Do retailers believe there is a link between merchandising execution and sales conversion rates? 9 out of 10 say yes.
The ability to help customers find what they are looking for easily, better communicate in-store promotions, and increase basket size via incremental impulse purchases are key benefits of merchandising execution practices and play a big role in the aforementioned bump in conversions.
A recent survey of 250 retailers by One Door, partnering with an independent third-party research firm, found some interesting opportunities for retailers looking to turn this belief into a reality.
5 merchandising execution opportunities:
Move faster – Retailers need to respond to trends and changes in customer demands with speed to keep in step with other channels. 79% of high-level retailers receive 7 or more directives a quarter from HQ.
Get local – 100% of high-level retailers localize assortments to AT LEAST the individual store level, if not a specific fixture or peg. Not only do retailers need to execute faster, they need to provide product mixes that are in tune with their customers.
Improve store/HQ communication – For retail teams to function to the best of their ability, store managers and employees must be able to communicate effectively with HQ. This goes beyond email and phone calls and focuses on seamless, two-way communication.
Provide better guidance – 35% of retailers do not provide store-specific merchandising guidance, this means store associates have to spend additional time interpreting instructions. Sending instructions specific to an individual or store team can cut down on time spent on resets, allowing them to spend more time with customers.
Measure and reward employees – 93% of retailers identify merchandising accuracy as a key performance indicator yet only 36% of retailers provide bonuses or other monetary rewards for employees who do so.
It is clear that there are incredible opportunities for retailers to improve retail performance through merchandising execution. In fact, most high-level retailers are employing many, if not all, of these tactics today.
To determine how well your organization is positioned to capitalize on these opportunities, One Door has created the Merchandising Execution Maturity assessment tool to help you uncover the hidden potential of your merchandising practices.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are right around the corner. Together, they represent the first big retail opportunities on this year’s retail calendar. Yet each shares certain distinctions that, if addressed separately, will increase store profits and help retailers get the most out of the season.
Firefly Store Solutions created an infographic in order to highlight some interesting facts and distinctions between spending habits for each. We hope that this will assist in recognizing these distinctions and preparing for each holiday in such a way as to sell more merchandise and boost your bottom line.
Emerging specialty brands, such as West Paw Design, are marketed across thousands of boutiques, with a couple pieces here and there. They also often have a fledging direct-to-consumer e-commerce business. Yet nowhere are customers able to experience the brand holistically and completely in a single location. Without that experience, the brand may not thrive.
Enter the e-pop-in. The brand gets full creative control of a presentation of product samples in a location frequented by solid traffic, along with an incentive for the customer to buy online. The best part — it’s efficient and within budget for emerging brands.
Here are some tips for emerging specialty brands wishing to pop-in:
1.Think of service providers as the location to create the e-pop-in. They already have a relationship with the customer, yet aren’t selling competing merchandise. For example, if you’re a fashion orthodics brand, get your e-pop-in into podiatry offices. This is particularly suitable for Aetrex, which has developed a line of fashion orthodics footwear and can benefit by following the trail blazed by Vionic.
2. Think about strategic synergy. In other words, make sure the service provider’s brand message is in sync with your own. For example, a line of activewear that can also be worn to the office is strategically aligned with a personal training regimen like Inform Fitness that’s brief and efficient (covers all muscles intensely) and doesn’t even require a shower.
3.Try to align your brand with a growing industry (e.g., wellness). This would include massage spas, personal trainers, fitness in general, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, nutrition, physical therapy and psychotherapy. The prevention rather than the treatment of disease is becoming increasingly mainstream.
4. Ensure that the service provider’s customer profile matches yours. If your demographic, for example, is an over 50s wealthy client, be sure to partner with a service provider that has the same demographics.
5. Engage a partner whose key service is to create, produce, install and operate the displays, including refreshing them seasonally.
In a recent article published by Transworld Business, Jeff Harbaugh a consultant who has been analyzing “omnichannel” strategy gives his opinion on the evolution of marketing and the future of the retail model. Harbaugh states, brands today almost need to run two companies in order to sell to both millennials (born 1982-2000) and baby boomers (born 1946-1964). Though obviously there is some overlap, today you probably can’t sell the same product lines to both groups. The two generations shop, get their information, are influenced and have different expectations with brands. This difference affects all parts of the supply chain and today retailers are struggling to cope.
Read below on what Jeff Harbaugh thinks is going to happen within retail:
• Retail space is going to contract.
• Malls (with the exception of the high end ones I’m told) will be in trouble. Fewer people are visiting them. They will spend less. This is a slippery slope. Lower traffic means fewer sales which mean some stores close, which means lower traffic which means more stores close.
• Advances in robotics and technologies like 3D printing means that more product can be customized in a short time scale.
• Online/mobile generated sales will continue to grow (duh) energized by our logistics capabilities that get product to (and from) consumers quicker.
• Inventory requirements for retailers will decline as will the square feet needed for physical stores.
• Real product differentiation will continue to be hard to achieve. Making a product at least occasionally hard to find will matter.
