PROFILE

Brandon Rael

Director, Alvarez & Marsal

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
Brandon Rael is a Director with Alvarez & Marsal’s Consumer and Retail Group. He is a trusted advisor, with more than 20 years of strategy, operational improvement, profit optimization, organizational change, and technology experience in the retail, wholesale, and consumer space. Having worked for, and in partnership with Fortune 100 companies, Brandon has a deep understanding of the retail market landscape, the evolving consumer mindset, and he is a key partner for companies as they evolve, adapt and grow. Brandon has an exceptional track record of success in leading complex business transformation programs, delivering significant EBITDA improvements, driving meaningful ROI, building high performing teams, inspiring organizational change, and exceeding the client’s expectations. 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 * Opinions are my own
  • VIEW ARTICLES
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Is the future of retailing going dark?

    Leveraging stores as micro fulfillment centers has been an emerging trend for several years now. Dark stores represent another flexible fulfillment option for those larger retail and grocery operations that have the luxury of spare locations to be fully dedicated as mini distribution centers. However, this is not a simple undertaking for organizations, as they will be balancing fully operational stores, and stores that are fully dedicated fulfillment centers to meet the surging digital demands. This requires a reexamination of the company's operating model, integrations, technological capabilities (including digital, automation, AI, ML etc.), store operations, and understanding the roles and responsibilities of the store associates within the dark stores.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Can outdoor dining save restaurants?

    Outdoor dining has its own set of complexities in our socially distanced world. Many restaurants do not have the luxury or flexibility to quickly ramp up outdoor capacities, as it requires a different operating model. However, for those restaurants that can provide this as an option, it does offer them a short term lifeline and another revenue stream beyond curbside pickup and delivery to help keep them afloat. While we learn more as a society about the precautions and regulations around preventing the spread of COVID-19, restaurants will continue to face challenges until they are able to return to more of a fuller indoor capacity.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    Yes! Especially when retailers, economists, consultants, and other experts underestimate their resiliency and ability to adapt.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    Spot on as always Georganne!
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    Our new normal is changing by the day, so any documented reopening playbook will have to be a living breathing, organic, and evolving document. The playbook will represent the foundation retailers and consumer-facing organizations could start with, however it will all come down to execution on the sales floor, and part of the new culture companies will need to provide a safe and sanitary place to shop. There also has to be a close alignment with the local governments to ensure that the stores and restaurants are compliant with the changing rules and regulations. Retailers will have to ensure that their store associates are well-trained, empowered and have a full understanding of what it takes to run a safe retail operation in our post-COVID-19 world.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Will dollar stores be the biggest post-COVID-19 winners?

    Dollar stores and off-price retailers were already emerging as "winners" before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Unfortunately, the great acceleration and economic disruption caused by the pandemic will only drive more business to the dollar stores out of necessity. With so many people's lives disrupted, global uncertainties, and unemployment levels at all-time highs, we should expect to see the continued proliferation of the discount retail space. Just as on the other end of the spectrum, luxury retail will rebound quickly as their core customers are not so susceptible to economic disruption, the dollar store sector business model is recession-proof.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Retailers focus on making safe spaces for customers and associates

    Without a consistent federally mandated stance on proper health, hygiene, and safety measures, there will be a varied experience across retail and business operations as they work to keep their customers and employees safe. There are a lot of uncertainties companies and individuals are working through in the COVID-19-altered world we are facing. What would give everyone a bit more comfort and confidence are strict rules and regulations from the CDC, especially as the pandemic impacts how we work, educate, engage, shop, travel, and have gatherings. The key to success will need to be around regulation and compliance. Another component of this is the communication, trust, and transparency between the companies, their associates and the consumer.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Will Facebook Shops launch social commerce into the mainstream?

    Similar to what Instagram has enabled with their "shop now" capabilities, Facebook Shops represents another opportunity for community-based or indie retailers to extend their reach, with Facebook's community of followers. The key to social commerce is the seamlessness it offers, and the personalization targeting capabilities based on data and analytics. Social commerce integrated within posts and other engagement could potentially lead to significant revenue growth opportunities. Without having to navigate from Instagram or Facebook to shop, consumers will appreciate not only the ease of shopping but also how each ad resonates with their interests and desires.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Are store brands set for a big growth spurt?

