Retail & Wholesale

Retail & Wholesale


Innovative answers to consistent consumer questions

Are we really still discussing the same key questions? Retailers have been working on the same core issues around product, price, format, and location for decades. But with changing consumer behavior, technological innovation, supply chain disruptions, and inflation all pressuring margins, costs, and available income, understanding shoppers' desires is more important than ever.

woman choosing clothes in a store
"In essence, retailers need to find innovative answers to consistent key questions: Do I offer the right product, at the right price, with the right format across the right locations?"
Portrait of Thorsten de Boer
Senior Partner
Munich Office, Central Europe

Understanding must be accompanied by action. Customer-centricity is no longer optional – it is a must-have at every retailer’s core. Our global consulting team has advised leading international firms on a variety of projects and we possess a thorough understanding of all relevant topics. That's because our retail consultants have decades of experience, including former C-level executives at leading industry players.

At Roland Berger, we know how to address category management, purchasing, and (in-house) production issues as well as concerns around AI and digitalization, changes in marketing approach, or how to optimize customer relationship management processes. Through our consulting, we guarantee a tailor-made path to achieve and maintain real staying power in this ever-changing market environment.

Tailored pricing for strategic profitability

Crafting a resilient pricing strategy is pivotal in today's dynamic market, where challenges like changing shopper behavior and market volatility abound. Recognizing the pivotal role pricing plays in influencing purchasing decisions and overall profitability is the cornerstone of strategic resilience.

We understand the limitations of one-size-fits-all pricing models. Our data-driven approach to retail consulting empowers businesses to optimize strategies, leveraging cutting-edge analytics and market intelligence. We delve into consumer insights, competitive landscapes, and economic trends to craft personalized pricing models that resonate with your audience and maximize your top line. From value-based to dynamic pricing, our tailored solutions will align with your brand and market dynamics. Our consultants collaborate closely with clients to implement approaches that navigate complexities and gain a competitive edge. Transform your pricing paradigm with Roland Berger, where innovation meets profitability in a concise, results-driven approach.

Identify the right offering for the right consumer in the right place

In the dynamic realm of retail, effective category management stands as a pillar for success. Yet it presents challenges. These include grappling with overwhelming volumes of data, a lack of structured insights, and a reliance on manual tasks like listing/delisting, supplier interaction, and sales planning. In response, companies strive to address key questions, including identifying optimal categories for specific consumers and efficiently executing category strategies. To unlock the full potential of this approach, we offer a transformative solution tailored to both global and regional players. By defining categories and leveraging cutting-edge AI, we obtain ongoing performance monitoring and data-driven insights for effective listing and delisting. Our simulation environment empowers proactive decision-making, ensuring businesses thrive. With a focus on automation and advanced algorithms, our expertise can pave the way for your sustainable growth.

Fully meet demand with customer-centric retailing

Understanding demand in retail poses significant challenges given the ever-shifting, individual nature of buyer preferences. In today's market, customer-centricity is imperative to fully understand demand and offer personalized products and services. At the core of this approach lies superior customer segmentation, with a focus on identifying needs and buying behaviors. Each identified segment is analyzed, generating detailed descriptions and KPIs. By examining cross-departmental buying behavior, we can help refine store layout suggestions and optimize merchandising within categories. Customer-centric decisions regarding listing and delisting can then be made, while store clustering enables adjustments to product offerings based on local conditions and consumer profiles. Drawing on our extensive consulting experience, we specialize in implementing customer-centric retailing, resulting in significant improvements in promotion efficiency, turnover, and gross profit. Through superior insights, we facilitate win-win situations for both retailers and FMCG players, ensuring long-term growth and success.

Unlocking the full potential of customer satisfaction

The retail and wholesale markets are facing unprecedented disruption. Consumers are more demanding and less predictable than ever before, while success means engaging your customers across every channel and at each touchpoint. Consumers want to be recognized as individuals and enjoy a convenient multi-channel shopping and communication experience.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. While it may be tempting to chase new marketing trends to keep up with the times, the answer is often far less complex than it might appear.

From gaining consumer insights through detailed market research to identifying and expanding the most attractive possibilities, our consulting team can advise you on a tailored approach to cross-channel integration. Unlocking the profitability of multi-platform commerce, our experts quieten the noise and help you focus on new streams that feel like an organic step for your business model.

Tailored solutions for fresh perspectives

In the grocery sector, achieving excellence in freshness is the cornerstone of customer satisfaction as well as a powerful lever to improve the bottom line. With consumer preferences continuously evolving, providing the freshest produce and products requires a strategic and nuanced approach. Grocery retailers face a variety of challenges, from supply chain complexities to effective shelf-life management, emphasizing the need for a tailored solution.

At Roland Berger, we understand the critical role freshness plays in the success of the grocery business. Our end-to-end consulting approach includes streamlined supply chain management, efficient inventory turnover, and cutting-edge technologies to ensure optimal freshness. Utilizing advanced analytics, we deliver real-time insights into demand patterns, enabling precise inventory planning and reducing wastage.

From farm to shelf, our customized solutions elevate freshness across the entire supply chain. We collaborate closely with grocery companies to implement systems that prioritize quality and sustainability, meeting the expectations of today's discerning consumers.

Maximizing operational efficiency

Navigating the challenges of an ever-evolving market requires a proactive approach to performance improvement. Businesses often grapple with hurdles such as process bottlenecks, outdated systems, and shifting consumer expectations.

We understand that unlocking peak performance is a continuous journey. Our holistic methodology involves a meticulous analysis of existing processes, identification of inefficiencies, and the implementation of tailored solutions.

By leveraging advanced tools and insights derived from data analysis, we empower businesses to streamline operations, reduce costs, and optimize resource allocation.

