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Retail Innovation Powered by AI - TPC partners with Catalyst AI to transform Merchandising and Supply Chain Management

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San Diego; November 14, 2018 – Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC), a leading specialist retail consultancy with global reach, is pleased to announce its ground breaking partnership with Catalyst AI, a consultancy developing practical applications for AI in the business world.

Retail Innovation Powered by AI - TPC partners with Catalyst AI to transform Merchandising and Supply Chain Management

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San Diego; November 14, 2018 – Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC), a leading specialist retail consultancy with global reach, is pleased to announce its ground breaking partnership with Catalyst AI, a consultancy developing practical applications for AI in the business world.

AI has the potential  to transform outdated working practices over the course of next few years and will have widespread application within the Retail industry. We believe this trend will be far reaching and disruptive. That’s why we’ve agreed to collaborate on the development of leading edge ‘AI infused’ solutions to optimize Retail Merchandising and Supply Chain decision making processes.

TPC will be enhancing and extending its proprietary SMART tools through the adoption of a variety of relevant AI and Automation capabilities developed in partnership with Catalyst AI which will equip retailers with state of the art, industry leading capabilities designed to make better and faster business decisions.

Subir Gupta, TPC Co-Founder and Managing Principal said, “As a leading provider of data science enabled solutions for Retail Merchandising and Supply Chain, we are excited to be partnering with Catalyst AI to bring the next generation of AI enabled algorithmic retailing capabilities to market. Our data science enabled pricing, promotion and markdown management solutions have been delivering substantial benefits to retailers for many years.”

He continued on to say, “We are very excited by the incremental benefit opportunity which we will be able to unlock for our clients through enhancing our existing solutions and developing new capabilities via the use of carefully selected AI technologies like image recognition, reinforcement learning and others.  We aim to transform the decision making effectiveness of Merchandising and Supply Chain functions whilst simultaneously eliminating low value administrative tasks, enabling teams to focus more time on creative activities which deliver demonstrable bottom line results.”

Raymond  Siems, Catalyst AI Co-Founder and CEO said, “The most effective partnerships bring together expertise across different domains and disciplines. We are delighted to partner with TPC to combine our expertise within Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision with their deep knowledge of Retail Merchandising and Supply Chain management. Retail is ripe for innovation led by AI. The sector possesses a wealth of data, thanks to increasingly mature digitalization efforts, and a wide range of interpretable external signals which can be intelligently harnessed to inform decision making processes that are difficult for firms to manage at scale. We look forward to further enhancing TPC’s portfolio of best-in-class offerings as well as enabling entirely new capabilities and process automation through leveraging our team’s skill sets across many fields of Artificial Intelligence.”

About TPC

Based in the UK and US, Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) is a specialist retail consultancy, providing retailers with business advisory services, project and program management expertise to improve their performance and realize their strategic vision. TPC provides a range of services and solutions in Pricing (incorporating Psychology, AI and Automation), Merchandise Planning, 3D Digital, Business Transformation, Supply Chain and Change Management. TPC are known for its ability to make complex challenges simpler through experience and pragmatism, while always being thought provoking. Read more here.

About Catalyst AI

Based in Cambridge and London, Catalyst AI is an Artificial Intelligence research lab and consultancy led by Raymond Siems (CEO) and Ahmed Zaidi (CTO). Catalyst AI’s mission is to bring the latest in Artificial Intelligence and data science to industry. Working closely with internal teams, Catalyst AI provides AI training, strategic advisory services and end-to-end implementations. Originally spun out from the renowned Computer Science department at the University of Cambridge, the Catalyst AI team is connected to the latest in research through a team of PhDs, postdocs and professors from leading research institutions. Learn more at www.catalystlab.ai

 

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Contact

Name: Shahzad Ahmed

Email Address:  shahzad.ahmed@tpc-group.com

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Charles Tyrwhitt Chooses TPC for Support with Software Implementation

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San Diego, October 31, 2018 – Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC), a leading specialist retail consultancy, is thrilled to announce it will be continuing its successful partnership with Charles Tyrwhitt, a fast-growing multi-channel menswear brand.

Charles Tyrwhitt Chooses TPC for Support with Software Implementation

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San Diego, October 31, 2018 – Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC), a leading specialist retail consultancy, is thrilled to announce it will be continuing its successful partnership with Charles Tyrwhitt, a fast-growing multi-channel menswear brand.

TPC has been selected by Charles Tyrwhitt to support them with the design and the associated change management required to implement sales and stock-planning software. This support will provide Charles Tyrwhitt with additional business intelligence to effectively manage its stock as it continues to grow internationally. This is the fourth time the companies have teamed over the past year, having already worked on plans for the software and in pricing.

Charles Tyrwhitt identified TPC as an ideal partner because of its collaborative approach, proven success at delivering high-value projects and its experience with planning software.

Michael Stanier, Chief Executive of Charles Tyrwhitt

‘Attracted by their combination of strategic expertise with the real-world experience of their consultants, we began working with TPC just over a year ago. They have already delivered actionable insights to our business; and now we look forward to the successful implementation of a new stock planning and business intelligence tool, which will give us a platform for the next stage of our growth as a global menswear brand.’

TPC’s Co-founder and Managing Principal Keith Taylor commented: “I’m delighted that we’re continuing our partnership with Charles Tyrwhitt and helping them optimize their stock planning. Charles Tyrwhitt is rapidly evolving, and having improved infrastructure and processes will support their efforts considerably. The partnership between us is very collaborative, and they are open to exploring new ideas, making it a pleasure to work with them.”

About Charles Tyrwhitt

Charles Tyrwhitt (pronounced “tirrit”) is a global purveyor of fine, typically British menswear of timeless style, worldwide appeal, and of the highest quality. The company is also known for their world-class customer service and charmingly eccentric communications. Read more at https://www.ctshirts.com/uk/our-history/

About TPC

Based in the UK and US, Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) is a specialist retail consultancy, providing retailers with business advisory services, project and program management expertise to improve their performance and realize their strategic vision. TPC provides a range of services and solutions in Pricing (incorporating Psychology, AI and Automation), Merchandise Planning, 3D Digital, Business Transformation, Supply Chain and Change Management. We aim to make complex challenges simpler through experience and pragmatism, while always being thought-provoking. Learn more here.

 

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Contact

Name: Shahzad Ahmed

Email Address:  shahzad.ahmed@tpc-group.com

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Has Black Friday Become White Noise?

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In the current market, is Black Friday worth being thankful for? Why would retailers want to take a further hit on their ever squeezed margins and for consumers, isn’t it just another day, another discount?

