Oliver Banks, Retail Transformation Consultant at OB&CO
Many retailers struggle to deliver transformation. Oliver helps retail businesses to successfully define and deliver their transformation goals so the vision is realised and the business overcomes adversity.
1. How did you first get into retail, and what attracted you to the sector initially?
My first foray into retail actually came when I was still a child – helping my mother to run her stall selling accessories at dolls house fairs.
After university, I moved into mechanical engineering. But, after a few years, I took a broad look at the world of work. I was really attracted to retail for the fast pace and consumer focus. So, I joined Tesco, initially in their Supply Chain team, and later in the internal consulting function.
2. How has the retail sector changed since you first began your career, and have you had a role in the changes?
The retail space race was still in full swing, and retailers were keen to open new stores and experiment with new formats.
Then the retail market started to detract – triggered by economic changes and fierce competition, particularly from new online players. It has become essential for retailers to transform their operations and business – through new propositions and experiences as well as developing productive and consistent ways of working.
Retailers must have an operating model that is fit for todays consumer, and be ready to continually improve it for the future. So, since leaving Tesco in 2015 and becoming an independent consultant, I help retailers to manage successful transformation programmes, so they can improve their operations and operating model and deliver a great customer experience in a profitable way.
Finally, as podcast host of the Retail Transformation Show, I monitor the changes and serve retailers with the insight, ideas and inspiration to help them achieve their transformation.
3. If we bumped into you outside the office, where would we most likely find you?
Doing my house renovation. I’m “hands on” when it comes to DIY and we’re currently renovating our 100 year old house to modernise it and get it ready for the next 100 years. So, maybe I’ll be doing plastering, or plumbing, or carpentry – you name it. And my 2 children love to help which is fun and rewarding too!
4. In light of recent high profile retailers going under, how do you think retailers should be adapting to stay alive?
Since the advent of ecommerce, our retail market has been evolving and changing – and it’s being led by consumers who have more choice and convenience than ever before.
There are many different reasons for why retailers are struggling. But the common theme is that they’re standing still and not transforming – or knowing how to or not actually being able to transform. Retailers must firstly be able to recognise the challenges and changes in the market. Then, they must transform their operating model accordingly.
And of course, talking about change is one thing. Making it happen is what’s really important though. Effective delivery of transformation programmes and projects is critical to stay alive.
5. What excites you about retail?
I particularly love retail as it affects all of us. We’re all shoppers of some form and we all have an opinion. And it is so important for the millions of people that work in or serve the industry.
Obviously, it’s been a challenging time recently. But, with so much change going on, I feel extremely excited about the opportunity for retail. With new business models and new ways to serve consumers – retailers can add value in ways that have never been possible before.