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: 10/18/2021

    Is Amazon 4-Star a winner?

    I love the concept of a store curated by the customer, not for the customer. And by its very nature it's going to be a little random given the vast array of product from which the physical store content is being pulled. "Treasure hunt" indeed. It strikes me as an updated version of Sharper Image with constantly evolving content. It also sounds like it can be highly localized.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2021

    Can 24/7 supply chain operations save Christmas?

    I'm still not clear if this is a demand/capacity issue or a timing issue. The bounce back from the pandemic created a surge, and the magnitude of the surge overwhelmed the system, from factory floor to container availability to port congestion, to worker and truck availability. Seems like bouncing production around the globe just rearranges the deck chairs. It feels like the solution lies in healthy workers, at every level, and a return to a more predictable level of demand are at the foundation of a solution. Then the mechanics can be sorted out.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2021

    Just how casual will wardrobes become?

    I still remember some good advice from the emergence of casual Friday. "Remember, it's not Saturday." Point taken. While we have clearly shifted into a more casual point of view across the board, that doesn't have to mean dress standards have necessarily totally deteriorated. The introduction of stretch and the emphasis on comfort into tailored suits and suit separates give that classification a level of casual and comfort not previously experienced. Remember, it's not Saturday.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2021

    What lessons should retailers take from the Theranos fraud debacle?

    Both Theranos and WeWork are huge cautionary tales about the importance of due diligence and the power of seduction that a "too good to be true" story can have. In reading the post mortems of both scenarios it's tough not to mutter, "how was any of this even possible -- for as long as it unfolded?" Smart customers and investors were outmaneuvered by smarter con artists. Tech and digital solutions are going to give us some amazing leaps in productivity and efficiency, but a little skepticism along the way can serve us well.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2021

    Will ‘hyperautomation’ determine retailing success from this point forward?

    It seems to me that hyperautomation would be the next evolutionary step for those processes retailers are already doing well and are ready for the next level of efficiency. And I think that's a really short list. There is no arguing that we will certainly automate lots of processes over time. But there is also no arguing that there are lots of learning curves to deal with along the way.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2021

    Stores? Kroger don’t need no stinking stores

    If this works, it will demonstrate the extendability of a strong brand enabled by efficient logistics. We already know that physical stores boost the e-commerce business in a given area, but this scenario may test the "necessary but not sufficient" equation. The brand is the store, through whatever channel they execute.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2021

    Should advertisers delete Facebook?

    Facebook and Instagram both have a huge capacity to provide fun, engaging social engagement. Unfortunately, they also offer a channel for malicious lies, disinformation and distortion. And Facebook knows this -- and is irresponsibly under reacting. Facebook has an amazing opportunity to provide great social engagement AND a much safer environment than it currently does.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2021

    Lunds & Byerlys gives associates Thanksgiving and Black Friday off

    Offering a paid day off on Black Friday might be a big ask, but closing on Thanksgiving, paid or not, should be a given.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2021

    How should retailers communicate supply chain snafus?

    Out-of-stocks and delays are now almost table stakes for retailers. It's happening everywhere -- across so many product categories that it's almost impossible for consumers to be sensitive to the issue. So the retailers who do the best job of communicating current status and updates will win the most trust from customers. Availability and delivery are part of a brand promise. That promise needs to be delivered on, across every customer interaction.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2021

    Should retailers be looking to leverage free return shipping?

    I like the way this article portrays the costs of returns as "covered" rather than "free." That one word acknowledges that there actually is a cost involved, and that the retailer is being somewhere between generous and magnanimous in covering that expense -- up to a point. "Free" returns have to be one of the most expensive customer acquisition/retention expenses in the business. So yes, they need to be used surgically and strategically. And customers with abusive return rates can be left at the curb, picking up or dropping off their online purchase.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2021

    Is sportswear positioned to go on a long term winning streak?

    Sportswear will absolutely outpace other apparel categories. And I don't want to call it a continuation of athleisure because it's not really about leisure. It's about an active, healthy (for the person and the planet) and comfortable lifestyle. The neck tie may soon go the way of the buggy whip!
  • Posted on: 10/07/2021

    Gap expands tech investments with deal for AI retail analytics startup

    Gap continues to demonstrate that they are forward thinking on many fronts. They are nailing it with Athleta and Old Navy. The new strategy with Banana Republic will hopefully be a needed shot in the arm. Walmart for Gap Home was an eye popper. YZY is a dramatic marketing move, and look what great marketing (Swing campaign) did for basic khakis. And this new acquisition is absolutely what is needed for next-generation retailing. Now if they can just put a fraction of all that energy into the content at the Gap division, they will have made another great leap forward.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2021

    Is Home Depot’s deal with Walmart a sign of bigger things to come?

    This is a triple win for all parties. Walmart quickly gains needed critical mass for delivery efficiencies, while Home Depot gets into the delivery business much more quickly than if they did it by themselves. And customers now have access to home improvement product by delivery. This move in and of itself is not necessarily an indication of a merger, but one has to guess that there are other efficiencies available under that kind of scenario. The two business would not cannibalize each other at all. They simply extend their reach to a very broad family/lifestyle offering. These guys might not be marriage bound yet, but it sure looks like a high profile prom date.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2021

    Is consumer-direct less profitable for brands than selling wholesale?

    There was a time when wholesale brands made it look easy, so retailers went into the private label business. Turns out, for anything other than basic, core products it's not so easy. And there was a time when the retailer made it look easy, so brands opened their own stores. Not so easy. DTC should be the more profitable route. The retailer gets to keep the wholesalers profit or the wholesaler gets to keep the retailer's profit. Hence the rush for both to pursue that path. But it wasn't easy before e-commerce and social media and now it's downright complicated. The complexity of the skill sets necessary to get product from design to factory to DC to customer, by whatever channel or last mile tool, is a lot more difficult than most people realize. And DTC brands going public while losing significant sums of money are ample testimony to that. It's going to take a couple more years for the jury to give us a verdict on this.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2021

    HomeGoods finally has a home online

    It might be a late and begrudging entry into e-commerce, but this move recognizes the long term futility in not trying at all. And the threshold for free shipping makes abundant sense. No need to make this a money losing proposition from the very first step.

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