• 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: 10/18/2018

    Will rising costs throw a wrench in e-commerce operations?

    There was no room in the margins to absorb any new costs. And "free" delivery is almost table stakes at this point. So purchase thresholds and attending fees are certainly targets. This is a prime time for companies to take a hard look at the mechanics of their membership programs.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2018

    Eddie Lampert is the worst

    Retail is a business of constant change and innovation. That has been proven out more in the last decade than maybe ever before. And what change or innovation can Sears take credit for? Can they even take credit for having kept up with the market on anything? A current visit to a Sears store is a visit to the prior century. Couldn't they have just copied Best Buy, or Primark, or given Lands' End the shot they really deserved? Something? Anything? NOTHING! It's remarkable to note that they refused to learn from what they saw going on around them. So why would a smaller store count unburdened from the debt load succeed in a new life? Where does Sears compete successfully? Appliances and home electronics? How long will it take them to rise to Best Buy's level? I'd rather invest in buggy whips.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2018

    New c-store concept is high-tech inside and out

    Sounds like Choice Market is giving itself the opportunity to succeed along several avenues of commerce and service. It can flex the space allocation over time based on individual market conditions. Different markets will utilize bikes, electric vehicles and gas vehicles. Some locations will support a fast-casual restaurant and some won't. All with current and emerging payment methodology. Sounds like they are building in the intent and ability to evolve. Smart!
  • Posted on: 10/16/2018

    ‘Frictionless’ is the annoying word of the year

    I think Mark is 100 percent correct. It is about way more than checkout. To me it is the ability for a retailer or brand to promise and deliver overall comfort and ease of shopping experience. It starts with rising to the level of being a "go-to" retailer or brand in a given market. It's clarity and focus of story telling. It's offering genuine value, so the customer doesn't feel the need to scrub the entire internet for their purchase. Customers have to want to start on a given website in the first place. That's about brand promise and product. Then of course the checkout (and return) process has to be easy. The one word extends across the entirety of the shopping process. Until of course the day where we all have 3-D printers in our home that "print" on command.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2018

    Does anyone pay the full retail price anymore?

    Of course the shift is here to stay. It's all part of the race-to-the-bottom mentality. It is now often difficult to say "regular price" without a bit of a smirk. The rise of the outlet malls, the expansion of T.J.Maxx and brethren, the ongoing ubiquity of what was born as the "one day sale" ... all of these market dynamics contribute to viewing a "deal" as the new norm. Everlane's pricing and quality transparency is an attempt to circumvent this thinking, even if I scratch my head at their math sometimes. One way every retailer could avoid some of this thinking is to "create and manage scarcity." Stop buying so much depth in every customer choice. SELL OUT...!!! Sell out of fun, novelty styles and replace those styles with NEW & DIFFERENT fun and novelty. Create some urgency! Deals and obvious, real value are the path forward. Target's new private label is a good example. But the tiers of the business from commodity to higher levels of fun, fashion, and novelty still offer opportunities to sell product at regular price.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2018

    Will J.C. Penney’s new private brand connect with Instagram-savvy moms?

    It's a good idea to help moms with their storytelling. But I would be concerned that the emphasis will drift to too much novelty and fashion in the name wonderful publishable pictures. Well-balanced assortments should enable that kind of storytelling all the time. If this drifts into "more is more" assortment planning, then I fear the worst. This kind of merchandising has to be planned, designed, sourced and executed from day one. It's not simple classification product development. It's a lot harder to pull off in scale than in the introduction.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2018

    Will anything change for Sears after Chapter 11?

    Didn't they open a new prototype store in Oak Brook just a couple weeks ago? That's where any clues to new life will be. But where would the money come from to execute the new and improved Sears? Who's going to make that bet? Lands' End was a perfect apparel formula for Sears. Solid, everyday-wear aimed at the middle of the bell curve customer, and yet Lands' End couldn't wait to exit, even with some Lampert ownership. None of it adds up. I have said for a while, just let Amazon sweep in and buy the shell, change the name on the box, and let the transformation of that end of the mall begin, finally. A couple of the Sears brands can have a role in the new venture.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2018

    Will comics, movies and music take tween retailer Justice to new heights?

    I think this is a smart move by Justice. While I agree with the caveats and risks that have been mentioned, I think this is a great opportunity to make the in-store shopping experience a lot more fun for the kids. It presents a great way for kids to Explore + Experiment = Experience. If Justice can turn this into a "learning" center for kids, all the better. And I don't mean classroom, I mean a place for new ideas ... a fun way to introduce kids to "new." This sounds like a platform that could turn Justice into a whole different kind of mall retailer.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Re:Store concept mixes co-work and co-retail

    Love it. Evolution at work. Solutions born out of market dynamics. Financial efficiency and a potential launching pad all in one. Oh, and by the way, there is a little available retail space at the moment that can be put to better use. Landlords need to put their dancing shoes on.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Would biometric feedback shopping carts creep out Walmart’s customers?

    Beyond creepy. Beyond intrusive. Beyond Orwellian. Count me out as a Walmart shopper if this ever happens. The quest for data is getting a little out of hand. Too many retailers can't even figure out fixture capacity and end up putting four pounds into a two pound bag. And now they want my heart rate? Not the shopping "experience" I had in mind.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2018

    Will Starbucks prosper or suffer under a hedge fund’s influence?

    It's very difficult to envision the value Mr. Ackman and his fund bring to this equation. If it's a simple bet on growth that's one thing. If it's to take on an activist role, I would not predict good things. I might be one of the few who think Ron Johnson had a good vision for J.C. Penney ... a good page 1 of concept and overview if you will. But the scope and depth and breadth and speed of the implementation was beyond crazy. If that provided powerful lessons, great. I would never suggest that Starbucks needs the level of re-invention that faced J.C. Penney.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2018

    Will Best Buy’s golden years strategy deliver long-term success?

    This makes Best Buy the "go to" solution provider for whole market segment that is NOT tech savvy, but will increasingly need tech solutions in their life. In-store, in-home, but maybe most important -- in person. Amazon can't deliver that in a box.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2018

    Will foodie culture save the mall?

    YES! But chain burgers and pizza can be as lackluster as some chain apparel. Let's take it up a notch! A chain burger is not a reason to visit the mall. A new and interesting nosh would be welcome. Plus, during my year in China I saw how almost every "supermarket" was a mall anchor. Sure there were lots of free-standing neighborhood stores. But the supermarket is where the foot traffic lives.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2018

    Gap sends its Visa cardholders to Amazon and Target

    The Gap division has a multitude of problems. Product. Pricing. Presentation. Color management. Seasonal conversion. This does not solve 1 percent of those problems.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2018

    Giant Food expects big things from a new, mini-grocery store concept

    I just spent over a year in Hangzhou, China and the several neighborhood grocery stores I frequented were all in the range of 4,000 - 6,000 square feet. High population density and high rents make retailers get efficient about space utilization real quick. And I could survive a long time on the assortments offered at these small stores. Larger "supermarket" stores were always an option, bearing in mind I would be walking back with whatever I bought. Add endless aisle and pickup/delivery and smaller footprints make all the sense in the world.
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