Our team of senior retail executives offer their thought leadership and share their insights to help navigate the challenging and ever changing retail landscape.


Articles

Never Rely on Assumptions

By Rich Pedott and Anjali Burkins For decades talent, past sales and gut instinct drove retail assortments. Gurus who could interpret the market and build a merchandising strategy ruled fashion alongside of visionary designers. Key business inputs came down to three basic questions:

Holiday 2022: Merry? Or Not So Bright?

By Brad Eckhart  Each fall the retail industry and news networks chime in with Q4 predictions. This year, especially with looming mid-term elections, continued post-pandemic pressures and rising global energy/supply chain costs, the predictions are even more vital. Industry reports commonly predict a 3-5 percent increase in retail sales YOY, but with 8+ percent inflation rates, experts are conflicted on how the consumer will respond this holiday season and are pushing back on actual growth.

How Retailers Can Monetize Data TotalRetail

By Sam Fayez Few words have been used and overused more than “data.” What emerged from a series of zeros and ones has evolved into a critical pillar of every business. Data drives all aspects of a company, from research, buying behaviors, stock/inventory levels, assortment plan, replenishment, website design, store merchandising, staffing and finance to product lifecycle and customer lifetime value — and everything in between.

The New Retail Landscape
Highlights from The Columbus Circle LIVE! London Event

Columbus Consulting hosted an invitation only event on September 22 at the Soho Hotel in London featuring speakers and panel participants from leading retail brands. The exclusive event included networking sessions, panel discussions and a ...

Why Retail Inventory Management Is More Then Just About Being In Stock

The goal of inventory management is to ensure that the right product is available in the right location at the right time for the right consumer and to maximize...

A Playbook for the Modern CIO

By Tom McFadden Like everything else in retail, the role of the Chief Information Officer has transformed over the years. What was once a focus on managing information technology and systems has evolved into an active cross-functional management and leadership role that touches all aspects of the retail organization. As technology continues to advance and the overall consumer experience becomes even more reliant on digital platforms, it has become imperative that the CIO role transitions to meet the demands of today’s unified commerce.

Sourcing in a Geo-Political Market

By Nancy Marino How sourcing should be driving transformation and mitigating supply chain risk. Endless articles and news coverage about supply chain have surfaced over the last 6 months, so what is left to be said about the topic? Actually, a lot.

Key Merchandising Strategies for Economic Uncertainty

By Christine Cho  We keep hearing about the impending recession which would mean a pull back in consumer demand just in time for the holiday season. But recent industry reports are showing a “business as usual” behavior both with shoppers and with manufacturers.

The Art of Execution: What Retail Leaders Need To Know

By Elizabeth Elliott Organizations are rarely at a loss for ideas or business initiatives, however, many lack the discipline to execute long-term goals and sustain alignment across functional teams and layers within the organization to stay on track.

Why Your POS System Should Drive Omni-Channel Transformation

Historically, when retailers thought of point-of-sale systems, they looked for transactional functionality that could accommodate different methods of payment and promotional adjustments. They were a means to an end and the last point of customer

Sourcing in a Geo-Political Market: How Sourcing Should Be Driving Transformation and Mitigating Supply Chain Risk

By Nancy Marino Why Now? After two years of a pandemic, factory closings, inventory delays and economic hardships, the world suddenly became smaller. Every business, every person, every country was responding to the impact of a weakened workforce ...

Key Merchandising Strategies for Economic Uncertainty

By Rich Pedott and Barrie Scardina   Today, retailers are facing complex challenges from supply chain, logistics, and product sourcing to shortages of labor and growing costs. In addition to the economic issues, consumers continue to place demands ...

Shop Talk 2022

Let’s Talk Shop Talk.

The Big Retail Reunion is how they are referring to Shop Talk 2022. From March 27-30 over 10,000 attendees consisting of 600 sponsors, 2,500 retailers from 42 countries joined industry colleagues at Mandalay Bay in ...

Sustainable Inventory Strategies

By Charlotte Haynes    Sustainability is moving to the top of many retail CEOs’ agendas. Demands for sustainable businesses are coming from every angle: the consumer, management, government legislation, and even mother nature itself through catastrophic climate disasters. ...

Five Questions. Two Women. One Consulting Firm.

