PROFILE
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Gary Newbury

Executive On Call - Retail Supply Chains & The Last Mile - RetailAID
Gary has developed an international reputation for designing and executing physical and digital supply chain Agility, Innovation and Digitisation across Manufacturing, Third Party Logistics, Wholesaling, Retail and The Last Mile. When it comes to tackling mission critical issues, armed with multiple operational turnarounds and strategic transformations/reinventions under his belt, Gary helps business leaders conquer disruption by aligning Process, Systems, Architecture, Culture and KPIs for enduring competitive advantage through RetailAID. Gary is recognised as a thought leader, speaker, podcaster and trainer in “The Design of Future Retail Supply Chains” by many professional bodies. Having been recently awarded with Supply Chain Canada’s “Top 40 Immigrants impacting on Supply Chains”, recognised for his innovative thinking via CITT’s “2020 Innovator Award”, he was also recently awarded Retail Rethink’s Top 100 Influencers 2021. Gary also has an MBA and an MSc (SCM&L) from Cranfield University, and is recently CCLP, PMP, Retail Management (Ryerson Uni) and LSSBB certified. He is a cohost of two current podcast channels: The Business of Retail The Retail Code
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  • Posted on: 06/16/2021

    How can retailers best navigate supply chain turbulence?

    Without saying it, you have correctly framed the circumstances for an agile supply chain design. It requires full three dimensional view, rather then "tidying up" a design based on the machinations and cost models of 1980s.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2021

    How can retailers best navigate supply chain turbulence?

    Very true, unpalatable and inconvenient, but solid advice. For too long the supply chain, its design and operation has been "invisible" to most. It has been subject, for too long to, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Time to change this strategy with a new holistic costing model that reflects some of the points Liza Amlani touches on and beyond the theoretical constraints of TCO.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2021

    Will going low lift up Bed Bath & Beyond’s sales and profits?

    Thanks Raj. Whilst I was relieved to see Mark appointed to head up BB&B, however, there have been some "odd directions" that have emerged over the last 6 months suggesting this retailer might be being steered by investors rather than retailers.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2021

    Will going low lift up Bed Bath & Beyond’s sales and profits?

    A common challenge of a product-centered retailer with an inflated store fleet, is how do we boost traffic to "sweat the asset," rather than becoming customer-centric, relearning our purpose and focusing on this and customer extension? I am not convinced with this strategy of finding a "market" in which the retailer is undersubscribed is being entrepreneurial. I suspect Bed Bath & Beyond remains in "go large" mode, rather than demonstrating a clear process of market segmentation, developing a format which best appeals to these rarified segments and creating competitive advantage by focusing on delivering consumer value. It may be that there is a market, but does it not devalue the brand, especially when there are clear alternatives from major players who have a history of competence and scale?
  • Posted on: 05/11/2021

    Are brands and retailers defining authenticity on their own terms or consumers’?

    That would certainly work if the brand was extolling its sustainability credentials but I wonder, with many consumers focused on price, whether a brand/retailer who was not open on its sustainability credentials but rather focused on some other aspect, such as service, novelty/innovation or availability -- would they appear "less authentic" if they were doing exactly what was on the label?
  • Posted on: 05/11/2021

    Are brands and retailers defining authenticity on their own terms or consumers’?

    Consumer alignment is key (i.e., between what the consumer thinks and feels about your brand, and how you support it with storytelling and messaging). This suggests that it matters not how rigorous the "authenticity" matrix might appear, if you bring pre-purchase dissonance, you will only bring the brand's consumer perception into question and the consumer will find out quickly that you are not as authentic as they might have believed.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2021

    What digital tools can help manage increasingly disrupted supply chains?


    The supply chain design is at the heart of the ability to divert, adapt and succeed in real time. Putting shiny AI/IoT blah blah lipstick on a pig of a SC design, still makes it a supply chain design defined and operated by lesser mortals -- flawed, inadequate and darn right dangerous!
  • Posted on: 05/07/2021

    What digital tools can help manage increasingly disrupted supply chains?


