Will Bed Bath & Beyond achieve its omni-always dream with its latest digital-first moves?

Discussion
Photo: Getty Images/SeanPavonePhoto
Mar 30, 2021

The term “omni-always” has been one of the core talking points used by Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Mark Tritton and his leadership team ever since he moved to the retailer from Target in November 2019. The chain’s most recent investments in personnel and technology can be seen as the latest signs that it is moving ever closer to realizing Mr. Tritton’s vision and achieving a turnaround in a much shorter timeframe than many thought possible.

Bed Bath & Beyond announced yesterday the addition of two key hires. Jill Pavlovich, senior vice president, digital commerce and Jake Griffith, vice president, product management, will join the retailer next week and report to Rafeh Masood, Bed Bath & Beyond’s chief digital officer. The retailer has said the two will help strengthen the company’s leadership and “drive rapid growth in its $3 billion digital business.”

 

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Ms. Pavlovich comes to Bed Bath & Beyond from Wayfair where she was general manager and head of exclusive brands and merchandising. At Wayfair, she was responsible for developing and launching over 90 exclusive brands in an effort to fuel the online furniture retailer’s sales growth.

Mr. Griffith is a Walmart veteran, most recently serving as the retailer’s general manager for sports & fitness. Before joining Walmart, he worked in numerous business strategy roles at Amazon.com.

Mr. Masood said that the upcoming year will be a big one for the retailer.

“We will introduce customers to the new Bed Bath & Beyond with the launch of an exciting array of customer-inspired owned brands, reimagined stores, and continued investment in faster, easier and more convenient omnichannel shopping services,” he said in a statement. “Jill and Jake bring deep merchandising, brand and digital retail experience to help accelerate our plans, innovate for our customers, and drive continued growth in sales and gross margin for our business.”

Mr. Masood’s mention of investments in omnichannel also points to $250 million the chain has budgeted to transform its technological backbone. Last week, the chain shared that it is upgrading its inventory management capabilities using a cloud-based platform for automated forecasting, replenishment and allocation planning as it seeks to decrease out-of-stocks, drive inventory turns and generate greater sales and profits.

Bed Bath & Beyond’s inventory management news follows previous announcements that the company was modernizing its enterprise resource planning (ERP) and expanding its use of other cloud-based solutions.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you define an “omni-always” retail organization? Do you see the additions to Bed Bath & Beyond’s leadership team and its technological investments syncing up to make “omni-always” a reality and not simply a goal for the chain?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The term omni-always is yet another bit of jargon! However the actions that Bed Bath & Beyond are taking to support this 'vision' are very sensible. "
"Well, as far as “put your money where your mouth is,” these moves are clear indicators that Bed Bath & Beyond means business. Great hires as well."
"Bed Bath & Beyond’s objective is correct. Even if the retailer’s move is seen as too late by some, if the execution is right, the retailer should be able to return to its glor"

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21 Comments on "Will Bed Bath & Beyond achieve its omni-always dream with its latest digital-first moves?"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

Bed Bath & Beyond is undergoing a digital pivot and putting the leadership and technology in place to achieve this is essential. But new leaders and technology are only part of it. There needs to be a commitment on the part of the organization to the strategy and that seems clear from the actions Mark Tritton is taking. On paper, these moves all seem to be consistent with the strategic direction — so far so good — the real test will be how they execute.

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
Marketing Strategy Lead - Retail, Travel & Distribution, Verizon
5 months 18 days ago

Bed Bath & Beyond’s digital-first strategy is a smart move, but its “omni-always” may be a little “omni-late.” Retailers across the board have already fine-tuned their omnichannel operations and have focused on the digital customer experience for years. Having a convenient, friction-less digital and omnichannel experience is table stakes and this is a catch-up strategy for Bed Bath & Beyond. It is the right strategy, but I hope it is not too late.

Zach Zalowitz
BrainTrust

I’m excited for not just these two hires, but the commitment that the new leadership has in hiring top talent from leading retailers that have already mastered “omni-always.” I think this is going to come down to culturally turning around what was a complacent organization that was okay with status quo in the market. Status quo in retail means Chapter 11, and as much as I’ve seen Bed Bath & Beyond try to “become omni” since their initial investments back in early 2010s in new commerce technology, I do not think this change is going to happen in the coming year or two. I think it will bear fruit in years three to five, so I’m hoping they’re setting some high aspirations for what “omni-always” means in 2023 and beyond (pun intended). What does everyone else think?