By Susan Riley and Lynn Hughes Career insights and leadership from female partners at Columbus Consulting International  Susan Riley and Lynn Hughes are retail professionals, each with over 20 years of industry experience. Prior to becoming partners ...

Food for thought: highlights from this year’s National Grocers Association Show

Highlights on this year’s National Grocers Association Show. Before attendees could digest all of the information and insights shared, buzz of this year’s NGA show was circulating. From February 27 through March 1, 2022, the largest ...

Separate Is Not Equal

By Richard Pedott In a world where ecommerce has become mainstream and retailers raced to build unified commerce business models, some brands are starting to consider returning to multichannel structures. While this may present an opportunity ...

Why Financial Planning and Analysis Should by Part of Your Company’s Strategic Initiatives

By Tom Phelps Does this sound familiar?  Analytics: “We show average dollars per customer has declined year over year.” Marketing: “We show average dollars per customer has increased year over year.” Analytics: “What numbers are you looking at?” Marketing: “We ...

Today’s Workforce Is Not Just Diverse, It Is Entirely Unique

By Kate Gorman  As fast as our marketplace is evolving, our human infrastructures are commanding change to keep up. Organizational charts by department, linear work streams, strict job descriptions and localized search are becoming as outdated ...

It is 2022, Is the Supply Chain Fixed Yet?

By Wolfgang Hoffman Retailers and consumers alike have made supply chain a household conversation. With favorite brands missing from the shelves and out of stock messages showering the websites, all of us went into a pre-holiday ...

inclusion

Building an Inclusive Professional Community

By Michele Harris We know that change comes with time and that true change is more evolution than revolution. As we move towards a more equitable society, it is important that we take moments to remind ...

The 2022 L.I.S.T for Success in the New Year

By Daniel Binder
The key to retail success in 2022 and beyond requires continued investment that commits a fully integrated OMNI Channel experience.  The shift to OMNI Channel has been swift as the industry has evolved from a traditional brick and mortar environment, to E-Commerce then to Multi Channel

Unified Commerce = Managing the Customer Experience

By Lynn Hughes
Like many retail phrases and terms, unified commerce has been lumped in with multi-channel and omnichannel simply as a means of selling across platforms and locations. While this may be true, it is certainly not the full vision of what it means to be unified.

Columbus Consulting is Proud to Brag about its new partnership with the Black Retail Action Group

By Brad Eckhart
The Black Retail Action Group (BRAG), established in 1970, is a 501 c 3 non-profit organization that prepares and educates professionals, entrepreneurs and students for executive leadership in retail, fashion and related industries.

The Future of the Retail Workforce is Different Than You Think

Retailers have been in a unique position for years having to deal with staffing stores domestically and internationally, building and retaining talent at corporate offices, scaling teams seasonally in warehouses/fulfillment and distribution centers, and managing remote/virtual

How Retailers Can Modernize Fulfillment

By Richard von Hirschberg
Let’s face it, the supply chain as we once knew it has been forever changed. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve read about furniture deliveries and new iPhone sales being delayed due to Covid-19 outbreaks in China and Vietnam.

Supply Chain Issues On Your Mind? Ours Too. Here Are the Three Things Retailers Need to Do Now

By Wolfgang Hoffman
Most consumers never considered how goods arrived at stores, but retailers certainly have been toiling over how to establish and streamline inventory delivery and fulfillment systems for decades.

Digital, Sustainable, Collaborative Highlight Top Themes From This Year’s Retail Week Live In London

By Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski
#Retail Week Live just wrapped up in the UK where retailers from around the world gathered in a much anticipated post Covid event.

Top 5 Just In Time Holiday Readiness Tips

By Daniel Binder
GEAR UP FOR CONVENIENCE AND SEAMLESS TRANSACTIONS: While major technology developments are not feasible to address between now and Black Friday, aligning all of your service channels with consistency of messaging and offerings is something you should address now.

