Deb Danielson, Director of Merchandising, Target

The July 13, 2020, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® features the 21st annual Impact Merchants special report. Housewares suppliers, representing the categories that HomeWorld covers, once again were asked to nominate buyers and merchandisers believed to have made a significant impact during the past year.

The selection of the Impact Merchant winners is not intended as a definitive list of the best merchants in housewares retailing. Votes went to several more merchandisers than those featured. This year’s honorees represent buyers in given categories that received the majority of votes by vendors polled.

Voters were asked to give added weight to merchandising creativity, trend and marketing astuteness, attention to detail, openness to risk, flexibility, relationship building and the ability to deliver a profitable program for both the vendors and retailer while providing value to consumers. One thing this year’s Impact Merchants share is a vote of respect by their vendors. In today’s unpredictable retail environment, that vote really counts.

Deb Danielson, Director of Merchandising, Target

Target garners kudos throughout the kitchen appliance category, and most industry executives credit Deb Danielson’s visionary leadership and emphasis on branded merchandise as being key factors in the chain’s success.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Danielson is making her second appearance as an Impact Merchant. Danielson has been with Target for more than 12 years, and has been instrumental in developing the retailer’s business strategy both in stores as director of merchandising as well as online, as director of merchandising and as a senior buyer for Target.com.

Danielson received accolades for her ingenuity and astute approach to the small appliance business, which includes a focus on upscale brands, including KitchenAid, Cuisinart, Keurig, DeLonghi, Zwilling/J.A. Henckels and Nespresso, as well as industry stalwarts such as Black + Decker, Hamilton Beach, Oster, George Foreman, Sunbeam and Crock Pot. Target also has a broad assortment of popular newer brands, including Instant Pot, Ninja and Nutribullet, and is enjoying success with its own branded collections, including the back-to-basics, everyday housewares line Made By Design.

Target in general and Danielson in particular were praised for creating a seamless shopping experience for consumers between online and in-store sales.

“Their departments seem to showcase creativity and an approach to merchandising driving omnichannel success within their appropriate responsibilities,” noted one kitchen appliance manufacturer.

Other suppliers cited Target’s creative approach to holiday merchandising as driving sales success, including the “Weekend Deals” housewares promotions that ran during the holiday season, which allowed consumers to save an additional 25% off kitchen appliances and cookware; and the company’s “Deal Days” promotions that ran last summer, with savings of 30 to 40% on select brands and items.

More recently, Target was commended for its approach to the global pandemic: “Target and Walmart were the first to respond [to the crisis]with strong direction and increased forecasts,” noted one kitchen appliance maker. “They quickly saw a shift to more moderately priced items during this pandemic, priced below $50. They understood that their customers are managing their finances closely and will gravitate to lower priced goods. Making sure they have inventory on these items has been a strong push.” —Donna Boyle Schwartz

2020 HomeWorld Business Impact Merchants (click on name for profile):

Jay Cunningham, T.J. Maxx/Marshalls

Adam Gregory, Target

Karen Rapier, Walmart

Elena Weckerle, Ulta Beauty

Ryan Yarnell, Meijer

Deb Danielson, Target

Sarah Dipietro, Macy’s

Jeff Branz, Wayfair

Taylor Martinez, Costco

Rachel Tsupros, Wayfair

Korey Reed, Walmart

Susette Johnson, AAFES

Becky Blake, Walmart

Gretchen Dexter, Everything Kitchens

David LeClair, Staples