• Joanne Neidorf

Results From Our Survey: Cross-Functional Meeting Frequency

Merchant Insight Consulting conducted an online survey asking retail professionals worldwide how frequently they meet with other functions in their organization as well as how often they visit stores, view websites, meet with vendors, etc.

The survey captured forty-two responses from people representing more than thirteen different functions, with Merchandise Planning, Merchandising/Buying/Category Management and Product Development & Sourcing making up 50% of the respondent pool.

Here we'll highlight some of the key findings regarding the frequency of meetings with functions throughout the organization.

All respondents were asked how often they met in the past 12 months with each of these sixteen functions:

  • Merchandising/Buying/Category Management

  • Merchandise Planning

  • Product Development & Sourcing (PD&S)

  • Visual Merchandising

  • Marketing

  • Supply Chain & Logistics

  • IT

  • Finance

  • Stores/Store Operations

  • Human Resources

  • Online/Digital

  • Merchandise Operations

  • Pricing

  • Sales/Sales Operations (for wholesale and/or franchise businesses)

  • Strategic Planning

  • Data Analytics

Scores were assigned to frequency as follows:

  • Never = 0

  • Once a year = 1

  • 2 - 4 times a year (seasonally/quarterly) = 2

  • Monthly = 3

  • Weekly = 4

  • More than once a week = 5

Respondents could also select N/A to indicate that a function does not exist in their organization.

The weighted average of frequency of meeting with each function was then calculated, after removing N/A responses for that function.

Across all respondents, the functions most frequently interacted with are Merchandising/Buying/Category Management, Merchandise Planning, Supply Chain & Logistics, Product Development & Sourcing (PD&S) and IT. The weighted average scores for these functions indicate the frequency of interaction is at least monthly, and at or approaching weekly for Merchandising/Buying/Category Management and Merchandise Planning.

Coming in just outside the Top 5 are:

  • Stores/Store Operations (average frequency of 3.0 or monthly)

  • Online/Digital (average frequency of 2.9 or monthly)

  • Data Analytics (average frequency of 2.8 or nearly monthly)

  • Finance (average frequency of 2.8 or nearly monthly)

Viewed through another lens, more than half of respondents met with Merchandising/Buying/Category Management, Merchandise Planning and Supply Chain & Logistics at least weekly in the past year.

Other functional areas that have significant weekly cross-functional interaction include Product Development & Sourcing, IT, Finance, Stores/Store Operations and Online/Digital.

The constant communication among Merchandising, Merchandise Planning, Supply Chain & Logistic, Stores/Store Operations and Online/Digital is expected. Less expected is the discovery that around 40% of respondents are meeting with IT or Finance each week.

Key Takeaway:

The highest degree of cross-functional communication occurs with Merchandising/Buying/Category Management, Merchandise Planning and Supply Chain & Logistics. This underscores the importance of the decisions and actions being taken by these functions and the need for everyone else in the organization to work in close collaboration with them.

What Can You Do With This Information?

Ask yourself who you meet with the most in your organization. How do your experiences compare to our survey respondents? Are these meetings productive? Are there advantages to increasing - or decreasing - the frequency of interaction with any of these functions?


Are there functional areas you never - or only rarely - meet with? What opportunities for collaboration and business performance improvement might you be missing due to this lack of regular communication? What type of interaction do you think would be beneficial going forward?

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Merchant Insight Consulting can help review your organization's unique structure, goals and current lines of communication to optimize interactions for better partnership and business outcomes.

These are just a few of the insights from our survey. To request a copy of the full survey report, please contact us at info@merchant-insight.com

Improving cross-functional understanding and collaboration is an important element of Merchant Academy, a unique online training and development product designed to increase the effectiveness of retail Merchants and Merchandise Planners.

For more information, please email us at info@merchant-insight.com

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