Georgina Bakes, TPC Consultant, shares how retailers CAN make Black Friday a success.

Has Black Friday Become White Noise?

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‘Black Friday’, appropriately named as the day retailers traditionally go back into the ‘black’ after months in the red. Originating in the States as the day after Thanksgiving, this reasonably recent addition to the UK trade calendar has already become a much loved (and loathed) event in British retail.

But in the current market, is Black Friday worth being thankful for? Why would retailers want to take a further hit on their ever squeezed margins and for consumers, isn’t it just another day, another discount?

Actually, Black Friday can still be a success for retailers, if they play it strategically.

In today’s retail climate, consumers have become accustomed to a regular discount message. Many retailers seem to be in a never ending cycle of promotion and are finding it increasingly challenging to capture full price sales when these discounts are turned off. As a result, Black Friday is in danger of becoming just another promotional week and having much less of an impact than previous years.

Back when I started in Merchandising, promotional prices were decided by printing off the product catalogue, and anything seasonal and on slow cover would go in to a ‘Black Friday deal’. This will ring true with many Merchandisers. Black Friday in the UK has typically been used to tackle slow moving lines, especially seasonal items, so retailers can mitigate their markdown costs in the traditional Boxing Day sales.

A few years on, and the event is now an opportunity to take (at the very least) a 20% discount across the board. Consumers now expect large discounts at the expense of retailers’ margins, what was once previously a one or two day event is now a week (or more) of discounting. It’s a textbook example of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ and Black Friday is undoubtedly now the biggest day in UK retail.

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The question then remains, how can retailers make their Black Friday a success? There’s a million things retailers can do, but there’s only three things they should do, and if done effectively, they can makeBlack Friday a success!

1. Participate wisely – don’t try to compete with Amazon

Many retailers have fallen into a race to the bottom, and with diluted margins there are rarely any winners in this situation unless you’re a huge retail behemoth like Amazon. The highly promotional high street effect has been blamed for profits sliding at Debenhams & John Lewis, as they are forced to compete. On Black Friday 2017, online was the big winner with £1.39 billion spent, an increase of 11.7% from 2016. By driving footfall to their websites through curated promotions, retailers can still compete by choosing wisely and reserving margin rather than reverting to a blanket message.

2. Keep offers short & concise

Retailers with a regular discount message will struggle to make their Black Friday offer any different from any other week in their trading calendar, apart from deepening the discount and therefore slashing margins further. Putting a time limit on offers gives the shopper a sense of urgency versus a week-long promotional run which the market has become used to. Any longer and promotional fatigue begins to set in and the offer loses its shine. John Lewis are a great example, rarely do they discount – preferring to ‘price match’ instead. In 2017 they ran a limited 5 day Black Friday event from Thursday to Monday resulting in their biggest trading week ever.

3. Or they could….do their own thing

Not all retailers participate of course, yet grab the headlines as a result of it. It will be interesting to see who sits this year out and why. There is evidence to support that ignoring Black Friday can be profitable. Fashion chain Jigsaw started to shun Black Friday in 2016, and sales for the five weeks to December 21 2017, were up 7% versus the year before. Fat Face also followed suit, introducing its ‘Price Promise’ in 2016 by refusing to discount before Christmas sales. That year its full price stance delivered 7.9% growth on full-price sales versus 2015, going into Boxing Day sales with 22% less stock. Using the same message during 2017 peak trade, it posted an 8% increase in LFL sales for the five weeks to January 2018. Value retailers like Primark also don’t participate, saying they don’t need to as their brand offers year-round value.

The jury is still out on if Black Friday really brings retailers back into the black or just pulls sales forward from December to the end of November. 2018 has certainly been a tough year for retail, so will Black Friday buck this trend or has a year of discounts exhausted shoppers?

Love it or loath it, it looks like Black Friday is here to stay. Retailers can still choose to make it exciting through unique, timed offers and restrained promotions the rest of the year.

 

Author

Georgina BakesGeorgina joined TPC as a Consultant in July 2018, after 3 years in Merchandizing within multi-channel high street retail. Her most recent experience at Debenhams included commercial range building, seasonal merchandize and OTB planning, managing markdown and planning store assortments in line with the business strategy.

 

 

 

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Spatial Awareness: How Can Retailers Maximize the Profitability of Store Space?

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Adam Hobbs, TPC Consultant, explores how retailers can maximize the profitability of store space, and become more spatially aware.

Spatial Awareness: How Can Retailers Maximize the Profitability of Store Space?

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You walk into a store. You look around, you spot a few things that you like the look of but, at the end of the day, you can’t find what you want… Why?

Because the brand doesn’t have what you’re looking for? Because that particular store doesn’t stock it?

Or because the store did not have what you wanted at the time that you wanted it?

If your answer was the former then you were probably in the wrong shop all together!

But, if it was either of the latter then it may be a missed opportunity for the retailer. With experiential retail becoming more and more important, how can retailers meet their customers’ needs?

This is where space optimization comes into play. Space optimization seeks to have the right product, in the right place at the right time for the consumer. By doing so retailers can maximize customer satisfaction, conversion, and ultimately sales/cash margin.

Store Image 1

While retailers have been using space planning in a number of ways to get their customers to buy more, in a lot of cases, it hasn’t been optimized or the strategy hasn’t been thought through properly.

There are several different ways of looking at space optimization, the what, the where and the how.

  • What do I put on the shop floor?
  • Where should I put it?
  • How do I best present products in store?

What do I put on the shop floor?

When it comes to the ‘what,’ more often than not, merchandisers will be planning their ranges within a particular category. Each category will seek to stock a ‘competent range’ that appeals to their target customer. The issue with this is that the two expectations of what the customer’s choice set should be are not necessarily aligned. By failing to look at the product offering across all product types retailers don’t approach the problem holistically. One way to address this is to see if there is any perceived relationship between the space a particular product type takes up and the sales it receives in response. But how can retailers do this?

Taking a simple model as an example, we would seek to maximize sales based upon the percentage of store space a particular product type maintains. Now, I know what you’ll be thinking – any optimization will surely side with the most profitable product type.  But that is not necessarily true.

Optimizations instead look at the marginal improvements one can expect from changing allocations from their current position rather than overall profitability of a product type. To give an example, we’ve plotted dummy sales curves for an imaginary store below. Taking all possible data for store A, the curves below dictate where sales have been maximized in the past. This of course changes month on month but the benefit essentially derives from any discrepancy between where the store currently sits and the optimal point on the product sales curves.

Taking the product sales curve for Jackets, if we were to move more towards the peak of the curve, the marginal returns from doing so diminish as this opportunity is increasingly undertaken.  As this diminishes, it may then become more beneficial to move towards another product type that will yield greater marginal returns per % allocation assigned to it.

