Reshaping Retail: C-Level Insights on Transformative Planning and Supply Chain Management Strategies

Produced by


Irfan Badibanga


Wayne Sadin


Mikko Karkkainen

Co-Founder and CEO
RELEX Solutions

Deborah Weinswig

Coresight Research

Deborah Weinswig, CEO of Coresight Research moderated an enlightening dialogue with industry experts: Wayne Sadin, EVP & CIO of PriceSmart, and John Svelnis, Senior Director, Retail Product Delivery Lead at US Foods and Mikko Kärkkäinen, CEO and Co-Founder of RELEX Solutions.

Navigating Retail Complexity
Wayne Sadin of PriceSmart illustrated the unique challenges and innovations of operating a warehouse club model across diverse Latin American markets. He explained, "In all of our countries, this is just not the normal way of doing retail." Wayne shared the delicate balance between offering imported goods and nurturing a rich selection of local products, emphasizing the significance of respecting customer memberships through relentless commitment to service and quality. "We compete for that member's dollar every time we interact," Wayne stated, highlighting the ethos of PriceSmart's strategy to adapt and thrive in varying economic climates.

The Blend of Technology and Tradition
John Svelnis at US Foods discussed leveraging technology to enhance the CHEF'STORE retail locations, seeing it not as a challenge but as a "opportunity to have our broadline customers leverage the CHEF'STORE retail stores." This strategic move aimed at strengthening branding and fostering growth by making US Foods an integral part of their customers' supply chain.

Sustainable Practices and Digital Transformation
Mikko Kärkkäinen brought insights into the supply chain's complexity, noting the mix of local and international logistics challenges that retailers face. He emphasized sustainability and efficiency, saying, "removing silos and catering to diverse consumer bases across countries with different inflation rates is paramount."

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Fostering Innovation and Customer Centricity
The conversation also turned towards the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) and digital platforms to enhance customer service and operational efficiency. Wayne Sadin highlighted the critical nature of digital transformation in retail, asserting, "transforming from the span of control of a series of disconnected executives to a data-driven, information-managed, holistic process." John Svelnis elaborated on the significance of omni-channel retailing for CHEF'STORE, detailing the integration of broadline and retail business through technological advancements to provide a seamless customer experience.

Prioritizing Sustainability and Community
The speakers unanimously emphasized sustainability and community engagement as integral to their business models. Wayne shared, "We're really trying to balance all of those things," referring to the intricate balance between serving customers, supporting local vendors, and contributing positively to the countries they operate in.

John Svelnis discussed US Foods' commitment to sustainability, mentioning efforts to develop a product line that meets rigorous sustainable and locally sourced standards, fostering a diverse workplace, and striving for efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Road Ahead: Innovation and Customer Understanding
The session concluded with reflections on the evolving retail landscape, emphasizing the need for adaptability, strategic planning, and the role of technology in shaping future retail experiences. Wayne Sadin mused on the changing preferences of consumers and the importance of offering services that resonate with their lifestyles, thus reinforcing PriceSmart's mission to stay relevant and responsive.

Mikko Kärkkäinen stressed the importance of forecasting, inventory management, and the smart application of AI in retail operations, painting a picture of a future where technology and human insight blend seamlessly to meet the dynamic needs of the market.

This comprehensive discussion not only shed light on the current challenges and opportunities within the retail sector but also showcased the innovative approaches leading companies are taking to redefine customer experiences, optimize supply chain operations, and promote sustainability and growth in an ever-evolving industry landscape.

APRIL 2024