Two words: Combining them may conjure many interpretations.
It’s candidly revealing to hear the reasoning cited by vendors when they are asked for their HomeWorld Business Impact Merchant nominations (the 2013 honorees are profiled in the July 22, 2013, issue).
Take this vendor viewpoint, for example: “If ‘impact’ is defined as making a positive change to an existing category, the pickings are slim. If it means disruptive, I have a long list.”
Other vendors might concur, citing frequent buyer turnover and conservative corporate merchandising strategies that can inhibit suppliers while tasking them with much of the financial risk.
Cynicism aside, however, housewares retailing continues to serve up plenty of dedicated merchants whose impact reaches beyond self interests to support vendors, consumers and the business as a whole.
Consider the following commentary from a vendor about a buyer selected for this year’s Impact Merchants honor roll:
“She understands the balance between negotiation and partnership, pushing for more and compromising to get the best result. She refuses to decide future assortments and promotions off history alone. She is willing to take chances in her assortment, building to drive results. She sets clear expectations and goals for vendors to work toward.”
“She displays partnership in the true sense of the word, understanding and working to resolve pain points for the manufacturer and trying to find common sense solutions to the challenges that occur in managing a business. She keeps her company’s best interests at heart but understands without strong partnerships she won’t be able to deliver the best overall program to the guest.”
Such words could serve as the basis for an Impact Merchants credo. Similar sentiments are a common thread connecting this year’s honorees, the many that earned such recognition before them and the many who will deserve such credit in the future.
Buyers, merchandise managers and corporate retail executives reading this need to look in the mirror and ask themselves, with full candor, if they would merit such commendation from their vendors.
It can be so much easier for retailers to drive sales and boost their bottom lines when they can rally all constituents to be enthusiastic participants in and benefactors from the achievement of such goals.
Impact. Merchants. Those two words may mean many things when combined.
Try not to leave it to interpretation.
On a personal note, I am saddened by the recent passing of Alan Misek, an industry sales veteran who succumbed following a long battle with cancer. I met Alan while I was a college student working at a Macy’s store near Albany, New York. Alan was my department manager.
Chance would reunite us several years later when I ran into Alan at the San Francisco Gourmet Show shortly after I joined HomeWorld in 1990. He hadn’t changed a bit: same smile, same upbeat outlook.
Alan never stopped smiling. He was as devoted and considerate as a person as he was as a sales professional. Alan’s enthusiasm, kindness, optimism and courage live in all who knew him. What a wonderful legacy.