J.C. Penney Co. is bringing back its catalog for the first time in 5 years. In a recent article posted by WSJ, Suzanne Kapner explains, the new 120-page catalog will feature items from Penney’s home department and will be sent to select customers in March. The move to a traditional marketing approach is an oddity in the digital age, where more retailers are concentrating on investing in their online platforms.
The decision was made to bring back the catalog when the company eventually learned a majority of purchases online were actually catalog shoppers using the web to place orders. The retailer is discovering the catalog can be used as a branding tool that can drive sales. “31% of shoppers have a catalog with them when they make an online purchase” according to retail consultancy Kurt Salmon.
In the iLab (Booth 1151), NRF attendees were able to see, touch and experience some of the most interesting and innovative products finding their way into the marketplace (and some that are still on the drawing board) from the worlds of health, food and beauty to home decor, personal technology, wearables, sustainable living and more. MerchandisingMatters was able to pick out some of the most unique and eye-popping products in the consumer electronics industry:
PetChatz is a first-of-kind Greet & Treat videophone that allows pet parents to interact with their pet from anywhere. With PetChatz, you can see, hear, speak to, provide a comforting scent and give your pet a treat using a smart phone or computer.
The HAPIfork, is an electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast. Every time you bring food from your plate to your mouth with your fork. The HAPIfork also measures:
* How long it took to eat your meal
* The amount of “fork servings” taken per minute
* Intervals between “fork servings”
The company was inspired by the work of Ivan Pavlov, is known for his work in classical conditioning. Its makers describe it as a “personal coach on your wrist”, and it can dole out electric shocks if its users are doing something that they shouldn’t. Pavlok uses mild electric shock to help you break any habit. It can also shut down access to your phone and make users pay a fine.
“The Cicret Bracelet: Like a tablet but on your skin.” The bracelet is still in prototype and is not yet available. But a quick video was shown that showcasing some impressive technology that eliminates a number of inconveniences experienced by owning a smartphone. Check out the video here, we think it was the most interesting concept of the show:
Over the weekend the popular social news company Buzzfeed posted 16 embarrassing (but entertaining) images of poorly executed merchandising displays at Target. With over 2 Million views, Target must be very aware they a big issue on their hands now. Even though Target was the butt of the joke, many other retailers have no tools in place to control the management of what products and signage are actually placed in each store.
Take a look of some of the mistakes taken place on the sales floor:
1. The time they might have caused a sexual awakening in a lot of teenage readers:
3. The time they put this unfortunate image in people’s heads:
4. The time they failed to grasp what healthy food is:
6. The time they didn’t understand what “clearance” meant:
8. The time they pushed the limit on how much people will pay for a banana:
There are plenty of point-of-sale providers retailers can choose from — but not all POS systems are created equally, and not all have the features that can actually better your business, in terms of improved customer convenience strategies that also deliver on your business needs and goals (including those in multiple channels) at any given time. Here are a few key features all retailers should look for when choosing a POS system.
The capability to “meet” customers anywhere
Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of using a mobile device, including smartphones and tablets to perform the same functions that fixed or desktop systems have traditionally provided, including checking and opening emails, online research of product information — and completing purchases. Given that major retailers like Apple, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters have already begun to execute their own iterations of what the new mobile retail experience will entail, retailers of all sizes should be prepared for changing customer expectations, including being “met” by the retailer as part of the purchase and checkout experience.
When you choose POS technology equipped to work as a mobile device in tandem with a traditional fixed POS system (and those systems “talk” to one another), you equip your customer service team to act as a mobile checkout resource from anywhere in the storefront, with the aid of a mobile point-of-sale checkout system. The “check out anywhere” capability not only improves the customer experience; it optimizes your company’s investment (and ROI) in staff’s time, and minimizes the risk of lost sales that can result when customers forgo making a purchase because of long checkout lines.
The ability to manage inventory in real time
Real-time inventory management isn’t just a way to optimize your cash flow and stock on hand. Customers now expect that a retailer knows and shares exactly what is in stock at any given time, and they use that information as part of their purchase decision process. According to a January 2014 study published by Accenture and Forrester Research, 71 percent of consumers expect to view in-store inventory online; 50 percent expect to be able to buy online and pick up in-store. You don’t have to be a behemoth retail outfit to replicate the real-time inventory and supply chain controls (that have made brands like Wal-Mart leaders in the industry) to deliver on this expectation, but you do need a POS system specifically equipped to provide real-time inventory management (particularly if you’re an omni-channel retailer with multiple storefronts and e-commerce channels).
Select a system that allows you to balance stock across locations, enter purchase orders, receive inbound inventory and assign barcodes to new products for anywhere — including a till, back office and a mobile device. With such real-time inventory management and response capabilities, you achieve improved internal controls — and a competitive advantage: Despite customer expectations, Accenture estimates that only a third of retailers have operationalized real-time inventory management at even a basic level.
