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: 09/10/2019

    Nordstrom Local hopes for big returns from the competition

    Welcome to the unfolding of this new retail world. Sometimes messy. Sometimes clear. Always interesting. Traffic is always the starting point for retail success, and this moves generates that for Nordstrom. Data is king ... and Nordstrom now has access to more of that. Conversion will be the key -- and the unknown. How many of these "return" customers can they convert to a Nordstrom customer? Regardless of that number, it's much higher than the conversion they are getting on those same customers if they don't even come into the store! The big question is -- why would Macy's and Kohl's even consider sending their customers to a competitor? That's the head-scratcher!
  • Posted on: 09/10/2019

    Will others follow Starbucks’ lead on employee mental health programs?

    Hats off to the purpose-driven leadership at Starbucks for taking on this important initiative. For those above who are throwing them under the train for this, it's likely because you don't understand the "First Aid" program, which is amazing. It's not about labeling someone. It's about understanding and helping, something completely lacking in most circles when it comes to mental health. Putting employees first in every way is the ONLY way to go in today's world. Care for them more than you do about your bottom line -- and you'll find more success.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2019

    Ace Hardware builds through acquisition in the do-it-for-me market

    A great example of thinking laterally, and avoiding the usual "let's just do more of what we already do." While this type of acquisition/addition of new services isn't new, it makes perfect sense. Be more important to your customers than just a bunch of boxes on a shelf with price tags!
  • Posted on: 06/21/2019

    Strong women execs: be ‘authentic’, just don’t be yourself

    Yes, we should have moved on from this "debate" a long time ago. I've been lucky enough to moderate several leadership round table discussions, many of which featured women who lead major retail chains. Here's what I learned: As we move into the human economy and past the knowledge economy, those with heart will win the day. In my humble opinion, companies led by women typically have significantly more heart and authentic leadership. Sign me up to work with any of them any day.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    Does self-checkout make sense for Costco?

    Self-checkout is likely just a short term solution as mobile checkout supported by customers' own device is on the horizon. Faster, seamless and way less expensive. I'm not a technology guy. But from speaking with many executives who know this space well, it seems to be the way forward. Why get in any line at all if you don't have to?
  • Posted on: 05/10/2019

    Will Farmstead’s ‘Smart Shopping List’ give it an edge in online grocery competition?

    The grocery sector is so ripe for being re-engineered. Shopping for groceries hasn't changed very much for centuries ... make a list (80 percent of which is the same each week), drive to the store, walk the aisles, pay, drive home, unpack. It seems a bit silly when you look at it like that. Hats off to Farmstead for pushing the innovation envelope. Consumers will love the time saved that can be invested in their lives and families. And Farmstead will reap better loyalty and sales.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2019

    H&M will cease printing its catalog after 39 years

    H&M catalog? I didn't even know they had one (I guess they never distributed in the Great White North). Sustainability. Generational. Cost. Effectiveness. Pick any of the previous reasons and you're likely right as to why they dropped the catalog. Every year Restoration Hardware delivers the equivalent of a library of catalogs to our home. Seriously -- at least 500 pages of glossy images and print. I never really understood the rationale/cost of doing that ... until I saw my wife flipping through the pages, dog earring pages and ordering something we would never have thought of if we didn't have it dropped at our door via catalog. It's a crazy and complicated retail world with no single perfect answer for any retailer. The only truth is never stand still -- the status quo is just death waiting to happen.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2019

    Are ‘live, work, shop, play’ environments a big part of retail’s future?

    This can be viewed as a return to how society functioned a long, long time ago. Step out your door to find everything you need within a block or two. The talk of malls and shopping areas evolving into true "communities" will, in my humble opinion, continue to grow and gain traction. With two teenagers at home, one of my continued advice points to them is to live close to where you work. Don't fall into the trap of commuting (aka that thing that sucks the soul out of your life) . Live your life within your community and love it.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2019

    Will Rite Aid and Walgreens gain health cred by restricting tobacco sales?

    Hello from the Great White North where pharmacies haven't sold tobacco products for a very long time. And guess what? They haven't gone out of business. It's a completely hypocritical thing to sell something that kills your customers when you're supposed to be in the business of making them healthy. Values, people. Values. Stop thinking of the bottom line first and take a closer look at exactly why you're in business as a retailer. In the case of pharmacies, tobacco and vapes wouldn't even make it to the shelves.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2019

    Kohl’s goes all-in on Amazon returns

    As a retailer, if the customer doesn't have a better reason to come to your store than to return something they bought from another retailer, then you likely have a BIG problem on your hands. Sure, this will likely generate some traffic. But unless there's a great experience awaiting them in the store don't expect them to do anything but return the item and then leave. A return depot is just that ... a depot. And the cynic in me questions why anyone would let Amazon inside their doors ... anyone recall the Trojan Horse story?
  • Posted on: 04/23/2019

    Giant Food to fill prescriptions for fruits and veggies

    How do you do a standing ovation via email? If I knew how, I would certainly give Giant Food Stores one for this initiative. The link between nutrition and health is undeniable as just about everyone knows. Stepping up in this fashion goes beyond just the "let's make more money" mindset that prevails typically. It puts the customer front and center, and in this case focuses on what's most important -- their health. Yes this will produce a profit in the long run for Giant Stores, but it will be done on the back of doing what is right for their customers.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2019

    The North Face starts petition to make Earth Day a national holiday

    Who wouldn't support this idea (and who wouldn't want another day off)? The North Face and others do this with authenticity. Others seem to just use it as a marketing opportunity (a sale on TVs, really?) While I'm not sure this will cross the finish line in my lifetime to become a national holiday, it's refreshing to see brands step up and live to their values. You can't be in business just to make money these days ... you have to stand for something.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2019

    What should a retailer ask at an exit interview?

    Everyone continually rattles on about listening to the customer. Shouldn't it then be obvious that it's just as important to listen to your staff? If the staff experience stinks, so will the customer experience. You can't solve a problem without understanding why it exists in the first place. Employee turnover is a major problem for retail. Doing exit interviews makes perfect sense. And don't even attempt to run up the flag that you don't have time. If you don't have time for your staff, you're way off the path to success at store level.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2019

    Are people investments paying off for retailers?

    Pretty much all great points made above this. Having been in the retail staff training business for the past 30 years, I've been on the inside of this discussion for a long time. The good news: there's no longer much need to have to sell a retailer on the importance of training their teams. The bad news: far too many still don't make the investments needed. The proof is in the pudding for those that make the investments in their people. Average basket size goes up. Conversion rates increase. Sales jump up. Staff turnover goes down. CSI goes way up. Invest in tech all you want ... but don't forget that retail is a people business.
  • 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.

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