A Little Perspective from Ron Chomiuk, EVP, Chief Strategy & Growth Officer
Why did you join TSG?
That is a great, but complex question. I have spent the better half of my life in the Retail and Health Care Sectors and have been blessed to work with and/or have close relationships with some of the greatest leaders in Retail. Many of these people have been instrumental in advising and guiding me in decisions both in business and personal life.
I strongly believe that integrity has to be at the core of everything we do. I have often said, that when it is time for us to leave this life, we will be remembered for not only how we treated others, but in our integrity in dealing with them and in the issues we faced during our time here. Our reputation and legacy that we leave will be driven largely by these core values. Ironically, in most of the companies where I’ve worked, these values were a part of everything the company stood for.
The industry while large is also quite small. What I mean by this is that the leaders you come into contact with in this industry are all striving to do what is best for not only their customers but also the communities they serve. While we are competitors, there is one common denominator and that is the customers we serve. We are all focused on providing solutions that help our customers solve their issues in the most effective way, which is the way the customer tells us they want to be served. Why do I bring this up…because early in my career I met Rich Swanson who at the time was working for Confab ICD. The more that I got to know Rich, the more I saw that he stood for not only doing what was right for the customer but doing so in a way that was transparent and backed with honesty and integrity.
So, to get back to “Why TSG”? It was easy. When Rich reached out to me to see if I would be willing to help with his company business and his business at Walmart in N.W. Arkansas, I immediately saw a connection: two people who have the same core beliefs and two companies who also stand for the same core beliefs. Once I understood that, the decision was easy — even coming out of retirement!
What are your thoughts about the future of retail, especially given the COVID-19 impact?
One thing for certain in retail is that it will always be in a state of constant evolution. As the customer has more and more options to not only purchase products but get answers and information, you must be fast and agile in not only adapting but bringing innovative solutions to them. Today’s customer does not want to go to multiple sites or locations to do their shopping. Customers today are time-stressed; they are focused on their well-being, they want to shop with socially responsible companies, and – as seen even more during the COVID-19 outbreak – want to shop where they know they are being taken care of in a safe and secure environment. Customers today want a “frictionless” experience that provides near-instantaneous gratification.
For quite some time we have seen the shift to online shopping. While I do not believe brick and mortar stores will go away, I do believe we will see less brick-and-mortar stores, either through reduction of stores or brands literally closing shop. Today’s eCommerce options provide customers with an array of options for them to get the products they need. Ship to home, ship to store for pickup, order online and curbside pickup, order online and have groceries delivered to your front door and in most cases for free. I do believe those retailers that have the proper mix of online capabilities combined with brick-and-mortar stores will be the most successful. Having brick and mortar stores allow companies to bring merchandise closer to the customer, and that takes costs out of the supply chain.
We have learned so much through the COVID-19 pandemic in how to take care of customers seamlessly. We have learned so much about how to adapt and move in a nimble fashion. Most of all we have learned how important it is to put the customer and your employee’s safety and care first in everything we do. I don’t necessarily believe big will win every time, although it helps. I do believe that those retailers who can be innovative and fast to adapt or get ahead of customer expectations will be the ones that will distance themselves from their competitors and win.
Any last thoughts
During my career I had the privilege to work at Walmart. Embedded in my memory from that time is a quote from Sam Walton, “There is only one boss. The Customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else”. Today’s customer has become so savvy not only in the way they shop but in their expectations of what you provide when they shop with you. Clearly understanding their needs, and more importantly, clearly understanding we are here to SERVE them is so critical. The formula for success is not complicated: Give the customer what they want, when they want it, and in the method they desire to purchase it. The challenge is doing that in a way that satisfies the customer while allowing companies to remain viable. Companies need to be innovative not only in the products they provide, but in their supply chain. Taking costs out of packaging, understanding how to get the product through the entire journey from manufacturing to consumption in the most cost-effective way, and staying in stock to assure that customers get what they want when they are looking for it will demand even more attention.
This is what makes retail so exciting. Everyday is a new opportunity and challenge. Every day we must think like the CEO of the companies we serve. It’s an exciting industry and an even more exciting time to be part of it.
~Originally published on 10/14/2021