NRF Big Show 2011: Art and Science of Merchandising

Effective merchandising has become more complex in recent yearsnrfmerch1210.jpg with the growth in Internet, mobile and social retailing channels. In addition, the well-documented paradigm that has occurred with consumers now in the driver’s seat has added complexities to the merchandising process that have never been seen before. While automated merchandising systems and optimization technologies have been available for years, most retailers are still experiencing fractured planning processes, ongoing out-of-stocks and underperforming inventory turns.

Because of these forces, merchandising has experienced a steady evolution over the last 24 months. As the recession has begun loosening its grip and retailers have begun adapting to customer-driven demand, retailers have started to integrate merchandising with other functional departments.
Merchandising should collaborate with marketing to use customer data to more effectively plan and allocate inventory, but until recently the two departments were as siloed as Democrats and Republicans on the Senate floor.
Merchandising and supply chain collaboration has been a bit more common, but as localization efforts grow in importance, integrating these departments more closely will become even more important.

In addition, the art of merchandising is finally giving way to science, and retailers are beginning to understand the real benefits that can occur through advanced, automated technology. In fact, in the 20th Annual RIS/Gartner Retail Tech Trends Study, all 10 of the Top 10 Technologies for 2010 were merchandising related!

For retailers deeply involved in upgrading their merchandising systems the NRF Big show has a number of valuable sessions to attend, with strong speakers and good stories to tell.

Target: Guests Are Key
As a general rule whenever Target speaks it is well worth the time to attend and learn. Target was heavily into customer-centric merchandising well before it was in vogue. In the session “Guests Are Key to Its Decision Making and Vendor Collaboration,” Shelly Hyytinen of Target will highlight a cornerstone of its approach and offer case-study examples of leveraging market basket insights, customer segmentation and merchandising optimization technology.
When: Sunday, 01/09/2011 8:30AM -10:00AM, Room Hall E, 1E 14/15/16

Private label merchandise is said to reach as high as 40% of sales at certain retailers. During the recession it has been used as a strategy to ensure strong margins and growth. In what is one of the strongest retailer line-ups at the NRF Big Show, the session “Building Private Label Success: Three Distinct Views” will highlight how American Eagle Outfitters, Macy’s and Guitar Center have leveraged private label strategies to innovate and grow in a tough environment.
When: Monday, 01/10/2011 1:45PM - 2:45PM , Room Hall E, 1E 07/08

Crowd Sourcing
Covering the topic of the Consumer-Driven Demand evolution there is an interesting session, “Fashion Merchant’s Killer App: Crowd Sourcing,” which explores how retailers can leverage the consumer to help drive merchandising decisions. The session, led by David Reinke of StyleHop Corp., will discuss how crowd sourcing is being effectively used in other industries and suggest steps to consider when developing a crowd sourcing strategy.
When: Monday, 01/10/2011 3:00PM - 4:00PM , Room Hall E, 1E 07/08

Macy’s Localization
Much has been written in the last 12 months about the importance of localized merchandising to meet consumer demand. Macy’s has been among the most innovative companies using this strategy during the recession and its success has enabled it to remain a leader in the department store space. The session, “My Macy’s: The Science of Localization,” will discuss how Macy’s has changed its structure to provide a personalized experience to the local consumer and how it is using advanced systems and technology to support the strategy. Macy’s Steve Nevill will lead the session.
When: Monday, 01/10/2011 3:00PM - 3:30PM , Room 3D08, EXPO Hall

The Co-Creation Imperative
Retailers need to adapt merchandising decisions to align as closely as possible with consumer demand. CIO Jon Kubo has been leading the way to this kind of innovative thinking at Wet Seal and will help lead the session “Collective Intelligence & Co-Creation: New Paths to Product Introduction & Assortment Planning.” Led in conjunction with IDC Retail Insight’s Greg Girard, the session will offer ways retailers can incorporate collective intelligence and customer co-creation practices in buying discussions and decisions.
When: Tuesday, 01/11/2011 1:45PM - 2:45PM , Room Hall E, 1E 07/08

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