Will ‘five pillars’ provide the foundation Bed Bath & Beyond needs to succeed?

Discussion
Photo: Getty Images
Jan 09, 2020
George Anderson

It’s been said that the stock market is forward-looking with share prices calculated on how a given company is likely to perform in the future. If that’s the case, then investors seem to think Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) is in for more difficult times ahead. The retailer’s share price fell eight percent in extended trading yesterday after it reported third-quarter sales and earnings that came in below Wall Street’s expectations.

Same-store sales were down 8.3 percent during the period, below the minus five percent consensus among analysts, CNBC reports. BBBY lost 38 cents per share during the quarter, compared to gain of two cents expected.

Mark Tritton, president and CEO of BBBY, called the company’s results “unsatisfactory” and pledged to “move quickly to course-correct and drive the business forward.”

On the company’s earnings call with analysts yesterday, Mr. Tritton outlined a preliminary plan to create “a modern, durable model” for the business.

The good news, he said, is that consumer research shows that 79 percent of customers have a favorable view of BBBY. The chain faces challenges, however, connecting with Gen-Z and Millennial consumers.

We know in our industry that 80 percent of traffic is influenced by digital touchpoint, reinforcing that our digital business is a gateway to our customer and that we need to drastically improve our digital platform,” said Mr. Tritton.

Consumers, he said, have higher expectations “across store, digital and delivery experiences and the reality that the next generation of customers are not just digitally savvy, but shop digital first.

Mr. Tritton outlined “five pillars” – product, price, promise, place and people – he plans to build BBBY’s business upon.

Product assortments, he said, will focus on “creating energy through differentiation and curation.”

As for price, BBBY will “invest in and clarify compelling value through more choices in opening price points, relevant owned brands and clear price communications,” said Mr. Tritton. 

BBBY’s “promise” was less well defined. The goal, Mr. Tritton said, was to connect, engage and motivate customers “to strengthen loyalty and lifetime value. 

Place for BBBY’s CEO means focusing on omnichannel retailing to serve the “preferred shopping needs” of all its customers.

People will be a difference-maker with a focus on creating a “culture that attracts, retains and develops high-performance teams who consistently deliver operational excellence and business results.

Earlier this week, BBBY announced that it has agreed to a sale-leaseback deal with Oak Street Real Estate Capital that will net the retailer $250 million. The deal represents roughly 2.1 million square feet of commercial real estate including stores, a distribution center and office space. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are Mark Tritton’s “five pillars” the foundation for a revival at Bed Bath & Beyond? Is there one of the pillars that you think is absolutely critical for the retailer to achieve success?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This is a 'yeah, duh' approach, but that's what Bed Bath & Beyond needs now. To get back to basics, specifically making sense of their assortment."
"Build a robust in-store customer service program that engages and “wows” the customer, and they’ll win."
"The one that I think will be key is “promise.” Who will they be and how will they “strengthen loyalty and lifetime value?”"

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25 Comments on "Will ‘five pillars’ provide the foundation Bed Bath & Beyond needs to succeed?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

The five pillars are the five fundamentals of retailing. They are what every retailer needs to focus on in order to succeed. As such, while they are not radical it is conforting that Mr. Tritton has called them out. At heart, he is a retailer with retail skills – and that is exactly what Bed Bath & Beyond requires in order to survive.

If I had to pick one it would be “product.” At present, Bed Bath & Beyond’s assortment is not compelling enough, far too fragmented and does little to stimulate shoppers. Having great merchandise is the key that unlocks higher sales. Mr. Tritton no doubt knows this well from his time at Target!

