The best place to begin a discussion about “Impact Merchants” is not with the largest retailers but with the smallest.
Independent retailers are in a constant vise it seems. Some don’t make it. Then there are those that have withstood the onslaught of national chains; those that have stared potential failure in the face (perhaps multiple times); those that have survived, and yes, even thrived.
They have adapted, and adapted again, to retain their unique advantages in a marketplace that sometimes feels overcome by commoditized merchandising.
Talk about Impact Merchants.
There is a lesson to be learned from today’s successful independent retailers— a lesson for every buyer and merchandise manager responsible for producing profitable results regardless of the scope of an operation.
It doesn’t always have to be about the easiest or safest route.
There are times to take risks, informed and calculated as they must be in a competitive caldron that often challenges the routine. The routine choices don’t reinforce longer-term commitments to categories or brands that define retail establishments as worthy destinations. The exceptional choices do.
Each buyer and merchandise manager profiled in this annual HomeWorld Impact Merchants issue is credited with something exceptional. These, like so many others, refute a notion unfairly propagated by some that real merchants these days are far and few between.
Merchandising culture starts at the top of any organization, however. And it is fair to wonder if the authority of buyers at times is compromised by spread sheets that can cloak gut merchandising instinct.
We are in a new merchandising era of endless sales and consumer data that can be both illuminating and blinding depending on the approach to analysis. The quest for that surprising new idea that might fall outside the comfort zone of today’s conventional buying process should not be suppressed by the quest for sheer efficiency and yield.
Take a lesson from successful independent retailers, who preach that the most effective way to survive is to make a difference that far exceeds a selling price or promotional coupon.
The most exceptional chain merchants strive, often against a strong corporate current, to be as accountable to that difference as their independent counterparts. They evaluate the broader, enduring impact of their choices on every link in the supply chains from factory to vendor to consumer, not just the immediate impact on their own balance sheets.
Each of the 18 buyers and merchandise managers featured in the July 21, 2014, issue— covering a wide scope of housewares categories and retail channels— has accomplished something exceptional to warrant the appreciation of the vendors that nominated them.
Their collective influence on the market promises to make an even greater difference.
Talk about Impact Merchants.