Brandon Rael

Strategy & Operations Leader | Retail Strategist | Trusted Advisor |

An accomplished, passionate, and inspiring leader who partners with global retail companies to solve complex business challenges.

Brandon is an experienced retail strategy and operations expert who operates as a senior liaison at the intersection of the business, operations, technology, digital, and marketing worlds. Having worked for and in partnership with fortune 100 retailers, Brandon has held diverse leadership roles spanning across the Consulting Delivery, Business Development, Pre-Sales, Strategy Advisory, Marketing, Branding, Digital, Omnichannel, and Merchandising organizations.

With an innate understanding of the retail market landscape and the evolving consumer mindset, Brandon is a key partner for companies, as they evolve, adapt and grow more effectively. Brandon has an exceptional track record of success in delivering significant business improvements, driving meaningful return on investments, inspiring organizational change, all with a holistic view of the changing business landscape. Most recently, Brandon has driven retail industry thought leadership, white papers, social media blogging, content marketing, led retail conference speaking engagements and has joined the prestigious RetailWire Braintrust community

His core areas of expertise include:

  • Trusted advisor, partner, and cultivating executive level partnerships
  • Digital innovations and transformations
  • Business development, revenue acceleration, organic business growth, P&L management
  • Retail merchandising, assortment planning, personalization & inventory optimization
  • Strategic planning and operational improvements
  • Operational and business transformations
  • Customer experience strategies
  • Global cross-functional delivery leadership
  • Unified commerce, omnichannel digital business & technology transformations
  • Consumer insights and predictive analytics
  • Complex Program and Project Management/PMO expertise
  • Organizational Change Management
  • Posted on: 04/22/2019

    The North Face starts petition to make Earth Day a national holiday

    Bravo to The North Face, Patagonia, Columbia, and other outdoor brands as they are raising the social consciousness around the earth and environmental issues we are all facing. Social responsibility matters with today's consumer, especially Gen Z and the Millennial segment, as they have grown up in a world where being more conscious matters. Consumers will gravitate to brands that have a greater sense of purpose beyond increasing revenues and profitability. While it's commendable to petition for an Earth Day national holiday, every day should be considered "Earth Day." Its everyone's responsibility to be more environmentally conscious.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2019

    Is it time to push the ‘go faster’ button on cloud computing?

    Now that the majority of the retail industry has pushed beyond their earlier cloud computing apprehensions, the technology is widespread and adding significant value for both companies and consumers. Cloud computing has proven to reduce costs, mitigate large investments in on-site servers, and has increased retail organizations' abilities to scale and expand as they grow strategically. With that said, the expectations are higher than ever, especially from a customer experience perspective. As we know, every retailer and brand should formulate their cloud and performance strategies around improving the customer's online experience and especially the mobile experience. Speed matters more than ever, and there is zero tolerance from customers as it relates to online/mobile speed.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2019

    Madewell is on the way up, J.Crew is not

    The Madewell brand has made a clear and powerful fashion-first statement and has contributed significantly to keeping J.Crew afloat during the last few challenging years. It's very clear what Madewell represents, and what they stand for, something that has been sorely lacking with the J.Crew brand. Madewell offers customer-focused, curated merchandise assortments, and all at the right price points. It's clear that the J.Crew brand could learn from what has made Madewell successful and resonates with their fans. The obvious signs lead to J.Crew spinning off the Madewell brand in a crawl, walk, run strategy. If J.Crew goes this route, it should be done delicately, slowly, and strategically, as the days of opening hundreds of storefronts are behind us.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2019

    Will retailers see more rewards from multi-banner loyalty programs?

    This is all about winning, and together these brands could take advantage of offering consumers multi-banner loyalty programs. Similar to what the airlines have done with the Star Alliance, retailers could really drive some outstanding cross-promotion across brands. Loyalty gamification is a real thing, and a robust and cross-brand program could really drive some additional traffic both in the physical and digital commerce sites. Any way that retailers and brands could excite, engage and build connections with consumers is only going to benefit their bottom line profitability and overall sustainability.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2019

    Will Rent the Runway become all the fashion for kids?

    Now that the Rent the Runway has achieved their economies of scale, and have somewhat perfected the subscription apparel market, there absolutely is an untapped market for renting designer kids' apparel. As a father to two very well dressed and fast-growing young kids, we would definitely consider signing up, especially as they grow out of their clothes so fast. Just as Millennials want to keep up with the latest designer trends, this service is ideal for parents of young kids to rent clothing for special occasions, and other events. Now that they have the technology, infrastructure, and processes in place, to run a profitable business, by all means, the Rent the Runway group could continue their innovative offerings by expanding into toys, home furnishings, and other areas, where the sharing economy may resonate.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2019

    Retailers and brands become best of frenemies with Amazon

    Amazon is a marketplace and represents another centralized selling channel for both brands and retailers. With that said, Amazon offers the scale and reach that both legacy retailers and emerging brands could leverage as another channel to connect, interact and engage with digital first consumers. By entering into the Amazon ecosystem. Retailers and brands will now have a fighting chance for the consumer's dollars, especially as Amazon has virtually become the starting point of any retail search request. Just as retailers struggled with setting up their ecommerce businesses, partnering with Amazon will take a crawl, walk, run approach. It's key for any retailer's or brand's vitality to have a presence there, but by all means, they need to have their own unique digital selling channels, as well as a customer experience obsessed physical store.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2019

