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: 01/15/2019

    NRF: Consumers prefer self-service, but associates still have a role to play

    What we're seeing here is a reinforcement of where brick and mortar -- and in this case, the role of sales associates -- is heading. The sales associates of the future will be true brand ambassadors who truly represent and understand the products, customers and brand experience. They won't be minimum wage earners. Technology has its place, but so do great sales associates. This cements the importance of proper recruiting, onboarding, training and coaching. Push the notion of "employees are an expense" aside, and embrace the reality that your store experience relies more than ever on outstanding store teams.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2018

    Has wine in a can moved from fad to trend?

    This is a trend that has been around for a little while now. I do a lot of work in the liquor industry and have seen growth in the plastic bottles, boxed wine and tetra packs. Cans are just an extension of this. Have you also seen wine and prosecco on tap at your local pub/restaurant lately? It's another trend to watch. As a self-professed wine snob, it's not for me. But then again, there are thousands who think Yellow Tail (a booming success) is a great wine. Good for them. And good for all of us wine snobs to look beyond our own tastes and to the masses.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2018

    Gap sends its Visa cardholders to Amazon and Target

    The inmates are officially running the asylum. If you want to be a financial services company this likely makes sense. But since when does it make sense for a retailer to outright encourage their customers to shop at the competition (especially Amazon)?
  • Posted on: 07/26/2018

    Retailers throw ‘hiring parties’ to reach staffing goals

    Absolutely! Most traditional ways of recruiting don't work like they used to, just like most traditional ways of retailing don't work like they used to either! Create a great experience for the candidates and they'll show up -- just like customers. We know lots of retailers who have completely reworked how they attract and interview candidates and it's paying off in finding better candidates ... and ones who fit the company culture much better.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2018

    Need a nap? Casper opened a store for that

    Wonderful example of the current way of thinking about the "store as media." It's not about selling "stuff" at this location -- it's about the experience at hand and the glow that hopefully shines on the Casper brand and resulting sales through other channels. Retailers have to stop being just boxes on the shelf or, in the case of Casper, mattresses in a box. While you can't make every aisle and rack an experience, retailers need to continue to work on finding creative ways to bring more experiences/excitement/involvement/community to their stores. Do something that you can't do online and you'll find success.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2018

    Target offers discounts as teachers prep for back-to-school

    We all read too often about teachers having to reach into their own pockets for what should be already supplied by the schools. Governments seem to find millions in tax credits for corporations and the rich, but somehow can't get their head out of that very dark place to invest in the the children who are our future. To Target, and every other retailer who steps up to help ... thank you! It's good business ... and even better corporate leadership.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2018

    Best Buy’s Geek Squad is now available by subscription

    Love it! $200 isn't inexpensive, but for those that sign up it will make Best Buy very "sticky" for them. That's the objective of subscriptions and memberships. Just another way to differentiate yourself from the other guys (read: Amazon). It wasn't too long ago that Best Buy was considered as being a soon-to-be-scrap heap member. They continue to reinvent themselves ... other retailers should take note.
  • 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.

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