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

What Retailers Can Do About Merchandising Right Now

The past few weeks, I’ve been using this platform to cite challenges- and contradictions – that turned up in our latest Merchandising research. But if you read our reports you’ll already know we don’t see much value in just pointing out problems: we try to always offer a helping hand.

So by taking what the data has told us and cross referencing it against our own industry expertise, we offer the following suggestions for how retailers can best deal with the enormous issues they are facing when trying to supply a product mix for today’s unbelievably complex shoppers.

Recognize The Need: Inventory Visibility Is Not A False Alarm

RSR has been sounding the alarm on the need for better inventory visibility for some time now. And at the dawn of 2017, a retailer’s lack of visibility into what products they have – and where they have them – proves to be on the most common roadblocks in nearly every study we conduct. We recognize that this is not an easy undertaking. However, in the new world of the always-on and never-sympathetic consumer, it is tantamount to progress in store, online, and everywhere in between. Absent improvement here, a retailer’s efforts anywhere else in the organization may prove fruitless.

Broaden Your Technology Horizon

The head start that Retail Winners have over their average and lagging competitors is nothing short of staggering. And while it is the culmination of a vast number of things they do differently, one of the most significant aspects is their unflinching interest in new merchandising technologies. Year after year, Retail Winners display not only more perceived value in the latest set of tools available to them, but also a far greater interest in understanding why and how these tools are needed. It’s a hallmark of their company culture, and one of the easier ones to replicate regardless of your size, performance, or what you sell. All it takes is a desire to learn.

Determine What Millennials Mean To You… And What You Mean To Them

Shoppers born between 1980 and 2000 now outnumber Baby Boomers, but from what our respondents tell us, this has yet to affect most retailers’ merchandising efforts in a meaningful way. The time for earnest discussion about what this ascendant group wants to buy is not only in order, but it’s also time to consider who within the retail organization is making such decisions; millennials are markedly absent from the merchandising table, and their voice needs to be far better reflected in the discussion.

Determine Where You Want To Be In Five Years

We’ve talked about Millennials, and the fact that there appears to be more lip service than action focused on them. Retailers are notoriously somewhat slow to change. The problem is, following closely behind these Millennials are Generation Z: those born after the year 2000.It’s hard to believe in some ways, but in five years, this new generation will be leaving college and entering the permanent (rather than transient) work force.What does that mean to your company?Retailers must become more agile. While the past decade has dragged the industry into the world of omni-channel, the next decade will bring changes we can barely predict.

Early indications are that even as Millennials seem more interested in experiences than things, Generation Z is more into things than experiences. Will you be ready to provide the “things” they need?Even though the spending power will be squarely in the hands of Millennials, their children will be an end customer.

What “things” will they want? Apart from the basic life necessities, it’s actually hard to tell. This is all the more reason why agility is the key imperative.We strongly recommend an assessment of technologies and processes not just for current functionality, but for extensibility and flexibility.

This past holiday season should have taught retailers that the world has changed irrevocably, and even “buying sales” with markdowns and promotions will not result in success.We need technologies, processes and business savvy to anticipate needs and respond appropriately.

Despite all the talk about marketing, Merchandising is more important to retailing than ever. We hope retailers have the tools at their disposal to optimize the merchandising process.


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Articles & Opinions March 14, 2017
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