Insights from Industry Experts: Strategies for Scaling and Thriving in Retail in 2024

Learn from the best retail & grocery industry veterans on what initiatives to prioritize in 2024.

A woman who works in a grocery store is stocking the shelves

In a recent Ampla webinar on planning for 2024, a panel of esteemed industry experts shared invaluable insights on navigating the complex world of retail expansion, trade promotions, and key success factors in today's fiercely competitive market. Through the words of Greg Lopez (Fractional CFO, Eventus Advisory Group), Craig Bartlett (Director of Finance and Strategy, Munk Pack), Stuart Kennedy (Co-Founder, Vividly), and others, here's a closer look at their key insights:

Craig Bartlett: Director of Finance and Strategy, Munk Pack

Navigating Entry into Retail

One recurring topic throughout the conversation was entering retail, and Craig Bartlett laid out a few considerations that brands should keep top of mind. 

Bartlett emphasized, "I think the biggest thing is understanding the fee structure around these different retailers. You can think that a promotion is going to cost X, but by the time it gets charged back to you, it's costing more than you expected."

Bartlett encouraged attendees to know their promotional fees in the context of other expenses that come with getting on shelf, such as slotting fees, ISM expenses, late delivery fees, etc. These all add up and impact a brand’s bottom line. 

The other big item to take into consideration when entering retail is understanding a retailer’s planning cycle. Depending on the category, planning and buys can happen three to five months before a reset, and as for 2024, Bartlet states, “decisions around what the reset is gonna be like for next year could already have been made or are about to be made. So you really wanna start plugging into when the retailers that you're reaching out to are making the decisions.”

Greg Lopez: Fractional CFO, Eventus Advisory Group

Scaling Wholesale and Partnering Strategies

According to Greg Lopez, the key question to ask yourself before expanding to wholesale is "Do you have the right partners in place to actually scale? You might start as a test in a select few stores or regions and then quickly have the opportunity to expand not necessarily fully nationwide, but more nationwide over time."

Lopez stressed the importance of securing reliable partners for successful wholesale expansion. He highlighted the necessity of redundancy and throughput from manufacturing and supply chain partners. In addition, Lopez pointed out, "Unlocking cash flow to afford these big initiatives is crucial. Start having conversations around what partners are out there and how can they support you from a cash flow perspective." To facilitate these initiatives, Lopez advised exploring options like Ampla’s Growth Line of Credit, which is a revolving line of credit priced with a simple APR that can be used to purchase inventory, or support other cash intensive initiatives. 

Stuart Kennedy: Co-Founder, Vividly

Trade Promotion and Growth Alignment

Managing marketing and promotions for wholesale customers is very different than executing promotions for DTC, and Stuart Kennedy emphasized the importance of thinking strategically about your investment strategy for trade. "You have to have a trade plan in place that aligns with your budget, aligns with your growth plan. If you're looking to grow a ton in revenue, you probably want to spend a lot in trade." Conversely, if you are looking to preserve or expand margin, you may need to pull back on your promotional plan and understand the implications for growth. 

Funding trade in the traditional sense is one strategy, but Kennedy also emphasized the role of couponing and other promotional methods in enhancing brand visibility and sales. Kennedy mentioned that he’s seeing a lot of innovation in couponing simplifying the process for brands. He states, “In the good old days, you know, you're dealing with these clearing houses with all these fees and stuff. And now we're moving more in the direction of you know, in my Apple Wallet there's the QR code that I can scan at the retailer to get that discount.”

Focus, Execution, and Data Utilization

Stuart ended our time with a general piece of management advice for brands going into the new year. He shared, “This is a great time to kind of reset and really think about what should we be focusing on as a business. I think, doing a handful of things really, really, really well, instead of like 10 things.” This is particularly important for lean teams with lofty ambitions. 

He also noted that planning is great, but execution and adjusting on the fly is everything going into the new year, stating, “You have your budgets in place, your revenue plan with all these projections. Anybody can put a plan together, now it's time to execute it. Once January 1 hits, is the data actualizing how you expect it? And can you pivot quickly. And what is your process around managing all of this.” 

Having data infrastructure and data partners (like Vividly) and a rapid decision making protocol will make for a more nimble organization going into 2024. 


These insights from industry experts underscore the multifaceted nature of scaling in retail, emphasizing the importance of strategic partnerships, understanding market dynamics, trade promotion alignment, and focused execution. Implementing these strategies thoughtfully can provide businesses with a competitive edge and facilitate sustainable growth in the dynamic retail landscape.

Mike Grillo

Michael (Mike) Grillo is an advertising and marketing industry veteran who currently serves as VP of Marketing at Ampla. Prior to Ampla, Mike was the Head of Consumer Products and Retail at Calm, the #1 App for Meditation and Sleep and co-founder and CEO of Gravity Products, home to the world-famous Gravity Blanket. Under Mike's leadership, Gravity was named one of Time Magazine's Best Inventions (2018) and Entrepreneur Magazine's 100 Brilliant Companies. The brand was ultimately acquired by WIN Brands Group in 2021. Mike is an angel investor and advisor to several NYC-based start-ups, including Ampla Technologies.

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