    The emergence and growth of grocery and CPG private labels had been in motion well before the pandemic. Now with the post-COVID-19 world in motion, we are experiencing a great acceleration of private labels, and their importance to grocery stores, as well as the value-driven consumers. As long as the price, quality, and experience is consistent with the brand promise, then consumers will be gravitating to private labels at an unprecedented rate and driving significant growth for grocery stores. Target has invested significantly in the private label space with the growth of its Good and Gather brand. Target said by the end of 2020 there will be upwards of 2,000 items being sold by the private label brand. Value conscious consumers will absolutely benefit by Whole Foods' expansion of the 365 labels across most of the packaged goods categories. The 365 brand is also available on Amazon and has generated tens of millions in annual sales for the e-commerce giant since it became available.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Is Walmart about to become the king of online resale retailing?

    The sharing and resell arena was on fire and gaining momentum before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. For Walmart and thredUP, this is a win-win scenario for both companies. As we navigate through the post-COVID-19 economy, partnerships, and collaboration will be key for all companies, as they collectively work to provide outstanding customer experiences. From thredUP's perspective, the company will now have access to a far broader consumer base, and the opportunity to acquire new customers beyond the constraints of their own platform. For Walmart, this is yet another diversification strategy and represents a potential revenue growth segment. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2020

    Bob Mariano has plans to create a great ‘next-gen’ grocery store

    The grocery store of the near future will be one that will be extremely customer-centric, with ancillary services, a reduced packaged goods presence, a focus on prepared foods, increased gourmet prepared foods, cafes, "grocerants," along with micro-fulfillment services. This transformation was expected to take place over the next five years, however, we have been seeing an acceleration of these transformative strategies over the past year. Bob Mariano and Dom's Market & Kitchen are well-positioned for success and growth with their grocery store of the future. In addition, without the financial burdens, technical debt, or any excessive renovation expenses, by building a store of the future from scratch, they are one step ahead of the competition.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2020

    Was the $3.3 billion Walmart spent on Jet.com worth it?

    Strategic acquisitions such as what Walmart did back in 2016 with Jet.com are just what it takes for companies to drive their internal digital transformation plans. Acquiring the e-commerce marketplace is a classic case where industry experts may have questioned it at the time, however, Doug McMillon and the Walmart leadership team had the long game strategy in mind. As the Walmart team took their aggressive steps towards their digital transformation plans, acquiring Jet.com enabled the company to target new tools, talent, capabilities, and brand differentiators, as well as enhancing the value proposition and cross channel customer experience. In addition, the acquisition continues to pay dividends as the acquisition enabled Walmart to enter new categories and channels to improve growth. This was achieved by broadening the product and service offerings and acquiring new Millennial/Gen Z customers. The transformation shifts have also been put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Walmart has been able to meet the increased digital commerce demands.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Is Amazon about to buy J.C. Penney?

    Amazon already made their intentions known that the physical retail space is an area of growth for the company -- with their Whole Foods acquisition and the emergence of the Amazon Go convenience store model. However the department store segment has its own set of challenges and any conversations regarding acquiring J.C. Penney have to consider the struggles the sector has faced, the sheer amount of retail space, and the changing consumer behaviors away from the department store. On the surface, this would be an interesting market penetration strategy for Amazon. However, J.C. Penney is a brand that has faced years of operational challenges, has a lack of brand equity, and while their store footprint is still significant, a fleet optimization exercise is necessary to right-size the organization, make the necessary technology investments, and bring the right talent and capabilities in-house.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Has the pandemic transformed Walmart into an unstoppable force?

    This was not an overnight phenomenon. Walmart already made the necessary and crucial investments in technology and innovation. The big-box giant essentially leveraged what they are calling "digital excellence" and has capitalized on the moment, by transforming the customer experience through innovation and utilizing the unique store, grocery, and most importantly their people assets. Walmart was already well-positioned, with the right unified commerce operating model, to meet the needs of its customers across both physical and digital shopping channels. They have recently invested $10 billion into their digital transformation initiatives and into positioning innovative technology solutions to mitigate the last mile, and remain an agile, flexible, scalable company that's able to dominate the market.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2020

    Is it safer to shop at farmers’ markets than in supermarkets?

    With the emergence of more localized and community-based consumer demand, farmers' markets may just be the elixir we need to safely get out of our homes, support local farmers, and avoid some of the anxiety-filled experiences of going to the local grocery store. Ultimately it comes down to consumer choice. With the warmer weather, they now have the option of shopping at the grocery store, or at their local farmers market. Regardless of wherever consumers choose to shop, safety, health, wellness, and an air of precaution are key in these times. However, farmers' markets are not a new trend, The more localized farm to table movement was already in motion before COVID-19, and now perhaps there will be an acceleration at both the community-based grocery store, and farmers markets of more assortments from local farmers.

Contact Brandon

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.