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

The term omni-always is yet another bit of jargon! However the actions that Bed Bath & Beyond are taking to support this “vision” are very sensible. They’re differentiating via own-brand, making the brand more accessible to customers online, renovating the store experience to be more engaging and interesting, and enabling technology to provide a joined up view of the business. There is a lot to like here and while Bed Bath & Beyond still have much to prove, they are going in the right direction with a great team steering the ship!

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

It feels like a little late in the party but there is no choice for Bed Bath & Beyond. I think they are focused on the three core things to have some chance at revitalizing the brand

  1. Owned brands – the private label offerings;
  2. Omni-always – The fulfillment, digital customer experience, and meeting customers where they are;
  3. Assortment in stores.

The thing is that all three are table stakes and not differentiators in themselves. But when all three come together effectively, they can be game-changing. They must be hoping to replicate the Target success model, which is the right success to emulate. But we need to keep in mind that it took Target years to make that happen.

Nikki Baird
BrainTrust

I must have a very different definition of “omni-always” than Bed Bath & Beyond, because in my definition, I would not be talking about “growing my digital business” or “reimagined stores.” I would be talking about the customer experience. Period.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Yes, per the last sentence in my comment today, “nothing gets in the way of a shopper buying what they want.”

JaMay
Guest

^THIS. Spot on, Nikki, as always. First, this is a catch-up strategy. Omnichannel (aka omni-always) was de rigueur 5/6/7 years ago to justify investment. Skate to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.

Second, I’m not sure a press release is warranted touting a head of digital merchandising and a VP of digital product management with quote for a chief digital officer to accelerate digital growth. If anything, it wreaks of ego with a focus on justifying a digital-first approach (vs. seamless). And finally, if they’re really focused on “omni-always,” then the direction should really center on the customer, removing barriers to interact, and building long term relationships — not 20% off coupons.

Mark Tritton is a talented executive. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit. Time will tell if they can pull this off.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

From a customer’s perspective, the term omnichannel doesn’t really amount to much. Since the dawn of retail, every single strategy should center on the customer and the overall experience. Other competing firms have been “omni-always” for a long time now, without specifically labeling it that way.

It all comes down to Bed Bath & Beyond executing against the brand promise and exceeding the customer expectations across the board. By taking a digital-first strategy, Bed Bath & Beyond is catching up, and as long as the execution is there, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Every single strategy should focus on the customer seamlessly navigating between digital and physical channels.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Bed Bath & Beyond’s objective is correct. Even if the retailer’s move is seen as too late by some, if the execution is right, the retailer should be able to return to its glory days. The home goods space is – to me – like letting a kid loose in a candy store. You would have to do a lot of bad work to ruin a business (like Lechters did).

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Bed Bath & Beyond has been challenged in terms of profit over the last several years. Hence the decision last September to close 200 stores. Is this their last hurrah? If so, they are choosing a strategy that may actually work.

“Omni-always” is silly nomenclature, but it isn’t likely for those who follow retail. Omni-always is essentially saying let’s break down the silos for both the company and the shopper. I think it is for the Bed Bath & Beyond team to truly understand the strategy. It is kind of here, there and everywhere. It is actually what progressive retailers have been doing. Yesterday’s RetailWire discussion on drop shipping is an omni-always strategy. Essentially, nothing gets in the way of a shopper buying what they want.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust
Richard Hernandez
Director, Main Street Markets
5 months 18 days ago

While all the changes and added senior management make sense, I do not see one aspect that will be a differentiator from what Target, Kohl’s, Walmart and Amazon has to offer. What’s going to make me shop at a store that used to be overstocked to the ceiling with merchandise and pricing equal to the competitors with coupons? Better pricing? A better store experience? I don’t know and maybe they don’t either but they at least know it has to start with the improving how they do business with the mechanics (supply chain management) for example. I hope it will work for them.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

Omni-always means developing a business model with modularity and adjustability embedded in every online and offline part, allowing continuous flex between channels. And with the speed of change at retail today, this has now become table stakes across the industry. Essentially Bed Bath & Beyond is just bringing themselves back up to industry par. Where it will get interesting is to see how their private label strategy unfolds. If these products prove popular then all the work they are doing to update their operations will have paid off.

