Search By Topic The Green Supply Chain Distribution Digest
Supply Chain Digest Logo

Compliance Networks Corner: Trip Report - RILA Supply Chain Conference 2017

Another Good Conference from RILA, as Omni-Channel, Talent Management Dominate the Discussion

Feb. 27, 2017

Kevin Harris
Compliance Networks

The 2017 Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Supply Chain conference focused on "The Customer-Centric Supply Chain." Over 40 general and breakout sessions represented five tracks focused on constantly evolving retail technology, meeting customer needs with multichannel supply chains, finding and developing leaders, dealing with adversity, and melding business strategies to deliver the retailer experience demanded by today's customers.

Greg Sandfort, CEO of Tractor Supply Company, opened the conference with a keynote that integrated many of the conference themes. TSC intends to create a seamless shopping experience from social media to online purchasing. The TSC supply chain is built to support this goal and accommodate the unique assortment of items and unique needs of TSC's rural customers. The nature of their business requires friendly, engaging, thoughtful in-store service and this provides a competitive advantage that other brick and mortar retailers may not have. As an example of managing through adversity, TSC tracks weather aggressively because seasonal and regional inconsistencies in weather impact customer demand.

Compliance Networks Says...

Joel also delivered one of the most insightful quotes from the conference, borrowed from Wired magazine co-founder Kevin Kelley: "The future happens very slowly, then all at once."

Sandfort noted that Amazon has created an expectation of free online shipping. Retailers must learn from Amazon while focusing on their core value to their customers and execution of activities essential to those customers, Sandfort said.

Michael Tchong, founder of Ubercool Innovation presented four methods for "unboxing your thinking to create breakthroughs." Those were: challenge orthodoxies, meet unmet needs, leverage resources, and ride trend waves. Why is innovation relevant to retail and supply chain? Because, according to a CapGemini study, people would rather wash dishes than shop at a store. According to Tchong, relentless innovation drives financial success. Further, a critical ingredient to success is an open mind. We also liked this quote: "API's are the new FTE's".

Outdoors retailer REI provided an impressive and powerful case study on sustainable design for omni-channel distribution, based on the collaborative design and construction of REI's new omni-channel DC located in the Arizona desert. The innovative, high-tech facility is net zero energy and LEED Platinum. The solar power system nearly doubles REI's solar production and will provide REI with 20 years of free energy.

Visit the Retail Vendor Performance Management home page to learn more
and subscribe to the monthly newsletter.

The goal of the project was to design and build the most sustainable omni-channel distribution facility in the country. The demanding vision required robust collaboration among participants such as the design/architecture firm and material handling system designers with REI operations.
REI began with design requirements and proceeded with a process of tweaking design elements in iterative cycles to continually reduce the power usage until it was equitable with the available solar array on the roof of the building at peak utilization.

Continuing one of the opening keynote themes of developing talent for the modern retail supply chain, Melissa Greenwell, EVP and COO of The Finish Line, made a compelling case for leveraging diversity to drive revenue growth and profitability. She borrowed from business cases, interviews with top executives, and science to make her case that balanced leadership will increase profits.
Former NBA power forward and current ESPN broadcaster John Amaechi, who holds a PhD as a research psychologist, offered up a powerful general session on the science behind "mindfulness" (increasing one's awareness) and the value that a culture of mindfulness can hold for an organization.

Supply chain executives from CVS, Petco, and Meijer spoke from the front lines of the retail supply chain on the necessity for retailers to focus on getting the customer what they want when they want it, the increasing importance of data in the next few years, and the accelerating speed of change.

Digitization guru Mitch Joel closed out the conference with a mind-opening session on how technology connects consumers to retail like never before. His advice for dealing with change: (1) to transform (define the problem); (2) to innovate (make products and experiences); and (3) to transact (market and build equity). He also delivered one of the most insightful quotes from the conference, borrowed from Wired magazine co-founder Kevin Kelley: "The future happens very slowly, then all at once."

Another good show from RILA.

Any comments on this article? Please send below.

Your Comments/Feedback


Senior Consultant, Infosys
Posted on: May, 22 2016
Great article. I am a little suprised not to see BNSF in the mix while I understand their financial mode/operation is a little different. 

That would only give a complete perspective with all the players in the pool.

Mike O'Brien

Senior editor, Access Intelligence
Posted on: May, 26 2016
Surprised to see Home Depot fall off the list; thought they were winning with Sync?

Julie Leonard

Marketing Director, Inovity
Posted on: Jun, 27 2016
Using the right tool for the right job has always been a best practice and one of the reasons, we feel, that RFID has never taken off in the DC as exponentially as pundits have been forecasting since 2006. While these results may seem surprising to those solely focused on barcode scanning, the adoption of multi-modal technologies in the DC makes perfect sense for greater worker efficiency and productivity.

Carsten Baumann

Strategic Alliance Manager, Schneider Electric
Posted on: Aug, 19 2016

The IoT Platform in this year's (2016) Hype Cycle is on the ascending side, entering the "Peak of Inflated Expectation" area. How does this compare to the IoT positions of the previous years, which have already peaked in 2015? Isn't this contradicting in itself?

