• Joanne Neidorf

Beyond Stats: Real-World Business Impact

Last month we shared some of the data on usage of Merchant Academy at a fashion retailer. And while statistics on when Buyers and Planners choose to learn, how much time they spend on learning and how they spend that time is enlightening, we also want to share how access to Merchant Academy impacts both the individuals and the organization.

More than 20 people participated in the program; some highlights of their results include:

  • 70% of users agree or strongly agree that Merchant Academy courses are relevant and useful in doing their job better

  • Feedback from participants and observed changes in behavior and decision-making demonstrate that Merchant Academy courses trigger both immediate and longer-term changes in how Buyers and Planners think about their job and the decisions they make

  • Buyers and Planners (and Allocators) used Merchant Academy to explore the topics that interest them - even if they are outside their current day-to-day responsibilities

Relevancy

The participants had access to nearly 30 courses across five topic areas including:

  • Assortment Analytics

  • KPIs and Reporting

  • OTB and In-Season Management

  • How to be a Supply Chain-Savvy Merchant

  • Running a Multi-Channel Business

The majority (70%) of users reported that the material was both relevant and useful in doing their job better.

Why does this matter?

We simultaneously heard the biggest challenge in pursuing their professional development was the lack of time available for training.

We all know that everyone in the Merchandising team must constantly juggle competing priorities to effectively analyze and run their business.

In this environment, the last thing anyone wants to do is waste their most precious resource - their time. Because Merchant Academy videos and short articles are relevant and useful, carving out time for these resources becomes a more attractive option and the learning will continue.

Both Immediate and Long-Term Changes

Merchant Academy users both report AND demonstrate that they are immediately applying what they learn to their business.

One Junior Buyer reported, "I'm now able - and confident - to make suggestions to my new Planner on analysis to run." Prior to taking Merchant Academy courses in Assortment Analytics, she had consumed a lot of reporting from her Planning counterparts, but had never considered what additional questions to ask or how else they might look at the business to identify opportunities.

In another example, after taking the Quadrant and Best/Worst Seller Analysis course, an assistant developed a quadrant analysis tool in excel. She is not only using this to analyze her own business, but the tool is being shared with the other product teams, adding to all of their assortment analyses toolkits.

And there are more indications that Merchant Academy will continue to have an impact on merchandising thought-processes and decisions in the future...

One user reported, "The things I've learned... they're always on my mind now [as I look at my business]."

And from another, "It's motivated me to learn more... to ask more questions overall."

These are great signs that Merchant Academy does what it's intended to do - develop the ability to "think like a merchant" and thus make better merchandise buying and planning decisions far into the future.

Exploring What Interests Them

We also see that users take the opportunity to learn about topics that interest them - even if they are outside their current day-to-day responsibilities.

Examples of this include a Buying Assistant who really wanted to learn more about Open-to-Buy, even though she has yet to attend an OTB review meeting. Or a new hire who spent time learning about both Assortment Analytics and how merchandising decisions impact the Supply Chain, even though neither are directly relevant to her current role.

Why is this important and encouraging?

By taking advantage of opportunities to learn about the business overall, these individuals are not only growing professionally; they are developing skills they can put to use in future roles as they move up in the organization.

And having these opportunities increases employee engagement and job satisfaction. This is evident in the significant drop in the number of people in the merchandising organization who report being dissatisfied with job-related training.

Merchant Academy is a unique learning & development program that delivers relevant, action-oriented training to improve the day-to-day and strategic decision-making skills of retail Buyers and Planners.

If you'd like more information on Merchant Academy, or to discuss how Merchant Academy could benefit your organization, please contact us at info@merchant-insight.com

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