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National Retail Federation CEO: This Is A Great Time For Innovation

National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay says that the pandemic has made this a great time for innovation by retailers....
National Retail Federation CEO: This Is A Great Time For Innovation
Written by Rich Ord
  • This is a great time for innovation,” says National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay. “There’s been a great increase in efficiency in the supply chain. Those gains are not going to be given back. Customers are going to continue to expect certain kinds of delivery and fulfillment opportunities that have been rolled out by retailers this year. They won’t give that up. They are going to want the convenience and they are going to expect to be able to maintain that in the future.”

    Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation, says that the pandemic has made this a great time for innovation by retailers:

    This Is A Great Time For Innovation.

    Just look back a decade ago and the companies that were created in the midst of the great recession in 2008, 2009, and 2010. We saw a lot of new IPOs. This is a great time for innovation. Some of the predictions this year, for example, about the number of stores that would close or bankruptcies that we would see just haven’t materialized. Part of that is because consumers have been relatively healthy and part of that is because on a net basis we’ve seen new businesses opening to offset the closing. There’s an enormous amount of innovation taking place.

    On the issue of returns, there’s a big company located right here in Washington, D.C., Optoro, a big partner for many retailers helping them process returns efficiently. I’ve talked to senior executives at UPS today about shipping issues and there is a lot of innovation taking place. They are working very diligently and have a great delivery record so far. We are looking forward to getting all those gifts to American families. The biggest gift of all, of course, will be some additional pandemic relief.

    A Lot Of This Is Going To Be A Permanent Change

    The issue is how much of this consumer behavior has changed permanently and fundamentally? How much of us as Americans go back to our old behaviors? That’s going to play itself out. Certainly, a lot of this is going to be a permanent change. People will do more as we saw across all demographic groups, regardless of age, this entire year doing much more online. Some of that will remain sticky.

    There’s been a great increase in efficiency in the supply chain. Those gains are not going to be given back. Customers are going to continue to expect certain kinds of delivery and fulfillment opportunities that have been rolled out by retailers this year. They won’t give that up. They are going to want the convenience and they are going to expect to be able to maintain that in the future.

    With those kinds of innovations and that kind of resilience in the system against the backdrop of a year next year that could be extremely bullish if we get the vaccine rolled out, as we all believe it will be. I talked to a senior executive of one of the major pharmaceutical companies last week and they said early April or the end of May everyone that wants it will get it. We could be set up for a really big comeback for consumers next year.

    National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay: This Is A Great Time For Innovation

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