RIA KICK SHOW Making Safe Tracks This Year

23 Jun, 2020

Last June, The Running Industry Association (RIA) successfully launched the first RIA KickShow with a promise to “create a true working environment that fosters buying efficiency and connects retailers with brands in a new way.” A year later, the show returns with a virtual format but the same mission.

“In terms of the attendee experience, we’re focused on offering the same ‘working-show’ theme that differentiates Kick from the standard trade show model,” said Terry Schalow, executive director of RIA, in an interview with SGB Executive. “Specifically, what made the RIA KickShow successful was the idea of a no-frills buyers market that provides high-level connections for retail buyers to brand product managers and the product stories they’ve created. Our goal for Kick On-Demand is to replicate that.”

Instead of three days in Denver, CO, the show will run over the course online of six-plus weeks from mid-June through August. Flexibility was a key emphasis to accommodate the 48 percent of brands that expect Q3 product release delays and 57 percent that may be delayed in spring 2021 as well, according to the organization’s RIA COVID-19 Brand Survey conducted in May.

Specialty run retailers can participate in live or prerecorded line presentations via Zoom or Brandlive from the top footwear, apparel and accessory brands in the channel on the RIA Kick On-Demand website. While the pre-recorded sessions offer convenience, brands are encouraged to present live to best replicate the interactive experience of last year’s in-person show.

The interactivity is being elevated by a partnership with PlumRiver Technologies Elastic Suite as its preferred B2B eCommerce platform. RIA brand members can create digital catalogs to use during the show as well as next year. Retailers can use it alongside video presentations to create product assortments and orders. Schalow said the PlumRiver partnership is an experiment.

“We want to go beyond simply watching an on-line presentation and make the experience immersive for buyers,” said Schalow. “Buyers will be able to use [PlumRiver’s] tool to follow the presentation and plan assortments in real-time which, we feel, will make the ordering process easier. Not all brands that participate in Kick On-Demand will be able to offer the Elastic platform, and that’s OK. We see digital catalogs as an important part of creating business efficiency so, if all we do is introduce the idea to our members, we’ll be moving the channel in the right direction.”

RIA’s COVID-19 Retail Survey found 90 percent of brands reporting the pandemic will impact their sell-in process. The trade show comes as the recently-released June “Phase Two” COVID-19 survey of run specialty stores marked some notable improvement from its first March COVID-19 survey, albeit also indicating a lath stretch to recovery.

Key findings from the June Phase Two survey include:

  • Doors reopening — 81 percent of doors are accepting foot traffic and an additional 10 percent expect to open within a few weeks;
  • Sales picking up — 31 percent of respondents are matching, or exceeding, May month-to-date numbers compared to last year, and June projections are even stronger;
  • Online secures bigger commitment — 81 percent of respondents use some type of e-commerce platform, and 59 percent intend to continue to use e-commerce platforms post-crisis. Further, respondents see their new omnichannel strategy providing an incremental growth opportunity;
  • Conservative inventory buys — In Q3 to Q4, retailers plan to reduce inventory and/or will narrow assortments to key styles. The trend, to a slightly lesser degree, will continue into Spring 2021;
  • Slow path to normalcy — 74 percent of respondents project sales to return to normal by Q121, while the remaining 25 percent believe it will take 12 months or more to return to pre-COVID sales projections; and
  • Confidence grows — 93 percent of respondents are confident that they will avoid closing their doors permanently. The finding marks a dramatic improvement from only 27 percent of respondents who felt confident remaining viable in RIA’s March survey.

“We are thrilled to see stores reopening in mass and realizing strong sales out of the gate,” Schalow told SGB Executive. “Moving forward, stores are showing cautious optimism but feel it will be a 12 month or more process back to normalcy. With that said, most are taking conservative inventory positions this fall and into next spring.”

For more information on 2021 RIA Kick On-Demand, email or call 619-977-3379.


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