The ability to uniquely target customers based on business needs
The capability to offer appropriate customer promotions based on the unique goals, performance history and inventory levels across multiple locations in your retail operation can be a complex matter that not all POS systems are equipped to handle. When you choose a POS system specifically designed to accommodate multisite operations, you can target customers based on their purchase and promotional redemption history while taking into account the unique business needs of each of your retail locations at any given moment. With such a POS system, for example, you can design unique offers for specific customer segments, at the times specific retail locations need the most sales support. For example, you might message staff through your POS system to “upsell” loyal VIP customers with a limited-time discounts valid at defined locations, during slow hours of operation. Once a specific sales threshold is reached, you can expire the promotion in the POS system, on a location basis.
A point-of-sale system is much more than a way to process customer transactions, collect sales data and manage inventory. When you choose a POS specifically designed to improve your existing internal processes and customer offerings, you don’t just find a way to conduct “business as usual” — you can leverage new opportunities to strategically optimize every function of your retail business, from the inside out.
About the Author –
Tim FlachmanofBepoz America is a POS expert who writes about topics including event technology, retail software, entrepreneurship and more.
On the surface, what TJX does is straight- forward: Its various chains sell mostly name-brand goods at a discount to traditional retail prices. How it continuously makes money doing this when so many others have failed is another tale—and that’s the mystery Fortune Magazine has set out to uncover. Fortune spent months talking to 50 former TJX employees and other retail insiders—including analysts, consultants, suppliers, and competitors—to re-create the company’s secret playbook. Here’s what they’re found.
Play No. 1:
Sell “new,” not a “sale.”
TJX shipped over 2 billion units this year. Their secret – keep merchandise fresh and create demand by controlling and limiting supply. Brand consultant Bill D’Arienzo calls the “buy now or cry later” mentality, which gives customers a sense of urgency and entices them to buy.
TJX is selling hot new items at a lower price, instead of selling last seasons items at a “sale” price.
Play No. 2:
Put real treasure in the treasure hunt.
TJX’s off-price chain model for product placement is much different than normal retailers. Instead of new products being displayed in the front of the store, followed by a massive marketing campaign with print, social media, advertisements; a $1,250 Stella McCartney dress would be tucked back on a rack somewhere sold for $499.99.
Fortune explains, TJX makes a point of hiding gems for the well-heeled as well as the middle class. TJX is trying to create an experience sort of like a “treasure hunt,” where customers feels the rush when they find an item they might not know they’ve wanted, at a price point that feels like they are getting a steal for.
Play No. 3:
“The money is in the buy.”
The company’s buying organization is considered one of the best. In order to develop an expertise in a specific category of goods, TJX’s buyers focus much more narrowly than their department store counterparts; rather than be responsible for accessories, a TJX buyer might specialize in just handbags.
TJX buyers spend years perfecting their craft, and go through a rigorous training program. All because buyers are negotiating millions of dollars.
Play No. 4:
Have the vendor make it for you.
One of the biggest myths about T.J. Maxx is that the retailer sells merchandise that department stores or designers couldn’t sell. TJX finds some of its deals through other retailers who routinely return or cancel orders from manufacturers,
Surprisingly, many suppliers purposefully create excess merchandise for T.J. Maxx to buy, according to Fortune.
T.J. Maxx produces its own merchandise, too. About 10% of merchandise is under in-house labels such as Frou Frou for pet products or Mercer & Madison for leather handbags.
Play No. 5:
Take it all
Even though TJX is buying upfront, it can still secure a good price, because of the volume of orders it places for its thousands of stores.
“The magic sentence manufacturers wants to hear is, ‘We’ll take it all,’” a CEO of a rival retailer told Fortune.
“Outside of true luxury brands, anyone who tells you TJX isn’t one of their top five customers is either lying or doesn’t have a successful business,”Paul F. Rosengard, president and CEO of supplier Boston Traders. Some vendors actually make more money selling to TJX than to the other retail outlets.
Play No. 6:
Suppliers aren’t used-car dealers.
One reason the supplier relationship with TJX is so strong is that it has gotten so bad with the department stores. Department stores want concessions for advertising and markdown allowances. They want money for delayed deliveries and returns. Suppliers have given department stores hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in markdown money to a department store for a product that didn’t sell.
Fortune says the buyer-supplier relationship with TJX has historically been more of a partnership. TJX buyers are taught to make the vendor feel like it’s a win-win and to leave the door open if they can’t come to an agreement this time around. TJX also pays on time, which seems like a given, but suppliers can go out of business because they don’t always get paid.
Play No. 7:
Find a CEO who gets retail.
Carol Meyrowitz is no stranger to retail, growing up her father was a wholesaler and Meyrowitz started her career in retail as an assistant buyer straight out of college.
People who have worked with Meyrowitz say she has an intuitive sense of the business because she’s been on the frontlines.
“She’s one of the few executives that could do almost any merchant job in the company,” Sweetenham says. Meyrowitz has upgraded the stores, taking merchandise out and replenishing more frequently so they’re not as messy.
She’s also raised the stores’ taste level, expanding T.J. Maxx’s Runway collection; expanding into European market and introducing the retail giant to the world of e-commerce.
This story is from the August 11, 2014 issue of Fortune. Click here to view the full article