If you sit in an Executive Meeting at Gliebers Dresses, you're bound to hear one of two themes.
- When business is good (25% of the time), either Meredith (Chief Merchandising Officer) has great merchandise and/or Roger (COO) is touting an omnichannel initiative that he has no control over and didn't think up on his own and quite honestly was never executed by Pepper because she has contempt for the times (always) when he steps all over her job responsibilities.
- When business isn't good (75% of the time), either Pepper (CMO) didn't mail the right customers, didn't send email campaigns to the right customers, didn't execute search campaigns well, showed an image that wasn't "brand appropriate" on Instagram, didn't execute 40% off and instead put 30% off on the catalog, failed to put a big enough dot on the catalog, failed to call out on the catalog that there were 27 new items this month, failed to add four pages to the February catalog, failed to properly put appropriate oversights on YouTube when a Gliebers Dresses ad ran on top of a disturbing video, didn't get the 40% off promotion put up on Twitter prior to 3:00pm, failed to personalize the website, failed to provide an accurate hourly sales forecast by channel, personalized the website too much ... or ... blame Pepper because she didn't account for "The Weather".
When I worked at Eddie Bauer (now more than twenty full years ago), it was common for the sales rep of a weather forecasting agency to call me weekly.
- "Did you notice how cold it was in New Orleans last week? Imagine if you could have known that more than two weeks in advance and then sent your New Orleans store a fresh batch of heavy coats? Imagine what that could have done to the bottom line?"
When I worked at Nordstrom there was a meeting where the topic of weather came up, and an Executive said ... "stop blaming, start selling". Interesting thought, huh?
Once I was asked to map weather issues ... and in the process of creating the map, I learned something amazing. The same trends have held for the past decade.
- "Catalog" customers, however you define them, tend to live in rural areas.
- "Online" customers, however you define them, tend to live in suburban areas.
- "Retail" customers, however you define them, tend to live in urban areas.
And if you plot a map of Gliebers Dresses customers, you'll see the trend in living color ... New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Appalachia, the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains ... they all index well-above-average for sales penetration.
Maybe the weather is impacting sales (though it can't impact sales every year, eventually you are accountable).
But maybe you'll unearth a larger and more strategic issue.
How does Gliebers Dresses move into the future if it caters to a rural 60+ year old customer who likes receiving catalogs to the point of not shopping online?
Spend some time trying to answer that question on behalf of Gliebers Dresses, ok?