The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

Our Brand New Merchandising Report, And Meet Liza Amlani

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Tomorrow we’ll be launching our brand-new Merchandising Report – and this one is VERY different than anything we’ve ever done before. For starters, we don’t just survey retailers to find out how they are selecting the products they sell – we also survey consumers to see how they those retailers are doing. Spoiler alert: the results aren’t as retailers might hope.

But another thing we’ve done very differently on this one is invite a co-author from outside of RSR’s 4 walls. We’ve never done that before. Some of you may already know Liza Amlani, a merchant-turned-consultant with 20+ years of design experience at high end fashion houses. Some of you may even know her new venture, Retail Strategy Group, which she started during the pandemic with co-founder Raj Dhiman. If you don’t? Liza and Raj are fantastic. Liza’s knowledge of the ins and outs of merchandising – particularly private label design – makes her someone everyone in retail should know, and she is a much welcome and much needed voice to our industry. We’ve become close friends and look forward to all kinds of collaboration – and fantastic shared dinners – together in the future!

But now, to what we found. At a high level:

  • Retailers have a high opinion of their understanding of the next generation of merchandising tools and solutions. However, much of this appears to be overconfidence. Nearly all (93%) think that they can keep pace with shifts in demands – and specifically in meeting customers’ increasing demands for localized assortments, but more than half (58%) say they are being hamstrung by an overdependency on data to make effective decisions about which products to sell.
  • At the same time, despite all the data that retailers currently collect about the people who shop their brands, consumers don’t feel as though retailers know much about them at all. Only 39% think their favorite brands have the ability to make relevant product suggestions, and only 34% say retailers make relevant offers. Shoppers think retailers are still just trying to sell them whatever they want to sell, and not products shoppers want to buy. This is jarring contradiction to how retailers rate their own capabilities.
  • As it relates to environmental concerns, there is another solid disconnect between what retailers think consumers want, and what shoppers want. Retailers think sustainably sourced products are nothing more than a story that needs telling to pacify customers, and 88% say they are doing a good job of telling that story. Shoppers, however, don’t care about buzz. 90% want products that are better for their health – especially grocery and beauty items – and 84% are willing to pay more for products that are. If a product goes in a consumer’s mouth or on their skin, a product’s environmental footprint is already affecting more than 50% of shopping purchases currently made in the United States. Retailers are missing huge opportunities here.
  • When asked about plans for using new merchant tools, retailers say the biggest opportunity is the integration of automatic replenishment, demand planning and product lifecycle management. These should reflect customer insights and shifts in demand – adjusting reorders and planned assortments based on data, avoiding manual intervention, and the investment plans retailers share support these notions.

The report is sponsored by Cloudera, and it launches tomorrow. We can’t wait to share it with you, and if, like us, you’re headed to NRF’s Big Show next week – safe and healthy travels!

Newsletter Articles January 12, 2023
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