This week, Parker Avery sent out our quarterly newsletter – Retail Advisor – which features industry news, events and resources. Below you will find an excerpt of the newsletter, a note from our leadership. We encourage you to sign-up for the newsletter by emailing us at: newsletter@parkeravery.com

Now that autumn is fully upon us, kids are back in school, and we welcome the cooler weather and vibrant foliage that comes with the season, many of us also turn our attention, weekend plans and casual conversations to our favorite football teams. This change of seasons always makes me think of the 1993 film Rudy, the story of the life of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, who dreamt about playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite significant challenges. Rudy’s patience, determination and perseverance throughout his struggle to first be accepted to the University and then ultimately play football for the Fighting Irish are not unlike some of the challenges we are seeing today in the retail industry.

Many retailers have experienced less than stellar results this year, which can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as the ubiquity of shopping options, precarious consumer confidence due to social, global and political factors, and even the continued morphing of the industry as it embraces the digital age from many different fronts. We have all seen the prevalence of the mobile channel and its immense impact on shopping behaviors, as well as mobile’s potential to streamline corporate functions such as merchandising, product development and marketing. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that a strong underlying technology foundation is absolutely critical before embarking on initiatives that address the latest trends.

Without a doubt, all retailers and solution providers must keep a close watch on emerging trends to ensure they stay relevant and can enable exceptional shopping experiences. However, our experience has shown that companies must first get their proverbial houses in order and build a solid foundation in order to successfully capitalize on these developments. We are continuing to advise our clients to hold firm with their strategies and persevere the cyclical downturns in this year’s market.

In Rudy’s story, he experienced countless rejections and setbacks during his quest to achieve his dreams, but he remained resolute in his studies and in tenaciously contributing to the Irish on the scout team for fundamental practice drills. Similarly, we believe in recommending a sound strategy that is based on the tenets of listening to and delighting customers, improving operational performance, and seeking financially profitable initiatives. We find our clients appreciate our pragmatic approach and the thoughtful recommendations that provide value over time and do not succumb to ‘easy’ decisions to change course or shift focus due to a stormy forecast.

While assessing your foundation and existing business environment, there are often opportunities to weave in innovative processes and technologies. For example, you may be shoring up your basic pricing execution, but also incorporating elements of consumer specific promotions. Further, even in the wake of numerous store closures announced this year, we believe the brick-and-mortar channel is still very important, but it must be strategically intertwined into your overall brand strategy. A solid assessment of processes, policies, roles and responsibilities of existing store operations, customer service, inventory management, merchandising and other customer touchpoints can reveal many opportunities to engage and delight your customers, augment store associate satisfaction and effectiveness, as well as preserve and even strengthen brick-and-mortar relevancy.

Despite graduating from Georgia Tech, I have to admit that seeing a victorious Rudy get carried off the field by his Irish teammates at the end of the movie is indeed a moment to remember. The scene is less a celebration of the win over the Jackets than it is a tribute to the young athlete’s perseverance and ultimate personal success. We are confident that those retailers that focus on getting the fundamentals right will be positioned for success in 2017 and for years to come.

– Robert