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  • Joanne Neidorf

Why Merchant Skills are (Still) Critical!

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

If the last 18 months have taught us anything about retailing... it's that core merchandising skills will never be replaced by an algorithm, a forecasting engine or a rote checklist of tasks.

Suddenly, Year-on-Year comparisons are almost meaningless - 2020 was literally an entirely "new world" vs. 2019, and now 2021 comparisons to 2020 are equally questionable.

Stable and predictable supply chains are also a (fond) memory.

And no matter what business you are in or where you operate, your customers' wants, needs and expectations have probably never changed as dramatically in so short a time.

The only way to navigate this huge upheaval - and the future ones that are bound to come - is to train, develop and nurture the instincts of the people closest to both the product and the customer in your business.

In other words, to help your Buyers and Merchandise Planners make better assessments and decisions based on the new reality you face every day.

Your merchant teams are constantly making decisions that have an immediate and direct impact on your top-line sales, your bottom-line profit and the long-term health of your brand and customer relationship.

  • What product will we offer to our customer?

  • At what price?

  • How will we source it?

  • When will it be available?

  • When will it be promoted?

  • What is the "story" we want to tell our customer - and how do we want to tell it?

There is still lots of data available to help make these assessments and decisions, but with so much disruption and departure from historical "norms," the ability to wade through the data, identify what is relevant and then to act, observe and adjust will be what separates successful retailers from those that stumble and fall.

And as the critical link between supply (your product sources) and demand (your customers), your merchant team must remain nimble and creative in anticipating and adjusting to the ever-shifting environment that you operate in.

If this assessment resonates with you - and if you'd like to elevate your merchandising team's ability to adapt and thrive amid the uncertainty (and opportunity) of 2022 and beyond - then we'd love to chat about how Merchant Academy develops and nurtures these mission-critical skills in the people who will have the most impact on your business performance and your future.

For more information on the more than 70 courses currently available and how we tailor a program to your needs, please contact us at

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