Rod Olson, Principal & Partner
During the early years as a retail consultant, Rod Olson got a call from his mentor; she asked whether he would be interested in consulting for Spain’s second largest specialty retailer, which is headquartered in Madrid. The turning point that the opportunity posed had him partner with the ingenious Kim Ng to augment their core expertise. This marked the genesis of the Olson-Ng Retail Consulting Group. On a two-year journey, Olson-Ng helped this client successfully map their strategies and operations for merchandising, planning, and allocation. That was the start of an exciting journey that took Olson- Ng across the US and into Canada and Mexico.
What differentiates Olson-Ng in the market is their ‘hands-on and no PowerPoint’ approach to solve merchandise and retail-related problems. The company is agile in course-correction while implementing processes and believes in not changing the core DNA of the client’s organization. “We go in with the understanding that we are going to work side by side with clients while teaching, training, and designing retail solutions,” explains Olson, principal and partner at Olson-Ng Retail Consulting Group.
The partners’ extensive training under Macy’s famed retail aficionados and experience in the specialty retail forefront for years makes their firm the go-to consultancy. They have often come across clients that face the same challenges—lack of adequate merchandise planning, forecasting, and allocation processes, and inadequate merchandise reporting to support the commercial teams in managing their businesses. “What concerns most clients is the unavailability of standard baseline-reporting to effectively monitor and analyze their single largest investment: their inventory,” says Olson, “This is particularly true now with the rapid evolution of e-commerce into most business platforms.”
“We introduce reporting structures that we believe will support the business. We initially begin by reviewing report templates and metrics with end users in the organization, the people who are actually relying on the data,” explains Olson.
Kim Ng, Principal & Partner
Following this, Olson- Ng runs intensive checks on the data and sends the final reporting structures for testing. The main goal of Olson-Ng is to ensure that buyers, planners, and allocators have the proper merchandise and site information to make profitable decisions. Furthermore, Olson-Ng actively assists clients in the selection and implementation of merchandise system solutions.
While discussing the benefits of Olson-Ng, Olson shares an interaction where the client was unable to integrate their merchandise planning calendar with that of finance, production, and delivery calendars. On engaging with the client, Olson-Ng drew the senior leadership to conferences and created a three-month plan, during which, they laid out notes on every deliverable and exchange required within the client’s organization. Olson-Ng helped the client backtrack 60 weeks’ worth of work by creating detailed calendars on deadlines, deliverables, and other necessary processes. Olson-Ng also helped the client design in-house processes and templates for merchandise planning and layered in forecasting processes to help the client support both e-commerce and conventional stores. Development of integrated calendars has become an arm of their operation.
Additionally, Olson shares that the independent network of consultants that they team up with from time to time has been vital to help customers achieve their goals. Olson-Ng is a charter member of The O Alliance, a consortium of independent consultants that are invested in improving the retail experience.
With a cumulative experience of over 40 years, Olson-Ng stands as a bastion of support for upcoming young retailers. Olson explains, “There is a lot of new talent in the industry who need help in understanding retail. We want to help them gain a strong footing.”Currently, Olson- Ng is excited with the emergence of artificial intelligence and the potential to compound it with their industry knowledge to support planning and buying as well as transforming the retail experience.