Compressing the Supply Chain to Connect with Your Consumer

By Wolfgang Hoffman
I need to be honest. I was one of those skeptics about online shopping back in the mid-90s and well into the 2000s when Amazon was revolutionizing the shopping experience. I was comfortable and complacent with the brick-and-mortar shopping experience both as a consumer and as a supply chain professional

Marketplaces Make Money

By Brad Eckhart
With growing consumer dependence on sites like Amazon, Uber and Airbnb, we are squarely in a platform economy. This means that a significant amount of buying and selling today takes place via an online platform or technology framework. Savvy retailers are shifting to digital-first transactions – and benefit from engagement and sales

covid complicated fulfillment

New Omnichannel Opportunity from Covid-Complicated Fulfillment

By Kavindra Malik 
Omnichannel fulfillment has always been a challenge for retailers and its complexity is only growing. Covid-19 changed our world and retailers have faced renewed difficulty maintaining an attractive assortment and stock availability, balancing online orders with weaker demand in some store locations.

Order Fulfillment

Fulfillment – Retail’s New Loyalty Factor

By Rich Pedott
Covid has forced many retailers to make dramatic shifts toward digital transformation of their business models. Many have successfully pivoted to offer services including BOPIS, curbside pick-up, and same-day home delivery across their digital, customer facing touchpoints.

OmniChannel KPI

Measuring the New Normal: Retail’s KPI Challenge

By Rich Pedott
The media has been busy proclaiming the coming death of both the store and experiential retailing in a voice that has grown progressively louder over the course of the last decade. The scourge of Covid-19 is now being touted as the cataclysmic event that will signal the coming of a dramatic shift in the channel mix of retail.

Free Tools to Help Manage Low / Missing Sales

Columbus Consulting invested time, skills and talent into our relationship with retailers / brands to help the industry move forward through this difficult period. We have developed two tools that provide support for dealing with ...

Retail Transformation

Creating A Culture Of Continuous Transformation

Testing, learning and pivoting haven’t necessarily been retailers’ strong points. Right before COVID-19 hit, many businesses were still struggling with legacy infrastructures and disjointed processes. These legacy qualities inhibited them from responding ...

Consumer Mindset

CONSUMER MINDSET IN THE COVID-19 ERA

Consumers are placing far more emphasis on value than they did before the crisis, suggesting that it is having a big impact on people’s buying habits.

Information Technology

How IT Leads in the COVID-19 Era

As CIO’s tackle the immediate short term and tactical needs of the organization, they must also look to the future and prepare to support their organization and service the consumer in the post COVID-19 Era.

Retail Transformation

Retailers Need to be Transformation Journey Leaders, Now More than Ever

We know that retail is going to transform into a different world than the one we knew before COVID-19. As retailers, we’ve all had conversations on how the industry’s landscape is constantly changing.

Covid-19 Crisis Management

COVID-19 Crisis Management: Sharing My Retail Lessons Learned

While the coronavirus has caused unprecedented disruption in the retail industry, some aspects of this pandemic are not entirely unique.

Anaplan Retail Planning

Retail Planning: The Business Case for Anaplan

By Jared Dolich
Anaplan is an ideal platform to enable virtually all retail, wholesale, and ecommerce planning activities. The value provided by Anaplan combines the flexibility of spreadsheets and the connected business drivers in today’s most common point solutions. But the best part is that when fully deployed to the organization

Labor Management

Preparing for Data Driven Labor Management

One of the major impacts of the continual march of “Omni” retailing is to re-define the role of the store and the staff who service it. Experiential shopping doesn’t happen by accident, and exceptional customer service ...

Merchandising

Planning and Managing the Critical Aspects of a Full Merchandising Season

By Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski
Retailers could learn a lot from the Italian micro-economist Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto, who in 1906 came up with the principle that is sometimes known as the 80/20 rule.

Draper Roundtable

Drapers Roundtable Breakfast

By Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski
Over more than just coffee and croissants in a nice upmarket London hotel, merchandise and planning experts debated if NOW was the time to move off spreadsheets and onto more formal planning solutions.

On Time Execution

Executing On Time

By Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski
think we all know that great apparel brands maintain competitive advantage by consistently executing on time. Executing late, or under constant pressure, is not a mark of creativity. It’s just bad management.

OmniChannel Retailing

omnichannel

By Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski
Omni-channel, cross-channel, or all-channel retailing--whatever you may call it, retailers of all sizes are struggling to get it right. The goal is to satisfy customers who want a consistent shopping experience in the store, through e-commerce, and through catalogues and call centres.

