4 Key Takeaways from Retail Council of Canada’s STORE 2014

Last week, the Demac Media team made the trek out to Mississauga, (a suburb of Toronto) to attend Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) STORE 2014 Conference held at the Toronto Congress Centre. Dubbed as one of the most important retail conferences in Canada, STORE 2014 provided an amazing opportunity for vendors and attendees, to meet and exchange new ideas in Retail. With banners, business cards and free shirts in tow, we set out to connect with delegates and vendors alike.

What to Expect When You Attend RCC’s STORE 2014 ?

This was our first time at the show and what made the event impressive is its focus on education and thought leadership. The conference was a great platform for delegates to ask questions and learn about the latest trends in retail. Guest speakers include Canadian Tire President Michael Medline, Retail Net Group Vice President Keith Anderson and ABC’s Shark Tank Kevin O’Leary. It was a two-day event packed with super sessions, networking and discussion. Here are 4 key take aways from RCC’s STORE 2014.

RCC's STORE 2014

1. Is Black Friday the New Boxing Day?

Panelist Discussion: Moderated by John Yorke BNN’s Media & Marketing Host, President of Rain43

In this session, panelists shared experiences and explored the many facets of the holiday discount-shopping season. Canadian shoppers and retailers have embraced the shopping tradition of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, contributing to its increase in popularity in recent years. Back in 2007, when the Canadian dollar reached parity with the American dollar, Canadian merchants saw how cross-boarder shopping had a negative impact on their bottom line. Since then, retailers are finding ways to keep shoppers on the North side of the boarder. The holiday shopping season has taken hold of the market, making it a sales event that Canadians can look forward to. This brings us to the million-dollar question:

Is Canadian Black Friday a good thing or a necessary evil?

Panelists agree, if a customer expects you to deliver then you have to meet their needs. What this means is participating in Canadian Black Friday can be a good thing for retailers because it is the response to consumer demand rather than an initiative pushed on to customers by retailers. Black Friday has become a strategic play for many retailers creating an opportunity to bring more people in-store. Canadian merchants need to participate if we want to be globally competitive.

2. The State and Future of eCommerce in Canada

Super Session: Keith Anderson VP & Senior Analyst Retail Net Group

Keith Anderson, led a presentation on the future of eCommerce in Canada and explored the drivers of change that are presently impacting the retail landscape. What can merchants expect? Here are a few predictions:

  1. eCommerce will grow to 10% of all Canadian retail by 2020
  2. Store units and average store size will decline by 5-15%
  3. Digitally influenced retail will surpass out-of-store retail
  4. Grocery/CPG will finally migrate online
  5. Amazon will expand but the story’s not over

The growth rate of eCommerce is accelerating and compounding as it scales. If you start to look in context at what is happening here in Canada, you’ll think that the speed in which Canadian retail will evolve, is unrealistic.

“As the pace in which technology changes, the impact on retail will be proportionately felt.”

– Keith Anderson

What we want to know is, what will drive eCommerce in Canada?

  1. Changing shopper expectations
  2. Improving investment & innovative culture
  3. eCommerce investment by incumbent retailers
  4. Millennials
  5. Growth of flexible fulfillment
  6. Tiered delivery networks

But the most significant driver of change is technology as digital will influence how consumers make decisions.

3. Why Haven’t Mobile Payments Taken Over?

Round Table Discussion: Aran Hamilton Vantage Analytics, Greg Wolfond Securekey Technologies, Darrell MacMullin BrainCap Inc.


Experts discuss the possibilities of mobile payments and ponder the challenges of achieving mass acceptance. Two key factors were explored:

  1. A retailer’s ability to accept mobile payments.
  2. A mobile phone that is loaded with secure government approved payment credentials.

Despite wide concern for security and regulation the question becomes, is it a matter of yet? Mobile payment is all about how merchants can offer a value proposition and the shopping experience.

“POS is’t Point of Sale, it’s a Point of Service machine!”

– Greg Wolfwond, Securekey Technologies

4. From Brick and Mortar to Omni-channel

Super Session: Moderated by Kevin O’Leary

eCommerce in Canada is growing and retailers are reinventing their stores and digital presence to capture consumers. There are two things that consumers want, excitement and convenience. Kevin O’Leary led a panel discussion asking the Presidents of three major retailers how they are leading their companies and transforming their business to respond to the 24/7 digital consumers.

“Commerce isn’t a one-time investment; it’s a journey not a destination. Retailers have to expect constant tweaking and adjustments… investment.”

– Steve Matyas, President of Staples Canada

Consider the capital investment in the digital space; merchants are more likely to get a higher return from their digital store than they are from a brick and mortar store. The amount of money spent on a physical store has a less ROI than that of a digital store. So when Toys “R” Us Canada expanded its brick & mortar footprint across the country, to 83 stores in Canada, they were ramping up digital investment as well. The important thing in their space is the experience for the mom and kid and the experience of the store, so instead of expanding the footprint, they’re expanding the in store experience.

“It’s about creating an experience in the store, that matches them with an easy digital experience that looks and feels the same.”

– Kevin O’Leary, Chairman of O’Leary Funds, TV Co-host of ABC’s Shark Tank.

What do Staples Canada, Groupe Dynamite, and Toys “R” Us forecast in the next 5 years?

Staples Canada: Overall Staple’s brick and mortar business will continue, but now they must rationalize how much of it’s sales are being transferred online. Some stores (legacy stores) are 27,000 sqft. This may reduce by 20% in 5 years.

Toys “R” Us: In 5 years Toys “R” US president forecasts a their store count to be similar, but with less space dedicated to actual store front, and more for back room space and warehouse. Dedicating more back-room space, will allow Toys “R” Us to ship quicker and at a lower cost.

Groupe Dynamite: The in store experience will be different. Groupe Dynamite is testing in lower busy stores the concept of “Showrooming”. Customers can experience merchandise, try it on and then order online and ship to home. Experience in stores will change in the next 5 years but it affect their square footage because they are in malls.

Then, Now, Next! Photo’s from RCC’s STORE 2014

Retail 360 Then Now Next