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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

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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?

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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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Meet Sara, our Business Partnership Director, who's joined the TPC US team

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

She is joining the US team as our Business Partnership Director, bringing with her over 20 years of experience in business development.

Meet Sara, our Business Partnership Director, who's joined the TPC US team

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Sara joins us as our newest addition to the US team as our Business Partnership Director.

She’s been involved in business development, creative marketing, design ideation and workflow solutions sales for over 20 years. Her unique business experiences help make her an asset to our client partnerships in the US.

Having a design and creative background in the fashion industry in NYC, as well as years of experience in business development, direct sales and software solutions sales, she is able to develop relationships with clients to help make the complex more streamlined.

She understands the creative and design process to help organizations think outside the box to improve business and with digital, 3D, automation, software and self-service being the catalysts for change in today’s retail market, she can help people start to explore end to end transformation and how TPC can help.

Sara is always excited to meet new people, develop relationships with new and existing clients and is very honoured to work with the incredible experienced talent at TPC.

She knows that what TPC does, as an agile boutique retail consultancy, makes a marked difference in any organization.

Sara has a BFA in Surface Pattern Design from Syracuse University, with a minor in History.

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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.