5 leaders shaping retail’s future

Retail Gets Real episode 261: Conversations with NRF Foundation honorees

On April 13, The NRF Foundation Honors returns to New York City to celebrate the industry, support the next generation and honor The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future. This year’s honorees are Five Below Inc. President and CEO Joel Anderson, McDonald's Corporation President and CEO Chris Kempczinski, former CVS Health Executive Vice President and former CVS Pharmacy President Neela Montgomery, Chewy Inc. CEO Sumit Singh and The RealReal founder and CEO Julie Wainwright.

Last fall the NRF Foundation team asked each leader 20 questions, including what decisions proved critical during the pandemic and what the future of retail looks like. Listen to this week’s Retail Gets Real podcast to hear highlights from their responses and read a preview below.

What are some decisions that proved critical during the pandemic?

Chris Kempczinski: I provided a list of five things that I wanted our organization to use to help guide those decisions, things like we're all in this together, we're going to be transparent with people, we're going to make decisions with the long-term in mind, we're going to lead by example, and we're going to stay true to our purpose and support communities. That was all the direction that I gave to the system — the rest of the decisions I left to the field — and I think ultimately that proved to be quite successful for us.

Sumit Singh: Communicating — honestly, openly, frequently — with our employees and team members and our customers, innovating on behalf of our customers, and innovating for our team members, whether it included new benefits, policies or just figuring out ways that we could work together during the pandemic.

NRF Foundation Honors

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What is the future of retail?

Julie Wainwright: Omnichannel — but it’s more than that. The future of retail looks like a differentiated experience than what it was before. It’s not just goods on the shelf. It’s involvement with the customer. It’s helping them understand why they should shop there. It’s an experience when they walk in the door. It is ever-changing and it really should be creating joy.

Joel Anderson: It's going to be about the experience, one. Two, it's going to be about value. And three, it's going to be about technology. You don't necessarily have to do all three, but if you're going to be a successful retailer in the future, you better have at least two of those.

Neela Montgomery: Over time, you'll see more and more, a part of people's everyday health is managed in the community in the store footprint, often in an omnichannel journey and experience. CVS is committed to making health care simpler, more affordable and more accessible. Increasingly CVS is very focused on omnichannel health and the fact that pharmacists, who are members of individual health care teams, are going to be more and more accessible to communities and reflect the communities in which they work.

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