Equally, some product types may well benefit from reducing the amount of space assigned. Take shorts as the example, we can see from below that the sales yielded from this product type peaks much earlier than most. even by tackling solely the ‘what?’ element of space optimization, retailers will have a much better grasp on what works well in different stores and can ensure store space is being used effectively.

Diagram (2)

Where should I put it?

The ‘where’ seeks to optimize the use of certain spaces for particular products. This kind of optimization is seen most commonly in grocery.  How many times have you been in the supermarket only to fall victim to the offers at the end of the aisle that were never even considered for your shopping list? Grocers can even go to the lengths of placing products at eye-level with children’s products lower down in the hope they convince their parents to buy the product. By looking at a combination of each products propensity to sell in particular store locations and the ‘shoppability’ of a certain space, we can maximize the overall store layout.

Even simple touches such as keeping complimentary categories near one another, moving smaller ticket ‘add-on’ items towards the counter all contribute to increasing average basket sizes. This simple modification to store layouts saw a 1% increase in bottom line sales at one of our clients, for next to no effort. It all goes to show that when a retailer has a solid understanding of what works well where, they can truly maximize profitability per square meter.

How do I best present products in store?

Retailers are continuing to broaden their horizons with how the store is presented. Whether it be using technology, with Tommy Hilfiger introducing a virtual store, or introducing a totally new shopping experience, with Bonobos ‘guideshops,’ the retail store of the future is becoming a reality.  Optimizing the ‘how’ focuses on the ergonomics and aesthetics of the store. It is important that the customer has a seamless shopping experience and can easily find what they’re looking for.

Store Image 2

By ensuring clear line of sight within store, you increase the accessibility of products for customers.  By also understanding the customer journey, each retailer can understand the pain points within the store layout and move towards making the process as fluid as possible. Other small touches such as splitting till points to reduce the appearance of queues and being transparent about wait times all reduce the risk of an abandoned purchase.

Though getting it right is important, simply avoiding getting it wrong is a must. Walmart famously fixated on ‘de-cluttering’ it’s store in the belief it would improve the shopping experience and increase sales in a plan coined “Project Impact”. What they failed to consider was the impact of exclusivity, whereby some shoppers stay loyal to particular products to the point of shopping elsewhere if it is no longer stocked. This was estimated to have cost them $2 billion in sales over the course of 2 years.

So why aren’t many retailers ceasing this opportunity?

This all sounds great in theory, but the practical application of such solution comes with a few challenges. Though retailers are showing strides forward in the ‘where?’ and the ‘how?’ it’s the ‘what?’ that tends to fall short. The most prominent reason being data capture. Without RFID, retailers don’t realistically have the data to say with 99% accuracy what is and isn’t on the shop floor. The first step to answering the ‘what?’ of space optimization is to ensure that we can say with some level of confidence what was on the shop floor at any moment in time. But even with this, there’s only so far the math can get you. You still need the merchandising know-how to keep any optimization within sensible boundaries, after all – how well would a department store do with 99% space attributed to one product type?

Final thoughts

The opportunities and benefits that come with space optimization are obvious, but it’s still up to retailers to utilize data and find what works best for them and their customers. By considering the ‘what?’, ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ retailers can optimize the available space they have at each store and provide their customers with the shopping experience they’re looking for.

 

Author

Adam HobbsAdam Hobbs is a Business Consultant at Thought Provoking Consulting, who holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Bath. Adam has worked both in Finance and Consulting, starting his career at HSBC Global Research before moving over to TPC.

When he’s not working on creating retail solutions, Adam enjoys training for the next big run, discovering new bars or restaurants and watching Liverpool top the league table.

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When It Rains, It Pours - The Sustainability Transformation Challenge for Retailers

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Rima Trofimovaite, TPC Consultant, shares the current sustainability challenges retailers are facing with consumer views towards ethical products changing, and how retailers can overcome these challenges and remain profitable.

When It Rains, It Pours - The Sustainability Transformation Challenge for Retailers

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The environmentally conscious customer. 

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream… what was once just a nursery rhyme could soon become everyone’s living nightmare!

Water LevelsWith water levels rapidly rising and temperatures drastically changing, climate change, once only a hot (no pun intended) topic amongst scientists, has now reached each of our doorsteps.

Awareness about climate change and concerns over increasing levels of anthropogenic environmental pollution have started to shape each of our everyday lives, it’s not just about recycling our household waste anymore, it reaches far wider and now includes our shopping habits. Even high-profile celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio are helping to promote the important need for us all to address the pressure we are putting on the Earth and the devastating consequences.

A staggering 91% of global consumers expect businesses to operate responsibly and to address social and environmental issues, and a further 84% of correspondents say they seek out responsible products wherever possible. So, how should retailers address sustainability to retain, and attract new, customers who are increasingly more environmentally conscious?

We have started to see a new consumer profile which is primarily focused on the convenient experiential shopping experience and the values that brands represent. In parallel, shareholders seek more transparency regarding social, environmental and operational elements of the products and company.

To gain competitive advantage, retailers are compelled to explore opportunities to reduce costs and improve brand loyalty by leveraging sustainability to develop their label and keep ahead. Two major retail sustainability streams within the materials/manufacturing processes and energy consumption have emerged.

1. Front-end materials

There’s been a huge increase in the introduction of recycled fabrics, such as materials created from plastic bottles, as well as replacing real leather or fur goods in favor of faux leather or fur. It’s also pleasing to see that brands are eager to declare their eco-friendly credentials and the transparency of the manufacturing processes.

This spring, the well-known international clothing company Gant launched a new line of TECH male and female shirts that incorporate PET waste recovered from the ocean that was turned into fabrics. The new product incorporates 10% recycled plastics and places Gant on the list together with other brands like North Face, Adidas and H&M, who all recently introduced new sustainability initiatives.

Another aspect of manufacturing sustainability which offers measurable value is the upcycling of returned or defect items. A good example is the North Face project “Renewed”, where returned or defect coats are cleaned, fixed and then sold again. This creates a sustainable cycle, which significantly reduces waste and raw material consumption.

While these initiatives are fantastic and very helpful, it’s still not enough, so what else can we do at the product development stage? The success lies in creating an interconnecting, uniform sustainability framework and aligning the overall strategy. Each step of the process should go hand in hand and therefore increase the chances of success first time around.

To efficiently address the Design for Environment (DfE) guidelines and to stay competitive in the global market, companies need to move towards PLM platforms to integrate product development with their sustainability initiatives and create an integrated system instead of using silos. Only through innovative approaches like 3D-PLM can retailers progress in their sustainability initiatives, improve customer experience and reduce operation costs.

