Merchandisers beware: companies could lose billions because of crappy spreadsheets

The Spreadsheet: a program we all use to organize, analyze and store data in a tabular form. Merchandisers cherish their spreadsheets as we forecast, plan, calculate, execute and analyze all of our most crucial data. Spreadsheets hold enormous power as we usually make our most critical merchandising decisions off what we interpret. However, with the vast amounts of consumer data, campaign cycles and products spreadsheets merchandisers have grown to be victims to spreadsheets errors.

In a recent report put out by The Telegraph UK,  claims stupid errors in spreadsheets could lead to Britain’s next corporate disaster. One in five large businesses have suffered financial losses as a result of errors in spreadsheets, according to F1F9 . In total, spreadsheet calculations represent up to £38bn of British private sector investment decisions per year. Yet 16pc of large companies have admitted finding inaccurate information in spreadsheets more than 10 times in 2014.


The article focuses on financial institutions but retailers are just as much in jeopardy, many retailer laggers are still using spreadsheets to manage important processes in the supply chain, such as assortment planning, pricing, logistics and space planning. Mistakes in any spreadsheet calculation can have a bullwhip effect through entire company and cost retailers financially. Merchandisers especially should consider abandoning spreadsheets and invest in more automated, less error-prone systems. Systems that can offer business intelligence, remove human calculation errors, provide more optimal insight and execution of products and promotions.

Please click here for the full article in the Telegraph




Written by: Rebecca Shirazi

Rebecca Shirazi is the Marketing Manager at RBM Technologies. She is a frequent contributor to, where she writes in the areas of marketing, merchandising and supply chain.


Amazon reportedly wants to buy RadioShack Stores

According to Bloomberg, Amazon is reportedly in discussion with RadioShack to buy some of the company’s brick-and-mortar stores. The e-commerce giant is considering using the stores as showrooms for its consumer electronics and as pick-up and drop-off centers for items purchased online. Recently, Amazon is finding itself breaking into the physical realm, with holiday pop-up shops but this will mark the company’s biggest plunge into the traditional retail model. Amazon wants store fronts, RadioShack has too many store fronts (a lot of them at 4,400). Sounds like a match made in heaven.

Check out the full report below:

So Amazon has been in talks with RadioShack to buy some stores from the troubled electronics retailer, which could soon file for bankruptcy protection.

Yes, Amazon, the company that built an ultralucrative and humongously disruptive business by eschewing, and destroying, the brick-and-mortar retail model, is thinking about picking up a bunch of brick-and-mortar stores.

Amazon watchers should note that these talks about acquiring real-world stores are happening, in part, to generate online sales. What might seem discordant makes sense when you take a step back and look at Amazon as a whole, and not just as Amazon the company that sells you things over the Internet.

radioshack_in-store merchandising

Amazon has so far proved that it can do one thing really well: sell a lot of cheap consumer goods online. Some might argue that it sells a lot of cheap cloud computing services really well too (it’s the company’s fastest growing division), but Amazon’s success or failure is still deeply rooted in online retail.

Electronics and general merchandise sales account for almost $61 billion of the company’s $89 billion in annual revenue. The cash that this division throws off funds sexy new businesses such as a TV show production unit, a 3-D printed products store and a yet-to-be-launched drone delivery service.

Amazon has discovered that there are two things that seem to boost retail sales growth: its loyalty program, Amazon Prime, and Amazon hardware like the Kindle tablet. Reports have shown that Prime members buy about $1,500 worth of products a year from Amazon, versus the $625 that nonmembers spend. Kindle owners spend about $1,450 per year at Amazon, versus $725 per year for non-Kindle owners.

Prime is doing incredibly well. Global membership rose 53 percent last year, despite a price increase from $79 to $99, and analysts say they think the program has about 40 million members. The hardware stuff, on the other hand has never produced a runaway success. IDCsays the company shipped about 1.7 million Fire tablets in the fourth quarter of 2014, versus 21.4 million Apple iPads and 11 million Samsung Galaxy tablets in the same time frame.

