PROFILE

Shikha Jain

Senior Director, Simon-Kucher & Partners

Shikha is a Senior Director in the Boston office.

Since joining Simon-Kucher in 2012, Shikha has specialized on all topics related topline growth. Her portfolio of clients spans the B2C world within consumer goods, durables, cosmetics, fashion/apparel, grocery, consumer services, consumer internet and luxury goods. Shikha works with C-level executives to find solutions for effective go-to-market strategies across price strategy and optimization, portfolio architecture, promotional effectiveness, consumer segmentation and value proposition and revenue management organization creation. While her work has been primarily in the US, she has experience across Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Shikha graduated from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a concentration in strategy and marketing. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Mathematics from Smith College. Prior to her MBA, Shikha was an Analyst for a global investment bank focusing on M&A and capital markets advisory.

To learn more, visit: www.simon-kucher.com/en/industries/consumer-and-retail

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  • Posted on: 07/05/2019

    NRF study says customers dig retail tech

    As technology improves, so does the user experience and the convenience factor. Over time, these value drivers will become table stakes for retailers and those that do not keep up with the trend will be seen to be at a "disadvantage." Technology will not displace or downgrade the importance of the value drivers around product, selection, quality etc. However, ease of doing business will help improve conversions from consideration and browsing all the way to adding to cart/basket and in that sense revenues will go up.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2019

    How Tuft & Needle found the right balance on Amazon

    If the discussion question is a leading one, then the answer is fairly obvious. It's about breakeven calculations. The benefit that Amazon provides is access. Access to a consumer base like no one else has and that is difficult for a D2C company to get access to. There will also be some shift in channel shopping. But there is a trade-off. Each unit sold via Amazon means fewer dollars in Tuft & Needle's pocket. So the real calculation needs to be on breakeven revenue. How many more units at a lower price will make up the shift in lost in the D2C channel. Additionally, on the back end, has Tuft & Needle ensured that they have the operational capability to handle the increased demand to avoid showing back-ordered items that may cause consumers to switch to another brand?
  • Posted on: 07/01/2019

    Rent the Runway lands inside Nordstrom

    There is an interesting dynamic going on for D2C apparel companies that are going the other way and establishing themselves in brick-and-mortar mostly because of access. It's a win-win because:
    1. The benefit to Nordstrom is generating foot traffic from returns. Potentially even unique customers.
    2. The benefit to RTR subscribers is additional convenience - easy returns especially since gowns are bulky as well as the best benefit which is fitting for bought pieces. Also, a piece that is fitted increases the conversion from rent-to-own.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2019

    Is complaining about customer service becoming America’s national pastime?

    We live in the world of the rating economy. We rely on reviews for everything and if we receive anything below expectations, we are vocal about it. Gone are the days that the disgruntled were the vocal minority. Consumers are more and more integrated with their brands and brands are increasingly part of individual identities. Because of this close connection to brands, consumers rightfully so, hold their brands to a high standard. For brands that do not take this feedback mechanism seriously will see it negatively affect their top line.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2019

    What should retailers and brands do now about a possible coming recession?

    The first question is to truly isolate the effect of Millennials taking their shopping dollars online and traditional brick and mortar retailers are just not fast enough with this trend vs. what is attributable to an economic downturn. In preparation for a downturn, retailers should use promotional strategies to unlock more price sensitive segments and also to drive demand/volume. However, wherever possible, they should protect their premiums for their margin-building SKUs. They also need to protect their brand for when the market does recover. It is much harder to gain brand equity than it is to erode it. Finally, although I am no expert, managing cash flows and balance sheets would be the next most important in order to ensure that they do not take massive hits when the bottom-out occurs.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2019

    Kroger sees rivals’ one-hour delivery and raises it a half hour

    Of course customers want their produce to be delivered fresh and their groceries delivered right when they are needed. The big question will still be, can Kroger deliver on this promise? Have they figured out the logistics on the back end to avoid customer complaints? Kroger is paving the way to figure this out for others and has typically been at the forefront of transformation as evidenced by their partnership with Ocado. They continue to set the standard for the rest of the players.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2019

    Do direct-to-consumer digital brands have advantages over traditional retailers?

    Some of the pros of the DTC strategy are as follows:
    1. Customization: Ability to personalize functionality for the consumer (simple things like filters) which allow for more "hunting" shopping behavior.
    2. Convenience: The consumer can shop anywhere and at any time.
    3. Cost advantage: Lower fixed costs by moving to eCommerce gives profits back to the brand. Or if price perception is a problem, allows the brand to give some of this benefit back to the consumer.
    There are still cons to this strategy (that are already being addressed):
    1. Acquisition: For footwear and apparel, there is still a desire to try before you buy touch and feel products. It can be hard for a pure DTC to fulfill those requirements. Reviews and word of mouth helps of course but the DTC channel is best suited for repeat purchases. That is why Bonobos, Warby Parker etc. have "showrooms" in malls etc.
    2. Basket size expansion: For those that enjoy shopping (I'm talking spend half a day at a mall), a big part of the experience is browsing, touching and feeling which can lead to impulse purchases. However, as trends change, so will consumer behavior.
    All in all, the pros still outweigh the cons and this is why malls across America show visible signs of shrinking. Anecdotally, in Boston, where I live, one of the biggest malls is converting its top floor into office space and Newbury Street which is the high street of fashion in Boston has many "retail space for rent" signs in window.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    Indochino bets big on showrooms

