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

The Merchandising Headscratcher


Our merchandising report this year turned up some funny things. For example, most retailers recognize that Amazon is eating their lunch. But in many ways, they don’t necessarily know how to combat that. Consider our main takeaway from the report (which we’ve been trumpeting from every social media mountain top as loudly as we can): everyone talks about how important it is to cater to Milennial shoppers – who know outnumber baby boomers – but across the board, retailers are hiring Gen X merchants to procure a Gen X-focused product mix.

And that’s just the start of the headscratcher. Consider what retailers self-report is keeping them from making better progress. When viewed in comparison to their competitors, Winners have an almost uniformly inverse view: theirs are challenges related to solution speeds, analysis granularity and the need for more capital to move faster, the non-winning retailers’ lack of trust in their own data comes back to haunt them in myriad ways. The lesson here is clear: if a brand wants to be able to merchandise better, it must first invest to improve the quality of pricing data, inventory data, and customer data. Absent this step-wise approach, no retailer can hope to be a Retail Winner.

But with such inhibitors to progress, how can retailers move faster? We added new options to this year’s study from last, but it turns out most already know what they need to do. They need to bring new talent into merchandising that better reflects the real world.

Just 12 months ago our retail respondents told us the best solution to their merchandising woes was to change up their internal organizational structures to involve more integrated merchandising teams. Folding in more eCom and marketing personnel is well-intentioned, but they may have been trying to tell us something far more interesting – something we couldn’t have discovered until we added a new option this year: that merchandising teams need to better reflect the generations they serve.

We can’t help but be puzzled by the generational quandary retailers are currently in. Who are they really selling to? And who do they need driving the merchandising function to ensure that product mix hits the mark? In the end, few retailers will answer the same way, but at the very least, at least they know these questions need asking. Better still, many seem to have already been pondering such matters, and are now looking to make sure their merchants “speak the language” of their best clients.

We invite you to read the full report. Or, if you prefer, we have a new format designed to save you time. It’s our eBook version, which is available here and hits all the high points of the report, without requiring all the reading time. If you like it – please let us know!

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Articles & Opinions March 7, 2017
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