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

The five pillars described by Tritton are fundamentals which will hardly seem revolutionary. However I believe it’s right for Tritton to start with these core, foundational elements first. All five pillars are critical, but I think Tritton’s focus on “place” (i.e. omni and BOPIS), will be among the most important in the short term as he works to drive positive same-store sales. The ability to deliver a seamless and effective omni experience has been a hallmark of Target’s success, and I expect Tritton will bring this Bed Bath & Beyond.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

While the “five pillars” echo the “four Ps” from my 1970s-era marketing class, Mr. Tritton makes a valid argument about the number of areas where Bed Bath & Beyond needs repair. As a former merchant, I would always start with “product,” because that’s the main reason why anybody shops any retailer — the relevance and execution of the assortments. There will be some short-term pain involved in cleaning up Bed Bath & Beyond’s overstuffed and overassorted stores, but opportunity awaits.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I will reserve judgment until we learn more about what lies behind “promise.” Bed Bath & Beyond has an opportunity to look beyond the iconic coupon to redefine its brand promise to younger generations. But “curating assortments” and “omnichannel experiences” must be aligned to a brand promise that is relevant and meaningful to their core segments. Until that promise is carefully defined, revival strategies will be difficult to hone…

Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

On the Q3 earnings call, Tritton defined “promise” as “clarifying and deepening relationships with our clients by connecting, engaging, and motivating them to strengthen loyalty and lifetime value.”

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Thanks, Mark! I guess that still leaves me wondering what the real brand promise is that will help strengthen loyalty and lifetime value. “Connecting, engaging and motivating,” tells me their aspirations, but doesn’t really tell me the brand promise. I will wait and see, I guess!

Zach Zalowitz
BrainTrust
I’ve been inside of Bed Bath & Beyond on a few omnichannel technology projects and can tell you that they have both the capability to change and some great talent. To others’ points, this is a “yeah, duh” approach, but that’s what Bed Bath & Beyond needs now. To get back to basics, specifically making sense of their assortment. It seems so odd to me that there are 9 different types of pans and towels when I only need one cheap option, two middle and one premium. To me it’s “product” because “place” is a no-brainer. BOPIS is standard now in the industry at this tier 1 level (e.g. Target, Walmart) and speed is standard too (again, e.g. Target, Walmart, Amazon)… where will the battlefield be in two years is the question — Being in my mid-thirties, and a recently-engaged “DINK” consultant with disposable income it seems to me that service and product in my demographic should be top priority, yet I walk into a Bed Bath & Beyond and it seems more like a… Read more »
Art Suriano
BrainTrust
How many different strategies have we heard about with Bed Bath & Beyond that have all failed? The only fact in their favor this time is that now they have a new CEO and I’d like to see them succeed. However, the best analogy I can give with Bed Bath & Beyond is the boat has a leak, and rather than repair the hole, they buy more buckets. Bed Bath & Beyond has many advantages starting with the fact that nationally they have no direct competition. Yet year after year, they have managed to see comp-store sales decline without a clue on how to fix the problem. Walk into their stores and you’ll see a wide selection of products nicely arranged and usually at very competitive prices. Of course they have discounted themselves into the grave with coupons that never seem to expire even though the coupon says so. Then they tried a subscription program for $29 a year but continued the coupons, so why buy the subscription? But the big problem in-store is the… Read more »
Stephen Rector
BrainTrust

Mark Tritton does not need to reinvent the wheel here – the fundamentals have been broken at Bed Bath & Beyond for a while, so while the five Ps may be familiar to everyone, they have not been the focus of the organization. Product is king and there is a lot of opportunity for editing and offering a more compelling assortment. But people are going to be crucial to the success of this as well – the customer experience must be improved for better results.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I will join the chorus on this – the pillars are nothing new in retail 101. As I mentioned before, the biggest question is how does Bed Bath & Beyond curate its assortment to relevant to customers? There is way too much product crammed to the ceiling and trying to find what I want (what is displayed) is sometimes a chore and it is hard to find an associate to help.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Sure they provide a strong foundation. But lots of retailers had a strong foundation and they failed to build (or evolve) the right structure on top of the foundation. Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy’s — they all had great foundations and blew it in varying degrees. Mark’s track record suggests that he knows what to build on the strong foundation. I actually think it’s great that he is not over promising. He rattled the cage pretty dramatically on day one and is now steadying the ship. Sounds healthy to me.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust
Suresh Chaganti
Co-Founder and Executive Partner, VectorScient
4 months 27 days ago

