January 6, 2020
9 Pieces Of 2020 Advice For Retailers & Their Key Business Partners
As the new year commenced, we asked MnRA friends to share 2020 advice for retailers and their key partners. Here are the top pieces of advice we selected:

"Create a premium brand. Keep your product and service fresh and the best. Treat your employees like gold and tell your customers how much you appreciate them. Leave them feeling always like they have found the best kept secret."
- Insight from Roberta Bonoff, founder, Envision It!
"Ground yourself in the consumers’ experience expectations. How do they want to interact with your brand, then meet them there. Ask yourself how their behaviors and expectations will change, then adapt."
- Insight from Marisa Kinney, Sr. Director, Global Retail, Red Wing Shoe Co.

"The most successful retailer and supplier partners in 2020 are the ones that work seamlessly together to create one-of-a-kind products and experiences that draw in their consumers. Seek out the partners that you are best able to work with to bring these visions to life!"
- Insight from Juli Lassow, Owner & Principal, JHL Solutions
"Focus on execution. Don't fool yourself into thinking execution is something other people in your organization will handle. Require absolute clarity at the intersection between your brand (website or staff) and your customers. Strategic initiatives without flawless execution yield no value."
- Insight from Flora Delaney, President, Delaney Consulting
"Look for opportunities to be proactive on generating incoming business versus waiting for customers to walk into your stores. Go get them."
- Insight from Scott Plum, Founder, Minnesota Sales Institute, LLC
"Harness the power of Neuroscience and Psychology to boost sales and marketing. Neuroscience and Psychology have revealed many insights on how consumers make buying decisions. Those insights can help retailers sell more at lower cost. Watch this 17-minute TED Talk on the unconscious buying decisions ."
- Insight from Terry Wu, President, Neuromarketing Services

"Get active in your local business community! It doesn’t take much. Call your local chamber of commerce or business association and be a part of the conversation shaping the community around you."
- Insight from Savannah Sepic, Government Relations Manager, Minnesota Retailers Association

"It’s not easy, but tell your customers the story of your philanthropic efforts and the organizations you support. And develop a giving strategy and process (it only has to be a few sentences but write it down!) that aligns with your favorite causes to make it easier to say yes and no to charitable requests in 2020."
- Insight from a small business owner

"The trick to surviving the 2020 elections is focusing on people and ideas, not politics. Politics today seems to be all about winners and losers. People and ideas are how we will advance Minnesota and our communities."
- Insight from Bruce Nustad, President, Minnesota Retailers Association
Retailers Are Fighting More Organized Crime
From Supermarket Perimiter, John Unrein, December 20, 2019

Organized retail crime affects almost all retail merchants, including supermarkets, and more than two-thirds of all retailers surveyed have seen an increase in the past year, according to the 15th annual ORC study released by the National Retail Federation.

“Organized retail crime continues to present a serious challenge to the retail industry,” NRF vice president of loss prevention Bob Moraca said. “These criminal gangs are sophisticated, but so are retail loss prevention teams. Retailers are committing more resources and constantly evolving their tactics to fight this ongoing challenge.”

The NRF report found that 97% of retailers had been victimized by ORC in the past year and that 68% had seen an increase in ORC activity. Losses averaged $703,320 per $1 billion in sales, marking the fourth year in a row that the figure topped the $700,000 mark.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of retailers said ORC is a higher priority for their companies than five years ago, while 56% were allocating additional technology resources to the issue and 44% were increasing their loss prevention budgets.

Among steps taken to fight ORC, 37% were changing point-of-sale policies, 27% with employee screening and 24% with the way they handle trespassing.

While ORC often involves thefts from stores, 73% of those surveyed had been victims of cargo theft. Theft of cargo occurred most often en route from distribution centers to stores (59%), at distribution centers (33%) and en route between stores (30%).

A number of states have increased the threshold of what constitutes a felony in recent years, allowing criminals to steal more before being subject to the stronger penalties that come with a felony. Among retailers surveyed, 51% had seen an increase in average ORC case values in states where that has happened.

The top five cities for ORC in the past year in order were Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Chicago and Miami, with a number of ties rounding out the top 10.
2019: A Look Back At Trends That Disrupted Retail Tech
From Chain Store Age, Dan Berthiaume, December 30, 2019

The past 12 months seemed to go by in a blur, yet so many important and disruptive trends emerged in the world of retail technology. Here are three trends from 2019 poised to continue disrupting retail in 2020 and beyond.

Delivery – minus the driver
Retailers piloted a wide assortment of automated delivery vehicles throughout the year.

Social Retail
2019 was also a year where social media became more of a transactional platform. Instagram led the way by rolling out direct online shopping features such as Instagram@shop, an assortment of shoppable products curated by a team of Instagram editors.