Agile Retailing

Agile

By Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski
The current pace of social, economic, technical, and environmental change appears likely to continue or accelerate nearly everywhere in the world. If adaptation is key to survival, retailers must strive to be ever more agile. But adaptation in response to change is defensive and reactive.

Case Studies

Hibbett | City Gear

Hibbett | City Gear, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, was founded in 1945. Nearly 80 years later, it has grown to a leading footwear and athleisure fashion retailer with over 1,100 Hibbett and City Gear specialty stores. Located in 36 states nationwide, Hibbett prides itself on a rich history of serving customers with convenient locations, superior personalized customer service and access to coveted footwear, apparel and accessories from top brands like Nike, Jordan, adidas, Under Armour, PUMA and New Balance. Hibbett’s “toe to head” strategy focuses on popular styles, new releases, and curated looks.

Christmas Tree Shops

Founded in 1920 as a brick-and-mortar destination, Christmas Tree Shops was a New England/East Coast attraction. The 23 store-based, family-owned brand was acquired by Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) in 2003 and grew to 80 stores with over 5,700 employees in 20 states under their ownership. Fast-forward to new C-Suite leadership and a refocused strategy on a narrow portfolio, the brand was put on the market in 2020 and purchased by Pam and Marc Salkovitz as Handil Holdings.

Malin+Goetz

In 2004, Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz set out to modernize the traditional apothecary concept, creating MALIN+GOETZ out of their New York City apartment. The company started with a mission to simplify skincare in a cluttered and overwhelming marketplace. Made for all skin types and genders, especially those with sensitive skin, the brand initially launched with a curated assortment of six core essentials for the face, body and hair, all positioned to smell good, feel good, and work efficiently while looking good in one’s bathroom. MALIN+GOETZ has since expanded to an assortment of 100+ SKUs, including handcrafted candles and dynamic, gender-neutral fragrances.

Helzberg Diamonds

For more than a century, Helzberg Diamonds has been devoted to celebrating everyday moments and important milestones alike, with a mission to make people feel loved. The first Helzberg Jewelry Store opened its doors in 1915 on Kansas City’s Minnesota Avenue. Since then, the retailer has grown into a family of more than 170 stores across the nation, creating a legacy “built on trust, knowledge and high-quality diamonds at an incredible price.”

At Home

At Home

Making a House a Home: At Home’s Journey to Becoming the Leading Home Décor Retailer Download This Case Study What makes a house a “home?” Ask a dozen people that question, and you’ll get profoundly varied answers ...

Eileen fisher

Eileen Fisher

EILEEN FISHER Outlines Processes to Drive Sustainable Design By 2020 Download This Case Study At EILEEN FISHER, the design process goes beyond the material. For over 30 years, EILEEN FISHER has delivered modern apparel that not only ...

Talbots

Talbots

Change Management Behind the Red Door: Talbots Modernizes with Planning Process Reboot Download This Case Study Talbots has nostalgic and entrepreneurial roots, self-described as a company “inspired by a joy of discovery.” A 1947 ad placed in ...

Hunkemoller

What began as a single shop for corsets in Amsterdam in 1886 has grown to an international brand today, selling lingerie, swimwear and nightwear in more than 900 stores in 19 countries. Hunkemöller currently has a strategic vision to grow to 1,300 stores in the next five years, while striving for omni-channel excellence so that a Shero can shop whenever and however she wants.

Carhartt Outer Wear

Carhartt

Achieving Carhartt – Operating Model Alignment / Business Transformation Download This Case Study Columbus Consulting facilitated the redesign and implementation of Carhartt’s Design to Delivery business processes, synchronizing enterprise wide functional areas, delivering optimal visibility, flexibility and ...

White Papers

supply chain shipping carrier

Successful Omnichannel Strategies Are Built on the First 10,000 Miles of the Supply Chain

HOW CAN RETAILERS MODERNIZE FULFILLMENT? The supply chain as we once knew it has been forever changed. Global supply chain issues have been fueled by pandemic factory closings, reduced labor forces and bottlenecks in shipping and ...

MP&A

Managing Your MP&A Team Through COVID – 19

By Richard Pedott Many of us have had to manage a crisis before. It may have been a small scale one such as a natural disaster confined to individual markets like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy ...

