Kevin Graff

President, Graff Retail

Kevin is the President of Graff Retail Inc. He is a retail and training professional with over 20 years of related experience. Founded in 1988, Kevin started what is now Canada’s leading training and consulting firm that specializes in working with retail organizations around the globe.

His years of consulting and delivering speeches and training seminars makes him keenly aware of the real life challenges facing the retail industry. All aspects of the retail operation including hiring and orientation of employees, staff and sales management, customer service initiatives and selling and retail strategies are areas of practical experience and success for Kevin.

Keynote Speaker: Kevin has presented hundreds of keynote addresses to a variety of retail, sales and service business audiences around the globe. Inevitably, the highlight of most conferences.

Author: Authored the books Winning Retail and Selling with Passion. Kevin also writes The Graff Retail Report, a monthly newsletter read by thousands of retailers around the globe.

Trainer Extraordinaire: Kevin consistently receives ratings that exceed 95% when he delivers training programs. Audiences love him!

Program Design: Kevin has lead the development of literally hundreds of training programs and systems over the past 20 years. Of great pride is the accomplishment of having these programs win The Retail Council of Canada’s Best Employee Development Programs Award not once, not twice … FIVE times!

Membership: Kevin is a member of The President’s Club at The Retail Council of Canada. He is also actively involved in several Retail Council of Canada events.

Over the past few years we have had the opportunity to work with clients such as Costco Wholesale, Roots, Sony, Home Hardware, Staples, Canada Post Corporation, Canadian Tire, Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws and hundreds of other retailers across the globe.

  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    7-Elevens could be destined to undergo a konbinification

    In short, let's hope that 7-Eleven goes "konbini-style." The typical convenience store today is a relic of the past. Yes there are outliers who have upped their game along the way. But most lack any innovation or transformation. It's time to change the way the game is played for everyone -- including convenience stores.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2020

    Should landlords get a cut of online sales?

    The idea certainly has lots of merit. The line between the physical store and the online site has been completely blurred. There's a direct line between seeing a brand in real life (the store) and the success of the online business. If I were a retailer demanding a straight percentage of sales deal for my rent, I'd be open to the idea. Of course, if I'm paying 8 percent for the store, I'm not paying 8 percent of my online sales. But certainly there's a win-win angle here to explore.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2020

    Will Amazon’s new online pharmacy disrupt the U.S. drugstore business?

    I couldn't agree more. Will they succeed with this initiative? Yes. But I wouldn't trust Amazon with gathering even more personal info. The price we'll all pay at some point (less competition, less choice) will be exceptionally high.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2020

    Costco makes everybody mask up

    Totally onside with Costco. Yes, I do feel for those with medical conditions. But the reality is that there are many who still believe they have the right to put others at risk. This closes the loophole. Mask up everyone -- we're on the right track.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2020

    Are garages optimal delivery drop-off points?

    Here we go again with the brilliant and devious marketing minds at Amazon. Every year, just before Christmas, they announce some "amazing" new thing -- drones one year, delivery to the trunk of your car the next year, and now delivery to inside your garage. What does this give them? Millions of free media advertising dollars! Every media outlet jumps up and down to cover it, putting the Amazon brand in front of customers every day so that when they sit in front of their computer the first name they think of is -- Amazon. I don't blame them. It works every year.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2020

    Postmates looks to solve local retail’s last mile

    For independent retailers this is a big opportunity to provide their customers with the convenience that the "big guys" offer. This helps to level the field. The challenge may be in the duplicate website -- but keep in mind that many independents still don't have an e-commerce website up and running.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Will virtual recruiting and onboarding hurt seasonal hiring?

    Anyone else getting a bit tired of this virtual world? No issues here with using virtual technology to do some of the lifting with hiring and on-boarding. Just remember though, it's just a tool. You still need to jump into a proper selection process (three minutes at Gap -- seriously?) Using virtual tools to onboard staff in advance of them starting is smart thinking. It speeds up the onboarding process. Just note that it's a start, not the finish line. As always, execution wins the game. No matter how sexy some of the virtual tools are, they are only part of the solution.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2020

    Will curbside pickup be Costco’s Achilles heel?

