Jeff Sward

Founding Partner, Merchandising Metrics

Jeff’s experience spans both retail and wholesale assignments in both the apparel and home segments of the business. Department stores (Macy’s and Sak’s) as well as specialty store (Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters). Branded and private label. Concept to execution. Merchandising Metrics is a consulting firm that challenges how retailers are executing versus their competition in the mall.

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  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Alexa – Are Americans ready to shop by voice?

    Shopping and buying the simple stuff by speaker sounds like something I could get used to. But the eavesdropping capabilities of these speakers mean that there won't be one in my house any time soon.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2019

    Who owns customer service in an age of co-branding?

    Brands and retailers have to finish what they start. The example of STORY at Macy's is very useful here. Would I expect lessons on how to use Miracle-Gro during a visit to Macy's? No, but if Macy's serves it up as part of STORY then they have to be able to finish the story. I love what Macy's is trying to do with STORY. They are giving themselves a lot of latitude in their storytelling agenda -- a lot of latitude in continually serving up fresh, new experiences. Now they have to fully execute. The article says it well. Brands and retailers are going to have to step up and execute. It's a good example of being careful of what you wish for -- being careful of what you promise.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2019

    Lululemon takes experiential retailing to 20,000 square feet

    This initiative is totally in keeping with the Lululemon brand promise. Lululemon offers the "what" and teaches the "how." And as they expand into wellness, they will be teaching the "why." Not every brand has those kinds of levels to their brand promise, but Lululemon is certainly capitalizing on the opportunities in from of them.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2019

    What makes great retail leaders?

    Humility and demanding/fostering teamwork. Actually practicing the skill of listening and learning. There have always been a lot of moving parts in retail, but now most of those parts are in a state of flux and change -- evolution. And those moving parts still have to mesh. It's not enough to be a great merchant prince anymore. Too much uncharted territory out there. The boss has to demand a level of humility from the whole team that keeps them in a learning mode. Explore + Experiment = Experience.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2019

    Franchisees want McD’s to be more like Chick-fil-A

    Executing a "me too" maneuver is not going to take market share back from a competitor with a cult-like following. Having said that, of course McDonald's should listen to the franchisees and their observations on the competitive profile of the market. I could say do the fries just like Five Guys, but it's a lot more complicated than tweaking a couple of menu items. At the end of the day, make all the necessary evolutionary moves.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2019

    What’s the story behind Macy’s partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods?

    Well said. This kind of experimentation changes the boundaries of the possible. Does Dick's have a shop-in-shop opportunity in markets where they don't already have a store? Or simply, Dick's as "outdoor" 12 months a year inside Macy's makes perfect sense. This is not unlike the Apple/Best Buy partnership. Win/win/win.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2019

    What’s the story behind Macy’s partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods?

    This new STORY floor set just executed has delivered exactly what I was hoping for -- the unexpected; an eyebrow-raising moment. I'm not yet sure what it says about competition and collaboration, but I do think it's terrific storytelling. It gives both big retailers an opportunity to put a new twist on what they say to the customer and how they say it. STORY really can be the umbrella for an ongoing series of delightful surprises that Macy's can serve up to the customer.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2019

    Will Amazon Live video light up sales for Lamps Plus on Prime Day?

    It's tough to argue with "being where its customers are." If Lamps Plus has a 15 year run on Amazon, then they surely have a proven track record of success with Amazon. Plus they have the opportunity to compare all their metrics with results on eBay and Walmart. My question is, what sales window will they use to measure the results? A couple days? A couple weeks? A month? At some point the costs are done and fixed. The longer the window to measure the results the lower the "costs per..." and the higher the sales. What's appropriate in measuring the ROI of this event? Or is that even possible?
  • Posted on: 07/09/2019

    Is Primark ready to bust out in the USA?

    I'm not looking at the pace of their expansion, I'm looking at the quality of their execution. And I give Primark an A+ on that execution. Focus on key items. Price/value relationship. Seasonal conversion. Color management. Presentation ... the ability to take straightforward product and create interesting and textured stories. I have argued before that Primark won the race-to-the-bottom in pricing. But they did it in a manner that still gave the customer a nice shopping experience. Primark's slow growth means that they have not yet stolen much market share. But I watched them open in a mall I was then visiting three times a week. And I know from many conversations with store managers in that mall that Primark captured significant share in that mall (Danbury, Connecticut). I am not sure how things have stabilized three years later, but my guess is that Macy's and J.C. Penney know very specifically what to expect when Primark comes to town. Pain.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2019

    Is Walmart at an online crossroads?

    Walmart is at a perpetual crossroads when it comes to competing with Amazon. If they could say, "give us two to three years and these losses/investments will begin to pay off" then maybe this could all be rationalized. I don't think Amazon's decade+ of losses is going to fly here. The effort is to be applauded, but at what price comes the glory?
  • Posted on: 07/03/2019

    What does ‘patriotic’ mean for brands and retailers?

    Mohamed, thanks for the very clear reminder of the inclusive nature of patriotism.
  • Posted on: 07/03/2019

    What does ‘patriotic’ mean for brands and retailers?

    Let's not confuse "patriotic" and "political." Sometimes a political position is a natural extension of the brand promise, as in the case of Patagonia. And sometimes a political/social position has nothing to do with the brand promise, as in the case of Chick-fil-A. But in either case free speech says that we have the right to take a stand -- and bear the consequences. We ought to be able to hold different political views and still be "patriotic." Unfortunately, that's now a lot harder now than it used to be.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2019

    Fashion seekers hunt for treasure in Costco’s warehouses

    Well said Cynthia, but I think Costco does do a good job of staying in their lane. They don't try to sell "real fashion." They sell basics and what I will call "key items" ... items with very broad appeal. Look at how they assort color. "Safe" would be an understatement. They let department stores differentiate with fashion, and then focus on where the safe volume is. And the customer knows this. The customer is thrilled to buy "safe" at an amazing price/value. Amazing what you can do when you take all the risk and markdown exposure away.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2019

    Are offline experiences becoming more important to online performance?

    Engaging the 5 senses, all of them, is what the experience is all about. "...tactile, in-person..." is the perfect summary. Physical presence was always important. Apps and websites made ecommerce feel easy for a while. We now know that stores and websites magnify and multiply each other ... for better or worse.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2019

    Will a new BOPIS option boost Amazon’s results?

    It's a positive thing that Amazon is going into some level of brick-and-mortar retailing, even if it's just starting with some kind of "service/assist" set-up. But ... it's available "at no extra cost" to the customer but surely comes at extra cost for Amazon. Or is the retailer picking up the payroll for this service for the privilege of hosting an Amazon Counter? This sounds great from the customer's point of view, but I'd love to know more about how all the gears mesh on this model.

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