July 10, 2016

Common Merchandise Forensics Problems

I released this little ditty three years ago (September 2013):
  • 2012 = 0% of my annual consulting revenue.
  • 2013 = 29% of my annual consulting revenue.
  • 2014 = 23% of my annual consulting revenue.
  • 2015 = 44% of my annual consulting revenue.
  • 2016 = 34% of my annual consulting revenue.
So clearly, we were all on to something.

This week, we'll talk a bit about what all of these projects have taught us. Today, we'll start with "taking action".

About a third of all Merchandise Forensics projects result in action.
  • Setting of goals and objectives for the merchandising team.
  • Promotion of new/promising items.
  • Communication of results to the entire Executive Team.
  • Changes of product assortment on the Home Page, Landing Pages, and in email marketing.
  • Greater levels of teamwork within the company.
  • Sharing of information between marketing and merchandising.
About two-thirds of all Merchandise Forensics projects result in inaction.
  • Executive Team rejects the findings.
  • Merchandising Team asks company to "stay the course".
  • Company blames marketing for failing to promote items to the right audience.
  • Waiting until 2018 because "2017 is already in play" ... and then not making any changes once 2018 is in play because "2018 is already in play".
  • The products failed because the catalog cover was poorly executed and never gave the products a chance.
  • Marketing and Merchandising refusing to speak with each other.
  • Parent company rejects what the individual brand observes, asks individual brand to "play ball or else".
  • We had to raise prices to grow margin, so we'll continue down this path.
  • We had to lower prices to compete against Amazon, so we'll continue down this path.
  • We need to cut back on new items because new items are failing.
  • We needed to cut back on existing winners because our assortment was not fresh enough.
  • We need a brand-appropriate assortment, regardless whether it causes a 15% demand hit or not. We're protecting the brand by causing a sales decline.
  • You didn't analyze this properly - if you analyzed the problem the way we analyze it, you'd come to the same conclusions we come to. Maybe you need to change the way you look at data? We know our business the best, you don't.
The last comment is pretty common.

2/3rd of the audience pursue a "read and reject" philosophy. They stare at the data (you can't argue with the data, the data is what the data is), then they find every excuse in the book to not take action. They are happy they performed the analysis, of course, because performing the analysis is a form of action, and it is better to act upon performing an analysis than it is to act upon what an analysis says.

If an online brand asks for a Merchandise Forensics project, there's a greater than fifty percent chance action follows the analysis.

If a cataloger asks for a Merchandise Forensics project, there a lower than twenty-five percent chance action follows the analysis. But those who do take action ... #ohboy!! They do well! Some do amazingly well.

Let's let those two facts sink in for a moment ... for that's the greatest problem with Merchandise Forensics projects. "Read and Reject".

We'll spend the rest of the week taking about actual issues identified in Merchandise Forensics projects.