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: 01/20/2021

    Is My Pillow being ‘cancelled’ or is its CEO trashing the business all on his own?

    Mr. Lindell might have offered us a counter argument to the adage that "there's no such thing as bad publicity." He exercised his rights as a citizen and now retailers and customers alike will exercise their rights as merchants and customers. Sounds like an efficient market to me.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2021

    NRF 2021: Are retailers stronger having made it this far into the pandemic?

    At this point I'm not equating a retailer's survival with how well they adapted or evolved. Some, like Target, were ahead of the curve and emerged with their pre-pandemic strategies highly validated. Others, like Macy's, may have survived, but now with more debt and a shrinking store base they are deeper in the hole than before. Most of retail is still in the proverbial recovery room, and a year from now we'll see how supply chains, store content and presentation, and delivery mechanisms have settled into truly evolved models.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2021

    Does a Staples/Office Depot merger now make more sense?

    If I were pressed to identify the difference between the two stores, I would say -- uhmmm, the spelling of their names? The stores are interchangeable, one offering no discernible value over the other. So yes, merge and extract every ounce of synergy and efficiency possible. Wring out every duplicative cost possible. I don't need a Genius Bar to buy paper and pens, but the emerging importance of the home office has surely given rise to the opportunity for expanded product and services in that arena. Even when merged, the new company must identify those products and (mostly) services that will differentiate it from Amazon.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2021

    Would a effort help indy retailers compete with the online giant?

    There is a certain appeal that smaller, local stores have relative to the national chains. Buy Local has put a giant exclamation point on that feeling and gives a real reason for being. A website that acts as an aggregator for local merchants is a great idea. Amazon will still have a formidable presence, but this might give smaller local merchants some critical mass that will elevate their competitive profile.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2021

    NRF 2021: Retailers make an appointment with the future

    Sometimes shopping is just shopping. Browsing, cruising, seeing what there is to see. It's open ended and exploring/experimenting with various options is the mission. But I think more often shopping is an assignment, a task with a specific goal in mind. And there an appointment makes perfect sense. I know the outcome I want, but I'll need help, advice, counsel to get there. Suitsupply nailed it for their genre of product.
  • Posted on: 01/15/2021

    Will paying associates to get COVID-19 vaccines work for Dollar General and Trader Joe’s?

    This feels like a bare minimum step for employers to take. If the employees were to take any kind of training that enabled better job performance, they'd be paid for their time. This stops short of compulsory vaccinations and, while that's a different conversation, it's the fair and appropriate thing to do. And hopefully it will result in a higher level of compliance.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    7-Elevens could be destined to undergo a konbinification

    I have to admit that I had not heard the term "konbini" before reading this article. But having said that, the underlying logic sure makes sense. It would be great if the plethora of convenience stores across the nation served a higher purpose beyond a distribution point for soda, chips and candy. (Or did I just reveal my personal shopping list?) Convenience, time-saving, and one-stop execution are drivers of how shoppers think about their daily to-do list. Sounds like c-stores can check off a larger portion of that list than I had previously been thinking.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    What leadership lessons have retailers learned during the pandemic?

    The under-learned lesson prior to the pandemic was that what worked last year might not work this year. Evolution of product and process was undermanaged. Testing and probing new initiatives was under-utilized. There is now no question that many malls and retailers got lazy and complacent over the last decade. Now that the change has been imposed by the sledgehammer of the pandemic, listening and learning are of paramount importance. The evolution of business models has to become an offensive tool, rather than a defensive response.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    Walmart to deliver groceries to temp-controlled smart boxes at customers’ homes

    How can this not work? To say that it makes abundant sense is an understatement. Sure there are lots of details to figure out, but it could be an incredible time saver. The flipside is the ripple effect. Meaning that the trip to the grocery store is often the basis of several other errands. The bank, dry cleaners, hardware store -- whatever. And if the shopper still has to make all these other stops, is that a reason to continue to do the grocery shopping themselves? Time savings and convenience will ultimately win the day, but it will be interesting to see how other shopping dynamics are affected.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Will becoming a fintech powerhouse make Walmart an even more formidable retailer?

    It's not surprising that Walmart wants to expand the range of services it offers customers. Sounds like a potential competitive edge against Amazon -- right up to the moment that Amazon makes a similar announcement. Is this banking, electronic currency exchange and payments, insurance...? Bottom line, it sounds like they are casting a broader product net to a broader audience. Sounds more formidable to me.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2021

    Retailers give customers refunds and tell them to keep items

    When will we read about how "Keep It" elevates into "keep it and please shop elsewhere from now on"? "Free" deliveries and returns taught customers to buy first with comfort and then sometimes with reckless abandon. "Keep It" now puts a giant exclamation point on that habit. Sounds like the e-commerce equivalent of the ever deepening of the discounting by mall retailers. The math is totally understandable but the solution compounds the problem rather than solving it. Maybe like some other retail practices there will be rules and solutions that have to prevail during the pandemic and then revised practices that will work post vaccines.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2021

    Shopify dumps Trump’s stores from its platform

    Free speech sometimes has unintended consequences. And then there's consistent, on-going, malignant, malice-filled speech. Lines are crossed, frequently and egregiously. And bad outcomes predictably unfold. So yes, there comes a time when enabling and supporting platforms have an obligation to pull and disassemble that support. It's long past time when some doors should be slammed shut on incendiary behavior.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Retailers call on Trump to end the national chaos he created

    Thanks Dick -- well put. Brevity did not serve me well here. "Worked" -- sort of, kind of. Hopefully vocal businesses and individuals will return us to sanity, which includes the opportunity to disagree but ultimately demands that adjudicated outcomes be respected, even if disagreed with.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Retailers call on Trump to end the national chaos he created

    I don't think it's partisan to say that we have a Constitution that has served us extremely well over the years. That Contstitution allows plenty of room for dissent and advocacy of differing points of view. It also establishes boundaries, and when those boundaries are breached it provides remedies. Those boundaries have indeed been breached, egregiously and on multiple occassions. So yes, I think everybody has a role and responsibility in holding elected officials accountable for their actions. The election and the subsequent challenges played out. The system worked.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2021

    Are local retailers ready to flex their omnichannel muscles?

    The "shop local" mindset has emerged with new top-of-mind awareness for consumers everywhere. The pandemic accelerated the decline of mall shopping so local merchants are better positioned than they were a year ago. So they absolutely have to be in a position to take the next steps of curbside pick up and local delivery in order to take advantage of this new mindset. It can only get stronger if local independent merchants take maximum advantage of the moment. Surviving malls are going to be fighting hard to win back shoppers.

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