If this means going back to fundamentals, that should hopefully turn out well. But the main challenge for Bed Bath & Beyond is uninspiring product assortment. One cannot escape the feeling of a mishmash of product categories. Once they get assortment right, they have to use some part of the store to showcase the ideal bedroom, ideal kitchen, ideal bath, etc. taking a page out of IKEA’s playbook. There is no showroom aspect in the store layout, which is missing the fundamental concept. They cannot win competing in categories like vacuum cleaners and other branded electrics that can be bought elsewhere.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Bed Bath & Beyond has a unique differentiator buried in the blur of poor merchandising practices and a hodgepodge of product. Product is number one. Bed Bath & Beyond product ranges from tired clearance goods which have spent lots of time with jobbers in warehouses to the latest TV miracle product. Bed Bath & Beyond has the opportunity to be the Target of household goods. Two generations are ripe for the discovery of Bed Bath & Beyond, still actively furnishing kitchens, bedrooms and the details of a home.

Bed Bath & Beyond: clean up the product assortments, clear out the jobber goods, merchandise what is left in a coherent manner and build a big, beautiful digital presence displaying the wonder of furnishing and loving a home. The key to success? Digitally evoke the human emotions that drive people to spend their money to bring warmth and happiness to their individual home environment. Simple as that!

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

Mr. Tritton’s retail credentials are stellar and is what Bed Bath & Beyond needs to transform. While Mr. Tritton made a bold move by sweeping out his C-suite and is absolutely correct about the foundational pillars, Bed Bath & Beyond is in a race to avoid extinction. As such, there must be an immediate focus that galvanizes the entire organization and that has to be greatly improving the in-store experience and rationalizing their assortment. Although Mr. Tritton is directionally correct about digital’s impact and the absolute need to invest, it will not be sufficient to counter the existential threat of declining same-store comps and poor in-store experience.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

I want to know what that “promise” is. And do all employees know it? The key to the people (one of the pillars) delivering is to know the promise, understand the promise and be trained to deliver on the promise. While Bed Bath & Beyond has digital sales, when a customer walks through those doors of the physical store there is an opportunity to win them over, bring them back and create the loyalty that Mr. Tritton is looking for.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

I’d consider a sixth pillar — private Label. Clearly cleaning up on the other fronts is necessary, in particular curated product assortments. In the long run that still leaves price as a major factor to compete with, which is a difficult competitive factor to sustain.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

I agree with this and have to believe private brand initiatives are very much on the menu given Mr. Tritton’s former areas of focus and accomplishments.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust
Is there a contradiction between “Same-store sales were down 8.3 percent” and “consumer research shows that 79 percent of customers have a favorable view of Bed Bath & Beyond”? It suggests that the customers are happy but they are not buying as much; a much deeper problem. There is a beautiful Bed Bath & Beyond store within 100 yards of where I live. It is a well run store. The people are excellent. But in the last year, with the exception of one item, everything we used to buy there we now buy on Amazon. For example, last week I realized I was low on aftershave lotion. After I finished shaving, when I went to my computer I visited Amazon and ordered it. I had it in two days. This is a purchase less than $10. The same applies for all toiletries and cosmetics we used to buy at Bed Bath & Beyond (which is less than 100 yards away). It also applies to paper products, detergents and a even Illy coffee. Our Bed Bath… Read more »
Lauren Goldberg
BrainTrust

All of the pillars are important and I’m glad that they are being addressed. The one that I think will be key is “promise.” Who will they be and how will they “strengthen loyalty and lifetime value?” They need to be strategic and define a core target audience and not try to be everything to everyone. That will help them create a compelling assortment and pricing structure. Hopefully we’ll see less of “As Seen on TV” junk and blue coupons and more of a reason to shop there.

