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: 07/14/2021

    Will ending non-competes be good for retail workers and their bosses?

    There is a place for non-compete clauses -- but a very limited place. The problem is that too many employers have used a strong-arm approach to implementing them when hiring someone. I've seen people leave a company (in most cases because they were working for bad bosses) who were blocked from working within their sector for too long. If you're at the top, then there may be a good argument to be made for them. But that's about 1 percent of most companies. The other 99 percent (who do the hard work and build the brand every day) deserve the freedom to work for whomever they want.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2021

    Target and Chipotle are watching TikTok video resumes to find workers

    Whether they come through TikTok or any other vehicle, video resumes are, in many ways, so much better than the typical written resume. Experience and education are good, but getting to see and hear the candidate gives the employer a much needed insight into the candidate that often trumps what the written resume can provide.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2021

    Membership gets you 24/7 access at new grocery store

    Interesting concept to be sure. Let me put another lens on this: is this just another evolution driven by the desire to minimize the need for staff (read: humans)? Technology may be a wonderful thing -- but what happens to your retail business when those humans who used to work for you no longer have a job, and hence have no money to spend in your stores? Take a look at the auto industry where robotics have replaced thousands of workers in the plants. Look to the future when autonomous trucks will replace 2 million drivers in the U.S. alone. Rest assured, I love all this innovation in the retail world. It's just worth a few minutes to stand back and consider the larger impact these changes may have along the way.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Have flagships become obsolete?

    A "flagship" was the ship that carried the commander of the fleet and flied the commander's flag. It was better than every other ship in the fleet in every respect. So too must a flagship store be. It's not enough to rent a big, high profile location and then just do the usual (boring) store. It needs to be a true experience that brings the brand to life and wows customers. And while it's great if you can make money at the flagship, the measurement of that store needs to extend beyond just the cash register. That store, done right, is the "commercial" that runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Done right, it drives awareness, traffic to the online site, and even traffic to your other stores.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Can Wilson Sports win at lifestyle fashion and consumer-direct sales?

    I'm a tennis player (OK, not a very good one) so I'm very familiar with the Wilson brand. To me, this makes a lot of good sense. There is value in the brand they've built, so they should mine that value by extending into a limited apparel line. As for opening stores, that's another question. Microsoft has a big, BIG brand and a lot of products. Their stores in Canada shut down. So Wilson may want to consider building out their apparel brand online first until it becomes a success.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2021

    Do micro distribution points (AKA stores) give Petco an edge over Chewy and Amazon?

    Fulfilling from a store has so many advantages, as noted above from so many of the comments. Consider this: yesterday I ordered something online from a kitchen store located close to my office. They called me 10 minutes later saying it was ready to pick up! A win for the customer, and for the store as well.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2021

    Is Amazon the safest place to work in retail?

    This is a good move for Amazon on several fronts:
    1. Looking after your employees is your first priority;
    2. It will boost the bottom line in the mid to long term for the company as we all know that engaged employees are infinitely more productive.
    3. As always, Amazon knows how to get free advertising as they know this will be picked up not just by us BrainTrust panelists, but also the media who will give them millions of "imprints" at no cost.
    4. Every business, not just Amazon, needs to implement programs that keep employees safe, respected and engaged.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2021

    Hubert Joly says ‘human connection’ laid the foundation of Best Buy’s turnaround

    Can we clone Mr. Joly, please? By all reasonable measures, Best Buy could/should have been among the casualties of online shopping. Yet here they are winning the game by differentiating themselves through amazing staff. Product and price are rarely differentiators anymore. The greatest variable to leverage is the quality of the staff interaction with customers. Mr. Joly saw what so many don't see -- the opportunity to drive the business by creating an amazing work experience for their team members. Seeing employees as their most valuable asset, and not an expense item.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2021

    Are retailers making it too tough for seniors to shop online?

    Better websites would help. But how about including a short tutorial video that walks people through how the website works? Show people how to add/delete from the cart, add promo codes -- everything that you think they should know, but likely don't. Don't make the assumption that everyone has a relative to show them the ropes, or that everyone has tech skills.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2021

    Amazon has mad upskills

    Thirty-plus years into our business of training front-line retail staff, here's what I know:
    • The retailers winning the game have invested in their staff with training, coaching, incentives and remuneration.
    • Those struggling have training "cupboards" that are, for the most part, completely empty when it comes to giving staff the real skills they need to succeed and grow.
    • The good news is that more retailers have realized the need to invest in their most important asset -- their staff.
    The bad news is that the majority are still too far behind what is needed. We rarely have to work hard to convince a retailer of the value of training their staff. Now if only they would give their staff as much attention and deserved investment as they do with their IT dreams.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Is Athleta’s Canadian expansion a stretch for the Gap-owned chain?

    Hey Lee -- do you think we live in igloos, too? There's actually about 38 million of us (we've been busy making babies and welcoming immigrants). And there are a number of other large markets as well outside of the three you mention. Heck, we have seven NHL teams so we must have at least that many metropolitan areas. We already have a bit of an inferiority complex, so I needed to set the record straight.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Is Athleta’s Canadian expansion a stretch for the Gap-owned chain?

    I live up here in Canada. We're somewhat starved for good retail concepts (then again, so is most of the world). There's lots of room for Athleta, and pretty much any other other great retail concept. At last look, the average sales per square foot in our malls runs around $750 per foot, whereas in the U.S. it runs around $450. These numbers may be off a bit, but it shows that there is significantly less competition up here. While Canada may not represent a massive growth opportunity for them, they should find success.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2021

    Is Athleta’s Canadian expansion a stretch for the Gap-owned chain?

    That's true, Venky. But we're very nice up here. :)
  • Posted on: 04/20/2021

    What goes into delivering a ‘wow’ shopping experience?

    Isn't it always amazing to see that so much of the "wow" is tied to just finding a helpful, skilled and knowledgeable staff member? For as much as things change, things stay the same. And even in those sectors where it's more of a self-serve model, it relies on the staff to execute all of the merchandising. If you're looking to reduce friction of all types, it would seem to make sense to invest in your most important asset -- your staff.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2021

    Are you ready for the retailer-as-service revolution?

    This reminds me of a great athletic retailer focused on runners who ran running clinics every day. That was their secret sauce. The product was good. But the service offering was even better. Product is just product. You can get that anywhere. It's the experience that matters. So, it only makes sense that retailers extend into service offerings for vendors, staff and customers.

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