Innovating for the retail lifecycle – from beginning to end and everything in between.

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Originally published in Innovations of The World.

Can a business founded as a retail liquidation firm innovate to save retail? Hilco Consumer-Retail (HCR) is undoubtedly trying – and succeeding in BIG WAYS!

Retail– and the consumer product businesses that feed them inventory – is among the most troubled sectors in the United States and worldwide. This is due to several factors that include too much leverage (or debt), unavailability of capital to invest in the business, fast changing consumer preferences, long inventory lead times, lack of or incorrect focus – chasing the newest shiny object, and a failure to adapt or innovate.

HCR, one of the largest and most successful operating businesses within Hilco Global, has been solving many of these problems since its launch in 2000. Founded as a retail liquidation firm, it initially specialized in running large-scale retail, going-out-of-business sales for businesses like Blockbuster, Circuit City, Toys R Us, and, most recently, Bed Bath & Beyond. Through its operating company Hilco Merchant Resources, HCR helps wind down these businesses at the end of their lifecycle.

Over time, by leveraging Hilco Global’s entrepreneurial spirit, HCR identified opportunities to assist businesses prior to the end of their lifecycles with challenges stemming from consumer preference changes, unproductive inventory, theft, and lack of capital to invest in innovation. These solutions included successfully creating markets for excess assets – such as personal property and excess inventory, acquiring and growing a ‘daily deals’ direct-to-consumer website, and developing software to improve loss prevention.

In 2019, buoyed by many successes (and failures), HCR sought to solve a problem plaguing its retail liquidation business. Specifically, HCR could not get quality qualitative information and nonfinancial quantitative data regularly from stores and teams in the field overseeing the stores to make faster and better decisions. Having learned from its past failure with loss prevention software, HCR decided to leverage a small team in Australia – away from the corporate headquarters – to iterate ideas and incubate a solution.

Before long, HCR’s solution was up and running in Australia and showing early signs of success; success that was turbocharged by the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic. The solution was so successful that HCR’s Australian team, necessitated by strict lockdowns in some regions of the country, ran going-out-of-business sales in other areas of Australia from their homes – never setting foot in a store.

Indeed, as HCR’s Australian team was providing ‘remote’ store closing services for an Australian client, the client asked to test the application in stores for three weeks. The results were staggering; one store experienced over 400% year-over-year growth within the first test week. From there, the client rolled it out to the balance of its go-forward chain, and the platform now known as ReStore for Retail was born!

Since then, the client base has grown exponentially in Australia and now North America. With having completed the initial platform launch in North America in Q2 2023, the ReStore for Retail platform is designed to improve retail store-level execution by engaging frontline retail store team members to gather qualitative information, summarize information from across the chain, convert the information into usable quantitative data, and enable corporate teams to make faster, better, and more informed decisions. With the ReStore for Retail platform, retailers can avoid the end-of-company-stop in their lifecycle, often visited by many of their counterparts.

About ReStore for Retail

ReStore for Retail is an independent operating unit of Hilco Global, one of the world’s leading retail authorities. To learn more about ReStore for Retail’s tech-enabled solutions, please visit www.restoreforretail.com.

ReStore for Retail enables people in retail to get back to the business of retailing