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: 06/03/2022

    Circle K’s new self-checkouts are kicking barcode scanners to the curb

    Couche-Tard has always been an innovator and this is absolutely on the right track. No one really wants to have to "scan" every item. And retailers don't want to have to free up space for a self-checkout lane. Finally a solution that works for both the customer and retailer -- and not just the IT department.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2022

    C-store customers want an app to order ahead

    When I read headlines like this, my first (admittedly cynical) thought is that the study was done/sponsored by a company that provides exactly this type of service. Kind of like when the wine industry came up with "studies" saying the red wine is actually great for you (I really, really want to believe that!). Now, having set aside my cynicism, there's likely some benefit here to explore -- but I'm not sure exactly how much. Convenience stores are just that -- convenient. We use them in the spur of the moment, typically with little planning involved. This might just be another shiny ball distracting from what's needed -- a better convenience store to shop at that's executed properly every day.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2022

    Will Walmart’s career path strategy give it a recruiting advantage?

    Anyone remember when Walmart was viewed as the "evil empire"? Not anymore! They've been on the right path with their staff for a long time now. These new initiatives are fantastic. Now, the reality is that retailers without the immense resources Walmart has can't match this. But they can certainly step up to do better onboarding, and at the same time build succession training programs as part of leading staff to a better career. The theme here is: Look after your staff, and they'll look after you.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2022

    Should Zara (and other retailers) be charging for online returns?

    This was an inevitable outcome for online retailers, just like free shipping was not sustainable for most. The cost of returns are staggering, just like shipping. The outcome of now having to realize the need to charge for returns/shipping is that stores are now more competitive than ever. Consumers may not like the return charge, but somehow I can hear brick-and-mortar stores cheering in the background.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2022

    Do Gen Z workers deserve to be called entitled?

    Every generation blames the one coming up behind them. I have books on my shelves about how to "solve" Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and now Gen Z. Every one is a product of their political, social and economic upbringing/background. Traditionalists respected authority (think about the times they lived in). Boomers worked ridiculous hours -- how else were you going to survive and get ahead amidst the glut of talent? Gen Z ain't perfect -- then again, no generation ever was. As we say, if your customer changes, you need to change. Accordingly, if your staff change, you need to change how you lead and manage them.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2022

    Are tattoos no longer taboo on retail selling floors?

    Well, I got my first tattoo on my 60th birthday -- from my very own son who's an amazing tattoo artist! So, I might be a bit biased. Certainly with all the focus on DEI initiatives, having a tattoo is completely acceptable. Some of the very best store managers I've trained have lots of tattoos. Get past how someone looks, tattoos or not, and assess them on their character and skills.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2022

    Locals fight to keep warehouses out of their neighborhoods

    Amazon tried (and failed) to open a big distribution center on the edge of my neighborhood last year. This isn't a NIMBY issue. Quality of life trumps getting yet another package that won't save your life an hour earlier. Be wary of what it seems people want (unsustainable fast delivery), because when those same people shine the light on the impact of making that possible (like a 24-hour, non-stop traffic, noise creating distribution center), suddenly getting your "toothpaste" delivered in an hour just isn't that important.
  • Posted on: 03/21/2022

    Macy’s lets associates express their style

    Overall, a smart move on Macy's part. Note that they've given parameters for what you can wear depending on your department. It's hard to find, and to keep, good staff these days so this will certainly help with recruiting and retention. And we all like people that look like we do, so if you happen to find someone dressing like you (or how you would like to do), then this fits. Caution: there will need to be some guard rails in place to reign in "poor" wardrobe choices. After all, we humans like to dance outside the lines quite often.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2022

    Lululemon joins the footwear race with new running shoes

    Footwear isn't an easy category, BUT -- name one other brand of significance that has launched a line of footwear just for women! Combine that bit of long overdue brilliance with their deep customer base and loyalty and you have a winner. Nothing is guaranteed in life or retail, but this should be a win for Lululemon. (then again, who thought Target would fail so badly in Canada?)
  • Posted on: 03/08/2022

    Are banned books a sales opportunity or political risk for Barnes & Noble?

    If someone wants to ban any of these books, or others, then they should also ban some of the nut jobs on CNN, Fox and other media channels too when they don't agree with what they say or think. If you don't like it, turn the channel or don't buy the book. My kids read Maus in grade school -- and somehow they've managed to turn out alright!
  • Posted on: 03/01/2022

    Target is serious about cutting employee turnover

    Here's the mic drop from the article: “Our team is at the heart of our strategy and success, and their energy and resilience keep us at the forefront of meeting the changing needs of our guests year after year.” Target "gets it" -- now it's time for every other retailer to get it too! When retailers truly believe that the front line teams are at the heart of their success, then (finally) they'll make the investments long overdue in their staff.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2022

    Will airbags calm fears about driverless vehicles?

    Better hurry and get yourself another horse, Percy. You can't live without one when you're a horse guy!
  • Posted on: 01/21/2022

    Will airbags calm fears about driverless vehicles?

    Remember the horse and buggy? Everyone was going to miss those horses! Change is scary sometimes. Frankly, I'd trust a driverless car armed with dozens of computers making millions of decisions every second, over a distracted, texting, tired, impaired driver every time.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2022

    December retail sales were strong, no matter what the clickbait headlines said

    Let's do a quick poll (just for fun): Who do you trust less? a) politicians b) pharmaceutical companies c) the media who reports on retail Sure, they all have their upside every now and then. But when the media gets grouped with the other two, it tells you pretty much all you know about how well they are doing their job when reporting on retail (and, lots of other topics too). Bad news sells, unfortunately. I often say the best thing that could happen to retail is for the media to go away.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2021

    Kroger eliminates paid COVID-19 leave for unvaccinated

    I'm a retail guy, not a health or policy expert. However this is a very slippery slope. I guess cutting off those who choose not get vaccinated is ok, so long as you also cut off health benefits for those who choose to smoke, drink alcohol, do extreme sports or fail to take realistic steps to control type-2 diabetes where possible. Here in Canada, where nearly 80 percent of the population is fully vaxxed (including me, by the way), the majority of Omicron cases have infected those same fully vaxxed people. It seems to me that Kroger, while likely well-intended, is completely off the tracks.

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