    There is one major benefit a brick and mortar store can do that a retail store cannot (at least, not yet!). It is the element of customization and personalization and that cannot be done without human interaction (again, for now, until AR technology hits the mainstream). For men's suits, one of the highest ranked value driver will always be fit. That's why there has been a rise of men's suiting brands that follow a similar business model -- Suitsupply being the closest and potentially something like Bonobos close behind. That's how you get someone into the store. How you keep them coming back is through your excellent customer service and constant refresh of product line.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2019

    Should CMOs be more prevalent on retail boards?

    The shift to having CMOs on boards seems so obvious, but the stats in the article are surprising. It also highlights the fundamental shift in business operations and go-to-market strategies. For far too long, boards have been focused on the "cost" or the "operations" and "general corporate strategy" side of things vs. honing in on the top-line growth side of things. Not saying that they don't but there is still an imbalance that needs correction over the years.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2019

    Walmart debuts store-to-fridge fresh food delivery service

    Convenience comes at a premium ... until it doesn't. And the key is in the logistics and systems. With Amazon's home delivery, the big challenge has been substitution because of stock outs especially in produce. To fully monetize on the customized convenience, there needs to be a seamless and integrated back end to support the front end.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2019

    Can department stores shake themselves out of the doldrums?

    Department stores will continue to follow the trend of SKU rationalization that a lot of retail/apparel has been witnessing. Think Warby Parker: 3 price points, limited assortment. Think Rothy's: 4 styles, many different prints. Think Brooklinen: limited colors and preset bundles. Except for the first, the other two are direct to consumer and etailers. In a way, this is why they’ve seen success. They focus and do one thing really well. The old school department store provided shoppers with the ability to browse in the store at leisure. Younger, more tech-savvy shoppers prefer to do this online and less in-store.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2019

    Can a startup undercut Rent the Runway in the clothing rental space?

    This might be the unpopular opinion, but I don't think the answer for Haverdash’s success is about price. And coming from a pricing consultant, nonetheless! Yes, they offer Urban Outfitters and will likely compete with them on price when UO’s subscription comes out. But it's broader than price. When I think of rental subscriptions in the consumer world, it is less price and more offering and matching consumer behavior. What makes Haverdash unique? Certainly the brands. Rotating pieces in and out can keep your wardrobe fresh and not hurt your wallet but what about fulfillment? Will consumers who sign up actually commit to revolving their wardrobe for everyday wear on a monthly basis? Makes sense for Rent the Runway or the Black Tux. Think about Blue Apron. In concept they have a great offer but retention is a problem because the offer is too aspirational and doesn’t fit with the target consumer behavior to the point where the subscription becomes a burden. i
  • Posted on: 05/27/2019

    Questions abound about the value of net promoter scores

    There is some value in calculating your NPS, especially in service oriented industries or retail industries where your customer service is a differentiator. It is usually a good starting point to investigate deeper. Is there a customer group that is consistently giving low scores? That said, no metric should be used in isolation. We often see companies touting improvements in GP% but then overall profit dollars are down. NPS should be supplemented with metrics that measure true financial growth. KPIs like conversion rates across your engagement funnel, increase in average transaction value, increase in number of units/products in basket, number of unique visitors to the store, same store revenue growth over time. The other element is to measure yourself against your competitors. You may have good NPS, but that doesn’t mean much if your competitors have great scores.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2019

    When the going gets tough, the tough get transparent

    It goes back to your target consumer and what drives value for them. In the case of Rothy's, differentiation is about comfort and being socially conscious through the recyclable and washable/durable aspect. There is likely a little bit of anti-big corporation sentiment for their target consumers. This also means that this target consumer cares about the straightforwardness and transparency which Rothy's handled well. Like so many comments below have noted, consumers are more willing to forgive companies that own up to their mistakes. There are so many brands that have messed up in much bigger ways and recovered without a hitch -- think Pepsi 2017. Think about all the food that gets recalled or baby products that are recalled. While it is unfortunate, it is usually not the end of a brand and the hope is that they learn every time.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2019

    How should retailers raise prices to offset tariffs?

    There are three things to consider when taking price increases as a response to tariffs. 1. Be surgical: Oftentimes, a response to a cost increase is to take blanket prices up. Understanding the role a product plays in your portfolio (is it a traffic driver, margin builder etc.?), the current price that it is at and what it means for crossing thresholds is key (similar to #4 in the article). 2. Write and rewrite your communication: Many companies face consumer backlash when they just say the what — i.e. that they are taking a price increase without the why i.e. commodity cost increases due to tariffs. Be clear also to tell consumers which products will see the price increase and by how much. 3. Watch your competition: Everyone will be be hit on the bottom line, but be aware of what competitors are signaling in terms of their price intentions. Sometimes it becomes a game of chicken since no one wants to be the first and take the hit on the volume or demand.

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