The Australian retail industry has experienced a huge amount of change and uncertainty, requiring retailers to continually evolve and pivot their operating model to stay in business.

Our senior people have worked in retail for 25 years. That’s 25 years’ experience helping some of Australia’s largest and most important businesses to be more successful.

We bring our operational experience to bear across all elements of the retail value chain, from buying and ranging through supply chain and logistics, and technology transformation. We can also advise you on tax structuring and strategy, audit and tax compliance, benchmarking tools and workforce services. If you export or import, we can help you manage foreign exchange and tax risk in your business.

Top trends in Retail & Consumer Products

  • You need a digital storefront
    You need a digital storefront
    According to Australia Post, more than 200,000 Australians shopped online for the first time in April 2020.
  • Customers want a seamless online experience
    Customers want a seamless online experience
    This goes beyond the load time of the page and the ease of the transaction to speed of delivery, how easy the returns process is, and any extra perks to help build loyalty.
  • Bricks and mortar shops need to lift their game
    Bricks and mortar shops need to lift their game
    Get used to the word “curation” and make sure you are curating and rotating your best products to entice customers to not only come in, but stay and shop.

Our Retail & Consumer Products services

Consulting

Our consulting team supports its clients with hands-on and proactive advice on all aspects of their strategies for sustainable growth.

Audit

Grant Thornton’s expert audit approach will help you comply with regulations, and improve business strategies and internal processes.

Tax

We work with clients at all stages of their business lifecycle – and through all their organisation’s major events – to navigate tax obligations.

Payments advisory

We provide merchants-focused payments advice on all aspects of payment processes and technologies.

Areas of expertise

Buying and ranging

What products resonate and where? How do you price and when do you go on sale? How do you optimise your margins and how do you know if your promotions are effective? These are some of the challenges we tackle in tandem with our clients. We use your data and our well-honed approach to develop tailored trading reports, product lifecycle recommendations, and suggest enhancements to pricing architecture.

Planning and inventory

Retail planning is highly complex with merchandisers balancing pricing, stock weight and margin across multiple locations including online. We know a strong merchandising strategy supports better financial and demand planning, which flows on to inventory optimisation and operations planning. We are experienced with many forecasting systems, and can create forecasting tools and processes that help to automate processes and identity issues and irregularities well before they become problems.

Supply chain and logistics

Supply chains have become increasingly complex, with goods and products sourced from an ever expanding array of locations. These supply chains can prove to be fragile, and subject to risk. It’s important then, to manage your supply chains by planning your networks, contract and tender management to ensure you have reliable and secure relationships in place. Understanding the connections between you and your suppliers – your transport networks, warehouse management and borders and customs can help you to reduce friction in your logistics.

To get products in can be just as complicated as getting products out – particularly in an environment of shifting trade partnerships and new trade deals. Understanding the most expedient way to move product around your supply chain is essential.

Are you an Australian Trusted Trader?

Retail operations

Bricks-and-mortar retail spaces have lost ground to online retail, but they are still essential to the whole consumer experience. The challenge then is to give consumers a reason to put their devices down and not only come in store, but to stay. This starts with the space – with many retailers moving away from the typical 'warehouse'-style shop front to create curated experiences, ever-evolving and showcasing the latest trends and products. This is complemented by your people, with rostering becoming untethered to specific stores to allow a smaller workforce to support a larger network. A sign of the times, your back-of-store and in-store fulfilment of online orders needs to be as seamless as your front of store to keep consumers coming back time and time again.

Read who needs stores anyway?

Strategy

Challenging market conditions can place pressure on management and boards to reduce costs, while growing revenue and executing new initiatives. We work closely with you to navigate these complex and contradictory pressures; using our own methodology to help articulate and develop your strategic plans, focusing tightly on commercial outcomes in the context of your goals and core competencies.

As we’ve mentioned, we don’t just advise and leave – and the same applies to designing the strategy. We work as a team to solve your complex issues and implement solutions together.

Leadership and change

All organisations grapple with change, and never has the retail sector been faced with a more challenging marketplace than now. This invariably leads to internal change and people movements – the temptation may be to 'plug' the hole as quickly as possible. Alternatively, it can be an opportunity to benefit from the experience, objectivity, planning and accountability of an interim leader. Our senior team members can perform short-term interim leadership roles at General Manager or C-suite level across finance, merchandise, supply chain, online, store operations and information technology. In addition, we can support and coach existing leaders within your business.

We are experienced in managing large change programs across multiple functions. Using our own project management methodology, we advocate an ‘activist’ PMO and project management approach so risks, issues and dependencies are uncovered as early as possible in the implementation timeline. Our breadth of functional experience across sourcing, buying, planning, logistics, supply chain, IT and store operations provides for robust discussion, debate and delivery.

Technology

Almost every organisational change program includes an information technology workstream or project, so we integrate IT into our core service offering. We review existing technology environments, provide project teams that solve problems and help when specific resources are needed. When used right, technology becomes the ultimate enabler – providing transparent and real-time insights across your whole business, from the bottom line through to demand, inventory and workforce requirements.

Learn more about where to invest in technology

Digital and online

In order to remain competitive in today’s market most retailers are investing in their online offering. The fundamental challenge of online retail is developing an efficient fulfilment model. It’s not something you can ignore, with many of the first time online shoppers from 2020 converted to the efficiency and convenience of click and collect and speedy delivery. We have experience in delivering and optimising online fulfilment and model rollout, as well as the essential integration of online into merchandise and store operations. It’s worth the effort to only integrate digital into your current operations, but to also review and use the data to continually improve your processes. The online experience, from being able to view products through to a painless payment, speedy delivery and competitive returns policies will be deciding factors in where consumers choose to spend their dollar.