Virtual prototyping and sampling using 3D processes has shown to reduce, and even eliminate, usage of energy and raw materials, as well we the footprint of distributing physical samples across the globe. What’s even better is that it enables retailers to consider and test an almost unlimited amount of products/ideas/innovations leading to greater choice for the customers without the increased effect on the environment. Virtual design and development expand the company’s resources and supports the build of a ‘sustainable’ business model, which can bring long-term positive benefits.

2. Energy consumption 

It’s not just at the product design stage that we can address environmental concerns. In the past few years, large technology companies have started to buy into the benefits of clean energy, and this has inspired others. In April 2018, Apple Inc. announced that their retail stores, offices and data centers in 43 countries, including India, are now powered with 100% clean energy (you don’t have to be an Apple fan to appreciate this). They also confirmed that 23 manufacturing partners are committed to powering all of their production with 100% clean energy.  High-street retailer energy consumption is skyrocketing, with retailers spending roughly $20 billion on energy every year across the industry. Cutting energy costs is a complex process that requires understanding, optimizing your existing energy data and leveraging emerging technologies/automation in pursuit of sustainability.

Implementing these practices mainly relies on a well-defined strategy and functional software architecture which provides data collection infrastructure, monitoring and control, and advanced analytics.

– A retail sustainability journey could start by setting the founding corporate sustainability values and commencing with philanthropic and charity programs such as planting a tree for every item

– The second step would involve addressing operations – optimization of energy consumption and waste reduction in stores and distribution centers followed by product and supply chain transformations.

– At the most advanced stage, the leading companies would engage consumers and other stakeholders in the company’s sustainability vision and implementation process to help them understand the full impact of this metamorphosis.

Sustainability Diagram

So, who else is getting sustainability right and inspiring other retailers?

Companies that engage in sustainable and environmentally conscious business are enjoying increased customer growth, brand loyalty together and increased sales.

A great example is Unilever, whose sustainable brands accounted for 60% of the company’s turnover growth in 2016, and they grew faster than the company’s other brands by 50%. The best performer was PG Tips tea, who now mostly use biodegradable tea bags and by the end of this year, all the PG Tips range will be packaged in a new plant-based material which significantly reduces environmental impact.

In 2007, British retailer Marks & Spencer committed to becoming carbon neutral, sending no waste to landfills, extending sustainable sourcing and much more by 2015. The most recent report, listing its sustainability achievements and plans, revealed an impressive 36% improvement in energy efficiency in M&S’s UK and Ireland stores. Through its clothes recycling initiative, M&S has also raised an astonishing £50m for charity since 2007, including £15m for Oxfam

Are you ready for the challenge?

The numbers don’t lie! With more people now demanding environmentally friendly and ethical products, it’s obvious that retailers need to accept shopping is not just about aesthetics, it’s about values and beliefs and expressing those. It is also very clear to see that consistent sustainability initiatives can help companies outperform their competitors, improve margin, increase customer goodwill and employee engagement.

The fact early adopters of sustainable methods have shown an increase in profits as a result of their cleaner and more ethical practices only strengthens the argument that retailers can overcome the sustainability transformation challenge, both in terms of success for the business and Mother Nature, all at the same time… so, how will you make it rain?!

Ripple Effect

 

Author

RimaRima Trofimovaite is a Business Consultant at Thought Provoking Consulting, who holds a doctorate in sustainable chemistry and renewable energy.

When she’s not working on creating retail solutions, Rima enjoys mountaineering, going to the theatre and visiting as many new ice-cream and cake shops as possible.

 

 

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Arcadia Group optimizes Markdowns with Thought Provoking Consulting

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British Retail Group, Arcadia, invests in data science based Markdown Insight tool to improve operational effectiveness.

Having successfully trialled TPC's Markdown solution during 2017 in the Topshop and Dorothy Perkins brands, Arcadia have decided to deploy the solution to all brands...

Arcadia Group optimizes Markdowns with Thought Provoking Consulting

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British Retail Group, Arcadia, invests in data science based Markdown Insight tool to improve operational effectiveness.

San Diego; June 20, 2018 – The sight of unsold goods at the end of a season can leave any retailer facing key challenges of clogged up space, unhappy customers, slowing sales and lost margin.

Marking down a product’s price can help alleviate these problems, but it can bring about its own set of challenges, especially if Merchants are working with rigid software that is not user friendly, has a black box of science that is difficult to understand and is expensive to update.

The Arcadia business with its portfolio of 8 brands experienced such challenges and has enlisted the help of TPC to find a more effective solution to optimize markdown events by using TPC’s proprietary tools and science engine.

As an integral part of TPC’s Smart Retailing offering, the TPC Markdown solution uses data science and product history to make the best markdown price recommendation at any point in time.  This is presented through a user interface that is familiar and easy to use for merchandisers.

Having successfully trialled TPC’s Markdown solution during 2017 in the Topshop and Dorothy Perkins brands, Arcadia have decided to deploy the solution to all brands.  Improved markdown decisions have led to sales and profit improvements which exceeded benefit targets by over 200% whilst clearing through stock to reduce end of season holdings.  The entire project has been benefits led from the start.

Subir Gupta, TPC Co-Founder and Managing Principal said, “Fashion retail is an increasingly challenging sector with ever increasing competitive pressures.  Now, more than ever, it is vitally important to maximize the profit made on every item sold. We are delighted to be partnering with Arcadia to bring our unique, simple to use, data science based tools to mainstream Merchandising with great results.”

About Arcadia

The Arcadia business employs over 24,000 staff, has an annual turnover in excess of £2bn and has some of the most iconic names on the British high street – Burton Menswear, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Topman, Topshop and Wallis.  For more information please visit www.arcadiagroup.co.uk

About TPC

Based in the UK and US, Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) is a specialist retail consultancy, providing retailers with the necessary tools, processes and expertise to improve their performance and realize their strategic vision. TPC provides a range of services and solutions in Pricing, Merchandise Planning, PLM (including 3D), Programs of Change, Supply Chain and Change Management. We aim to make complex challenges simpler through experience and pragmatism, while always being thought provoking. Read more here.

 

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Contact

Name: Shahzad Ahmed

Email Address: shahzad.ahmed@tpc-group.com

Company URL: www.thoughtprovokingconsulting.com

 

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Skylar, TPC Consultant, Reveals the 5 Things she's Learned Since Moving from Industry to Consulting

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Skylar Vanderbilt-Smith, TPC Consultant, reveals the 5 things she's learned since moving from the retail industry to consulting.