Inventory Optimization

Increase Sales and Fulfillment Across Multiple Channels Through Inventory Optimization

By Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski in collaboration with Mi9 Retail June 2019 The soul of a retailer lies in its stores. It can be seen and felt. It is what makes the brand an exciting place with a distinctive ...

Frictionless Shopping

Can today’s retailers adapt to the need for frictionless shopping?

By Island Pacific in collaboration with Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski June 2019 Retail is facing a seismic shift New technology, the internet, social media and an empowered, fickle and less brand-loyal consumer have combined to create a new phenomenon. We ...

Planning Allocation Island Pacific

Planning, Allocation, Demand Forecasting

By Island Pacific in collaboration with Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski March 2019 How do retailers measure Return on Investment (ROI) from new systems implementations? Technology is transforming every aspect of the retail business, often at a dizzying rate. Innovations that ...

International Growth Island Pacific

How to effectively manage international growth in today’s multichannel environment

By Island Pacific in collaboration with Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski March 2019 Is it possible to create a truly successful international and multi-channel brand? On the face of it, it is easy to understand why any retailers might succumb to ...

Project Management

Project Management in Merchandise Planning and Allocation – Understanding the Basics

By Columbus Consulting With any major business undertaking, proper project management plays a huge role in the success or failure of the endeavor. Managing a project from the initial idea, through planning and execution, can be ...

Labor Management

Labor Management – Understanding the Basics

By Columbus Consulting No matter how many robots, kiosks and other fancy machines are created to improve the in-store experience, retail stores still need human power to operate and the personalized customer services provided by store ...

Assortment Planning

Assortment Planning – Understanding the Basics

By Columbus Consulting Assortment Planning is like a box of chocolates. No really. The next time you have a box of chocolates, take a look at what you have. There are lots of choices that you ...

Grading

Grading, Clustering and Store Attributing – Understanding the Basics

By Columbus Consulting Retailers are always looking for ways to achieve the highest margins and least amount of markdowns for merchandise at each store. The key is to assign the merchandise where it is most likely ...

Relex WP

Planning & managing the critical aspects of a full merchandising season

By Charlotte Kula-Przezwanski, Columbus Consulting and Mikko Kärkkäinen, Relex January 2017 In this co-authored white paper with Relex, we discuss the practical aspects of executing a disciplined and organized planning and buying process, and we identify the ...

Enterprise Performance Management

Enterprise Performance Management – Understanding The Basics

By Columbus Consulting Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) is an area of software and process which is designed to guide and connect companies through the planning, analytics and reporting activities across the entire organization. Download This White Paper

Allocation

Allocation – Understanding The Basics

By Columbus Consulting At its core, allocation is the optimal deployment of inventory to best meet customer demand. It is usually the last step in the merchandise lifecycle before the sale. Allocation originated from merchandising, when ...

Merchandise Planning

Merchandise Planning – Understanding the Basics

By Columbus Consulting Every planning professional or retail executive knows the answer to this question, right? In reality, though, it’s not that simple. Merchandise Planning (or Merchandise Financial Planning) means different things to different people depending ...

Spreadsheets To Software

Spreadsheets to Software

This white paper produced in collaboration with Island Pacific focuses on the urgency around moving your company away from a purely spreadsheet driven enterprise and onto a more reliable planning solution. Through analysis ...

On Time Execution

Executing On Time

Do you have friends who always run late? It’s annoying, right? When they keep you waiting, you’re not so eager to see them next time. So it is with customers. If you don’t give them what they ...

Agile Retailing

Agile Retailing

Change has always been a constant in retail and the current levels of uncertainty and disruption are likely to continue. Now more than ever, Agility is as important as efficiency and effectiveness. Columbus Consulting have just ...

Faster Product Development

Faster Product Development

The search is over for real world insights and practical steps to shorten ‘concept to customer’ timelines. Download Columbus Consulting’s latest White Paper to learn from industry experts and start your company on the path to ...

OmniChannel Retailing

Omni Channel Retailing

Inside you’ll discover: 6 things you must do, in sequence, to deliver the cross-channel shopping experience your customers expect.2 key internal factors many retailers neglect or ignore–to their disadvantage–in pursuing omni-channel initiatives.3 project-planning forms to help ...

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