Free the buyers!

Here’s a recent RetailWire comment about the president of Saks Fifth Avenue and her push to make her buyers less risk-averse. While being analytical is part of the job, so is the (often forgotten) art of being instinctive. Here’s my point of view:

I described buying earlier this week as a left brain/right brain profession, even before reading the article about Saks. Being a successful merchant does require a balance between the analytical and the instinctive, and I’m glad to see a fashion-forward retailer like Ms. Mckee shifting the focus back to gut instinct. Merchants need to be on top of the numbers, but not at the risk of “analysis paralysis” when it’s time to make a fast decision.

As retail consolidation has created bigger public companies operating coast-to-coast, there is no doubt that buyers have become more risk-averse. At the same time, many retailers have become overly bureaucratic or top-heavy with “deciders.” Let’s hope that the Saks experiment to provide more balance works, and becomes liberating for other retail organizations.

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