News archive: 2015

FT.com: Online and real shops merge into a seamless customer experience.

There are few shops that can boast having 1m customer visits within three months. But then, there are not many stores in which you will find an alligator swamp, a 13-lane bowling alley, a 23-storey freestanding glass elevator and a hotel.

Bass Pro, a chain of outdoor sports shops, opened the emporium in a 535,000 square foot, glass-clad pyramid in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, in April. The pyramid, a former sports arena that had been derelict for the best part of a decade, is now the biggest of Bass Pro’s 90 shops.

It represents an extraordinary investment in retail at a time when most of the industry is grappling with the economics of their business models in response to the rise of dedicated online retailers, such as China’s Alibaba and Amazon of the US.

Yet this store was conceived of as a response to the rise of online purchasing: shopping as entertainment. Bass Pro’s founder, John Morris, was named as one of the 25 “People Shaping Retail’s Future” this year by the US National Retail Federation Foundation, an industry body.

The emphasis throughout the various departments — including camping, water sports, footwear and outdoor gear — is on fun and on experiencing the products on offer — whether by shooting a gun, learning how to tie a fishing fly or getting a fishing lesson in one of the ponds.

The pyramid may be an extreme example but many of its features are present in smaller Bass Pro shops, one reason why the typical customer lingers in them for almost two hours — four times the average time spent in shops, according to Paul Martin, managing director of KPMG Boxwood, a consultancy.

“People try the product and have an experience that brings it to life,” he says. This leads to higher sales. “The conversion rates [the number of visitors who buy something] with this in-store experience are much higher and shoppers’ basket sizes are also a lot bigger.”

Russell Willcox, chairman of Box Technologies, a UK-based consultancy, says replicating, and improving on, the online experience is how to win the battle for shoppers will be lost of won. For all retailers this involves trying to make shopping more convenient and pleasurable.

Opening more smaller convenience stores has also made it easier for people to top up a big online shop locally. But, once inside, customers’ tolerance for long queues is a thing of the past. Hence the proliferation of self-service checkouts, with staff on hand to sort out difficulties with machines quickly.

J Sainsbury, one of the UK’s largest grocery chains, said in October that it was testing quicker checkout methods, including a shopping app. This lets a customer scan in their shopping list at home before they head to the shop, where their mobile shows them where their items are located. The shopper then pays via their mobile.

In addition to convenience, shopping also has to be fun. These days you have to be as much a sociologist as retailer in thinking up enjoyable ways for people to shop, says José Carlos González-Hurtado, president of international for IRI, a consultancy, and a former senior executive at Carrefour, France’s biggest retailer.

A “surprise” — such as an unexpectedly heavily-discounted item — is one method, he says and such methods have the additional benefit for the retailer of promoting impulse buying. This approach has been taken by Costco, the membership-based US retailer where shoppers discover items at a hefty discount available for a limited period.

Limited editions and a constant stream of new styles are also effective in enticing people into stores and getting them to spend money. H&M’s limited-edition collections from designers that have included Matthew Williamson, Sonia Rykiel and Alexander Wang, may sell out within hours, but the publicity generated by the association lasts a lot longer.

Stores must also realise that they are becoming a social playground, says David McCorquodale, UK head of retail at KPMG, a professional services firm. “Why do pensioners go shopping on a Saturday when the shops would be quieter on a weekday? It’s often because of the social aspect, the buzz and hubbub. Young people also want to go shopping as a reason to get out of the house with friends and have some fun.”

Most purchases are still made in shops, but the lines between in-store and online are blurring, Mr McCorquodale says. If someone chooses a shirt from a catalogue at home, pays for it online and picks it up in a shop, is that a catalogue, online, or in-store sale?

Providing an efficient omni or multichannel service by having the correct IT systems and dedicated staff is going to be the way of the future, says KPMG Boxwood’s Mr Martin.

“A lot of commentators try to describe the store and the online channel as being enemies . . . [but] they are allies if executed well,” Mr Martin says. “It’s all about that seamless integration of the channels.”

Scheherazade Daneshkhu, Consumer Industries Editor

November 2015
View Source

Essential Retail: Capacity for change critical for today’s retailers

The old static five-year-plan is no longer relevant in an ever changing complex trading environment, argues Paul Martin, managing director at Boxwood Insights, part of KPMG Boxwood.

October 2015
View Source

Essential Retail: Design operating models to cope with complexity

Retailers must keep complexity outside their organisations and not allow it to destroy efficiency on the inside, argues Paul Martin, Director at KPMG Boxwood.

October 2015
View Source

Cosmetics Business: Will the Chinese stock crash break beauty?

Our Anna Kuusela gives her opinion on the effect the recent economic upset will have on the cosmetics industry.

“While Black Monday alone may not be that significant for the cosmetics industry, when combined with the slowdown of the Chinese market, it starts to be a real challenge for many retailers. The market structure, along with currency constraints, will continue to put pressure on the industry, a huge part of which is made up of foreign enterprises. It will be interesting to see if Chinese consumers tighten their purse strings.”