Following 5 years of experience working in Merchandise Planning across luxury and high-street brands she joined TPC and has shared the key lessons she's learnt whilst working as a consultant.

Skylar, TPC Consultant, Reveals the 5 Things she's Learned Since Moving from Industry to Consulting

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Prior to joining TPC as a Business Consultant, I spent 5 years working in Merchandise Planning and whilst I loved my job, product, and being a self-proclaimed “Excel nerd” (really), I was ready to do more of what I enjoyed most in Merchandising including problem solving, working cross-functionally, and thinking about the wider company strategy.

Moving into a new sector, even with a relevant skillset and background, can be slightly daunting at first, so if you’re considering the move from industry to consulting, here are 5 things I’ve learned since making the switch that will hopefully help you on your way!  

1) Be prepared to learn – quickly and often!

There’s a learning curve when starting any new job, and despite new challenges arising, there usually comes a time when you can settle in and spend some time on “auto-pilot”. In contrast, as a Consultant, with each new client or project you’re effectively starting a new job, so constantly getting up to speed quickly is part of your day-to-day now. For example, I worked on a project where we had 3 weeks to understand the organisation, map out end-to-end processes, investigate whether an issue existed (and if so what it was), and design several solutions for them.

In the first 3 weeks of most Merchandising jobs, a company may rarely expect you to know how to navigate the building, let alone understand the company and design new high-level processes. This is the most noticeable difference I’ve experienced since moving from industry and without a doubt one of the biggest challenges yet most exciting part of the job.  

2) Keep (or start!) thinking creatively.

Consulting isn’t just about analysing data and making slides (even though those have their place!). Thinking creatively is imperative to defining and solving unusual business problems and applying your experience in new ways.  Unlike in industry, there are not necessarily a wealth of existing processes for you to follow.

It is now up to you and your team to create an optimised solution and evaluate it rigorously. This is not to undermine those PowerPoint skills though. Getting creative with PowerPoint slides can make them a lot clearer and easier to follow (plus it can be fun!). Communication is one of the most critical competencies in consulting and tailoring your visual and written presentation styles can go a long way to effectively getting your message across. 

3) Think big(ger).   

A big shift for me from moving from one large retailer to a consultancy, with many different clients and types of businesses, was spending more time thinking about the health of the entire business, not just a part of it. Your involvement with clients from all areas of an organization up to C-level will demand that you engage with the big picture, however this is something you’ll always want to keep thinking about.

By doing so you’ll be prepared to tailor your discussion and presentation styles often, and always think about how even the one area you’re working on can impact other areas of the client’s business and bottom line.  

4) Throw away the hat rack, you’re wearing them all.  

My main daily focus in Merchandising was my category within a department, however as a Consultant the remit and scope of my work is constantly changing. Due to the nature of consulting versus a typical job in industry, you will likely be asked to wear many hats. One week you may be leading a long-term planning project at Client A; the next you’re supporting pricing business development for Client B.

Then suddenly you’re supporting a team with a deadline at Client C, all whilst carrying on your important work for Client A and managing your own internal work simultaneously. This is a big shift from having a usual day-to-day remit in industry, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to flex a whole range of skills and bring lessons from one type of work to another on a regular basis.  

5) Expect to have fun! 

In Consulting, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time on a project with the same few people in a small conference room, sometimes in a city away from your home town. Through hours of brain storming and trips to get (yet another) coffee, expect to speedily bond with colleagues that you may not have made friends with as quickly as in industry.

Time “in the trenches” together on an intense project can lend itself to a great sense of humour to keep you going, so despite being under pressure for key deliverables, I’ve managed to have a lot of fun with my co-workers along the way. And some drinks to cap off a job well done at the end of a phase always has its fair share of laughs! 

Ultimately, consulting can be long hours and will certainly test your creative problem-solving side of your brain, however I have found it be the best test and use of my skills and an incredibly rewarding move to have made.

 

Author

SkylarSkylar Vanderbilt-Smith is a Business Consultant at Thought Provoking Consulting, following 5 years of experience in Merchandise Planning across luxury and high-street brands. 

When she’s not working on creating retail solutions, Skylar enjoys discovering new restaurants, reading Michael Lewis books, and trying to string together a sentence in Italian. 

 

 

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Meet Al Radford, our new Vice President, who's joined the TPC US team

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We are delighted to introduce Al Radford as the latest addition to the TPC team.

Al joins us as a Vice President with responsibilities for business development and expanding our practice in the US.

Meet Al Radford, our new Vice President, who's joined the TPC US team

News

Al joins us as our newest addition to the North American team as a Vice President with responsibilities for sales and expanding our Supply Chain practice.

After a successful stint with a national multi-location industrial supplies wholesaler, he has spent the past three decades introducing emerging software and consulting services companies to the North American retail and wholesale markets with E3/JDA, Predictix and RELEX as well as more mature companies Columbus Consulting, Oracle Retail and Hyperion.

During this time Al has gained a comprehensive understanding of advanced supply chain practices, pricing, promotions, planning, allocation, collaboration and data analytics requirements for wholesalers and retail distribution companies.

He has worked closely with over 250 retailers, wholesalers and manufacturing companies helping those companies improve in-stock positions, increase margins, cut costs and reduce inventory by more than $3.5 billion.  His unique business experience help make him an asset to our client partnerships in North America.

Al has a BS in Economics/Business Management from Centre College of Kentucky and a PhD in Smarter Buying from E3 Associates.

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Meet Amber, our new Business Development Director, who's joined the TPC UK team

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We're really excited to introduce Amber as the latest addition to the TPC team.

He joins as our new Business Development Director in the UK, bringing with him over 15 years of experience in business development.

Meet Amber, our new Business Development Director, who's joined the TPC UK team

News

Amber Wajahat has joined TPC as a Business Development Director, with expertise in business development, marketing and strategic client development. Amber received his degree in Economics from Jamia University, New Delhi and an MBA from FORE School of Management.

Amber will lead business development in the UK, which has already seen strong growth, and will help continue growing our community of high profile retailers.

During his 14 year tenure in the industry, Amber has worked in various companies including AT&T, Euromonitor, Planet Retail, working within their International Business Development teams and in charge of sales function. Amber has helped some of the top FTSE companies in achieving their strategic objectives.

He’s always excited to meet new people in the retail industry. Passionate about cricket and loves travelling.

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Ruth Morton, Retail Solutions Manager at TPC, has transitioned from the UK to join the US team

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Ruth Morton, Retail Solutions Manager at TPC, has transitioned from the UK to join the US team.

