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Celebrating a Year of Progress and Innovation at the RIA

Published on | Terry Schalow | News & Updates

As 2023 draws to a close, I’d like to take a quick pause from our frenetic pace of business and reflect on the key initiatives and benefits that the RIA presented to our members over the past 12 months. Of course there is always more work to do and improvements to be made, but I am proud of the efforts of the RIA Team and how we’ve upped our game this year with consistent new offerings that we’ll build on as we help lead the run specialty channel forward in 2024. Here’s a recap of the year.
Year end photo of runners
Year end photo of runners

RIA Weekly Benchmarks

In the first quarter of 2023, we launched RIA Weekly Benchmarks reports in partnership with Upper Quadrant. Many of our retail members wisely took advantage of the POS-based sharing reports, while others simply signed up for the weekly market reporting. Regardless, this initiative provided retailers and brands alike with key market intelligence to help inform better business decisions. With a record number of members signed up, we look forward to developing this offering even further in 2024. 

Runchella & RIA Pulse

The second quarter of 2023 featured Runchella, our boutique members-only event with this year’s “Your Show, Your Way” theme that connected our retailers, brands, and associates. The feedback we received from the event led us to re-brand the 2024 show with a new name, the RIA Summit, which will add a significantly higher level of peer-based programming in keeping with what our members want from our industry gathering. 

The second quarter also saw the RIA build on our commitment to effective communication, as the RIA Pulse elevated from a quarterly format to a monthly publication. The Pulse is for, and by, our members, delivering news and information tailored to your needs and interests, and we look to expand its offerings in 2024. 

Amplified Freight Program 

In the third quarter the RIA enhanced one of its long-standing benefits with a refreshed freight program featuring a new FedEx discount. The 2023 freight program also added  brand member access to the discounts, and offered an amazing new level of customer service support for all things related to your freight. 

RIA Jobs Board

In the fourth quarter, we introduced the RIA Jobs Board, a platform designed to support career growth within the run specialty channel. This initiative reflects our dedication to nurturing talent and creating opportunities for young professionals and veterans alike within the running industry.

Doing the Right Thing

Throughout the year, the RIA remained steadfast in supporting social justice and environmental causes that align with our values. We believe in making a positive impact not only within our industry but also in the broader community, and will continue our support of partner organizations like the Running Industry Diversity Coalition and the Low Impact Alliance.  

Product Data Collaborative

We are excited to say that we’re nearing completion of the Product Data Collaborative, a project that has been in development throughout the year. As we told attendees at our TRE membership meeting, we want to get this right, and we’re working hard to make sure that Version 1 of the PDC does what we say it will do: save time and money.  Accordingly, the first phase roll-out of the tool will provide UPC and hard product data, and will be ready to go early in Q1 of 2024. We’ll follow that by adding MAP data and product images in V2 and V3 phases, also scheduled for the first quarter.  

What’s in Store for 2024? 

Sales Rep Membership

The RIA is pleased to announce that we are expanding our community by welcoming independent sales professionals. This new membership category is designed to foster increased connections between brands and retailers, further enriching the collaborative spirit that defines the RIA.

RIA Summit 

As I mentioned earlier, we are excited to introduce the RIA Summit, a reimagining of the Runchella concept that aims to bring our membership groups together in substantive conversations, with Peer Sharing and Brand Roundtables to go along with the brand presentations that have been a mainstay within the Runchella concept. Keep an eye out for the launch of registration in the coming weeks.

A Heartfelt Thank You

On behalf of the RIA Board of Directors and the entire RIA Team, I would like to express our gratitude for your continued support. We look forward to enhancing the value of your membership and assisting you in managing the challenges that the new year will bring. Thank you for being a part of the RIA community, and we wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season. 

Terry Schalow - Executive Director

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