Re-Inventing Retail

From the Co-Founders of The Retail Owners Institute.
Tips | Tactics | Insights on the Business of Retailing.

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REI, the $2.62 billion outdoor equipment retailer with over 150 stores, has announced rigorous new standards...for their suppliers!

Those suppliers who can't or won't meet REI's standards? Their products will not even be considered for REI's store shelves, even if that will affect sales.
REI's stated standards are an effort to "match its environmental impact to the values espoused by many of its customers." 

Or, in other words, REI has chosen to be an agent for the customer, rather than appear as an agent for the suppliers.

REI's chief executive Jerry Stritzke calls the standards "maybe one of the most transformative things" the 80-year-old co-op has done. "At some point you get to a tipping point where it's expected by consumers," he added.

We recognize that as a consumer co-op, REI is well-positioned to make business decisions that reflect the values of their customers, who are their owners. And, at $2.6 billion in annual sales, they are of sufficient size to gain the attention of the suppliers.


Yet, we think it nevertheless provides an inspiring example for all retailers, especially independently-owned operations.

You already are applying standards to your vendors and suppliers, every time you make a buying decision.

But you probably have never documented them, have you? 

Or posted them for your customers to see.

Or reminded your employees of "why this merchandise instead of that merchandise?"

Or, let your suppliers know just why (or why not!) you are buying from them.


You too could be more of an "agent for your customers." REI is right about one thing: "It's expected by the consumers." 

Values do matter. 

Speak up about what your stores stand for. 

Share that with your suppliers. 

Recognize these standards as important elements that make your stores special.

It's already part of your business. Now make it part of your competitive edge!

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About The Co-Founders

Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt, The Co-Founders of The Retail Owners Institute®, have been called "The Zen masters of retail finance!"

Since 1999, they have been assembling  their proprietary content into a unique self-help website. The Retail Owners Institute is an unmatched resource that assists retailers worldwide with basic financial training, assistance and easy-to-use tools.

Their engaging and empowering how-to resources about the financial levers in retailing are informative, fun(!), and retailer-friendly. Their promise: "Everyone will 'get it'!"

Pat and Dick are recognized experts in strategic retailing. Working only as a team – Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists, LLC – they have been consulting, publishing, and speaking professionally throughout North America since 1990.

They focus exclusively on retail, or wherever retail is involved. They work with CEOs, CFOs, boards and owners of retail operations, as well as manufacturers or wholesalers expanding into retail. And they also are Retail Turnaround Experts.

Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"