Read Shift Happens: Australian retailers embrace online shopping here

Payments

Cash, savings or credit were the typical methods of paying for products for decades. However, in a few short years we’re seeing new ways of making purchases that will transform retail. Buy Now, Pay Later has exploded as an alternative to credit. Cryptocurrency is increasingly becoming a commodity not just to mine and trade, but also to transact with. If you’re looking to diversify your transaction options, it’s important to understand the risks as well as the opportunities in what is an exciting and as yet largely unregulated sub-sector.

Read about the RBA’s retail payments regulation review

Compliance and risk mitigation

The retail & consumer products sector is beholden to their supply chains and regulation to improve the quality and transparency of how the sector operates. Modern Slavery Reporting is a recent example of a vital piece of regulation that has added complexity for the retail sector simply by virtue of the complexity of their inventories. Then there are issues around wage theft and payroll assurance, as well as the ever increasing risk of cybercrime impacting not just your business, but also your customers. Whether it’s tax, audit or risk, we cut through the compliance and complexity.

Learn more about how we help clients mitigate risk

Get in touch

Luke Ritchie
Partner & National Head of Retail & Consumer Products
Luke Ritchie
Learn more about Luke Ritchie
Luke Ritchie
Partner & National Head of Retail & Consumer Products
Luke Ritchie

Get in touch

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Luke Ritchie
INDUSTRY

At Grant Thornton, we are retail.

Podcasts

Listen to Luke Ritchie, National Head of Retail & Consumer Products talk about trends and issues facing the sector right now.

Operations transformation

Client challenge
Client challenge
Client challenge
Target Australia was facing stalling revenue and steadily growing costs, with core functions not aligned and working together across the business. The merchandise and supply chain functions were driving significant excess stock volume to stores. Unprofitable stores were driving cost into the supply chain, whilst inefficient distribution centre and transport operations were driving cost.
The solution
The solution
The solution
The Grant Thornton team worked with the Target Australia leadership team to instigate an end-to-end process alignment and profitability improvement program which we called FACTORY-TO-CUSTOMER. The program was designed to streamline operations from the source of a product throughout its journey into the customer’s hands. Program workstreams included Product Sourcing, Planning, Logistics, Online, Store Operations and IT Systems. Grant Thornton co-designed and led the program, managing the program governance and commercial benefits tracking.
The outcome
The outcome
The outcome
The project resulted in: major cost reduction through the supply chain, through improved operations, removal of inefficient process and the incorporation of automation in two major distribution centres; enhanced product margin through streamlined product planning and enhanced stock management driving out excess stock; reduced cost base through consolidation of organisational structure around product forecasting and replenishment.
Find out more

Trading terms optimisation

Client challenge
Client challenge
Client challenge
David Jones had not formally reviewed its supplier trading terms from a corporate end-to-end view for several years and their trading income was not growing in line with sales. An initial ‘discovery’ phase quantified a significant opportunity across the business. Grant Thornton was engaged to undertake a comprehensive planning and execution engagement to deliver the identified supplier benefits. At the same time, the client was making significant changes to its supply chain operations and, therefore, these two activities were to be closely aligned.
The solution
The solution
The solution
David Jones required additional capacity to support them in the quantification, planning and execution of a structured supplier trading terms negotiation program. The team at Grant Thornton drove the following activities and tasks: establishing program governance; opportunity methodology and quantification of opportunity by supplier and trading terms; supplier engagement strategy and segmentation; preparation of supplier negotiation materials – the ‘playbook’ for each category; benefits tracking and capture.
The outcome
The outcome
The outcome
A key outcome of this engagement was to assist David Jones to run a program of works aimed at improving overall margin through collaborative negotiations with strategic partners (ie suppliers). As a result, David Jones was able to achieve their targeted in-year benefits.
Find out more

Workforce planning

Client challenge
Client challenge
Client challenge
Super Retail Group had announced a significant underpayment of employees over several years, based on inadequate processes underpinning time and attendance. The client wanted to lock down its compliance in this area, and then explore how improved tools could help them better plan their labour spend to customer demand.
The solution
The solution
The solution
The team at Grant Thornton worked closely with the core HR and project delivery team to establish a process by which the best system solution could be selected, and to develop an investment business case for the Board. The challenge of different processes across the different customer brands of the client added complexity to the project but also offered opportunities to streamline processes and optimise labour cost. We then worked collaboratively with the chosen software vendor to commence the rollout of the new solution across the business.
The outcome
The outcome
The outcome
The project resulted in a fully compliant system and process covering employee time and attendance and significant streamlining of processes which will drive significant labour cost savings.
Find out more

Whistleblowing and payroll assurance

Client challenge
Client challenge
Client challenge
After European investors acquired a controlling interest in an Australian fashion retailer, contractual disputes resulted in employees blowing the whistle on potential underpayments of salary and wages and superannuation to authorities. The organisation needed to respond immediately and effectively to rectify the issue internally, but also to ensure they were meeting their obligations as set out by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The solution
The solution
The solution
Grant Thornton – led by the firm’s forensics and tax experts, backed by dedicated-technology for data analytics and automation – was engaged to undertake an immediate confidential review of claims, including quantification of under-reporting and liaising on behalf of the company with relevant statutory authorities to mitigate financial and corporate risk.
The outcome
The outcome
The outcome
The team was able to apply a full and comprehensive review covering all bases: focusing on statutory requirements at play for this organisation and its people, spotting exposure points, and developing compliance and mitigation controls. This was combined with the support of data analytics and automation tools for accuracy and efficiency.
Find out more

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