Are retailers returning to market-tailored content?

Interesting discussion at today’s Retail Wire about the pendulum swinging back toward the old “JCPenney” model of tailored assortments store-by-store. I’m not sure whether this is the right way to characterize a trend that is more IT-based than in the past:

The old JCPenney model may have provided more market-sensitive assortments store by store, but it also created a cumbersome bureaucracy as well as tremendous inconsistencies in customer experience from store to store and from market to market. JCP was smart to discard this system despite all the cultural changes it brought to the company.

The pendulum may be swinging back toward more market-sensitive merchandise content today, but it would be a mistake in an era of slimmer margins and operating expenses to return to the JCP model of 20 years ago. In fact, stores like Macy’s continue to consolidate their regional buying offices to one headquarters function at the same time that the “My Macy’s” initiative takes hold. Other national retailers, like Target and Kohl’s, devoted effort to this challenge several years ago.

The key to successful market-specific merchandising is to have the information systems and headquarters culture in place to drive it. Retailers need a clear line of communication between their field managers and their merchants, in order to provide some market-appropriate content without crossing the line from autonomy to inconsistency. And retailers also need to take advantage of the massive database of regional preferences that their vendors can provide, in order to tailor assortments in the first place.

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1 Response to “Are retailers returning to market-tailored content?”


  1. 1 bibordece November 25, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I am frequently looking for recent blogposts in the net about this topic. Thanx.


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