Our experts collaborate closely with your team to drive meaningful performance improvements, offering tailored training programs. We prioritize aligning your business processes with industry best practices, ensuring not just short-term gains but sustainable growth and profitability.

Integrating disruptive AI technology

AI has vast potential for retail, from enhancing shopper experience to revolutionizing supply chains. However, as revealed in our study, c-suites have a dual perspective: while 90% view AI as a disruptor, 60% identify it as a top challenge. This stems from complexities in implementation, data privacy concerns, and the necessity for upskilling the workforce.

Companies are continuously integrating AI to enhance processes. Examples include smart mirrors for personalized styling, AI clerks for improved customer service, and checkout desks using computer vision for dynamic pricing. Positioned at the forefront of this innovative shift, our global team can support your AI journey by:

  • Utilizing local AI-based optimization of managing categories and inventories;
  • Leveraging machine learning-based approaches to boost sales;
  • Implementing personalization based on price preferences and customer profitability;
  • Integrating social media data for tailored recommendations.

Reshaping traditional retail through digitalization

The retail industry is evolving rapidly, driven by new digital business models. Companies are grappling with issues such as optimizing branch strategy and applying predictive analytics. New challenges emerge as technologies like "just-walk-out" and delivery services reshape shopping experiences. With almost every retailer offering an app and new entrants improving their digital offerings, the future lies in digital transformation, with data-driven, automated, and customer-centric branches. Branches along the value chain deliver a lot of relevant data - companies need to collect it efficiently and process it effectively. Forecasting, optimization, and predictive models can help realize significant monetization potential.

We specialize in analytics, focusing on product, strategy, and customers. As strategic partners, we assist in business transformation and digital model development, catering to leading retailers and FMCG manufacturers worldwide. Let's discuss your data, products, pricing, and store strategies for a successful future in your industry.

Pioneering solutions for environmental excellence

Roland Berger pioneers a spectrum of sustainability and climate-action services, empowering businesses to fortify their competitive edge and fast-track their journey to net zero.

Our sustainability consultants specialize in crafting ESG and SDG strategies including waste management, circular economy, and sustainable business transformation plans. Their expertise helps integrate sustainability into every facet of a firm's operations, ensuring a comprehensive long-term transformation. Roland Berger also provides holistic adaptation strategies to address the inevitable impacts of climate change and supports the development of biodiversity strategies and conservation initiatives.

From decarbonization plans targeting Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions to carbon capture (utilization) and storage solutions, we help retail organizations navigate the complexities of environmental responsibility.

How we helped other clients
Optimizing freshness for a leading retailer

Our multi-year freshness optimization program revolutionized the stock management of a leading retail giant with 15,000 shops and delivered convincing results. A meticulous analysis of its fruit and vegetables and fresh products categories identified excess stock levels, prompting a holistic optimization initiative. Prioritizing key levers such as assortment allocation and normative stock levels, we developed a prototype tool with precise business and IT requirements. In a three-month pilot, our solutions yielded significant shrink and stock level reductions, accompanied by an upswing in sales. This success epitomizes our commitment to strategic retail efficiency and profitability.

Transforming food waste

We introduced a three-step "food waste kickstart approach" to reshape a company's waste strategy. Starting with transparency, we highlighted project importance and gained stakeholder support as well as an overview of the client's current situation. Moving to diagnostics, we assessed data, identified gaps, and compared with industry leaders, to define a target. We then outlined concrete steps, leveraged the "Roland Berger Balanced Food Waste Map," and crafted an holistic and actionable plan comprising 50-plus measures to ensure efficiency improvements through the reduction of food waste.

Merchandise cost optimization for a leading American craft retailer

We partnered with a major American craft retailer to address growth and profitability challenges during the pandemic. Implementing a should-cost model and market research, we pinpointed competitive gaps in merchandise categories, formed tailored strategies, and boosted private label brand profitability. Our global sourcing strategy renegotiated with national brands, expanded private labels, and diversified vendors, achieving over $30 million in cost savings across fabric and craft categories. Additionally, we prepared the client for long-term success by implementing new tools, systems, and training for 40 staff, ensuring ongoing cost management in retail.

Organizational transformation for a global workwear company

Changing consumer preferences, advancements in technology, and rising competition required a leading player in the traditional workwear industry to reshape its organization and business processes. Roland Berger was asked to align organizational functions with consumer needs, establish end-to-end business processes, and enhance overall efficiency. Our expertise led to improved order-to-cash cycles, allowing for a significant improvement in process automation of more than 25%, and established a new organizational structure that strengthened the core functions of the business model.

A new strategy for a leading sports fashion brand

A leading European sports fashion brand wanted to boost its D2C retail profitability and become a leading D2C sports fashion retailer by 2025. Our retail consulting team designed an approach with a performance improvement program for its store fleet and a strategy to build up a future-proof market-leading retail organization. We identified significant EBIT uplift of 15-20% to be realized in two years, with 80% of that potential to be realized in the first year.

Helping a leading convenience retailer prepare for the future

A convenience retailer came to us hoping to identify the right offering for the right customers for the future of convenience. We conducted a comprehensive diagnosis of the company's status quo and analyzed demand, identifying challenges, opportunities, and strategic options. Through practical testing of the new approach, we shaped the client's future development pillars and actions. Our consulting work resulted in the identification of new categories and service enhancements, definition of a future customer journey, and a detailed outline of the future operating model, encompassing financial implications and an implementation roadmap.

Sign up for our newsletter

Register now for our newsletter and get regular insights into Consumer Goods & Retail topics.

Our global network
Portrait of Pedro Guimaraes
Senior Partner, Managing Partner Brazil
São Paulo Office, South America
Portrait of Gilberto Lozano Meade
Senior Partner, Managing Partner Mexico
Mexico Office, North America