Axel Groothuis discusses Nextcontinent's retail community

07 June 2021 4 min. read

In the wake of a global pandemic which has ramped up digital disruption in the retail sector, the industry’s future is being redefined. Magnus Red partner Axel Groothuis sat down with to discuss how being part of international consulting network Nextcontinent is helping citizens better support their retail clients.

Nextcontinent is a network of leading independent consultancies in their respective markets, who are united by an entrepreneurial vision. Firms involved are considered citizens rather than ‘members,’ as the relationship they have with the network is based not on financial agreements, but on mutual benefits and contributions.

The network’s constituents benefit from its collaborative culture in a multitude of ways. It has enabled them to successfully pick up international contracts, facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices between teams around the world, and, according to Magnus Red Partner Axel Groothuis, better equip clients to prepare them for one of the most disruptive periods in modern business history.

Axel Groothuis, Partner at Magnus Red, Head of Nextcontinent’s Retail community

The consulting veteran and retail expert leads Nextcontinent’s retail community. “The most important objective of our community is to build and serve common clients. Our ambition as Nextcontinent is to team up on cross-border opportunities, and work together on international projects.”

“But there is more to our community,” he added, “Marketing, networking and knowledge sharing are also key to our collective and individual success. Bringing inspiration and training to the table provides each citizen with an invaluable opportunity to boost their skills as individual organisations.”

Groothuis is an experienced advisor and program manager in retail and consumer products. During his 25 years with Magnus, this has seen him focus on customer experience, cross channel retailing, e-commerce and operations improvement, among other topics.

“Over the course of my career, there have been two big shifts. When I started working, the internet was becoming established as a business tool, and it was the moment when ecommerce was first starting to come into play. From a retail perspective, this continues to be a big shift, with lockdowns sending ecommerce levels into hypergrowth.”

“The second,” he continued, is undoubtedly the lockdowns triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. “While retailers are adapting, it is still hard to predict what the real impact of Covid-19 will be in terms of retail business in the long run.”

Magnus Red is a Netherlands headquartered consultancy which carries out complex advisory and change management projects. The firm specialises in transformation in the retail, media and consumer goods and energy sectors. One of the earlier citizens of Nextcontinent, the firm is able to leverage the power of the network to keep ahead of the curve when it comes to advising its own clients.

Shaping the future

Looking ahead, Groothuis sees a number of topics that will dominate the agenda in the coming years. For one, he believes that privacy will become more prominent in the sector, due to how regularly digital technology is used in the process of purchasing goods.

“With the way retail data accrues now, there is a big choice to make, where either everyone wants to own their own data, or we go the other way – and decide there to just accept the situation as it is now. I suspect that won’t be the case, in which case the market will need to find ways to deal with complex privacy and data management matters for their customers.”

Mounting customer expectation is another. “Consumers are now used to getting what they want whenever and wherever they are. So, retailers will need to cater to those needs in a resourceful and sustainable way. The Covid-19 situation has contributed to this, as people have become more and more used to online shopping; but at the same time, international supply chains are very vulnerable – as exposed by the pandemic.”

He went on, “This is also something that retail will have to deal with in the future, and we will help clients there to do just that.”

Maintaining strong ties with Nextcontinent’s retail community will definitely help in that regard. Being able to tap into the minds of leading experts globally – from France and the US to Spain and Asia – is “such an important boost to citizens of Nextcontinent.” Knowing each other personally is a first step in this process, and the retail community facilitates this and what comes next.

While the community has been able to transition to online working, Groothuis already looks forward to the next physical meeting opportunity. “I expect that our model of collaboration will become hybrid once the pandemic recedes. To build a great connection, you do need to see each other once in a while.”