Neil Schwartz
Guest
Developing a favorable customer view of Bed Bath & Beyond is hardly the foundation they need to reverse their current problems. According to the most recent data release from Prosper Insights and Analytics, Bed Bath & Beyond is facing an uphill battle when it comes to re-establishing itself as a key retail player in the category. There are a number of challenges including stiff competition from other traditional brick and mortar retailers and various e-commerce sites. Bed Bath & Beyond had its biggest drop in market share from 9/1/19 – 10/1/19 which in fact has been at their lowest market share percentage in the past 48 months. The chain has still not been able to get back to baseline levels anytime during 2019. Prosper’s final monthly report in 2019 showed a decline in overall market share. If we look at retail share of preference for linens and other related household goods, Bed Bath & Beyond is losing market share to a variety of retailers including Walmart, Amazon, Kohl’s and Macy’s to a lesser extent. The… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
About 20 years ago, Fred Crawford and I developed our own five attribute model in our book “The Myth of Excellence.” We labeled our five: “access,” “experience,” “price,” “product,” and “service.” Call them what you want, they are the five elements present in every retail transaction. I guess what troubles me is the suggestion that Tritton believes one should excel at all five attributes, pillars, or whatever one wants to call them. Over the past two decades, independently and together, Fred and I have built a huge body of research — mid-six figures of consumer respondents in almost 20 countries. Capgemini has also retested our model in the digital space. What we have consistently found — across all demographic cohorts — is that trying to be good at everything is a formula for disaster. Success, and competitive differentiation, depends on the ability to dominate on one of these attributes, differentiate yourself from the competition on a second, and just meet the market on the other three. But all that said, when you strip out the… Read more »
Brent Biddulph
BrainTrust
Perhaps I’m joining the chorus here. Hopefully the new leadership takes the time to drill down deeper with a focus on how to differentiate in those five pillars — with a good dose of reinvention. And it is clear Wall Street expects this. Let’s take “product” for example. I would argue that Bed Bath & Beyond has not fully leveraged the relationship with Shark Tank as the go-to place (retailer) for bringing new, innovative products to market. Yes they have been a leader in this respect, but why not start negotiating and working with the Sharks more closely for exclusivity/social media buzz/branding, etc.? Retail success in the future will depend on distinctive products. Then there’s “promo” (and “price”) – honestly, who shops at Bed Bath & Beyond without using the 20 percent off coupon which this retailer has perpetuated for years as a requirement to get a fair price (meaning their everyday prices will always be higher than Amazon, with far less reach and rapid DTC delivery capabilities). When is the last time you searched… Read more »
April Sabral
Guest

Even though the 5 Ps are fundamental and getting back to basics is a must for any retailer, my thoughts here are how are they going to drive traffic to the stores?

Product is king, however, new ways of engaging in stores are key to these big-box retailers. The new generations do not want to walk around endless isles. I will be interested to see what getting back to the basics means to the in-store experience as this has been a tough one for big chains like this with higher wage costs and large locations. Convenience and ease are essential in today’s store experience. Will be watching the “Place and People” pillars for sure.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

Yes, Mr. Tritton needs to get BBY buckled down on all five pillars, but I think it needs to really stand out on a couple. My bets are on “Product” and “Promise.”

The former because it’s hella hard to be a category killer in the digital era. Breadth of assortment is not enough. Curation is crucial. Create discovery.

The latter because it’s about making the stores meaningful to shoppers as individuals (not by papering the landscape with coupons). Listen carefully to what their behaviors tell you and personalize their experiences with deals, assortment, and meaningful services.

Brian Cluster
BrainTrust
Best Buy is ready for a revival and sound strategies derived from a back to basics approach to five pillars is a great way for the new CEO to start. Of the five pillars, I believe like many others here that “product” is the primary key pillar. Bed Bath and Beyond must create a more differentiated offering in the store and online. Unique, smarter, more sustainable and more fun but useful products for the home may we where they can win. Being the best in the housewares category may mean being competitive on price for some of their products such as own brands but they can also offer unique, premium products that allow them to stand out. Taking the next step in product is being able to offer up more information about the product’s attributes that are important to their customers. More customers and especially younger generations want to know how a product was made, the key ingredients, how sustainable the product is because they are searching for products that fit their lifestyle choices. And… Read more »
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Braintrust
"This is a 'yeah, duh' approach, but that's what Bed Bath & Beyond needs now. To get back to basics, specifically making sense of their assortment."
"Build a robust in-store customer service program that engages and “wows” the customer, and they’ll win."
"The one that I think will be key is “promise.” Who will they be and how will they “strengthen loyalty and lifetime value?”"

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