The Fire phone has so far been a failure, and the company has taken a $170 million inventory write-down on it. The Fire TV hasn’t been able to distinguish itself in a crowded streaming television market. No one knows if customers will ever embrace the Echo speaker or the Dash scanner.

Now Amazon is thinking about showcasing its hardware in stores, a strategy that Apple pioneered and Microsoft aped. Samsung, too, is still mulling plans to create standalone retail locations akin to the Apple stores, having hired a senior Apple store designer, Tim Gudgel, and a former director of retail at Apple, Michael Forrest, to work on the initiative.

The retail push is happening as brands rely more on marketing to make their wares stand out in a sea of commoditized hardware. Amazon could use the RadioShack locations to showcase phones, speakers and other products. It has also thought about using the sites as pick-up and drop-off centers for online customers who currently go to places like UPS.

Any deal would depend greatly on how the RadioShack bankruptcy case proceeds. RadioShack would likely want Amazon, or any buyer, to assume liabilities like lease obligations. And Amazon would be competing with Sprint — another interested RadioShack bidder — for prime locations.

I’m not particularly bullish on this strategy. Amazon knows how to sell cheap and fast better than almost anyone else, but creating a retail presence that draws in and delights customers is a very different challenge. It takes a long, long time to ramp up a retail presence. (Just ask Samsung.) And retail failure is really expensive. (Just ask RadioShack.)

Even so, when all of this settles, we may see the premier digital retailer tiptoeing into the ancient world of brick-and-mortar storefronts.

To contact the author on this story:
Katie Benner at [email protected]

To contact the editor on this story:
Timothy L O’Brien at [email protected]


10 CPG Companies That Control Almost Everything We Eat

Oxfam International has made a graphic showing how a handful of corporations control nearly everything we buy at the grocery store.

The graphic focuses on 10 of the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever, Danone, Mars, Mondelez International, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Nestle, and Associated British Foods.


Link to larger photo 

Oxfam calls these companies the Big 10 and keeps a scorecard on their environmental impact on a website devoted to the nonprofit’s “Behind the Brands” campaign.

Beloved brand Oreo, scored only 33%. Oxfam claims performs poorest on climate change and struggles on water, transparency and land rights. 

The campaign aims to make the companies more environmentally and socially conscious. 


Modern Retail Trends [INFOGRAPHIC]

The National Retail Federation published a great infographic with a look into social media’s role in modern retail.

From the NRF website:

Pin it, scan it or share it – operating in a digital world has become second nature for most shoppers today, and retailers are taking full advantage of it. The use of social media platforms and mobile devices is exploding, and for millions of consumers there’s no doubt that this digital revolution is here to stay. With the understanding that this new path to purchase offers up a unique engagement opportunity, retailers are taking over the social scene, and shoppers are reaping the benefits. In this new modern retail environment, the shopping experience has never been quicker, easier or more interactive.

National Retail Federation modern retail infographic

Staples, Retail Localization

Staples Q3 profit up 13%, lowers full-year outlook

Staples, Retail Localization

Staples Inc. reported Tuesday that profit for the third quarter climbed 13% to $326.4 million, from $288.7 million a year earlier. Earnings met Wall Street expectations.

Revenue rose 1% to $6.57 billion from $6.54 billion, missing analysts’ expected $6.71 billion. North American retail unit revenue was flat at $2.7 billion, with same-store sales down 1%. International revenue slid 7% on a local currency basis to $1.3 billion, leading the retailer to adjust its full-year forecast downward.

“International results were weaker than expected as tight expense management was more than offset by very challenging top line trends,” Ron Sargent, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

[via Chain Store Age]

27% of Americans to Spend Less on 2011 Holiday

Courtesy of ChainStoreAge

Shopper Marketing, Stat of the Week

Most than a quarter of Americans expect to spend less during the holidays this year, according to a survey by American’s Research Group, Reuters reported.

About 27% of people surveyed said they planned to spend less this year, while about 55% expect to spend only as much as last year. The question was one of several asked exclusively for Reuters as part of a larger America’s Research Group survey.

More than half of those surveyed said they expected the economy to slow further before it recovers. Only about 18% of Americans plan to spend more this holiday season, down from 23% last year.