Laura Davis-Taylor
BrainTrust
Laura Davis-Taylor
Founder, Branded Ground
5 months 18 days ago

Well, as far as “put your money where your mouth is,” these moves are clear indicators that Bed Bath & Beyond means business. Great hires as well. As far as omni-always, I’d expect a CXO that threads across every touchpoint with a customer first, competitively different position, teams that are adhering to overall sales (not separate channel goals) and an agile, motivated and fast-moving test and learn approach.

I like this brand and always have. I have high hopes that they are going to pull out of last year’s rut and show the industry what a C-suite supported pivot really is.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Bed Bath & Beyond is focusing exceptional talent on reimagining the customer experience. Overcoming their image as the “coupon company” among consumers won’t be easy, though.

Venky Ramesh
BrainTrust

Omni-always is clearly a customer-centric approach – to provide one face and optimized experience to customers based on how and where they choose to engage with Bed Bath & Beyond. Since the involvement of the activist investors, a few years back, Bed Bath & Beyond has made great strides in executing its strategy and made good people and technology investments to support it. On investor day last year, they shared this video that talks about their progress on their strategy.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I define “omni-always” as a buzzphrase for scaled retail table stakes. We have to stop worrying about creating new names for existing (or catch-up) retail services and start focusing on execution and efficiency. Rhetoric isn’t going to put SKUs in a shopping cart — physical or digital. Again, assuming “omni-always” doesn’t really mean anything more than, “doing what you should have been doing five years ago,” I think new leadership and investment in technologies are strong tools in the battle to get Bed Bath & Beyond where it should already have been.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
While omni-always seems like a silly term, the path is clear – Bed Bath & Beyond needs to rethink their organizational structure to eliminate silos, rethink their store experience, rethink their brand value to customers, and rethink how digital enhances and connects all of those areas — all while keeping a focus on the customer at the center. The goal is twofold – give customers a reason to shop with them besides coupons and make it easy to do so in any form the customer wants. These new hires should give them a boost towards that goal. The real question is how quickly they can navigate these changes to produce results before customers decide there is no reason to shop there anymore. Building private lines is a good strategy to create uniqueness, but depending on product category I wonder if customers really want more brands to evaluate before making a purchase, or if what they really want is an assurance they are making the right purchase decision. I feel the one element lacking in their… Read more »
David Mascitto
BrainTrust

An omnichannel retailer is one that provides a seamless shopping experience for customers regardless of the channel, be it a physical store, pop-up, webstore, social commerce, etc. Launching new brands, reimagining stores and modernizing an ERP are great steps to take, but the ultimate goal of omnichannel is to create a shopping and customer experience ecosystem that is consistent across all touchpoints.

Natalie Walkley
BrainTrust

“Omni-always” is a good mantra for retailers, and certainly table stakes in the current market. However shifting a strong brick-and-mortar business to “omni-always” is like getting the ship stuck in the Suez Canal free. :/ It’s complex, will require top to bottom assessment and realignment — and buy-in from stakeholders willing to sacrifice something to shift their processes and technology.

storewanderer
Guest
5 months 18 days ago

Too bad Target is already omni-always, already has many exclusive brands in the home category, and the customers are flocking to shop there.

Bed Bath & Beyond is years late to this party. Adding new private label lines that look like copycats of Target private label items at higher prices just makes them look like a me too who is years late to the game.

This new CEO is recruiting a lot of talent, but the problem was the period when he initially took over and let the stores become so empty of inventory. A lot of customers left and didn’t return. Then COVID happened and stores were mandated closed. Another very bad thing for this chain. Now they have sold off Cost Plus, Christmas Tree, closed or are in the process of closing hundreds of stores … we will see what happens. Their stores look better now than they have in a while, but still don’t look great.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The term omni-always is yet another bit of jargon! However the actions that Bed Bath & Beyond are taking to support this 'vision' are very sensible. "
"Well, as far as “put your money where your mouth is,” these moves are clear indicators that Bed Bath & Beyond means business. Great hires as well."
"Bed Bath & Beyond’s objective is correct. Even if the retailer’s move is seen as too late by some, if the execution is right, the retailer should be able to return to its glor"

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