Editor's Note: 

You are right, Internet of Things (IoT) was at the top of the Garter new technology hype curve not long ago. As you noted, however, this time the placement was for “IoT Platforms,” a category of software tools from a good number of vendors to manage connectivity, data communications and more with IoT-enabled devices in the field.

So, this is different fro IoT generally, though a company deploying connected things obviously needs some kind of platform – hoe grown or acquired – to manage those functions.

Why IoT generically is not on the curve this year I wondered myself.



Jo Ann Tudtud-Navalta

Materials Management Manager, Chong Hua Hospital, Cebu City, Philippines
Posted on: Aug, 21 2016

I agree totally with Mr. Schneider.

I have always lived by "put it in writing" all my work life.  I am a firm believer of the many benefits of putting everything in writing and I try to teach it to as many people as I can.

This "putting in writing" can also be used for almost anything else.  Here are some general benefits (only some) of "putting in writing":

1. Everything is better understood between parties involved.  There are lots of people types who need something visual to improve their understanding.
2. Everyone can read to review and correct anything misunderstood.  This will ensure that all parties concerned confirm the details of the agreements as correct.  This is further enhanced by having all parties involved sign off on a hard copy or confirm via reply email.
3. Everything has a proof.  Not to belittle the element of trust among parties involved, it is always safest to have tangible proof of what was agreed on.
4. There will be a document to refer to at any time by any one who needs clarification.
5. The documentation can be useful historical data for any future endeavor.  It provides inputs for better decisions on related situations in the future.
6. This can also be compiled and used to teach future new team members.  "Learn from the past" it is said.

There are many more benefits.  Mr. Schneider is very correct about his call to "put it in writing".

Sandy Montalbano

Consultant, Reshoring Initiative
Posted on: Aug, 24 2016
U.S. companies are reshoring and foreign companies are investing in U.S. locations to be in close proximity to the U.S. market for customer responsiveness, flexibility, quality control, and for the positive branding of "Made in USA".

Reshoring including FDI balanced offshoring in 2015 as it did in 2014. In comparison, in 2000-2007 the U.S. lost net about 200,000 manufacturing jobs per year to offshoring. That is huge progress to celebrate!

The Reshoring Initiative Can Help. In order to help companies decide objectively to reshore manufacturing back to the U.S. or offshore, the nonprofit Reshoring Initiative's free Total Cost of Ownership Estimator can help corporations calculate the real P&L impact of reshoring or offshoring.


Transportation Manager, N/A
Posted on: Aug, 30 2016
 Good article!  I am sending this to my colleagues who work with me.  We have to keep this in mind.  Thanks!

Ian Jansen

Posted on: Sep, 14 2016
SCM is all about getting the order delivered to the Customer on date/ time requested because happy Customers = Revenue. Using the right tools to do the right job is important and SCM is heavily dependent on sophisticated ERP systems to get right real data info ASP.

I've worked in a DC with more than 400,000 line items and measured the Productivity of Pickers by how many "picks" per day.

I've learned that one doesn't have to remind Germany about your EDI orders.

Don Benson

Partner, Warehouse Coach
Posted on: Sep, 15 2016
Challenge - to build and sustain effective relationships at the level of the organizations that are responsible for effectively coordinating and colaborating in an otherwise highly competitive environment 


Admin, Fulfillment Logistics UK Ltd
Posted on: Oct, 02 2016
Of course we all need to up our game. We need to move with the times, and always be one step ahead of what the future will bring.

Mike Dargis

President of asset-based carrier based in the Midwest, Zip Xpress Inc. (at
Posted on: Oct, 03 2016
Thanks for the article, but I know there's a lot more to this issue than just the pay rates. Please check out my blogs on the subject at


Inventory Specialist, Syncron
Posted on: Nov, 16 2016
Lora, great article! I agree that companies choose the 'safe' solution more often than not. My solution is a bolt-on for legacy ERP's and we even face challeneges of customer adoption. Most like to play it safe and choose an ERP upgrade, which is more costly, time consuming, and has lower ROI across the board. Would love to learn more about your company, we are always looking for partnerships.


Bob McIntyre

National Account Executive, DBK Concepts LLC
Posted on: Nov, 21 2016
This is a game changer in GE's production and prototyping.  It also has huge implications across the GE global supply chain with regard to the management of their support and spare parts network. 



Follow Us

Supply Chain Digest news is available via RSS
RSS facebook twitter youtube
bloglines my yahoo
news gator


Subscribe to our insightful weekly newsletter. Get immediate access to premium contents. Its's easy and free
Enter your email below to subscribe:
Join the thousands of supply chain, logistics, technology and marketing professionals who rely on Supply Chain Digest for the best in insight, news, tools, opinion, education and solution.
Home | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact Us | Sitemap | Privacy Policy
© Supply Chain Digest 2006-2013 - All rights reserved