    Looking at the list of applications, none of these single handedly will cut the mustard with the fundamental supply chain design changes that are ahead. For anyone suggesting they will, either single-handedly, or in combination, they are part of the endemic problem of the paralysing "Amazon Effect," or trying to sell an irrelevancy. If I was reading a glossy brochure from the 2010s with this list of applications, I would suggest we need significant disruption to occur to shift the needle on how agile thinking and execution needs to be adopted across businesses within the consumer driven ecosystem. These tools are merely an expression of a fixed paradigm of doing what we have been doing (sometimes well, but more than often, within retailing, rather poorly as we claim to be lean and optimised) for ages, even during the pandemic with a limited and single dimensional view of how supply chain network can be developed into highly flexible adaptive open systems of collaboration and natural transparency. The proof of a failure to comprehend supply chain as the key value adding process within the consumer journey is to look at how the pandemic has proven the case driven supply chain failed to hold up during mix and volume changes, and how amateurish simple propositional aspects such as online services were "cobbled together." For many retailers they have provided the distinct impression they were "new" at digital! The point that we need planning and control systems that can either replace supplier ERP systems, or at least provide full visibility is not in question, more in question is the resolve to have different conversations with vendors and elevate them from vaguely co-operative, to full, unadulterated, collaborative relationships that stand the test of time. Until retailers can establish a position of price indifference (there are many steps to make this strategy collapse), they can not scale their proposition profitably. This is part of what I have been exercising clients in as they achieve exponential growth. It is process and relationships that need to be the platform for technology, rather than the flawed thinking that technology IS the platform. Technology merely seeks to provide speed of information retrieval, control point monitoring and task automation. It seldom drives bottom line results, not unless you have never run a profit and loss account, it which case it is beautifully esoteric!
  • Posted on: 05/05/2021

    Remote work is rough on big retail districts

    Reinvent, close or die! Unfortunately, if you are not getting passing traffic and your business models was built on this continuing indefinitely, you need to make some strategic decisions. The first one is, what technology and fulfillment processes are available to us, and then ask whether they can be deployed and still make money/reasonable return under the current business rules. If so, make the changes and carefully manage the transition. If this is unlikely to work, try to reinvent, which may include moving location to where passing traffic is, however, often reinvention can not be achieved with a couple of simple moves. This just leaves one final option and, despite the hard work, blood sweat and tears that may have been incurred to get us to "today," the best way out of this is to close, recover any money that you can and hold up until a clear definition arises of where best to reestablish the business/retail concept, building in some resiliency for other "settling in" challenges. Frankly, there is much less certainty about "the new normal" here in Canada with WFH, eComm growth, category spending volatility, unpredictable government interventions and rapidly changing economic conditions impacting on consumer expectations. Try something new instead!
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Kroger takes flight with drone delivery test

    Innovative thinking may about to be unleashed of how to scale beyond the pilot. Imagine running out of some spices or essential ingredient for a meal ... 15 minutes later, you have it in your hand, contactless, hassle free! The piece that I would want to know more about is the transmission of fulfillment (picking) and delivery (ETAs etc) information, to help the customer know it's on it's way and the time I expect to receive this, and a screen that I could enquire to check its location. The other concern is adverse weather, such as torrential rain, high winds, snow and ice. Still lots of potential to attract or retain customers looking to have a new experience from their dialing up of online services.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2021

    Kroger takes flight with drone delivery test

    This is such an awesome approach to utilising drones within a retailing context. The big plus that it probably hits super-convenience by being fully integrated into the customer's (physical) journey by using the location polling of the customer's cell phone to triangulate on the delivery point, rather than a terrestrial address and then send the drone in to navigate the porch. Of course, if I am in my upstairs office as I order and continue working until I am alerted there's a drone delivery happening "now," not sure what it will make of my location then? Do I need to open a window and let the little bug in? Using location polling, especially in open spaces, like the local park, means if the customer moves location, they can still be tracked. The delivery can still be judged a great success. It brings a new sense to ordering beer from your back gardening, and 15 minutes later it arrives there without having to disturb the party to answer the door! Glad to see a leading Grocer is considering this seriously enough to run this trial to experiment and learn how to enhance their online services. The operating costs of a drone, and their speed, can provide superior performance for the retailer and help integrate, potentially, into the customer's day to day journey. Think of the wider applications of this during another pandemic, vital PPE, hand sanitiser or OTC medications. A significant step forward, indeed.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2021

    Do retailers have to catch up to Amazon’s logistics powerhouse?