Furniture virtually comes to life
Furniture has traditionally been a tough sell online. However, several retailers attempted to provide digital shoppers with a realistic view of furniture products, including how they would look in the customer’s own personal space, using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (AR) technology.
A Clean Energy Compromise? One Plan Gets New Life In Minnesota Legislature
From the Pioneer Press, Dana Ferguson, January 2, 2020

A clean energy compromise? One plan gets new life in Minnesota Legislature

Minnesota Senate Republicans on Thursday announced they would introduce a plan to require the state’s electric utilities to move away from fossil fuel sources.

A similar plan had bipartisan support last year but came up short in the divided state Legislature. Now, with the support of a key gatekeeper in the Senate, it could have a path to the governor’s desk.

State Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, chairs the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee and previously opposed the proposal to require electric companies to prioritize carbon-free resources when building new power plants or replacing retired facilities. Exceptions would apply if the clean energy alternative can be proven to be unaffordable or can’t meet the need of the facility under the plan.

The measure varies from existing law in that it would require the utility companies to show that a renewable energy source alone or in cooperation with other clean energy sources can’t meet the expected need. Current law indicates that that standard is met if the renewable energy source alone can’t meet the needs of a new or refurbished facility. Nuclear, solar, wind, hydropower, carbon sequestration and municipal solid waste would be classified as clean energy.
Debate Over Wine And Beer In Grocery Stores To Resume In 2020
From MPR News, Tim Pugmire, December 30, 2019

When Minnesota ended a yearslong debate in 2017 and allowed liquor stores to open on Sundays, many said it marked the end of an outdated relic of the Prohibition era.

The same can be said of the state’s ban on the sale of wine and strong beer in grocery stores, said State Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, who has been working for four years on legislation to allow grocery stores to sell the products.

“People want to go on when they’re buying their groceries and just be able to pick up their bottle of wine and check out right there at the same checkout, instead of going in the extra entrance or taking an extra trip someplace else. Forty-five other states allow for strong beer in grocery stores. It’s time to update our Prohibition-era laws to reflect 2019.”

One of those old laws allows Minnesota grocery and convenience stores to sell beer with a low 3.2 percent alcohol content. But stores saw those purchases drop when Sunday sales began.

Two beermakers, Heineken USA and Constellation Brands, recently told the Minnesota Grocers Association that they are no longer making 3.2 beer. The companies represent only a fraction of the 3.2 market. But Housley is using the news to bolster her contention that stores need more options.

“I’m not saying ban all 3.2 beer. I’m saying give the businesses the opportunity to sell stronger beer when they’ve lost so much of their product already.”
The FDA Bans Most Fruit- And Mint-Flavored Nicotine Vaping Products To Curb Teen Use
From CNBC, Berkeley Lovelace, Jr., January 3, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration is banning most fruit- and mint-flavored nicotine vaping products in an effort to curb a surge in teen use, the agency said Thursday.

Under the new rule, which takes effect in 30 days, companies that do not stop the distribution the sweeter flavors that appeal to kids risk enforcement action, the FDA said. Companies are also at risk of regulatory action if their products target kids or if they fail to take “adequate measures” to prevent access to children. They’ll still be able to sell tobacco and menthol-flavored pods for the adults who use the products to quit smoking.

“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement Thursday.

“HHS is taking a comprehensive, aggressive approach to enforcing the law passed by Congress, under which no e-cigarettes are currently on the market legally,” he said.

The FDA is specifically banning cartridge-based nicotine pods like Juul, allowing vape shops to continue selling tank-based flavored nicotine liquids, which require users to manually fill their pods.
Ask Employees To Join The Team Fighting Opioid & Substance Abuse; MnRA Initiative Makes It Easy
The holiday season represents the largest retail employment period of the year, which makes this the best time to engage employs in the fight against opioid and substance abuse. In 2017 alone there were 422 Minnesota opioid-related overdose deaths and since 2010 the rate of overdose deaths has been steadily increasing. Your employees are on the front line when it comes to helping friends and family!

MnRA, in partnership with the The Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) of Minnesota, has developed materials you can share with employees to heighten awareness, recognize the signs, practice safe medication safety, and get access to resources.

The ask this holiday season:

  • Be a leader in raising awareness of opioid and substance abuse this holiday season.

  • Share a flyer with employees during a payroll cycle December 15-January 15. The flyer makes a great paycheck stuffer or place the information in your employee newsletter.

  • Post the poster in a place accessible to employees.

Together, retailers and their employees can make a difference in this fight. Join the team today!

Visit www.mnretail.org/jointheteam for downloadable flyers and posters.

Looking for materials in another format? Contact MnRA at mnra@mnretail.org or call (651) 227-6631.