    Chrome extension shows Goodwill to shoppers, not to Amazon or Walmart

    Brilliant move by the Goodwill team as they adapt and evolve to meet changing consumer shopping dynamics. Consumers, as we know, appreciate choice and adding this Chrome extension will extend the Goodwill team's ability to extend beyond their website. As a brand, Goodwill doesn't quite resonate with Amazon or Walmart, however, if the company manages to provide excellent service and execute they can become another shopping option. It all comes down to execution. One failed or unsatisfactory experience could lead to customers deleting their Chrome extension.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2019

    Will rebranding deliver the results that Staples needs?

    It was high time for Staples to rebrand itself in the states, as the company had a long string of struggles, and the stores simply did not resonate with the current generation. The company has always been synonymous with being the go-to destination for office supplies, yet with the evolution of how and where we work, especially with the mobile/virtual office, Staples has been behind the trend. One can hope that the U.S.-based version of Staples will follow the blazing path that Staples Canada has developed with their new retail concept in Quebec that will help revolutionize the brand as well as create community engagement. Staples Canada is adapting to help their customers work, learn and grow, including providing shared workspaces. The key to the Staples Canada's success so far has been their ability to listen and adapt to the changing customer needs. Let's hope that the U.S. Staples rebranding takes a similar approach.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2019

    Can subscription retail solve its retention problem?

    Truly "valuable" thoughts.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2019

    Can subscription retail solve its retention problem?

    Completely agree that there is no comparison between the two services Jeff. However, those companies were just merely used as examples of companies that are getting the subscription services right. Here are some insights as to how Stitch Fix turns a profit. And the Dollar Shave Club.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2019

    Okay Google, how can you help grow Walmart’s online grocery business?

    Commerce continues to evolve, and voice ordering is scaling up with Amazon's Alexa offering, and now with Walmart's partnership with Google. As with any technology innovation, it takes a significant amount of time to scale to the point where the customer experience is intuitive, relatively seamless, and proves to be more efficient than typing in, or scrolling for your order. I do agree with the panelists that this Google/Walmart collaboration will represent a smaller segment of grocery customers.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2019

    Can subscription retail solve its retention problem?

    Subscription services have surfaced as a prime revenue stream for both DTC and retail companies. At the surface, all the efforts in the customer acquisition process and all the excitement of joining quickly fades when the subscription services fail to amaze, excite, engage, and most importantly be more prescriptive in nature. There is a delicate balance to keeping your customers interested and coming back for more. Dollar Shave Club has not only disrupted the shaving products industry but truly provides the great service, value, and transparency that customers are looking for. The company was founded five years ago with one simple premise: Every man deserves a quality shave at a fair price. Stitch Fix has very successfully combined human stylists (the art) and algorithms (the science) to curate clothing assortments to customers on a monthly basis. The combination of data and technology is being leveraged to improve fractured customer experiences. In addition to all the technology, Stitch Fix actually "listens" to their customers, and leverages their feedback to become a more prescriptive service.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2019

    Will IKEA become the world’s largest furniture rental outlet?

    The rental furniture space has been dominated by Rent-A-Center and others for years now. However the sharing economy, along with the very transient workforce trends may just open a window of opportunity for IKEA to start their own furniture rental services. However, IKEA’s furniture assortments have already become synonymous with value, and for those only living in an apartment for several years or less. For a subscription rental service to truly resonate, it's time for the IKEA team to experiment and innovate with higher quality furniture assortments compared to their usual DIY offerings. This will also enable the company not only to develop a new revenue stream but also be more aspirational, as they pursue a higher level of customer.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2019

    Again, Amazon attempts to shed Whole Foods’ high price image

    While Whole Foods remains the leader of the organic and holistic living grocery segment, its been a challenging proposition to remove the "Whole Paycheck" perception. The prestige factor of shopping in a Whole Foods Market wore off years ago. Consumers expected significant savings when Whole Foods joined the Amazon ecosystem. Especially as Prime members were promised additional significant savings throughout the store. Yes there are plenty of Amazon Prime members who frequent Whole Foods, however, they leave a bit underwhelmed during the checkout process, as they only save a couple of dollars on a large order. With all of that said, it's "prime time" for the Amazon and Whole Foods team to step up their value and savings strategies. While no other grocery could completely replicate the marketplace organic offerings that Whole Foods has, the competition is gaining traction, and customers will seek value elsewhere if the Prime savings don't live up to their promise.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2019

    Has wearable tech already gone out of style?

    Wearable tech was a trend that simply never took off. The wearable technology hasn't quite hit the economies of scale to extend significant value to the consumer. Add to that that the consumer is already continuously connected with several tech form factors, including smartphones, watches, and other devices that are already monitoring your every move. It's very much a wait and see proposition.

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