    Amazon's underlying goal is to ensure they are the consumer's preferred choice for general merchandise, and when their grocery concepts spread to Canada, for mass merchandise. To compete with stores, Amazon have had to not only find methods to offer an alternative to "popping to the store to pick something up", but also, generally, a similar returns experience to the store, aside from the surly "customer service agent"! Their abilities to make it super convenient to order online is a key point in their arsenal, almost certainly Amazon will appear in most consumers' consideration sets. The next "weapon" is to compress the fulfillment cycle to same day for a wider assortment. To achieve this, they are running vehicles/routes multiple time across urban territories. Although they have scale (Prime membership fees and "shipping fees via FBA to alleviate their out of pocket expenses), they still need more volume to run through their main arterial network to move to profitability. As they increase their throughput, less reliance will be placed on external parcel carriers and postal services such as USPS or Canada Post, unless Amazon seek to have a low cost (taxpayer funded subsidy), but often unpredictable service proposition. The key areas I have seen minor improvements on is the visibility (here in Canada, it is primitive), where when one's order is shipped from a local station, you can be given a 3 hour window, but this can change several time. Rather than suggest there's been a delay, the system just rambunctiously changes the window without notification. These are about as informative as a chocolate fireguard is for clean carpets! A big area that Amazon fails on is their search platform, although they continue to demonstrate mastery of order fulfillment and porch delivery super fast, the "big delay" is on discovery as there are not sufficient filters to refine a search to effectively a handful of products or suppliers (marketplace). PLus their virtual shelf management can be a challenge for CPGs, as well as for consumers as it anchors "price" in which to view other brands. Another area of improvement, and there's no easy way through this, is relationship management. Amazon are relatively unsophisticated in personalisation. Too many times I have bought something for a specific problem and the next few days they have sent me email flyers suggesting I buy more, rather than using AI to figure out what OTHER adjacent items I might need. This could be resolved by some free-text comments box "what problem are you solving today Mr. Newbury" and letting NLP/AI run over it to help guide the customer to other purchases at the point of ordering, and over the subsequent days until there's a clear indication of no interest. How smaller businesses can compete is through relationship building, a focus on in store service and knowledgeable assistants, joining up eCommerce with in store purchase histories and "other factors" shared by consumers. They do not necessarily have to enter the logistics race to compete. Besides, as Amazon takes more freight direct, within their first, middle and final mile operations, there's going to be capacity with small package carriers, likely keen to attract smaller businesses onto their platforms, however, these carriers need to reconsider mini/local sort centre operations, so often either not initiated or closed as part of a misguided cost rationalisation or misreading of the market. It's not all over yet for small to mid sized retailers, but there is a fight to regain a differentiated proposition and have confidence that price is NOT the only component to use to differentiate. The race to the bottom is a sign leadership teams who do not understand their market or the skills necessary to differentiate.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2021

    Should retailers welcome vaccine passports?

    This area is a minefield of cultural, political and economic clashes and barriers. It is fairly clear to me that having passports to go about your daily business infringes so many assumptions we have about free societies, liberal democracies and developed nations. Measures must be proportionate to the risks and if one looks at the direct hospitalization, ICU and death rates and compare these to the population, there are some challenges with a policy of vaccine passports. Additionally, with the vaccine, while it lessens the impacts of the virus (and its variants), one can still catch it and transmit it. The vaccine is more anti-viral than a "once and for all" medical treatment. On this basis the government policy pushing a vaccine passport would be one of ideology, rather than fact based analysis. Surveys continue to indicate hesitance with vaccinations, for those who can work at home, a preference to do so, and a reluctance to get back into pre-pandemic shopping habits as each restriction is relaxed. Additionally here in Canada where there's a shortage of vaccines, implementing passports would create a two tier society; a class who could access "everything" and one that can not, maybe through age, medical condition or personal choice. My view is that a vaccine passport would not hasten a return to retail outlets and restaurants, rather, I believe in restrictions being relaxed with clear public health guidelines, which are presented factually, rather than sensationalized through fear. Fear drove us into our homes in the first lockdown, but a more mature approach to messaging must now be served to the public to encourage economic recovery, while behaving safely.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2021

    Will Americans open their garages and homes to Amazon and Walmart?

    Great point Gene. Either might work for me for general merchandise (i.e. ambient temperature products), however for cooler and freezer products this is unlikely workable unless the customer is prepared to invest in a fridge/freezer to store the delivery pending the consumer returning home and moving their order to their "in-home" facilities.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2021

    Starbucks’ opens green innovation center

    The concept of sustainability having a short term ROI is at the heart of the lack of real and meaningful uptake within many businesses. The move for a retailer to more sustainable practices around sourcing, transportation and any conversion processes are of a strategic and longer term nature and may put the organization at a short term competitive disadvantage, especially when the consumer is not able to differentiate between "appearing sustainable" and deploying "actual sustainable" practices being deployed as they browse shelves and select their products. Throw a pandemic at the retailing industry and strategic initiatives are reprioritized around stock availability, cashflow and a focus on government policies (i.e. lockdowns, restrictions and vaccinations). In general, innovation (and potentially now sustainability) labs tend to build further silos between such initiatives and the mainstream activities of a retailer's business. It might work to alleviate greenwashing claims, as there may be visible investment, however it will, over time (unless it produces continuous cost effective breakthroughs) likely be subject to ROI controls and ultimately abandoned. Smarter retailers may dodge this whole question by professing targets such as "carbon neutral by 2050" but, the question is, what are they doing today to edge their way towards this goal? Sustainability is best served when it is deeply embedded within the cultural values of an organization and determines for each member what they value, how they will make decisions and what they execute on. My thoughts are that separate sustainability labs serve only to bolster a rhetoric around "doing something" rather than doing the hard work of bringing around cultural change and rewarding the right behaviors to protect the business's long term future.
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