Jeff Sward

Founding Partner, Merchandising Metrics

Jeff’s experience spans both retail and wholesale assignments in both the apparel and home segments of the business. Department stores (Macy’s and Sak’s) as well as specialty store (Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters). Branded and private label. Concept to execution. Merchandising Metrics is a consulting firm that challenges how retailers are executing versus their competition in the mall.

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  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Will Panera’s climate-friendly labels spur sales?

    I don't always understand the details of the science behind this kind of initiative, and I don't have to. I trust and believe that their motives are sound and that they are trying to bake sensitivity to climate change into their brand promise. That and the fact that their food is delicious makes for a pretty good combination.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Has Shein reinvented teen e-tailing?

    Talk about fast fashion. Yikes. I lived and worked in China for over a year consulting for a Chinese retailer, and the speed this article talks about is possible -- sort of. When they say design to production in three days I am guessing they really mean test response to production in three days. And if they are manufacturing without testing they are making small quantities and then chasing what the customer responds to. Offering 1,000 styles a day in the absence of some kind of data would quickly drown most business models. So my guess is that the beauty of this model is that it is highly data-driven design. Influencers are pushing and the customers are pulling. And the appeal of the incredible amount of newness seems to be working. It was one thing when I lived in China to be within a couple hours drive of so many factories. The logistics were pretty simple and speed was a natural by product of those logistics. No boats or airplanes or customs clearance involved. So it would be interesting to know more about the logistics of Shein's business. Testing and fast production almost becomes the easy part. It's the factory to customer doorstep that is the complicated part.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2020

    Amazon follows record-setting Prime Day with Holiday Dash Deal events

    Thanks Mark. And then there's that pesky return factor in e-commerce transactions. The rush to e-commerce can be a rush to lower profitability. There's a big opportunity in figuring out the returns issue.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2020

    Amazon follows record-setting Prime Day with Holiday Dash Deal events

    Prime Day and other early retail promotions can only help mitigate the downside risk that retailers face this coming holiday season. The more sales a retailer can pull forward the better. And of course the resurgence of COVID-19 will have a dampening effect. Even if sales were to comp even, the shift to e-commerce will be dramatic. And I highly doubt sales will comp even given the current unemployment level and the lack of progress on providing additional stimulus. Are customers thinking far enough in advance to offset what could be a difficult shopping environment come late November and December? Probably not, so how this season ultimately plays out is still a head-scratcher at this point.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2020

    Macy’s is turning stores dark for the holidays

    Good points. I was thinking in terms of the mall location as an incremental expense -- that the sale could have been fulfilled at an existing warehouse. But if they truly needed more space, and they are locked into that lease, then a dark store as fulfillment center might just be cheaper than adding another warehouse, in the short term. As soon as the lock on that lease expires, I think the math changes. In the meantime, both Macy's and the mall are learning some powerful lessons on what future options could be.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2020

    Macy’s is turning stores dark for the holidays

    I'd sure like to know more about the detailed math of this proposition. An open store with ongoing revenue wasn't working out. Now a dark store with zero revenue works as a distribution center? I understand that Macy's is expecting a surge in internet sales this holiday season that they have to service, but this sounds like an expensive solution. Still, I admire the leap they are making. It's a bold experiment at a time when the rumors are rampant about Amazon and how they might use mall space (JCP). The look and feel of next year's mall keeps getting harder and harder to predict.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2020

    Is YouTube a shopping powerhouse waiting to happen?

    If YouTube is already second in daily video consumption, how far behind can shopping be? YouTube is a great "how to" platform. YouTube is a great learning center. Learning is part of shopping. It's not a big leap for YouTube to become a direct link for shopping and buying so many of the products they already feature.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2020

    Is a new store concept the start of something big(ger) for Aldi?

    There's no question that "small" can also mean focused and efficient. And in the couple of Aldi stores I have been in the fresh food section was definitely small. So 40 percent bigger than small could very well be "right-sized" and offer the shopper a less constrained assortment -- and still be efficient enough to enable Aldi's great pricing. Aldi is clearly experimenting with what an optimum footprint looks like.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2020

    Will FAO Schwarz make Target a bigger player in toys?

    Families need all the help and support they can get in this pandemic driven environment. The pressure is on to make the home front as kid friendly as possible. Target is already a family shopping headquarters, so toy exclusives amplify Target as a first-stop shopping destination. Another smart move in a long series of smart moves by Target.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2020

    Has Walmart come up with an answer to Best Buy’s Geek Squad?

    Wow. Talk about a market share grab. Talk about a recurring revenue model. Talk about aggressive. Talk about smart! Walmart is giving no quarter to its competition on any front.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    Staples to accept returns from other stores

    I completely understand this at the initial "great idea!" level. I'm having a very difficult time understanding the mechanics and the math. It sounds like a lot of extra handling is involved. How does that get paid for? Even if the retailer accepting the return gets a little extra business out of the transaction, is the margin on that business capable of covering the incremental expense? If I can return my Bed, Bath & Beyond purchase at some other location, does that make me more or less loyal to Bed Bath & Beyond?
  • Posted on: 10/12/2020

    What’s behind the Amazon/SpartanNash deal?

    Looks, feels, smells like Amazon is going vertical in the grocery business. And in the process giving itself the opportunity to be very flexible in how it executes that strategy.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2020

    Will Dollar General win over higher-income consumers with its new store concept?

    I'm guessing that the success of this venture will be driven as much by location selection as by the concept itself. What retailer are they going to be stealing market share from? Sounds like a nicely upgraded and well curated version of the seasonal aisle of my grocery store. But will it compel a separate trip?
  • Posted on: 10/08/2020

    Amazon rolls out virtual vacation tours that include shopping

    I like this idea, but have to agree that at that level of fee, it's a hard pass.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2020

    Will downsizing (food packs) bring a merry Christmas to Sam’s Club?

    Smart, efficient, and pragmatic. Smaller and fewer family gatherings means abbreviated shopping lists. I'd be happy with the extra leftovers, but for many people this makes abundant sense.

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