Retail Consulting Agency: The Advantages of Partnering with an Outside Retail Management Firm
You’d be hard pressed to find an industry more dynamic than retail. It is perpetually evolving and advancing thanks to new breakthroughs that are changing the ways brands and retailers sell in physical stores, how they drive e-commerce, and how they link all their sales channels to deliver the omnichannel shopping journeys today’s customers demand.
In a recent State of Retail post, Brett Beveridge, CEO of The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC) and a Forbes author, briefly touches upon the new frontier opening up in retail. “It’s like the wild west all over again,” Beveridge points out, referencing how the pandemic actually accelerated the development of new retail technologies and strategies, as well as how retailers now face a more demanding customer who has come to expect omnichannel engagement opportunities. “One thing is for sure,” Beveridge adds, “retail is not going to be one of those industries that operates the same two, five, ten, fifteen years from now.”
Retail post-pandemic promises to be an even more rapidly evolving landscape, which is precisely why, now more than ever, brands and retails might want to consider partnering with a retail consulting agency.
What do retail consultants do?
A retail consulting agency is a third-party team that provides proven expertise and resources to help brands and retailers increase sales and optimize revenue. The reality is that most retail businesses are stretched pretty thin just handling their core responsibilities. The added people and technology resources necessary to operate at the forefront of all the various areas of retail – staffing, Retail 4.0 software solutions, consumer insights, managed technology, retail merchandising and marketing and other areas – simply requires more bandwidth than most retail companies have available through their in-house operations.
Retail consulting agencies, also often known as retail management companies, provide these services and best practices, operating as an extension of the brand or retailer’s in-house team. The difference is, by going with a retail consulting agency, companies are able to reap the rewards of advanced retail solutions without having to drive them internally or make heavy investments in the technology that makes them possible.
In short, an effective retail consulting agency brings its clients solutions that they would not be able to achieve on their own.
Seven advantages of going with a retail consulting agency.
So what do the technology and people solutions provided by retail consulting agencies mean for brands and retailers? Here are a few key advantages to going with a third-party retail partner.
1. They see what you don’t see.
Sometimes when you’re working in the thick of things, or when you’ve been going at a problem for a long time, it’s easy to become lost in the big picture. In other words, there are times that being too close to your own challenges can stand in the way of you clearly identifying them and, therefore, solving them. A retail consulting agency brings a fresh perspective your operational and sales challenges. They see things that you might miss, and this is among the greatest advantages of choosing a retail consulting agency. Fresh eyes often lead to fresh new approaches. Plus, remember that these are retail experts. Chances are they’ve addressed issues for other clients similar to those you’re facing. Who knows, they might even have the right solution already in place.
2. They bring new hearts and minds to your challenges.
One of the toughest aspects of running a brand or retail business is prioritizing human resources. A third-party retail consulting agency brings expertise to the table in the form of seasoned professionals who, for all intents and purposes, function as part of your in-house retail team. Whether sales staff, merchandising experts, brand ambassadors, retail technology teams, or customer engagement specialists, you’ll have more people tackling your challenges and driving the solutions without being forced to staff up internally.
3. Focused and scalable sales energy.
When you partner with a third-party retail consulting agency, you’re able to build a specific team to tackle very specific challenges. For example, maybe you don’t have the managed technology expertise that your business demands in house. A retail consulting agency can bring you a highly specialized team and the resources they need to be effective. Additionally, third-party solutions are scalable. You pay for what you need with the ability to quickly scale up or scale back depending on market and business requirements and fluctuations.
4. Making the tough calls and criticisms.
If you have the right retail consulting partner, the relationship is an open, honest and candid one. Sometimes, it’s hard to be objective about a program strategy, operational decision, or even a personnel problem when you’ve invested a lot of personal energy and time into that decision. A good third-party partner is one who will candidly call out dysfunctional processes and procedures. More importantly, they’ll show you why things aren’t working and offer up tangible ways to remedy the situation. At the end of the day, you want your retail consulting agency to be both your biggest advocate and your toughest critic.
5. Accountable ROI and cost efficiencies.
Retail consulting agencies, just like every other player in our industry, are measured by the results they achieve. Their entire purpose is to find ways to boost sales, lower operating expenses, and improve performance across the lifecycle of a retail business. Any solution or program a retail consulting agency brings you should include robust reporting as a central component. You should be able to see exactly what you’re getting in return for the consulting fees you’ve invested. Additionally, your retail partner will use these reports to make decisions and fine tune programs in order to maximize ROI. Your retail consulting agency should hold itself accountable for performance and be able show you the measurable results its bringing your business.
6. Proven best practices.
Any retail consulting agency worth partnering with has already developed a long list of best practices that have been proven over time in real-world sales and operational situations. Remember, these companies are led and staffed by seasoned branding and retail experts. As a client, you’ll have access to these best practices, which can certainly lead to improved performance.
7. Staying ahead of the technology curve.
The emergence of omnichannel retail has led to a boom in technology solutions that are driving sales in stores, online, over social commerce, at events and beyond. The catch is these technologies are usually far too costly for most brands and retailers to develop independently. Additionally, change is happening so rapidly that investing a lot of capital developing today’s solution just might leave you with an obsolete solution by the time tomorrow arrives. Partnering with a retail consulting agency, however, can give you access to the latest retail technology through software and hardware licensing agreements that don’t require you to shell out the substantial investment it would take to develop your own technology solutions.
Retail consulting agency services
Retail consulting or management companies usually offer a wide range of services all designed to drive sales, lower operating costs and increase performance. Typical retail consulting agency services include:
– Staffing (recruiting/training/onboarding)
– Brand ambassadors
– Omnichannel integration
– Retail technology (data and insights)
– Customer engagement
– Merchandising/store design
– Inventory management
– Managed technology solutions
– Consumer insights (mystery shopping/surveys)
– Competitive analysis
– Program tracking/reporting
Finding the right retail consulting agency
How do you know a retail consulting agency is a good fit for your brand or retail business? The reality is that the proof is in the pudding, so you won’t really know for certain if you’ve made the right call until the relationship begins. That being said, there are some important considerations worth mentioning that can help you narrow your search. For starters, does the consulting agency offer solutions in the areas of business that you’re most concerned about? For instance, if your current staffing program isn’t delivering the level of talent you want, make sure you choose a retail consulting agency with deep resources in staffing and assisted sales. It’s also always a good idea to ask about an agency’s past and present clients, including key case studies that clearly demonstrate program successes. If a company is able to provide you with impressive results they’ve achieved for other companies, they’re likely a strong candidate to do the same for your business.
If you found this post insightful, we invite you to learn more about retail consulting services, including staffing, technology, merchandising, inventory management and retail best practices at www.trocglobal.com. Be sure to check out our other retail-focused blogs at https://trocglobal.com/company/#blog.
TROC is the leading provider of premier staffing outsource, software, managed technology services, and consumer insights for the top global brands, retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and distributors. The company’s distinctive solutions address the entire lifecycle of brick and mortar brand and retail operations by combining retail expertise, best practices, and technology to help its customers achieve sales and operational excellence as well as a sustainable competitive advantage. As a Retail 4.0 thought leader, T-ROC enables companies with high-value products in the physical world to thrive through the digitalization of the physical shopping experience. To learn more about T-ROC, visit www.trocglobal.com.