PROFILE

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.

To learn more, visit: www.merchandisingmetrics.com

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  • Posted on: 06/05/2020

    The face mask rule is now simply a suggestion at some H-E-B stores

    Documented cases on the rise and the masks come off. Insane. How tough is it to wear a mask until the data demonstrates an improving trend? I hope H-E-B customers have safe alternatives. And referencing another topic today, will H-E-B be protected from liability if an outbreak is reliably traced to them?
  • Posted on: 06/05/2020

    Should Amazon, Walmart, others be held liable for workers sickened by COVID-19?

    This is a lot more complicated than legislation limiting liability. How about science-driven protocols giving some guidance about who closes, who stays open and under what conditions? If employees are placed in working conditions known to be unsafe, then damn right the employer is liable. If protocols were followed and people still get sick, then yes, limit the liability. We can argue the political angles, but we are also learning how differently this could have been handled from the beginning, with less illness, fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2020

    Will retailers pass along or eat COVID-19 shipping surcharges?

    The whole process, the whole game of retail just got more expensive. And given the profitability of retail overall pre-pandemic, the old fee structure is not sustainable. It was never really workable, much less sustainable. "Free" was never free. And any fees that were charged never really covered the whole transaction, especially when you take returns and the attending handling costs into consideration. Something had to give, and now with post-pandemic costs something will. Retailers have jumped through hoops to acquire and retain customers as the pandemic unfolded. Some customers have fallen in love with the newfound conveniences of delivery, BOPIS and BOPAC. Other customers can't wait to get back into the mall. The accelerated shift to e-commerce will find a new point of equilibrium, but so will the fee structure of that new retail model.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Lowe’s ‘virtually’ goes on the job for home improvement pros

    Sounds like a quantum leap in making the whole home service/repair process smarter and way more efficient for both the home owner and the professional. Sounds like an instant competitive advantage.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Is the future of retailing going dark?

    Any mall retailer can take a very surgical look at their store performances and evaluate this proposal. Sounds like it makes a lot of sense when applied on a very localized basis. The other main argument I hear in this article is a powerful reason for Amazon to buy J.C. Penney, apply the dark store thinking, reinvent the stores that will stay open, and re-energize the reinvention of the mall.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Nordstrom crushes inventory optimization

    Nordstrom was smart and proactive on several fronts. I'm guessing the single biggest contributor to the lower inventory was cancelling 80 percent of two months of receipts. That inventory didn't magically evaporate. It's sitting somewhere, just not on Nordstrom's books. So there is more to the story. Nordstrom is in good shape. But cancelling 80 percent of two months of receipts means there is a meaningful list of suppliers that got hammered. The full story on the extended domino effect is not yet fully understood.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Is the REI/West Elm collaboration a win-win?

    It's great when two brand promises overlap and afford each other both reinforcement of those promises and the opportunity to grow and add new customers.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Retail ensnared in nationwide protests

    I am very grateful for the enlightened and heartfelt response from so many business leaders, and their whole companies. The positions they are taking stand in stark contrast to the utter lack of response and leadership from so many elected officials. There are no "both sides" arguments to be made here. It feels like the business community is making more informed and pragmatic decisions about the way forward than the political community. Office holders might want to takes notes. Voters certainly are.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2020

    Socially distant Americans find comfort in retail therapy

    Not to quibble, but do we really know to what degree longer term "habits" have changed? Certainly short-term behaviors have changed. But behaviors driven by compulsory "have to" reasons are different from evolving "want to" reasons. There's no question that the shift to e-commerce, BOPIS, and BOPAC have accelerated. And there's no question that money not spent on dining out and sporting events is being spent in other ways. But I don't think we yet know what is a new habit versus what is a creative short-term, feel-good, behavior change.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2020

    Is purposeful giving an answer to retail’s inventory glut?

    This once-in-a-lifetime event will make a fascinating case study some day. Who packed and held over seasonal inventory? Who offered deep discounts? Who practiced purposeful giving? Who had a robust enough e-commerce business that helped minimize the problem? And I don't mean looking at Target or Walmart. I mean studying the many mall retailers who had to shut down. Take a snapshot at the end of spring/summer 2021 after all this chaos is annualized. Who navigated through most successfully? Who is still standing and still struggling? Who went bankrupt?
  • Posted on: 05/29/2020

    Is purposeful giving an answer to retail’s inventory glut?

    Great idea. Take a clue from the food banks and open clothing banks. Ditto for fall/winter if demand doesn't return to meet supply.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Will Facebook Shops launch social commerce into the mainstream?

    Terrific observations and insights. My distaste for FB didn't take my thinking very deep, so I'm glad to be reminded of the FB rule book and machinations.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Will Facebook Shops launch social commerce into the mainstream?

    Good point! The ubiquity of WeChat in China is truly something to marvel at. Lots of businesses turned to WeChat for instant reach into the sheltering public during the virus shutdown. And the point about including the features of Zoom and Groupon is a reminder of just how vast WeChat's reach really is.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Do retailers need ‘trickle up economics’ to beat COVID-19?

    It's about confidence, not checks. Sure, the checks are a safety net and helped keep families afloat. But we can't just keep printing and borrowing money. The health crisis must be addressed and solved, not wished away. Unfortunately, I think we are still in the early innings of this health crisis. When it's safe, safe as defined by science and not politics, jobs and demand will return. Jobs and paychecks have to drive the recovery.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Will Facebook Shops launch social commerce into the mainstream?

    Facebook Shops is a natural extension of the Facebook business model at this point. How could they possibly resist the opportunity to expand their revenue stream? But when it comes to social media these days, things pretty quickly become political. How a social media platform chooses to handle social/political issues becomes part of their brand promise. Facebook is choosing one direction while Twitter chooses another. I'll continue to enjoy the family and friends aspects of Facebook, but I won't be shopping or buying on Facebook any time soon. As a corporate citizen they are making what I consider to be very unhealthy decisions, all in the name of the almighty dollar. There are no simple answers to the lines drawn between free speech and censorship, but enabling the spread of outright lies and disinformation should be easier to manage than it is proving to be.

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