September 2015
View Source

Cosmetics Business: Why is everyone buying into premium skincare?

​KPMG Boxwood Manager Anna Kuusela comments on the current trend towards premium skincare.

Essential Retail: Retail success requires employee engagement in big vision

Having a vision and expecting people to follow you, because you know best, won’t get you very far as a retail leader, argues Paul Martin, managing director of Boxwood Insights at KPMG Boxwood.

July 2015
View Source

Infrastructure Intelligence: Let’s get digital

The infrastructure sector needs visionaries and a will to collaborate if it wants to lead the march towards a world fit for the next generation, says Toby Ashong, Head of Infrastructure.

July 2015
View Source

Comment: Summer solstice offers some solace for retailers

Commenting on the latest ONS Retail Sales figures for June 2015 – Paul Martin, Managing Director Insights, KPMG Boxwood said:

“On the surface, this month’s ONS figures appear encouraging with sales volumes increasing by 4.0% over the same period in 2015 - the 27th consecutive month of year-on-year growth. However, compared to last month’s numbers, the quantity bought fell 0.2% and all store types saw a decrease in average store price compared…read more

July 2015
View Source

Utility Week: The rule of Three Letter Acronyms

Director of Infrastructure Toby Ashong gives his viewpoint on third party intermediaries (TPIs) in Utility Week. Do TPIs simplify a complex market or exploit customer ignorance?

July 2015
View Source

KPMG acquires Boxwood

Today, KPMG in the UK has acquired Boxwood - a deal with the award-winning business transformation firm will boost KPMG’s UK mid-market management consultancy practice.

Chris Wakerley, KPMG partner and managing director of Boxwood, added: “This move is tremendously exciting for Boxwood, our clients and our people. KPMG’s broad capabilities, extensive experience and global reach will further enhance the value that we can deliver for our clients. This will also create fantastic career opportunities for all of our current and future employees. We are very much looking forward to working with our new colleagues in KPMG and to the next stage of our development.”

Read more

June 2015
View Source

Essential Retail: Are department stores the ideal platform for online retailers?

Insights Director Paul Martin comments on the issue of online retailers developing a bricks and mortar presence in the wake of the BRC International Retailing conference.

June 2015
View Source

Essential Retail: Creating a relevant customer proposition in retail

The ability to evolve your core customer value proposition, and to stay relevant and attractive to your current and future shoppers is key for consumer-facing firms, says Boxwood’s Paul Martin.

June 2015
View Source

Rail Professional: Where now for UK rail?

​Now that a political derailment has been averted, what does the future hold for the rail industry? Head of Infrastructure Toby Ashong investigates on page 27 of this month’s Rail Professional.

June 2015
View Source

Boxwood Highly Commended at MCA Awards 2015

At the annual MCA Awards, held on 23 April 2015, Boxwood were Highly Commended in the Change Management in the Private Sector category for our work with Arco, experts in safety and the UK’s largest supplier of safety equipment.

Arco is a long-established leader in the workplace safety market – but their market was changing rapidly. Boxwood worked with the business to help them develop and implement a new, more relevant customer value proposition and operating model.

The results saw operating profit grow 32%, customer satisfaction reach highest–ever levels and colleague engagement scores rise dramatically – helping Arco transform its proud history into a sustainable future.

April 2015
View Source

Construction News: UK study calls for government infrastructure support

Our industry research paper on the future of UK infrastructure has highlighted a need for clear government support and policy direction after the General Election, to ensure that projects are delivered.

April 2015
View Source

Rail Professional: Perception is all

Head of Infrastructure Toby Ashong’s March column in Rail Professional addresses the topic: Value for money is in the eye of the beholder, and the retail world may have something to teach us.

March 2015
View Source

Retail Times: Black Friday, Click and Collect and polarisation define Christmas 2014

Boxwood’s Christmas Trading Report reveals the 2014 Christmas trading period proved to be even more challenging than usual for many retailers. An unseasonably mild autumn together with the chaotic scenes we saw on Black Friday and Cyber Monday left many retailers perplexed on how to effectively manage the holiday trading period. In particular, Christmas 2014 saw supply chains come under severe strain as record numbers of consumers moved online in search of best price and convenience. Nonetheless, there were some notable successes across the trading period for those who managed to plan adequately and, more importantly, execute their plans effectively.

March 2015
View Source

Utility Week: The utility time-bomb

The banks were too big to fail and the taxpayer had to bail them out, but might the same thing not be true of privately owned monopoly networks businesses? Our Head of Infrastructure Toby Ashong fears it is.

February 2015
View Source

Boxwood is shortlisted for the 2015 MCA awards

We are delighted to announce that Boxwood has been shortlisted for this year’s Management Consultancy Association(MCA) Awards, which will be announced in London on 23th April 2015. Our work with Arco has been shortlisted in the Change Management in the Private Sector category.

January 2015
View Source