As the newly hired intern in the shoe department for a mid-sized apparel chain operating in six Northeastern states, you have been invited to attend your first buyer’s meeting. Teresa, the new junior and misses buyer stood up during a weekly merchandise meeting at the retailer’s corporate office to show off the newest trend in fashion junior clothing: sweatpants and shorts with words like tottie,” “angel,” and -devil printed in bold letters across the seat of the pants. At the time, a few other retail chains were just beginning to sell similar pants and shorts with writing across the seat of the pants. She showed the crowd of other retail buyers and operational heads several examples of the product. She highlighted the high margin and strong chance of market success. When she asked if there were any questions, another buyer raised his hand. He asked, “I wonder if we should be selling this to teenage girls? Do we have a moral responsibility to not sell a product like this that could increase promiscuity or simply decrease girls’ self-worth or self-esteem?’ An executive vice president of merchandise then stood up and responded, -Retailers don’t have a moral responsibility. That’s the media’s role. We just sell the product.” Just then your boss asked you, ‘What do you think Teresa should doT Explain your reasoning.
a. Describe how you would answer your boss.
There is a trend away drinking of hard liquor and toward wines and therefore more grocery stores are handling a larger assortment of wines in their beer, liquor, and wine departments. Of course there is only so much space and grocers also face market, inventory turnover, and dollar merchandise constraints. As retailers expand more SKUs into the wine category they need to look for ways to spot consumer trends and then translate these into merchandising opportunities. One possibility is to listen to the advice of Robert Parker who is the editor and publisher of The Wine Advocate. Robert Parker as “The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Fine Wines” (www.eRobertParkercorn). To learn more about Robert Parker see Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wine_Advocate). Of course there are other sources such as T. Wine Spectator (http://www.winespectatorcom). See what you can learn about wine from these sources and other blogs and twitter dealing with wine.
a. What useful information is available?
b. How can it be used in the merchandise buying process?
c. Do you think the information is trustworthy?
What is the worst type of shrinkage—employee theft or customer theft? What is your reasoning? Should a retailer’s right to security take precedence over an employee’s and a customer’s right to privacy when the retailer sets up an electronic monitoring system in its stores to curb losses from theft?