Welcome to the latest IREU Top500 Dimension Report, which this time around focuses on Merchandising. While it’s a discipline that is increasingly driven by data, it’s still an art too. Part of a retailer’s job, after all, is to anticipate what kinds of items a customer may wish to buy, whether that’s because of a change in the season or because the retailer can see deeper changes in the market ahead.
Here, data is the friend of the retailer. As more sophisticated machine learning techniques come online, retailers are better able to look for patterns in customer behaviour and to target Merchandising initiatives based on this data.
However, retailers cannot rely wholly on this technology, businesses still need to test new ideas and new products. In an era of price transparency, cleverly targeted Merchandising is actually a way to establish expertise. Think of the way a niche retailer such as Britain’s Rough Trade tells its music-mad customers about records on small labels its customers might not otherwise ever find out about.
Going forward, it may be that more mainstream retailers have to look to canny independents for inspiration about how to apply similar. Or indeed to the mass-market retailers whose work we explore here. Look out for a second IREU Top500 Dimension Report on Merchandising in the spring.