Ruth will lead business development in the West Coast region and brings with her nearly 15 years of retail, consulting and business development experience.

Ruth Morton, Retail Solutions Manager at TPC, has transitioned from the UK to join the US team

News

Ruth Morton, Retail Solutions Manager at Thought Provoking Consulting, has transitioned to the US team, coming all the way from London to the West Coast of America.

With nearly 15 years of experience, Ruth brings with her a wealth of expertise and knowledge of the retail industry, combined with her business development and consulting experience, she truly understands the challenges faced by retailers and what it takes to be successful.

Ruth has a First-Class BSc (Hons) Degree in Fashion Buying and covered subject areas in Buying, Merchandising, Finance, Supply Chain, Computer Aided Design, Marketing, and Visual Merchandising. In this time, she also ran an Italian scarves business called Florenzo, where she won an award by FedEx Delivery company for the ‘Best Business Project’ award of the year.

Her natural passion for networking means she has opened up numerous business opportunities for TPC both nationally and internationally. Ruth really enjoys meeting new people, developing and maintaining relationships, and sharing our capabilities as an organization. She will be meeting with some of America’s top retailers along with our world leading authorities in Pricing, Planning, Supply Chain, Programs of Change, Digital Transformation and Change Management; working with the team at Change 4 Growth – sister company of TPC .

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Is Mass Customization Ready for the Retail Market?

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Keith Taylor, Co-founder and Managing Principal of TPC, reflects on trialling a general mass customization retailer to see how the service works and whether it's an approach ready for the wider market to adopt.

Is Mass Customization Ready for the Retail Market?

News

Mass customization is just around the corner. At the Shoptalk conference in the US there was a brand new retailer. They claim to be the first proper retailer offering a general mass customization service on the high street. Given this is where retail is going I decided to try it out.

Mass Customisation image

They currently sell a selection of shirts, trousers and accessories all of which can be customized. I went for a formal shirt. Price was $125. I was measured up and then matched with a sample shirt to test the size. The owner said it normally takes two or three goes to get the right fit. It took me three goes. You can then adjust the collar, buttons and other items depending on your preference. I found the measuring experience to be less precise than I had imagined.

There is definitely room for technology here to make things faster and simpler. The shirt was supposed to arrive within 10 days. It actually took three weeks. The shirt came and it was a great fit. It would certainly be an incentive to order again from them as they keep the measurements on file.

The problem for me is that every brand is different when it comes to fit. Will I have to do this for every brand? Or will there be some central place I can store my measurements and then I allow retailers to access it when needed? Will one set of measurements work or will there be different formats required by different companies, a bit like the old VHS vs Betamax!

mass customisation

It doesn’t feel like an edge that one retailer or brand can own as a USP. However it does feel like something that if you don’t do then you will lose out. I think people will default to the brands that fit them best and make them feel special. Those that don’t offer the service will suffer in trade. The problem for these brands will be that it takes a lot of time and investment to create a digital backend development capability to support this kind of customization. They may not have the luxury of this time to catch up so I suspect many will fall by the wayside.

Mass customization I believe will become like next day delivery. It’ll gradually become a default expectation. If you don’t do it then you’ll have to have a pretty good reason why and the only apparel companies I see having that option will be those selling at the lowest price points. The rest will have to do it or suffer in trade and perhaps not even survive at all.

 

Author

Co-founder of TPCThis article was written by Keith Taylor.

Keith has over 20 years Retail experience. Prior to founding TPC, Keith held senior positions in software companies providing Planning, PLM and Global Sourcing solutions culminating in being CEO for 4Retail, a cloud based company providing on-line collaboration solutions.

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The Key Takeaway from ShopTalk 2018

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Keith Taylor, Co-founder of TPC, shares his observations and the one crucial takeaway from ShopTalk 2018, in Las Vegas.

The Key Takeaway from ShopTalk 2018

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shoptalk-2018-logoLast week over 8,500 people gathered to discuss and debate the future of Retail at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas.

Many Senior figures from retailers and brands were there including the CEO of Macy’s, the CEO Target, the co-founder of Pinterest as well as Senior Execs from Amazon, Facebook and many other big names.

The overall theme was how do retailers need to change to thrive and grow, and avoid the fate of some recent departures such as Toys R Us, just to name one.

Essentially the message was that retailers need to stop thinking they sell product. Today they don’t. They sell experiences. Research shows that 49% of a purchase is about the transaction, the rest is about inspiration, education, fun and self-actualization.

Besides saying they sell ‘products’, other symptoms of a potential early demise for a retailer are thinking about ‘fulfilling orders’ or using the term ‘guest’ for a customer. The former shows a bent towards focusing on the transaction and its efficiency and the latter suggests a lack of understanding of the need for a truly connected intimate relationship with the customer.

These terms are not always used inappropriately but the point being made at the Shoptalk conference was that obsessive focus on certain elements of retail can be a symptom of old thinking that is no longer appropriate.

It is expected that many retailers will disappear because in the face of the challenge to change, they can only think from where they are and not prioritize and focus on where they need to be. History counts for nothing unless it helps you deliver on what your customer wants today and tomorrow.

Amazon Go is a great example of a company that knew what it wanted to deliver to the customer and worked back from there, even inventing new software and technology to make it happen.

They talked about how they wrote a press release for the opening of the first store before they even started the project so they knew what the customer would be expecting from day one. This is a great approach.

How does the idea of selling an experience apply to different types of retailers? Take the Amazon example again. The experience they sell is price, selection and convenience. To do this they know they must master the transactional aspect of the purchase or the experience of convenience will not be delivered.

So they make it very easy to select and buy stuff with a minimum amount of clicks and it just works. It sounds simple but so many websites don’t just work. They flunk on mobiles, are slow, have scrolling issues, credit card entry issues etc. etc.

They have also built trust around price. Most people believe them to be the cheapest and their selection is without comparison. They claim 480 million SKUs! However it’s not just the transaction they have to deliver on and they know that.

Psychology shows the first assessment you make subconsciously about a person when you first meet them is whether or not you can trust them. Amazon builds trust by absorbing the pain when things go wrong like a purchase not arriving. Experiences are what retailers sell and trust is the mechanism for securing the basis of an intimate relationship with the customer.

There are a lot of new technology out there to help retailers change. AI, Machine learning and robots are just a few. The winners in retail however will be those that recognise that these technologies must be used to support the experience and not to chase simple efficiencies or cost savings for the sake of it.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1)The best model retailers can embrace to ensure their survival is to understand Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As customers have their needs met, the next layer of needs becomes a priority.

