Tuesday, January 21, 2014

ICBA President’s Update: January 2014 

David Kent, President ICBA Board of Directors

As we end one year and begin a new year I want to share with you some ICBA updates.

ICBA Collaborates with NACS indiCo
The action we took in 2013 that holds the greatest promise for 2014 is our collaboration with NACS indiCo. Ten months ago George Masforroll, NACS President and ICBA member, and Ed Schlichenmayer, indiCo President and COO, invited ICBA to collaborate in identifying and initiating actions in a joint venture to serve the interests of the independent college store channel. During the past year ICBA has invested significant resources into developing this venture. Up until now this has not been widely known outside of ICBA and NACS leadership. It is now my obligation as your President to share with you the strategic value ICBA assigns to this venture.  

Independent college stores as a channel are facing the most challenging time in the history of our industry. The market has never been more dynamic, competition has never been more intense, and our future has never been more uncertain. These are times that require any organization that lays claim to represent the interest of independent college stores to innovate as we have never innovated before.

At ICBA we believe that the independent college store channel must be fully functional with shared, foundational, support solutions. And we have very little time to reach a significant level of functionality with solutions that do not currently exist (although the potential does), and in collaborations that have never been tried before (yet offer so much to all the stakeholders). As a channel we must match our greatest competitors. It is time for us to risk more than others may think safe, and to expect more than others may think possible. Toward these goals ICBA aims for collaboration at the organizational level. We understand that with technology as our cornerstone we will be able to realize the networking capabilities of our stores as an organized channel. And that shared services is a critical element toward developing the resources needed to accomplish these goals.
Collaboration is not a new effort for ICBA. Our organization is built on store-to-store collaboration. In recent years ICBA has engaged in successful partnerships with other store and vendor organizations. We found the invitation from NACS indiCo to engage in collaborative ventures as not only right up our alley, but timely and compelling. Over the past ten months we have engaged in discussion and development at the highest levels of both organizations. In May the following people met to identify our joint strategic interests:
  • George Masforroll, NACS President, and Associate Vice President, Auxiliary Services, Broward College
  • Brian Cartier, NACS CEO
  • Ed Schlichenmayer, NACS Deputy CEO, and indiCo President and COO
  • Jeff Zeilenga, indiCo Board member, and Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of Missouri
  • David Kent, ICBA President, and Director Vol Shops, University of Tennessee
  • Arlyn Schaufler, ICBA Vice President, and General Manager The Duck Store, University of Oregon
  • Stacy Waymire, ICBA Executive Director
The overarching sense of urgency was reflected in this opening statement:
In order to survive, within two years, the independent college store channel must be functional with shared support solutions that:
  1. Improve the capabilities of all independent stores
  2. Advance the channel as a whole
  3. Enable the channel to compete more successfully 

Now is the time. This is the Place.

ICBA identifies the following strategies at the channel level:
  • Industry cloud services
    • Digital and custom content platform
    • Digital marketing applications
  • Centralized channel data
    • Research
    • Shared reporting platform
    • Technology standards
  • Training and professional development
  • Retail intelligence
  • Sourcing services
  • Marketing and promoting the independent college store management model
    • Independent college stores as a virtual brand
    • Establishing an industry voice

As our collaborative efforts with NACS indiCo continue ICBA is guided by our understanding that in times of market disruption, competitive advantage is typically based on as yet unknown factors. So capability and flexibility are the keys. At the same time action is paramount because unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes. ICBA is moving forward with these priorities, and it is our hope that NACS indiCo will continue as our collaborative partner. I will be updating you as plans unfold.   

ICBA 2014 New Orleans
Capturing our imaginations in the immediate future is the ICBA 2014 Retail Conference. For the third straight year in a row we have set new records for store and vendor registrations. The ICBA Conference in New Orleans will be our most well attended ever. It is worth noting that this will be our eighty-fourth annual meeting. ICBA was founded eighty-seven years ago but we did not hold meetings from 1943 to 1945 because of World War II. I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans for a dynamic business exchange, and to enjoy the supportive camaraderie of the independent store culture. For those of you not able to attend, ICBA will be capturing many of the sessions on video for on-demand viewing after the event.

Welcome New Members
Yet another record for ICBA is that in 2013 we had the largest influx of new members for any year. Over thirty-four new members join us as we head into 2014. ICBA’s strategic goals in terms of membership are focused on growing the value we deliver to our member stores. We have never striven to be the largest organization. Our goal is to be the most valuable organization. ICBA remains the only professional cooperative in the industry serving institutional stores exclusively.

I hope this new year brings prosperity to your enterprises, and joy to your life!