Merchants vs Operators: The Retail Juggernauts

Merchandisers and Operators don’t always get along. Ok, seldom get along. There I said it. It’s out there. As Merchants scream “These guys can’t execute!”…. Operators are screaming “You can’t create a program for me to execute! You’ve never been on the “floor!””

But this difference in opinion (and occasional friction), is actually very healthy for retail business.

Merchandisers are typically the head office people and Operators are store managers/supervisors, etc. Operators are the front line with your customers. Merchandisers are the strategists behind the scenes.
While it is healthy for Merchants and Operators to delve deep into retail debates, a proactive Merchant will elicit Operator feedback before creating a program. Merchandisers: your programs are ONLY as good as the way in which they are seamlessly executed.

Merchandising TIP of the day
Merchants sometimes launch multiple products at the same time (example 10 plus flavours of ice cream). While it may seem intuitive to release all at once, it may not actually be the best strategy to employ. Too many products to choose from!  This is especially true for products with limited shelf life (very perishable), or products that are novel to the market place and thus riskier.

Merchants, put your Operator ‘hat’ on before launching too many!
– Operators are responsible for ordering. If a Merchant introduces 10+ skus (referred to as Stock Keeping Unit) on something new, Operators have no history on how to order.
– If they order incorrectly, they have too much on hand (not only taking up precious space in backroom) but it increases Shrink (product thrown out) which costs your program and the business $money.

INSTEAD…. introduce a responsible number of skus. Let the skus gain momentum. Have Operators begging you for more line extensions because consumers are buying.
MERCHANTS REMEMBER THIS: A PROGRAM IS MORE CREDIBLE IF YOU STRATEGICALLY ADD MORE SKUS THAN INTRODUCING TOO MANY AND THEN DELIST THEM!!

Both consumers and operators will lose faith in program. So set yourself up for success.

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