    I remember a conversation I had with a Costco exec years ago. I suggested they should have an express checkout for those with minimal items so that they could avoid the longer lines. He shook his head and said, "Why would I want to encourage you to buy less?" His belief was that if you knew you were going to have to stand in line, you might as well shop more of the aisles while you are there. Curbside pickup goes against what he said, and I'm on his side with that. I've written here that curbside pickup, while needed by many, is likely the Grim Reaper in disguise. Convenient? Yes. In demand? Yes. But the store becomes nothing more than a warehouse with a pick up option. No brand experience. No incremental sales. No discovery. No experience. Oh and it's expensive to run too. I'd bet on Costco every day of the year.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2020

    Has COVID-19 revealed pickup’s pain points?

    Communication. Technology. Safety protocols. All keys to make curbside work for the customer. I'm going to step aside from the "service" angle here and turn to what I've called the "devil in disguise" argument. My fear, which has been supported by many retailers I speak to, is that curbside pickup turns your store into just a warehouse with a pick up option. No discovery. No brand experience. No relationships. No impulse or add-on sales. I accept the reality of needing to provide this service (for now), but the true cost to the retailer is unbelievably high.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2020

    Pandemic ‘fast-forwarded everything’ for nation’s largest cannabis retailer

    Hello from the land of legalized cannabis ... Canada. Some of the best looking stores here are in the cannabis sector. There's still invisible handcuffs on them that doesn't allow them to run their business the way the liquor industry does. However they are quickly moving in the right direction, and the pandemic has pushed them along faster. There is amazing demand and not nearly enough stores yet. Five years from now will see cannabis retail being completely mainstreamed and operating the same, if not better, than every other retailer. Curaleaf is just one of many that are on the right path.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2020

    Best Buy connects strong sales to frontline worker performance

    Thrilled to see this story here today. It's been shockingly quiet on the media front on the positive impact frontline staff make. The leadership team at Best Buy "gets" the importance of store staff, and has for a long time. They've invested in them consistently every year. Every other brick and mortar retailer needs to take note: Invest in your staff, or watch your top and bottom lines disintegrate faster than ever.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2020

    Do Americans want retailers to keep their social distance after COVID-19 is gone?

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Curbside pickup is the Grim Reaper in disguise for retail stores. Sure you might have to offer it in this new world (for now, anyway). Just know that you're losing 20 to 50 percent in sales along the way as impulse and discovery sales drop off. Not to mention any connection with the retailer (read: staff, who are the biggest part of the brand at store level). Classic example: I go to a hardware store at the height of COVID-19, only being able to use curbside pickup. What do I buy? The one item I went for. Next trip, I can go into the hardware store. What do I buy? The one item I went for -- and four other items!
  • Posted on: 06/08/2020

    Is remote working bad for corporate culture?

    Like everything else, there are pros and cons to WFH. Who doesn't want to avoid the commute? Who doesn't want the freedom that comes from working at home to get a few personal things done during the day? Just beware: Humans are hard-wired for connection. Video calls, while good, are no replacement for face to face interactions. My fear is you'll see a breakdown of company culture (remember, culture eats strategy for breakfast) in the mid to long term. Not to mention relationships. A hybrid model (part WFH, part in-office) may be the way forward.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2020

    What’s J.C. Penney’s next move?

    How about the landlords just accept the reality that the B and C mall properties (where most J.C. Penney stores live) need a complete rethink. Consider transforming these properties into full mixed-use assets. Knock down the anchors (ironically anchors always sink), add in residential, grocery, community centers, gyms, health care. View this bankruptcy, and those to come, as the opportunity to finally move forward instead of hoping these dinosaurs can live again.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2020

    Are Amazon’s at-cost face shields an act of goodwill or predatory behavior?

    I'm not one to trust Amazon and its forays into private label. However, this is more than fine with me. In fact, it's a good business move that also demonstrates a social conscience on their part. I don't say this too often when it comes to Amazon, but -- well done!

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