After completing my MBA and MS at University of Pittsburgh, I joined Schering Plough, a pharmaceutical company that was subsequently bought by Merck. I spent 8 years in the Pharmaceutical industry ser...
Manisha Agarwal, Consultant
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Home > Sectors > Retail Consulting
Not only has technology expanded customer expectations, but new competitors with challenging business models are coming to the fore. For most retailers this means major change is needed – new markets, changes to business practices, new customer offer, economics of channel shift and a whole new way of considering the physical estate.
The key challenges we see with our clients are:
Changing to Customer Needs
Every year, the expectation of customers and the “industry norm” shifts forwards. This means a constant and expensive programme of work just to tread water, with “hard” deadlines before peak trading periods. To excel, retailers need to define stretching strategies which take them ahead of the competition which are deliverable and cost effective.
The new retail environment has put huge pressure on back office capability, particularly in Supply Chain and Buying & Merchandising. Without intervention, growth can be at the detriment of profit – moving from an efficiently configured UK store business, to one where products are offered over many channels, in different markets and via new business models. Making operations both fit for purpose and efficient is a challenge, but is often the difference between being profitable and not.
Organising to Grow Internationally
The UK is a saturated market, so most retailers are looking abroad. While small scale International expansion could be achieved on the back of core UK operations, once any scale is reached fundamental reconfiguration of supply chain, B&M, finance, sales and HR may be needed to operate. These are major transformations involving people and IT change across the business.
Exploiting Physical Estate
Retailers with large physical estates are finding that they have excess space, much of which is locked in with long term rental deals. Successful retailers are using their space in new ways – offering new concessions, improving customer experience and improved management of stock.
Dealing with “too much change”
Many retailers are having to tackle all four of the areas above simultaneously. This is a serious change challenge, and will work only when well defined, controlled, with the interdependencies understood.
We have managed a programme to enhance fulfilment services for a major high street department store
We have managed an £80m Oracle Buying and Merchandising Programme
We have had “Independent Assurance” roles in projects spanning Buying and Merchandising, Supply Chain, Retail Systems and Data analytics
We have helped transform a network of 11,000 retail outlets across the UK
We have delivered a customer analytics capability for a global consumer goods company
We have delivered an Oracle HR Fusion implementation rolled out across 30,000 retail employees
We have helped the senior leadership team of a major UK fashion retailer develop a 5-year change roadmap and a change portfolio in order to profitably meet their growth strategy
We have helped define how a large UK retailer could monetise customer data
We have helped develop the International Supply Chain strategy for a major UK fashion retailer
We have helped build the strategy for customer services and customer feedback for a major UK department store
We have helped a major UK fashion retailer model and configure their supply chain to supply its outlet stores
We have been helping retailers define strategy and deliver change since we were formed 25 years ago. It is one of our most important sectors.
The fluid nature of change in retail currently fits very well with the way we work, and we have deep experience in applying our offer within retail, meaning:
In helping to define strategy or approach, we work with leadership teams (not in isolation), recognising that buy-in is equally as important as the answer itself. We can provide robust analytical support (useful in complex business cases and supply chain configuration), and bring experience from retail and other sectors. We have worked with some of the UKs largest retailers to define strategies and business cases within Supply Chain, B&M, Retail and Customer Services.
When shaping and delivering projects, we ensure robust and realistic plans are developed, and ensure that the appropriate teams are in place to succeed. We generally operate with one or two senior roles, and look to get the best from the internal team. We have delivered some of our clients most crucial projects, most recently covering online fulfilment, HR, marketing, retail reconfiguration and B&M Oracle transformation.
In an independent assurance role, we utilise the experience of our senior consultants and partners to build an ongoing partnership with the project. We are collaborative, pragmatic and straight talking, and knowing the challenges in delivering change in retail, make sure the project is set up for success.
We are often asked to:
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It’s an exciting but challenging time to be in retail. From our earliest days, we’ve been helping our clients make the most of many different opportunities and challenges created in the inherently dynamic world of retail. We can help you shape and get buy-in to the change required, and then help to deliver it within time and budget.
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