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: 05/16/2018

    Can retailers find riches at sea?

    I was surprised a couple of years back when one of the major cruise lines subscribed to our online sales training for the stores on board their ships. It gave me a glimpse into a world I didn't really understand. Three years later I can attest to the opportunity for retailers in cruise retailing. Non-stop customers with money in their pockets and no where else to spend.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2018

    Retail loyalty programs are no longer in the cards

    Forcing customers to sign up for a credit card to be able take take advantage of loyalty perks is as outdated a concept as -- well -- most department stores. And let's face it, loyalty just ain't what it used to be. Everyone has loyalty programs, yet few are really effective (just ask yourself, of all the loyalty cards in your wallet, how many of those retailers really hold your loyalty). Membership seems to be where it's at these days. Maybe Macy's and others could look at creative ways to build in membership programs to their stores or key departments.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2018

    Is membership really what’s driving RH’s rebound?

    I may not be the "canary in the coal mine" but I can confess to the impact of RH's membership. This past December we bought a Christmas tree online from RH (yep, a Christmas tree -- nicest one I've ever seen!). We picked up the membership at the time of purchase to take advantage of the discount, which more than covered the membership cost (hmmm ... they likely left some money on the table doing this). We've now ordered from them three more times, largely in part because of the membership. Membership is so much more powerful than a loyalty program. Just ask Costco. Every retailer should consider every possibility to introduce a membership program in their store, even if just for a specific department (for example, a paint dept membership in a hardware store). You have to get very "sticky" with your customers, as loyalty just doesn't exist any more.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2018

    Thrive Market wants to change the world with new organic meat and seafood line

    A few thoughts:
    1. Subscription services are infinitely more powerful than typical loyalty programs. If a customer is willing to pay to shop at your store, you're onto something great.
    2. I fancy myself as being an "informed" consumer, so wouldn't want to eat a farmed fish (yuk!) or hormone-injected cow/chicken if I didn't have to. I think that's a rapidly growing segment so I think Thrive is headed in the right direction.
    3. Thrive Markets ... please come to Canada! I'll be one of the first to sign up.
  • Posted on: 03/26/2018

    Customers want to be left alone while shopping

    It's safe to infer that 95 percent (maybe even 100 percent) don't want to be waited on by someone who is pushy, uninformed and poorly-trained. There's no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to providing a great shopping experience. However, caution is advised for one and all who believe that brick-and-mortar will survive by throwing technology in all shapes and forms onto the sales floor. Staff are more (not less) important than ever before. If retailers would invest as many resources into developing and managing their staff as they do technology, we likely wouldn't be discussing this today.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2017

    RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Home Depot vs. Lowe’s

    Lowe's: we'll give you a short laugh ... then sell you something! Not bad, but not very unique or compelling. Home Depot: touches on the experience of the holidays and builds emotion. That's the big hammer brick-and-mortar retailers need to swing to survive. Winner by a landslide .... Home Depot!
  • Posted on: 12/07/2017

    Will shoppers pay services to do returns for them?

    Keeping in mind that you can't be all things to all people, there's a decent business model here for ReturnRunners. True, there's a large portion of consumers that won't be willing to part with $10. Then again, there's a large number of consumers who don't shop at Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus either. For that ever-spending group of consumers who value their time as much as their money, ReturnRunners-like concepts are likely to be welcomed with open arms.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: H&M vs. Gap

    Who doesn't love a great song that you actually know most of the lyrics too? Great spot by Gap, but ... the winner is H&M! There's much more of an emotional connection in that spot ... and for brick-and-mortar retailers, it's emotion that separates the winners from the losers.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2017

    Empowered employees separate Zumiez from the competition

    OK ... it's about time someone is giving the proper attention to the impact that store staff make on the shopping experience. Everyone gets so enamored by technology that staff get forgotten. Yet it's the quality of the staff interaction with customers is the greatest differentiator for retailers. Products are nothing more than widgets. Price is a non-starter as someone will always undercut you. Big, bright shiny stores are the entry point and expected. So what's left to separate a retailer from the pack? Staff. Period. It's the wise retailer who will invest in creating a better staff experience (encompassing everything from remuneration to training to coaching and leadership), and who will in the end win through creating better customer experiences.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2017

    Professor says price gouging is simple supply and demand at work

    You know what tops economic supply and demand arguments? Humanity! Let Karma deal with the price gougers accordingly. Look after people in times of need. The good news is that for every story about greed, there are hundreds of stories about good people doing good deeds to help others in crisis. Those are the stories that should get more press coverage.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2017

    What will more electric cars mean for convenience stores?

    It wasn't that long ago that smartphones were only starting to pop up. So don't be surprised if electric cars become closer to the norm, and much faster than expected. For the proactive convenience store, this represents a potential big win in the near future. There's gold waiting to be generated from customers who are recharging their vehicle and need to spend 15 to 20 minutes in the store! Just imagine the possibilities of creating a great experience for them that they would not just enjoy -- but would also seek out. So what convenience store is going to be the bold one and go first?
  • Posted on: 08/09/2017

    What to do when shop local turns into look local and buy online?

    Good article, Bob. There's validity in all your points when put in the context of the situation at hand. The whole buy local movement is valid, but only when the local merchants are actually competitive with the larger retail environment. The local merchants need to step up their game to compete. We all know price is only one thing, but becomes the big thing when the store experience is flat. Maybe these independents need to be a little more critical of their retail concept, store experience, selling skills, merchandising approach and more. If an independent thinks they're going to compete on price, they've lost the game before it's started.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2017

    Will Amazon’s new return policy help or hurt its marketplace sellers?

    I've told retailers for years that an open return policy isn't designed to just give money back to customers, it's designed to make selling to them much easier. Stop thinking about the marginal few who will abuse the system and start thinking about how you can promote the policy to make more sales. The cost of fraudulent returns pales in comparison to what retailers pay the credit card companies every year.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2017

    Are the four Ps of marketing irrelevant for retailers?

    Good article and great discussion. No one is wrong with their comments and it reflects the disruption that is happening in retail. My 2 cents is that what was always missing from the four P's was the fifth (and most important) P -- people. Customers and staff are the most important focal point. Setting customers aside for a moment, consider how much more staff now mean in the retail equation. They are fundamental to providing the in-store experience and need to be treated and invested in accordingly.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2017

    Will talking about pain points make Babies ‘R’ Us the go-to retailer for parents?

    My wife and I give each other a high-five every time one of our kids has a birthday ... to celebrate that we somehow managed to keep them alive another year! I think this campaign will resonate more with experienced parents who have made dozens of mistakes and can laugh at themselves. The new parent is still intent on being perfect against all odds. All-in-all, a great and refreshing campaign.

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