Stein Mart, a national specialty off-price retailer, has joined hands with retail consulting firm the Parker Avery Group for improvements in merchandising operations, inventory performance and overall margins. The partnership follows set of challenges faced by Stein Mart with product assortment, inventory levels, margins, and merchandising in 2017 beginning.
The year was a period of transition for Stein Mart and they began making significant improvements—primarily adopting and following a 36-month merchandising improvement roadmap developed with the Parker Avery Group.
“We have updated our assortment and improved inventory productivity through reduced inventory levels, changes to receipt flow, and better markdown practices, and Parker Avery has been a valuable partner for us in this journey,” according to Mary Anne Morin, Stein Mart president. “Parker Avery’s level of retail industry experience, along with their ‘get it done’ approach, is unlike any other firm I’ve worked with. In addition to typical consulting roles, we have Amanda Astrologo, senior manager at the Parker Avery Group, partnering with me as our acting EVP of Planning.”
Developed late in 2016 through early 2017, the merchandising roadmap included process improvements in a number of critical areas: integrated calendar management, strategic planning, markdown management, open-to-buy management, allocation, and reporting. Entering 2018, the two companies continue to partner on initiatives focused on replenishment, markdown execution, hierarchy improvements, and use of enhanced product attributing. Future enhancements will involve further work with merchandise and assortment planning tools, as well as improved integration across various elements of their merchandising solution platform.
“Our work with Stein Mart is a perfect example of a client that is experiencing problems, but is finding making meaningful changes to be difficult,” said Clay Parnell, Parker Avery’s president and managing partner. “Where the initial assumption was system replacement, we quickly advised a focus on core merchandising business processes and policies first, with the knowledge that systems work may be required down the road. This allowed Stein Mart to achieve benefits more quickly, without a significant IT investment.”
In addition to process improvements, Parker Avery infused a critical focus on change management, including communication, training, and working with the Stein Mart executive team on understanding and embracing their role in leading major transformational change. Affirming this mindset, Morin states, “Fostering change is not easy. Everyone could see that something needed to be done differently, so we just have to keep reminding ourselves why change is necessary. The hardest part is pushing for change in advance of seeing results. Once people start to see real benefits, they help become ambassadors for more improvements.” (SV)
Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India