In the past, our needs were pretty basic but now in almost all sectors we are heading towards purchases that fulfil higher and higher needs, not just functional ones. This is something retailers and brands need to embrace to ensure they stay relevant.

As a retailer, it’s difficult to think about investing in future proof technology, while managing current short-term profit / cash flow issues. This is where retailers need to fully understand the customer’s needs and that they’re changing with the advent of new technology; retailers need to find the right balance between the two.

At TPC we have embraced the need to help retailers understand that once one customer need is met you need to move on to the next. You can never stand still because as others advance you’ll find yourself eventually overtaken and losing sales and customer engagement.

You only have to look at M&S’s clothing business to see this effect in action. Shoptalk was a great experience and allowed me to hear many great retail stories. It also reinforced my feeling that our Thought Provoking nature is more relevant than ever before.

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Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) continues its expansion into the US by investing in Change 4 Growth (C4G)

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Press Release: We are happy to announce that Thought Provoking Consulting Group, a specialist retail consultancy, has invested in US based Change Management Consulting company Change 4 Growth, formerly known as Sequent Consulting.

Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) continues its expansion into the US by investing in Change 4 Growth (C4G)

News

San Diego, January 11, 2018 – We are happy to announce that Thought Provoking Consulting Group, a specialist retail consultancy, has invested in US based Change Management Consulting company Change 4 Growth (C4G), formerly known as Sequent Consulting.

C4G is America’s top retail boutique firm for Transformational Change.  C4G has created a niche where they help their clients deal with change at every level within the organization.  Whether it is change impacting individual contributors, leaders or the total organization, their methods and experience have been proven to increase performance, results and adoption for any change their clients face.  Without their help, clients have cited they would not have achieved the expected ROI and the transformation would not have been successful.

Beth Thomas, CEO of Change 4 Growth and author of ‘Powered by Happy’ said “I’m so excited to be working with Thought Provoking Consulting to continue to grow our US business. I love their customer centric approach and feel a great cultural fit and believe we are stronger together. The move will allow us to tap into a breadth of retail expertise and help our clients find solutions that are critical in this age in areas such as pricing, promotions, planning, product development and supply chain. Just as exciting will be our ability to work together on driving genuine retail transformation which combines cultural change with the right business process and technology components.”

Co-Founder of Thought Provoking Consulting, Keith Taylor said “this is a very exciting development for both companies. Change 4 Growth has a strong pedigree in organizational change management which we have not previously been able to offer clients. They have an excellent retail customer list and Beth Thomas, their CEO, is a well-known and highly regarded ex-retailer. They have a strong presence in the US and so will strengthen the group’s presence in this market while we can help them expand into the UK and Europe.”

Change 4 Growth has grown an impressive list of top retail clients including Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Chico’s, Eddie Bauer and Ann Taylor. Its services include organizational change management, culture alignment and engagement, leadership development, training and e-learning and recruitment of staff support.

 

About TPC

Based in the UK and US, Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) is a specialist retail consultancy, providing retailers with the necessary tools, processes and expertise to improve their performance and realize their strategic vision. TPC provides a range of services and solutions in Pricing, Merchandise Planning, PLM (including 3D), Programs of Change, Supply Chain Management. We aim to make complex challenges simpler through experience and pragmatism, while always being thought provoking. Read more here

 

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TPC Contact

Name: Shahzad Ahmed

Email Address: shahzad.ahmed@tpc-group.com

Website: Read more here

 

C4G Contact

Name: Beth Thomas

Email Address: BThomas@change4growth.com

Company URL: www.change4growth.com

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Thought Provoking Consulting grows US venture by helping to redefine retail operations

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Press Release: Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC), a leading specialist consultancy, recently celebrated its two-year anniversary operating in the US, where it is already making waves and expanding operations to support a growing client base.

Thought Provoking Consulting grows US venture by helping to redefine retail operations

News

San Diego; November 15, 2017 – Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC), a leading specialist consultancy, recently celebrated its two-year anniversary operating in the US, where it is already making waves and expanding operations to support a growing client base.

In the space of just two years, TPC has provided strategic support to a variety of US and international based retailers including Topshop, SuperDry, Shop Direct, PVH Corp. and House of Fraser.

TPC’s initial foray into the US offered strategic support to clients undergoing high rates of growth through international expansion and acquisition. By capitalizing on its network as well as using the principle of challenging retailers and inspiring them to explore new ideas and concepts, TPC has been able to help retailers to not only meet those expectations, but exceed them.

TPC programs of change uses tools, science, and analytics to support initiatives in Merchandising, Pricing, 3D & Digital Product Development, Sourcing, and Supply Chain.

Using a unique benefits-led approach, its Smart Tooling capabilities are making data science relevant and accessible. Pricing Practice Lead Dr. Iain Watson says “TPC has consistently delivered margin improvements over 5% and seen paybacks in as little as 12 weeks. We are helping companies become as good at pricing as Amazon”.

Similarly, as retailers pursue their digital transformations, TPC is challenging the usual approach. Principal Consultant and Practice Lead Joshua Young says “If you think digital transformation means digital commerce, you are missing half the picture. To be truly competitive in the future, you need to be thinking about how digital will change your creation process, concept to consumer, as well as commerce. And this must include 3D.”

Commenting on the organization’s incredible progress, TPC’s Co-Founder and Managing Principal, Keith Taylor, said: “we are delighted to be working in the States and strengthening our operations. We are focused on helping companies operationalize their strategies and are very happy to be partnering with some of the leading US Brands and Retailers in driving change. Our growth is a validation of our resources, talent, and new way of working.”

TPC was founded with the aim of being different and challenging the status quo. The company quickly grew its strong community of retail clients by helping and inspiring them to envision a better way of retailing. Many house hold names found themselves at cross-roads in having to adapt from the tried-and-tested approach that brought them their success to the changing consumer needs in the digital age.

TPC has helped retailers to improve their processes, personnel, strategy and culture, so that they are fully equipped to tackle the demands of modern day retailing and have the ability to adapt to changes in the future.

About TPC

Based in the UK and US, TPC equips retailers with the necessary tools, processes and expertise to improve their performance and realize their strategic vision. We aim to make complex challenges simpler through experience and pragmatism, while always being thought provoking. Read more here

 

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Contact

Name: Shahzad

Email Address: shahzad.ahmed@tpc-group.com

Company URL: us.thoughtprovokingconsulting.com

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Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) announces Smart Trading partnership with House of Fraser

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Press Release: Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC), a leading specialist retail consultancy with global reach, is pleased to announce today its partnership with House of Fraser, the UK and Ireland’s premium department store group.

TPC will provide promotion and markdown optimization services to House of Fraser from October 2017 onwards.

Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) announces Smart Trading partnership with House of Fraser

News

London; October 18th 2017 – Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC), a leading specialist retail consultancy with global reach, is pleased to announce today its partnership with House of Fraser, the UK and Ireland’s premium department store group.

TPC will help House of Fraser optimize promotion and markdown events using TPC’s Smart Trading capabilities, this includes using its proven data science and analytic capabilities to make goal based recommendations designed to improve the sales, stock and profit performance of a variety of event types.

Maria Hollins, House of Fraser Executive Director Product & Trading commented, “We are delighted to be working with TPC. As a multi-category business operating with a high SKU base, we believe a data driven solution is essential to optimize promotion and markdown pricing decisions. TPC has a proven track record in delivering results through agile implementation and we believe it is the best partner for House of Fraser as we continue to build on our transformation program.”

Subir Gupta, TPC Co-Founder and Managing Principal said, “We are proud to welcome House of Fraser to our growing community of high profile retail clients.  We look forward to using our unique customer centric analytics and optimization assets powered by our team of retail merchandising specialists to help House of Fraser delight its customers with ever more appealing promotion offers.”

House of Fraser identified TPC as an ideal partner because of its unique customer centric service based approach, proven science capabilities, speed to benefit and willingness to partner.

About House of Fraser

House of Fraser is a department store group with 59 enviable locations across the UK and Ireland. As one of the best known names on the high street, House of Fraser has presented customers with an unrivalled nationwide department store for over 168 years. The Group has annual sales of £1.3bn and employs 5,000 House of Fraser employees and 12,500 concession staff through over 4 million sq. ft. of selling space. Customers can shop at House of Fraser from http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk.

About TPC

Based in the UK and US, Thought Provoking Consulting (TPC) is a specialist retail consultancy, providing retailers with the necessary tools, processes and expertise to improve their performance and realize their strategic vision. TPC provides a range of services and solutions in Pricing, Merchandise Planning, PLM (including 3D), Programs of Change, Supply Chain and Change Management. We aim to make complex challenges simpler through experience and pragmatism, while always being thought provoking. Read more here

 

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Contact

Name: Shahzad

Email Address:  shahzad.ahmed@tpc-group.com

Company URL: us.thoughtprovokingconsulting.com

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BJJ World Champion

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How the attitude of a six-time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) World Champion can help your retail business.

TPC Co-founder Keith and Head of Operations Shoshanna recently interviewed Andre, who shared his experience on what makes him a consecutive winner. The way he applies himself to his work and personal life was refreshing and inspirational, and there's some very valuable lessons retailers can learn from Andre's approach.

BJJ World Champion

News

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is now estimated to have more practitioners than Judo across the world. It’s a form of joint attack and choke based martial art. It relies on submissions rather than punches or kicks. It was elevated to fame during the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, now a multi-billion-dollar business, when a BJJ practitioner called Royce Gracie weighing in at only 180lbs beat much stronger and larger opponents.

It’s a tough sport but one man who stands out from the crowd is 6 times World BJJ Champion Andre Galvao. We spent some time with him over lunch to see what business leaders can learn from sporting champions like him.

It was very interesting to listen to his views and one thing that became clear was that it was how he has dealt with failure that has distinguished him.

Many of us hear about the successes of well-known business people, but many of these people have gone through multiple failures. Richard Branson for example, dropped out of school to start a magazine called Student. It didn’t work out so he started a record mail order business that went on to become Virgin Records. Richard Branson has since started over 100 businesses. Most have done well but at least 15 have failed. Before launching Microsoft, Bill Gates was a Harvard University dropout and co-owner of a failed business called Traf-O-Data. Driven by his passion for computer programming, Gates built what would become the world’s largest software company Microsoft. I could go on but most of the big success stories have at least one failure behind them.

When Andre lost a match, it was typically in the finals. What do you think he did the day after he lost a match? Many people might spend the days following failure in bed bingeing on Ben & Jerry’s. Not Andre, he got up and went to the gym even earlier than usual to push himself even harder in the weeks following the match. His wife stated those 7 days after losing contain very little sleep! He works even harder on the things he felt had been exposed. His philosophy is clear. Most people let their feelings determine their choices. So, if we feel down we might shut ourselves off or snap at people etc. His philosophy is to let your choices determine your feelings. Choosing to work harder after a loss made him feel positive. He was able to recognize a weakness in his game and work on it.

His positive attitude to change also marks him out. BJJ has evolved over the years and he has embraced the changes, not resisted them. That is clearly what has kept him on top and it’s a lesson for all businesses. We can never stick to the old way of doing things and expect to succeed. We must see change as part of the normal way of life. One of the reasons Andre can change is that he clearly embraces the importance of listening to people. He says he’ll listen to anybody whether they have less or more experience than him. He really seems to have no ego in this respect and this is something that businesses and the leaders of businesses can learn from. Experience doesn’t own good ideas. If anything, experience is best fuelled and most valuable when it has been able to listen and absorb input from other people.

Andre gave us a BJJ analogy at one point as to how he likes to deal with issues or challenges he faces. He said he’d rather ‘tap out facing you than turn to risk being choked’. He believes in facing up to issues and not ignoring them or letting them fester. If you have a problem with something or someone, face up to it politely and without arrogance. You may be right; you may be wrong but you will never learn if you turn away. I think a lot of businesses fail because they have issues they refuse to face. One day this catches up on them and it’s too late for them to do anything about it. Blockbuster video is a great example of this.

His training provides some insight as well. He has good people to train him, who push him. He is not afraid to try something new and get beaten. He knows he can’t use the same techniques he used to win in 2005 today because things have evolved and they don’t work. It’s through this testing process that he can refine his game and then when it matters in competitions he makes it work. We can all learn from this. We should always be prepared to try new things in small ways so that we can then incorporate them into our businesses in ways that work when rolled out. Seeing some of these trials fail is to be expected. It’s part of the process.

He clearly has a strong relationship with his wife Angelica, also a BJJ champion. Woe betide any mugger who picks on these two for they will get way more than they bargained for! Andre says he spends all his time with his wife but that it’s not a problem for him. He enjoys it. He said ‘love is a choice, not a feeling’. She appears to be his best friend, coach and confidant all in one and it clearly works for them. They are a great example and really seem a genuine team. You really feel they have each other’s back, come good or bad which is humbling to observe.

Andre is an inspiring, positive person to be around. I learnt a lot from our meeting. I think all of those in business can learn from people like him. We need to learn from failure, not let it distract us. We need to see change as a constant, and part of what we do. We can also learn to be positive and inspire others by letting our choices determine our feelings, not the other way around.