December 18, 2017

Brand Attribute #5: The Merchant Prince


Every "brand" has varying levels of "Merchant Prince DNA". Every single one. At a trade journal, that job goes to the "Editor", for instance. That person uses gut instinct and data to decide what to publish. If that person didn't leverage gut instinct, the internet would be a toilet of pretend articles designed to inflame people coupled with lowest-common-denominator content that yields clicks and ad dollars.

Oh. 

Wait.

I had a phone conversation with a Executive - this person loved credit - absolutely adored credit. The purpose of merchandise was to sell credit. This person became giddy when a customer paid via credit and would be charged 21% interest. This person is not a Merchant Prince.

And then there's the person who makes ornaments - I ordered one for a gift and the person wrote me that he makes each ornament by hand so that the person buying it knew that the ornament came from him. That's a modern day Merchant Prince.

If half of the DNA of the company you work for/with is filled with the Merchandise Prince gene, then everything you do has to support making merchants look good. That was the case at Nordstrom. Nobody cared that I had an algorithm that figured out who would buy something from an email campaign. Everybody cared that the Accessories Division was +9%. So you positioned everything in terms of growing Accessories Comps, not in terms of an algorithm. All of a sudden, people let you do what you wanted to do.

Want to innovate at a merchant-led organization? Demonstrate how innovation makes the merchant look good.

We're in a world right now where we are told that data and digital trump merchandise. Those who tell us this, of course, have a vested interest in data and digital.

In most of my projects, merchandise matters. A lot! If you have a Merchant Prince who is making great decisions, you can accelerate his/her growth by adding data and digital. But data and digital is dependent up merchandise. Take the merchandise away, and you have nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So value the Professional who is a Merchant Prince. This person needs your help, but you need her as well.

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