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By Tom Park, D.G. Hague and Monica Woo

Eight Minute Read

The Department of Commerce reported a 17.7% spike in retail sales in May, following record-breaking declines in March and April. In May, compared with the previous month, clothing stores sales tripled, furniture stores increased 90% and electronics and appliance rose 51% as states and cities re-open amidst high unemployment and COVID-19 anxiety, retailers must navigate re-opening, regardless of the speed and extent of economic recovery. 

As the former president of Sears Holdings’ Kenmore, Craftsman, Diehard division, and former president of Disney Stores Worldwide, Tom Park had successfully navigated through several cycles of economic booms and busts. Tom shared a valuable a checklist for how retailers can be recovery-ready with D.G. Hague, CEO of VIPER EA. Des was CEO of Centerplate, and President of both IHOP and Safeway Corporate Perishables. 

TOM PARKDuring these unpredictable times when so many venerable retailers are free-falling, I’ve relied on a five-point check list, which keep me grounded.

1. Stay true to your brand values and consumer proposition. When you reopen, steadfastly uphold your brand promise. Don’t cut corners and violate your customers’ trust. Double down on superior quality in products and services to protect your customer base.

2. Implement CDC and local government guidelines. Document the necessary modifications to physical layout and operational processes. Train your employees, external partners and vendors on safety and health measures. Assure your customers and employees with visible implementation of health and safety procedures, like frequent sanitization and customer metering. 

3. Fast track digital commerce and flexible fulfillment capabilities, including: Buy Online and Pick Up in Store (“BOPUS”), direct delivery and free shipping, which consumers have come to expect from all retailers. In this way, you’ll be prepared for not only round one of COVID crisis, but also, future surges and shelter-in-order. 

4. Have the right merchandises, right inventory level and right logistics, to meet customer demand in a timely manner. Retailers need to juggle many priorities, including deplete old stocks with promotions but not compromise margin excessively, optimize liquidity and cash flow. Data analytics are essential to the demanding balancing act. 

5. Build agility in financial and operating planning. Post pandemic, most businesses need to do zero-based demand forecasting. Historical financial plan and assumptions are no longer relevant. Instead, retailers need to build different scenarios, such as moderate vs. severe recessions, and dynamically forecast demand and allocate resources. To plan and manage to multiple scenarios, retailers need to collect and analyze data across store locations, digital and physical channels and functions. This is a monumental task amidst already stressful times. That’s why, I recommend leveraging an external resource like VIPER EA, the leader in retail analytics. 

D.G. HAGUE: VIPER does all the heavy lifting in identifying previously hidden profit opportunities, projecting various scenarios, so that our clients can focus on operating. We collect and integrate massive volume of data across physical and digital stores, POS, inventory management, supply chain, financial and human resources systems. By combining extensive data science and retail operating expertise, as well as the computational power of proprietary Machine Learning models, VIPER can swiftly isolate and quantify systemic problems and operational deficiencies hurting profit. 

TPFor a retailer, being able to pinpoint savings is essential to offset the incremental operating costs operating after re-opening. I also love how VIPER recommend practical actions at hyperlocal level – with full drill down by personnel and product of each store. 

DH: VIPER helps field and corporate management make sound decisions on which stores to reopen or close, and how store fleet can be optimized amidst field personnel cutback. Retail is my passion. To help retailers during challenging times, we are offering a $1 million Profit Improvement Guarantee™. VIPER will achieve a minimum of $1 million in quantifiable profit increase or pay the difference. We not only show you the money, but also, guarantee the payout!


Tom Park was previously the President of Kenmore, Craftsman, Diehard division of Sears Holdings, President of Disney Stores worldwide and COO of Belkin International. Tom is board director of Howard’s Appliance, TV & Mattress, and an advisor to the Board of VIPER EA LLC.

D.G. Hague is the CEO of VIPER EA and board advisor to several non-profit organizations. Des was formerly CEO & President of CenterPlate, and President of both IHOP and Safeway Corporate Perishables. Additionally, served as an Operating partner in Private Equity for over a decade. 

Monica Woo is the CEO of WooWorks, which invests in and advises omni-channel commerce and AI. Previously, she was President of and Bacardi Global Brands, and FreshDirect’s Chief Revenue Officer. She is an advisor to the Board of VIPER EA LLC. 

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VIPER has created a proven, proprietary Enterprise Acceleration (EA) methodology - which gathers data from throughout the retailer client’s enterprise; then feeds this data into our NV® AI system, leveraging Machine Learning to identify leading performance indicators and predictive models. These models isolate and quantify systemic problems, operational deficiencies, breakdowns in training, and/or execution failures which lead to gaps between business expectations and actual outcomes. Throughout the engagement, VIPER does the heavy lifting; partnering with the client throughout the engagement to determine the root causes of these issues, and to implement best practice solutions. The result is a return of 1%-3% of yearly revenue delivered to bottom line of the P&L.  VIPER’s profit improvements are measurable and isolatable from other company initiatives.

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