June 01, 2014

Commerce Nightmares: Stale Merchandise

In a recent Merchandise Forensics project, an Executive issued a very interesting comment:
  • "Marketing is the problem. Not merchandising. You have to understand, Kevin, we sell the same thing every single year. That eliminates merchandising from the success/failure equation."
Oh.

Is it possible that, by selling the same thing every single year, that you either missed trends in the marketplace, or you bored your existing customer to death?

Look at the image above. This image represents batters for the St. Louis Cardinals who batted at least 400 times during any year, for the past ten years. I picked the Cardinals because that team is really, really successful across time. They had one losing season during this ten year stretch. One (2007).

In sports, the players are essentially the "merchandise". The purple cells represent that a player batted at least 400 times in that year. What do you observe? How many players achieved consistent success in 4+ years? Three. Yup, that's it. Three.

In other words, one of the most successful sports franchises achieves success by constantly finding new players to replace current players.

Just like when Mr. Ramsey gets frustrated with dated menus in restaurants, we have a responsibility to freshen-up our merchandise assortment. When you hear that the merchandise is the same, year after year, then you may well be headed for a Commerce Nightmare.