The Value of Integrating Marketing and Merchandising Teams
For example, Wal-Mart recently announced that its U.S. marketing team would work under the leadership of its chief merchandising officer rather than as a separate group. The reason? There's a need for better coordination between the two groups. Shopping and advertising are being quickly transformed by the internet, social media, smartphones and other shifts in shoppers’ behavior.
The good news is that it really is only some retailers that are still siloed. More retailers are integrating merchandising and marketing activities in multiple ways. They have joint, collaborative event planning, and in a growing number of cases both merchandising and marketing departments report to the same executive.
Even for innovators, there's still opportunity for improvement. What can help you improve? Things like targeted marketing campaigns aligned with in-store promotional events, a strategic marketing mix and coordination of marketing vehicles including printed circulars, direct mail and mobile phone promotions.
The bottom line? Retailers can no longer think of their customers in traditional, demographic-based segments. Developing deeper insights through more sophisticated approaches to segmentation is a key step toward creating a more customer-centric shopping experience. Retailers need to know how their customers make decisions, where they shop, and what their needs and preferences are for a given set of shopping occasions.
With these insights, retailers can develop merchandising, marketing and store service strategies that are better matched to their target customers. The more tailored and personalized the experience that retailers create for consumers, the greater the differentiation from their competitors and, ultimately, the greater the success.
To adapt to the changing marketplace and the empowered consumer, retailers must be able to do the following:
- sense customer buying behavior and improve operational visibility;
- align products and services to predicted customer behavior; and
- deliver with consistency and agility.
For retailers who can adapt to this changing demand, the rewards are significant. Research shows that consumers are willing to collaborate with retailers and spend more money with those that implement their suggestions. Direct customer collaboration such as co-development and testing opportunities, along with product ratings and reviews, provides valuable insight into a customer's expectations.