Point of View

Retailers’ Search for New Growth Opportunities Requires a Streamlined Operations Model

Download this Point of View to understand the three pillars of a streamlined operations strategy for brand expansion and international growth which must include creation of one view of demand…..

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Point of View


Merchandising 3.0 – Why Retailers Need to Find the Perfect Blend of Art + Science to Be Relevant to Shoppers Again

To truly achieve the vision of a frictionless, personalized, channel-agnostic customer-experience, retailers will need to evolve the merchandising function to be unified across the merchandising process…..

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Point of View


Inventory Optimization – A Key Ingredient for Increasing Customer Satisfaction

With high expectations of the new age customer and need for accurate and timely omnichannel fulfillment data, retailers need automated and accurate inventory….

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Point of View


Empowered and Engaged Employees are Central to Improving Customer Experience

The retailers that will separate themselves from the rest in terms of in-store experience will be those who, in addition to strategic technology adoption and business process change, will focus on….

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The Case for Improved In-Store Labor Standards

The ever-dynamic retail industry is still not there when it comes to a structured set of operational standards in store. One such key concern area for retailers is related to labor standards and labor hour models where retailers are seeking standardization of processes. EKN data has shown how labor standard implementations have resulted in increased customer satisfaction and customer engagement rate, besides driving several operational efficiencies in the stores. This EKN point of view discusses how customer satisfaction, operational efficiencies and labor productivity can be addressed by properly implementing labor standards, task management and work measurement models. Download Full...

Plugging Out-of-Stock Gaps in Consumer Goods

Despite years of research to root out inventory problems, out-of-stock in the distribution centers and sales channels is still costing the consumer goods industry billions of dollars. While some of the causes are self-inflicted, others are out of control of the consumer brands. This sets a huge challenge for the brand to figure out agile strategies to plug the varied gaps in the sales and distribution channel so as to minimize loss owing to such out-of-stocks. The primer reviews and provides some fresh ideas to contain out-of-stock challenges that consumer brands continue to face. Download Full...

The Dynamic Pricing War: Retailers Need Answers in the Face of Extreme Competition

The price of a product plays an important role in purchasing decision of a consumer. To tap this, retailers have showered consumers with unseasonal price breaks and promotions to match up to the unwavering digital and off-price competition. However, what they lack is effectiveness of such promotions which will have a long-standing effect on their profitability. Pricing and promotions need to be rightly balanced by a sound strategy which will give them a better understanding of the consumer. The primer takes a look at the trends and challenges in the industry and provides actionable insights. Download this  prescriptive guide for retailers to maximize price and promotion effectiveness for consumers. Download Full...


Improving Store Labor Standards: A Key Ingredient for Successful Store Execution

While the chorus around omnichannel and digital commerce’s growing impact and the need to transform stores becomes louder every day, retailers need to account for how these changes affect the work associates perform and the store’s labor budget. The reality is that a majority of retailers are unsure of how to upgrade labor standards and labor hours for maximizing store productivity and ensuring smooth operations. Labor standards are defined as the average amount of time it takes for store associates and managers to complete customer service, sales and operational tasks in the store. Retailers use a varied set of sales, customer service and operational labor standards for day-to-day store execution. In order to achieve consistent store execution, retailers need to ensure that all these standards are always in line with constantly evolving customer expectations, labor regulations and related store labor policies/procedures. Effective labor standards and related standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the stores include accurate labor planning for all tasks, performance evaluation, insights for operational improvements and cost minimization and above all documentation of the best methods. EKN recently conducted a survey of 63 US retailers and spoke to several softlines and hardlines retail executives to understand their viewpoint on this key retail store execution area. The general consensus is that labor standards are not well documented or updated effectively within the retail organization. In fact, nearly two-thirds of retailers (64%) update labor standards and labor hour models infrequently- range from quarterly, annual or on an ad-hoc basis. Another major business pain that retailers are experiencing is the lack of proper organizational management and consensus on issues related to...

Lack of a Demand-Centric Pricing Strategy is a Big Stumbling Block for Retailers

Best-in-Class retailers are responding to competitors including the likes of Amazon by undertaking price changes in close to real-time by using advanced competitive pricing analytics, price elasticity analysis and in some cases even using smart shelves for real-time dynamic pricing updates. Dynamic pricing takes a consumer’s perceived ability to pay for a product. On the other end of the spectrum, most other retailers are facing the wrath of unrelenting promotional pricing pressures and sub-optimal markdowns that are hurting operating profit and margin. Lack of optimization and dynamic approaches in pricing, promotions and markdowns gets translated into loss in operating profit, gross margin and inventory turns. Despite having the knowledge that effective pricing and promotions is the key to remain competitive, both large (turnover over $1 bn.), and mid-market retailers (turnover between $100 mn. and $1 bn.), have faced challenges in such implementations. EKN surveyed 105 softlines and hardlines retailers in November 2016 of which the larger retailers highlighted the top 2 challenges as (1) lack of actionable pricing & promotion analytics to drive profitable decisions and (2) inability to measure pricing or promotion effectiveness and financial impact. For mid-market retailers, the main challenges faced are (1) increased vendor costs and ineffective vendor negotiations and (2) inability to connect pricing, promotions and markdown approach to a company strategy. It is quite evident that large and mid-market retailers are struggling to connect the dots between pricing and promotion effectiveness and profitability. Is a more dynamic pricing approach the answer to the retailers’ problems? Retailers have tried to adapt themselves in this dynamic environment by resorting to frequent in-store price-related changes which...

Global Sourcing Uncertainties Continue Amid Brexit, Commodities Market Slump and Currency Fluctuations, Reports CBX Q3’16 Retail Sourcing Study

The continued uncertainty in Europe over Brexit, rising wage pressures in low cost sourcing countries, low commodity prices, weak freight transit  and major currency fluctuations are shaping a rather grim sourcing and supply chain outlook, according to CBX’s Q3 2016 retail sourcing report. In fact, the aforementioned results are in line with EKN’s own Q2 2016 retail private label sourcing study that indicates significant headwinds being felt by retailers in terms lack of speed to market, global commodity price sensitivity, high merchandise unit costs, among other business pressures. While other uncertainties across economic indicators, manufacturing activity, currencies, transit and commodities are evident, CBX’s report indicates that Brexit’s true impact will play out in the next two years. It remains to be seen how Brexit will impact retailers and their trading partners that do multi-country sourcing or deal in trading with or through UK and other European countries. The report provides useful synthesis of varied economic and supply chain indicators that can impact overall retail branding and private label private sourcing. The data has some particularly useful insights and implications for apparel, fashion, specialty and other softlines companies that source products from low-cost international countries through their own buying offices or agents. Nearly 1 in 2 retailers (45%) source through their own international operations or buying agents like Li & Fung1. Among the top 8 global sourcing impact points covered in CBX’s report, most do not indicate a positive Q2 performance. Moreover the outlook towards forward looking macro-economic measures (i.e. infrastructure, labor etc.), manufacturing indices and freight demand scenarios do not seem that positive either, except for a handful of...




EKN is a boutique research and advisory firm focused on business-technology insights in the consumer industries of retail, consumer goods, travel and hospitality. Our goal is to fill a gap in the industry by offering prescriptive insights on topics of greatest importance to our audience, and to assist business and technology executives in discovering disruptive technologies and vendors.