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  • Joanne Neidorf

Three Insights From Our Survey on Cross-Functional Interaction in Retail

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 and take other similar actions.

Survey respondents represent more than thirteen functions, with Merchandise Planning, Merchandising/Buying/Category Management and Product Development & Sourcing making up 50% of the respondent pool.

Insight 1:

Measured by frequency of meeting (0 = Never; 5 = More than once a week), the highest level of cross-functional interaction of all respondents occurs with:

  • Merchandising/Buying/Category Management

  • Merchandise Planning

  • Supply Chain & Logistics

Across all respondents, our weighted averages show us that meetings with Merchandising/Buying/Category Management take place weekly, with Merchandise Planning slightly less than weekly and with Supply Chain & Logistics between weekly and monthly.

These results underscore 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.

Insight 2:

Both Merchandising/Buying/Category Management and Merchandise Planning are meeting less frequently than we expected with their Stores/Store Operations and Online/Digital teams (0 = Never; 5 = More than once a week).

Merchandising/Buying/Category Management is meeting (on average) with these two functions less than monthly.

Merchandise Planning is doing slightly better - but frequency hovers around monthly for Online/Digital and between monthly and weekly for Stores/Store Operations.

We are surprised because the Stores and Online/Digital functions are the most direct link to the customer that the merchandising team has. We expected to see more frequent meetings as a marker of greater partnership and collaboration.

While meetings are not the only way to share and get access to customer insight, meeting frequency can be an indicator of overall connectivity. We would like to see both Merchants and Merchandise Planners more tightly linked to these critical customer-facing functions.

Insight 3:

A third of respondents are viewing their own websites less than weekly. 60% are viewing their competitors' websites less than weekly.

While we appreciate our respondents' honesty, in some ways this is inexplicable. Through their websites retailers have the luxury of being able to see exactly what their customers see and experience every single day on one of their critical distribution channels. How they could not take advantage of that market insight and visit both their own - and their competitors' sites - at least weekly demonstrates there are still opportunities for them to get better at understanding their customers, no matter where they sit within the retail organization.

This is an opportunity for leadership to encourage everyone to engage with and increase their understanding of what the customer experiences and how any one company compares with the competition.

These are just a few of the insights from our survey. To request a copy of the full survey report, please contact us at

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

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