Oliver Banks of OB&Co

Retail Transformation Briefing – 29th November

Published 3 months ago • 5 min read

Hi Reader,

A busy week in retail. The dust is settling from Black Friday weekend and focus shifts to the big push for peak trading. Who am I kidding - the focus was already there.

I'll keep this short as there are loads of headlines to share and thoughts about my upcoming book, but if you want to know my thoughts on Black Friday, then check out my LinkedIn post.

Retail transformation news headlines

🐶 Pets at Home have hinted at a new app for pet owners to make life easier and more convenient through a range of services. The app would allow customers varied options such as booking surgery appointments, attending virtual post-surgical consultations, checking vaccinations, managing pet food subscriptions, booking grooming appointments or click and collect options. This pet "super-app" sounds great and will naturally target their most loyal customers and help to expand awareness and custom across the whole group, further enhancing the customer lifetime value.

🔧 Amazon opened a new "Second Chance" store in London, featuring a repairs area. The store focuses on the opportunity of selling used returns and refurbished products and supports their circular economy initiatives. In partnership with Barnardos and GXO ServiceTech, the store includes a number of discounted products. The store also includes a Repairs Zone with on-site workshops to help customers learn how they can repair laptops and other consumer electronics devices at home.

👕 Meanwhile, recommerce marketplace, Depop, are working with Sook to launch a series of pop-up stores across the UK. The stores will encourage sellers to connect with customers and fans in real life. Depop are encouraging sellers to take the opportunity to take their businesses offline. This partnership represents another major company working with Sook and their highly flexible retail space rental plans.

💇‍♀️ Cosmetics retailer Lush are set to open their first salon at the weekend. The services at the Lush Hair Lab will use chemical-free natural hair dyes. The plan is for 100% of the salon's waste to be recycled, including all of the hair trimmings! Lush are often quoted or used as a great example for superb product demonstrations in store coupled with excellent service. This looks set to continue with this salon and it will be interesting to see if and how they plan to scale beyond a single site.

🤑 Shein seems to have secretly tried to file for IPO listing in the US. The discount retailer has submitted documents sharing their intent on a "confidential" basis, although it's not clear where the leak originated. Earlier in the year, the business was valued at $66b and it's believed they are now targetting an IPO where the business is worth $80-90b. However, there remain unanswered questions over ethics and practices across the supply chain, as well as major concerns about their sustainability footprint, IP infringement and their approach to avoid paying tax on imports.

🚲 Quick commerce courier company, Deliveroo, are expanding beyond restaurant food and groceries into categories such as toys, DIY and consumer electronics. Deliveroo Shopping is working with retailers like Screwfix and Boots to add ranges and gifting functionality in time for Christmas. COO Eric French said "Just as Deliveroo transformed the way people eat, we’re set to do the same to how people shop, bringing more of the local neighbourhood to people’s doors".

🍿 Walmart teased a new blend of content and commerce, themed around a festive rom-com movie-like storyline. The "Add to Heart" series will feature 20+ shoppable videos and over 300 products. The ultimate aim is to give inspiration and make it easy to transfer from watching directly to make a purchase. The series seems to lead on TikTok but also available through YouTube and Roku.

🎁 In the US, mall operator, Simon Property Group launched a new AI-powered gift guide, specific to retailer ranges. "HolidAI" is powered by ChatGPT and uses a product database specifically from retailers at a specific mall. I like the idea of how a mall operator is innovating to serve and help customers to explore the different retailers and their assortment in any one location.

🤖 And finally, Amazon announces a new workplace chatbot called "Amazon Q" which will help companies find and understand information. Revealed during an AWS conference, Q will quickly embed itself in a company to make data and content more accessible and help develop the business. Amazon are notoriously data hungry, and questions are often raised about how they actually use the data they have access to - both from consumers and businesses. They have a rich B2B customer list from AWS as well as their fulfilment services. So it feels like another close integration into the Amazon ecosystem is on the cards for some companies. How the AI treats increasingly sensitive business information as confidential and how it maintains walls and barriers between users and upto the main group will be big questions to answer.

Driving Retail Transformation: Book spotlight

My book, "Driving Retail Transformation: How to navigate disruption and change" is out on 5th March and is available for pre-order in bookstores and online. In fact this past week, it made it to the #1 spot on Amazon's hot new releases chart for retail books - and blown away that this is for the second time already!

In this spotlight section, I'm sharing more about the content and my writing experience. And today, I'm excited to share more about the theme of the book...

For a long time last year, I spent time drawing out mindmaps and trying to weave together a number of different points to find the essence of a book. There was a lot there! But as this year started, whilst I had a rough idea of the key elements to include in the content, I didn't know how to stitch it all together in a coherent and unique way.

Then, a moment of inspiration!

The recognition that transformation is like a journey where you're driving from A to B, navigating delays, roadblocks and diversions along the way. The driving metaphor was there and suddenly this felt like it unlocked the whole book.

The title, Driving Retail Transformation, and the subtitle leans into this. It inspired the front cover and the inside content. The metaphor gave the primary framework a name - the Retail Transformation Steering Wheel - and a clear purpose. Intentional action is vitally important in my view and coupled with the driving theme, it led me to ask a big question early on - whether you'll choose to be a passenger or the driver for this important journey.

Plus it enabled a few driving puns to keep me (and hopefully you) entertained through the book!

I'm really looking forward to hearing your thoughts when the book launches and if you've got any questions in the meantime, please reply to this email!

New podcast episode: Achieving alignment across silos - #266

Alignment is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of retail transformation. As modern retail organizations grapple with diverse functions, goals, and cultures, achieving alignment becomes essential to steer clear of confusion and inefficiency. Join me and explore the multifaceted nature of alignment, its impact both internally and externally, and I offer some practical insights into creating and maintaining cohesion. In particular, we'll focus on the necessity of alignment for consistent purpose, teamwork, effective communication, and decision-making. This episode is a must-listen for those navigating the complex retail transformation journey, seeking to harmonise various organizational elements towards a shared goal.

Take a listen to episode 266 of the Retail Transformation Show podcast and discover:

  • Understand the complexities of modern retail organizations and the critical role of alignment in managing diverse functions, goals, and ways of working.
  • Explore the consequences of misalignment, including confusion, inefficiency, and failure to meet objectives, and how it affects both the internal workings and customer perception and CX.
  • Gain insights into creating alignment, from establishing a clear vision and purpose to effective leadership, communication, and collaboration strategies.
  • Learn practical tools for achieving and maintaining alignment within your organization, as highlighted in Oliver Banks’s upcoming book “Driving Retail Transformation”.

Check out these recent episodes too:

#265: The challenges of unified commerce

#264: Golden nuggets from the fifth year of the podcast (part 2)

#263: Golden nuggets from the fifth year of the podcast (part 1)

Keep transforming better,


Oliver Banks of OB&Co

Oliver helps retailers to change and transform their operating models. He's the host of the Retail Transformation Show podcast and founder of the RetailTransformation.Live virtual event

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