- Paul Jaeckle, LPC, Vice Presiden, Asset Protection, Meijer
- Meredith Plaxco, LPC, Vice President, Loss Prevention and Safety, PetSmart
- Seth Hughes, Divisional Vice President, Asset Protection and Risk Management, Recreational Equipment (REI)
- Jim Mires, Vice President, Loss Prevention & Safety, Sally Beauty
- Oscar Arango, LPC, Vice President, Assets Protection, Target
Notable out-of-industry top leaders headlining last year’s conference program included Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Homeland Security Investigations Deputy Assistant Director Raul Aguilar, FBI Senior Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Trish Janke, Miami Gardens (FL) Police Chief Delma Noel-Pratt, and Florida Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Rita Peters.
The 2023 Conference is shaping up to be another must-attend event. In addition to an all-star lineup of speakers, RILA will have a new title sponsor in 2023—Auror—along with dozens of other leading solution providers as sponsors.
In the Expo Experience, the attendees will get the opportunity to engage with solutions from more than 100 of the industry’s most innovative solution providers working together to find the answers to the retail industry’s most critical issues. From artificial intelligence computer vision to fraud detection, risk management to workplace safety solutions, whatever a retailer is looking for, this event is sure to have someone representing that solution.
Also featured in the Expo Experience each year is RILA’s support of the Loss Prevention Benevolent Fund (LPBF). Through the presence of the LPBF, those in attendance help raise money and awareness of those retailers injured or killed while at the workplace.
In addition to the Retail Asset Protection Conference, RILA hosts several other premier events throughout the year described below.
RILA CEO Forum
RILA’s Retail CEO Forum is held annually in January and is designed to connect CEOs in a private, small group setting. Retailers are relying on RILA more than ever to influence public and private sector actions, to provide forums and networks for retailers to share challenges and solutions, and to deliver crucial information on a wide range of issues affecting the industry. Coming together in January reinforces these relationships and allows new connections to be built among the many CEOs engaged in RILA’s activities. This year’s event was held Jan. 29-31 in Palm Beach, FL.
LINK: The Retail Supply Chain Conference
Retailers are going the distance for customers and communities that count on us. LINK is a premier partner in this journey, convening the entire supply chain ecosystem at one powerhouse event to help retail teams shape their supply chains to be stronger, smarter, and sustainable. This event is one of the largest gatherings in the US specifically focused on the retail supply chain ecosystem. There are big systemic issues out there causing disruption. This is an important venue for problem solving to unlock value for your business partners and customers as you work to build durable and sustainable global supply chains. This is a can’t miss event for retail supply chains. This year, the LINK Conference will be held Feb. 19–22, in Orlando, FL.
Retail Law Conference
Once a year, RILA and the Retail Litigation Center convene the prominent legal minds in retail alongside expert outside counsel to assess and plan for an ever-changing landscape for retailers. Over three days, this elite event combines thought-provoking educational content with practical perspectives to answer your questions with strategies and leading practices so that your team is operating at peak performance. It’s bootcamp for the legal minds preparing for retail’s future—and a great opportunity to catch up, compare notes, and have a little fun with your colleagues across the industry. This year the Retail Law Conference will be held Oct. 25–27, in Atlanta, GA.
If you would like to participate in any of RILA’s events, contact Kelly Foelber, vice president of membership and executive services at Kelly.Foelber@RILA.org.