• Jeff Sward
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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.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2018

    Does fear motivate workers or make things worse?

    Fear as a tool is despicable. Maybe it works for warlords, but in a company or office environment? Fear is certainly possible in a shaky company in a shaky economy. Maybe teamwork and hard work overcome that situation and maybe not. Fear that I am being outperformed by my peers so I need to buckle down and arm myself with the necessary tools -- practice and train and learn and grow. Maybe that's just being self aware and humble. Management by a medieval mentality is just unacceptable. Radical transparency is one thing, and I think that's a slippery slope. But warlords need not apply.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2018

    Will the maker movement inspire a new creative direction for malls?

    Well said. Makers are a terrific evolutionary step. A step ... now for the rest of the marathon....
  • Posted on: 12/13/2018

    Retailing success doesn’t depend on silver bullets

    Plain old lead bullets -- I love that. Actually knowing who the customer is. Executing to their preferences better than the competition. Assortment planning, flow and seasonal conversion, risk mitigation, and what I call probability merchandising. Brand promise and product first. Path to purchase second.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2018

    Where will Amazon go with its cashier-free concept?

    Wow -- talk about the opportunity AND ability to localize. Not just neighborhood by neighborhood, but building by building. It will be interesting to see what kind of combination of existing data plus testing it will take to get as microscopic as necessary to make this work.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2018

    Should Amazon buy Target?

    I started suggesting more than a year ago that Amazon should acquire Sears. Even then I viewed Sears as all but defunct and about to leave a gaping hole at that end of the mall. Sad, but RIP. The acquisition would not be of the Sears brand, but the (cheap) real estate. Target does not need fixing. But imagine the upside if Amazon completely re-rationalized the space utilization at the Sears end of the mall. That's a much bigger win for everybody.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2018

    Walmart wants your walls

    A couple of words capture it ..."category expertise and assortment." It looks like Walmart has a list of product categories where they want to provide serious competition. I know that I can find just about anything on Amazon and Walmart is looking for that same reputation. Eventually all these e-commerce businesses will give Walmart the data it needs to better assort their stores, regionally and locally.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2018

    What is the dollar value of trust?

    Good points. And I'll add that CMOs are only as good as their lack of bias and predisposed points of view. Lots of uncharted territory out there these days. Learning and changing behavior don't cohabitate with bias very well. You certainly didn't suggest that -- just sayin' ...
  • Posted on: 12/06/2018

    What is the dollar value of trust?

    I think it boils down to how data drives behavior. Customers see and feel behavior. Honest product and pricing. How many price tags in the mall are believed/trusted as the real price? How many brands use data to regionalize and localize assortments? Retailers are drowning in data, but many seem unable to filter and edit and change behavior.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2018

    Drugstore/grocery pilot is two-thirds Walgreens and one-third Kroger

    This makes perfect sense, just like it did when Walmart and Target went into the grocery business. The smaller footprint and "fill-in" shopping make for better efficiency for all. Efficiency of space + inventory = profit.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2018

    Are weekend deals the key to Target’s holiday success?

    This strategy walks a fine line, and they say it themselves. " ... promotions that were too numerous and too frequent." Discounts on product that would have sold without the discount. Broad-based discounts accelerate the rate of sale on both best sellers and poor sellers. Why offer the same discount on an item with five weeks of supply and an item with 11 weeks of supply? Is the retailer managing their inventory to planned exit dates -- to a planned seasonal conversion strategy? Of course they promote to generate traffic, but there are lots of moving parts at work. The more surgical they can be with the frequency and depth of their promotions, the better the margin outcome.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2018

    Walmart gives associates a tool to deal with out-of-stocks

    This could be a great tool for both immediate and longer-term needs. Sure, it solves the immediate problem for the customer standing in the aisle ready to buy. It may be even more effective for a longer-term solution. You don't gather data on product you don't offer and therefore don't sell. You don't know what you are missing. This process will fill in some of the gaps on what customers really want to buy on a location by location basis.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Payless scores with mock-up luxury shop

    Precisely how I took your words -- keeping it real.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Payless scores with mock-up luxury shop

    Respect! An under-utilized tool!
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Payless scores with mock-up luxury shop

    Marketing is always about both illusion and reality, and illusion is waaaaay more fun then reality. I applaud what Payless did here if only to illustrate just how far illusion can take us. Now I will look harder than ever for authenticity and genuine merit.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Can Gap cut its way to profitability?

    Yes and no. Yes, in that in an over-stored environment, Gap certainly had its share of overly ambitious stores. That is not a big shocker. No, in that some portion of those stores would not have to close if Gap had by now fixed its content and merchandising problems. Their retreat into safe and predictable offerings diminished their appeal as a go-to shopping destination. They are now a 40 percent to 50 percent off destination. Without that headline, they don't appear to have much draw. Their holiday sweater offering has been the first fun and interesting offering in a while. That was something they used to execute with regularity. And it remains a very fixable problem. I am optimistic that one of my favorite mall stores will once again become a fun and interesting place to shop -- and buy.
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