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Focus on: Consumer-Centricity

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Brooks Brothers is getting “back to basics” regarding merchandise strategies. The venerable brand is merchandising individual stores based on customer preferences and demands.

“We were running our business with a ‘cookie cutter’ approach, one that diminishes opportunities and efficiencies,” said Jon Westergreen, director of store planning, Brooks Bros., New York City, which operates more than 200 stores. “We realized that to maximize sales we needed to engage with the individuals we were serving. This included cultivating the names of each store and the inventory it carries.”

This epiphany sparked an organizational restructuring that commenced almost two years ago—a move that is helping Brooks Bros. streamline inventory styles and levels that coincide with consumer demand. Besides appointing directors of store planning who act as liaisons between specific stores and corporate, the chain also restructured its retail districts; previously grouped in 12- to 15-store districts, they are now bundled into groups of approximately four per region.

The new configuration enables store managers to share their merchandising insight with corporate so that marketing, financial planning and merchandising departments can support each group’s individual selling plans. To make this new strategy come to life, Brooks Bros. implemented analytical technology: the Advanced Allocation system from JDA Software, Scottsdale, Ariz.

The operation begins as Brooks Bros. loads weekly location category sales and inventory plans, style assortments plans and 78 weeks of historical SKU sales data into the allocation solution. The system’s algorithms analyze data and execute allocations based on a consumer-centric merchandising strategy that takes into account pre-planned store-specific assortments and sizes, selling tendencies and seasonal builds.

The technology has helped the chain easily revise plans and manage its shopper-focused strategy much more easily. Most stores have assortments that are between 70% and 80% similar in content and flow.

“Meanwhile, between 20% and 30% of the assortment is individualized by specific need,” said Linda Rooney, VP planning and allocation, Brooks Bros. “By having a way to differentiate shopper demand and assortments and add a ‘resort wear’ category in hot markets, for example, we have created a change that accounts for a sales trend between 10% and 20% better than previous years.”

Consumer-centric analysis is also improving the chain’s marketing campaigns. By enabling stores to provide the marketing team with information about upcoming events and merging this data with inventory allocations, the chain has been able to increase sales between 30% and 40%, according to Westergreen.

Brooks Bros. plans to expand its consumer-centric practices across all of its retail channels. By applying a consumer-centric strategy to its cross-channel operations, the chain plans to analyze size opportunities and style demand, for example, which will enable it to target its shoppers with merchandise regardless of the channel they are shopping through, according to Rooney.

“Our store managers and online consumer transactions will both give us insight into consumer demand, and the technology will continue to give us the intellect we need to understand the ideal assortments we need,” she explained. “It is a true balance of corporate culture and science.”

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Kmart launches Smart Sense

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Kmart announced the expansion of its brand portfolio with the introduction of the Smart Sense line, its new Kmart brand that includes a wide range of items including everything from snacks and beverages, to oral care, paper products, household cleaners and over-the-counter medications. The quality of the Smart Sense line is comparable to that of national name brands, and on average costs 20% less, according to the company.

"With the introduction of the Smart Sense line, Kmart is looking to offer a more affordable Kmart brand product assortment that will rival the quality of more nationally recognized brands," said Mark Snyder, chief marketing officer, Kmart. "While the Smart Sense line will offer the everyday essentials, Kmart is also taking it a step further by providing unique products that you wouldn’t typically expect to see under a store brand."

The Smart Sense line currently consists of hundreds of products available in Kmart stores and the product line will expand to more than 1,200 items by early 2011, the company reported. Kmart said it will also support the Smart Sense line launch through multiple communications channels, including advertising, coupon offers, merchandising displays, sampling, digital marketing and event marketing.

In addition to the introduction of the Smart Sense line, a new look has been created for many other Kmart brand products, the company reported. The brighter and more vibrant packaging has been designed to capture the "colorful thinking" Kmart is demonstrating through its new product and brand announcements. In addition to the Smart Sense line roll-out, Kmart is also introducing products in a re-launch of its other exclusive brands, which include, Little Ones baby care products, Champion Breed pet care products, Image Essentials personal care products and VitaSmart vitamin products.

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Target to open ten stores on 10/10/10

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Target announced that it will open 10 stores across the country, resulting in the creation of more than 2,400 jobs.

The stores will open in the following communities:

 

    * Sacramento East: 6507 4th Ave., Sacramento, Calif.     * Simi Valley West: 51 Tierra Rejada Rd., Simi Valley, Calif.     * Bakersfield Central: 2901 Ming Ave., Bakersfield, Calif.     * San Jose North: 95 Holger Way, San Jose, Calif.     * Azusa: 809 Azusa Ave., Azusa, Calif.     * Salt Lake City: 1110 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah     * Little Rock University: 420 S. University Ave., Little Rock, Ark.     * Christiana: 800 Christiana Mall, Christiana, Del.     * Flushing: 4024 College Point Blvd., Flushing, N.Y.     * Braintree: 250 Granite St., Braintree, Mass.

 

“These new Target store openings will help support local economies and make life easier for our guests by creating new jobs, spurring development and providing the utmost in convenience and value,” said John Griffith, EVP property development for Target. “We are looking forward to deepening our relationship with guests in communities across the country.”

As part of the grand opening celebrations, Target said each store will contribute to its community by initiating a local grant program, contributing to the United Way, donating food to Feeding America and product to the local Goodwill chapter and encouraging team members to volunteer their time to serve their community.

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