2020: RELEX’s year in review

Dec 17, 2020 4 min

There’s no way around it – 2020 was not the year that anyone expected, to say the least. The coronavirus crisis changed the entire retail landscape almost overnight. From dealing with panic buying and store closures to keeping up with the sudden and dramatic increase in demand for online shopping options, everyone in retail had to tackle big challenges and quickly make tough decisions in order to make it through the storm.

I’m proud to say that despite everything that 2020 threw at us, RELEX continued to prioritize our support of retailers in their quest to reduce waste and increase sustainability while also providing guidance for navigating the pandemic. We were also able to grow and thrive ourselves. We increased our customer base, broadened relationships with our existing customers, and expanded into new global regions.

Strategically Growing Despite the Turbulent Market

While it may have been different from what we expected, 2020 was thankfully still a strong year for RELEX. We continued on a positive track, with 30% growth and a good profitability level.

We continued to strategically expand into new regions—including the Philippines, the Middle East, and Russia—and added many companies to our global roster, including Magnit, Sprouts Farmers Market, Grupo DIA, Family Farm & Home, Panda Retail, REWE, Migross, Müller, Payless ShoeSource Latin America, Lagardère Travel Retail, Ahlsell, Henderson Group, nemlig.com, PLUS Retail, iDeal of Sweden, Ametller Origen, Prince Retail, EcorNaturaSì, Eurospin, Tamro, Nomeco, MatHem, Atria, Stokke, Webhallen, and Gourmet Egypt.

In addition, we expanded our relationships with several long-term clients around the world, from S Group, Musti Group, and the Royal Voluntary Service to Matas, East of England Co-op, and One Stop to name a few.

We also took time to review and explore the results that our long-term clients have achieved throughout their ongoing partnerships with RELEX. As a result, we published multiple in-depth case studies featuring RELEX customers such as S Group, Circle K, Rossmann, and Nemlig.

Delivering Continued Value to Retailers

Throughout 2020, we kept our focus on delivering value to the retail industry. We once again published our grocery retail report, which delivers insights from leading North American grocers about everything from planned supply chain improvements to impressions about the competitive market. We also published our extensive sustainability study, which we developed in partnership with Gaia Consulting to investigate the carbon impact of waste reduction efforts in a data-driven, concise, and easy-to-understand manner. 

As the pandemic began to affect the retail industry, we responded with expert insights and guidance. I hosted a webinar where I shared my thoughts on the lessons that the retail industry could learn from the first wave of the pandemic. A few months later, we published a deep dive into how supply chains survived the initial crisis and what might be to come for retailers as the world moves toward our “new normal.” We also prioritized sharing our team’s knowledge by publishing a range of articles in our COVID-19 Support Center that could help retailers adapt to the rapidly changing shifts in demand that were dramatically impacting inventory levels during the crisis, among other topics.

Successfully Hosting Online Events

Unfortunately, it became clear early on that we weren’t going to be able to host most of our planned in-person RELEX Live events around the world. But we are a team of innovators, and we pivoted successfully. In late September, we hosted our first-ever RELEX Live: Global Retail Summit. The full-day online event brought together attendees from around the world for live presentations hosted by a wide range of retail experts. The day featured my keynote address, “Survival of the Nimblest,” as well as sessions like The Importance of End-to-End Visibility and Capacity Planning; The Future of Retail (a panel discussion); and Unified Planning for Better, Smarter, Faster Decisions.

We also began an ongoing webinar series featuring RELEX experts covering topics like capacity management, machine learning, workforce optimization, markdown optimization, and best practices for managing the shift to e-commerce. We plan to continue hosting these informative webinars in 2021 and beyond, and we also look forward to resuming in-person events when the time is right.

Enjoying Recognition of the RELEX Vision

We were incredibly proud to share the Supply Chain Visibility Award with our long-term customer, Kolonial.no, at the 2020 Supply Chain Excellence Awards. This award is given for projects that demonstrate excellence in execution, strategy, performance management, and collaboration.

We were also excited to be acknowledged as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Retail Planning Q1 2020. In this esteemed guide for retailer buyers, RELEX received top scores in 11 criteria, including architecture, customer segmentation, replenishment and allocation, planning within constraints, and aggregate demand management.[5] 

And finally, this year we were thrilled to announce Samuel Labrecque as the winner of the annual RELEX Retail and Supply Chain Award, which is given to the best European master’s thesis in the field of retail and supply chain planning. Labrecque is from Vienna University and received this award for his thesis, Improvement of Inventory Replenishment Decisions as a Value-Added Service for Distributors: A Solution Method Adapted for Distributors in the Animal Pharmaceutical Industry.

I’m fairly certain nobody will be sorry to see 2020 go, but I’m also proud of the many RELEX teams that stepped up and made the most of this unusual year. As the page turns to 2021, everyone at RELEX is looking forward to more growth, more innovation, and more collaboration with retailers around the world. From our RELEX family to yours, we wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy new year!

Written by

Mikko Kärkkäinen

Co-founder & Group Chief Executive Officer