Our approach involves evaluating how skillful the brand or retailer is in the process of blending and balancing design and data...optimism and pragmatism...art and science. Merchandising Metrics is a set of disciplines and thought processes arrived at by the partners after years of experience in the apparel business. It's the left brain cooperating with the right brain. It's fulfilling the creative and emotional aspects of the Brand Promise with strong filters in place for Risk Mitigation. Risk Mitigation involves pressure testing the key components of the business in the context of a bell curve paradigm:
- Brand Promise...what is it…??? Psycho-graphics? Positioning?
- Focus and Discipline. Who sets the boundaries? How?
- Classification Balance...low, medium and high risk. Core, Seasonal Key Item and Fashion/Novelty.
- Color Balance and Flow...low, medium and high risk. Balance at a moment in time and over time. Seasonality.
- Calendar Management...establishing appropriate entry and exit points. Life span, life cycle. Seasonality. Product development T/A calendar…??? Appropriate lead times? Testing?
- Best use of Space...understanding size, shape, and configuration of the space. Capacity. Options for presentation. STORY TELLING.
- Dosage...how much is enough...really…??? Challenging each metric in and of itself as well as against all other metrics. Breadth of the offering.
- Scarcity...creating and managing. Breadth of offering. Depth of the buy.
- Listening and learning skills. Do they exist? What are they? What's the process? TESTING? Curiosity? Humility?
Promise + Psycho-graphics + Positioning + Planning + Product + Presentation + Pricing + Promotion + People = Productivity + Profit
We are available for different kinds of assignments:
Projects: You have a specific assignment with clearly defined deliverables and a set due date. Most of these are research-based or due diligence related reports. Your brand relative to the competition and relative to the market at large. What are the dynamics at work? If you are considering an acquisition, you'll want an unvarnished, arms-length portrait of the health and viability of the target business. This is an assessment, not a tutorial.
Ongoing Tutorials: Since the very nature of the business revolves around change over time, it makes sense to be immersed in an ongoing study and evaluation of the business. While a project looks at a moment in time, an ongoing tutorial observes change and evolution over time. The fluid nature of the retail landscape demands that there is a constant freshening and updating of your perspective and an ongoing interpretation of the dynamics of the market. The market rarely presents binary black and white alternatives. Nuanced perspective is required and that is what our left brain/right brain set of metrics provides. Some knowledge and experience can be transferred and adopted quickly. Other life and business lessons require more time to internalize and adopt. And some lessons require constant reinforcement because they are counter-intuitive and/or they stand in stark contrast to long practiced bad habits.
JEFFREY A. SWARD, Founding Partner
Jeff Sward is a deeply experienced executive, with experience in both retail and wholesale environments…both branded and private label…both department store and specialty store. He is a strategic thinker with a truly “vertical” understanding of the business, starting with market research, product conceptualization, merchandising & design, sourcing, and finally retail implementation. He focuses on strategic planning, competitive analysis for pricing and positioning, managing the Time/Action calendar, retail space configuration and product flow, seasonal conversion and Risk Mitigation.
Mr. Sward began his career in retailing becoming a Vice President/Divisional Merchandise Manager for both Bullock’s/Macy’s South and Sak’s Fifth Avenue. He also held senior merchandising positions at Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters. At Oxford Industries, he served as President of Polo Ralph Lauren for Boys directing sales, merchandising, design and sourcing (managing a staff of 60 in NY, Hong Kong and Singapore), and then later as President of DKNY Kids. As Director of Business Development he worked on the company’s acquisition of Tommy Bahama. As Group President of Merchandising & Design for Oxford Apparel, he worked with a team of 38 merchandisers and designers developing product for a wide range of customers including JCPenney, Sears, Dillards, Wal-Mart and Nordstrom. The development of the Charles F. Orvis Signature Collection for the Orvis outdoor company served hundreds of specialty stores. Mr. Sward had a later assignment with the Ben Sherman division of Oxford.
It is the range and breadth and depth of assignments across the wholesale and retail worlds that give Mr. Sward the experience and insights necessary to connect the dots throughout the many levels of the business. For many years in the business, one of the primary processes was referred to simply as “assortment planning”. That was an over simplification. It’s now clear that Risk Mitigation must play as important a role as “design” and “fast”. Therein lies the founding premise for Merchandising Metrics. It’s a set of disciplines and thought processes that protect margins while "design" and "fast" drive Brand Promise and sales.
WILLIAM GARRETT BENNETT, Founding Partner
Garrett Bennett is a creative leader and strategist who builds a brand’s equity, enhances its market position, elevates the customer experience and drives sales volume. Working in a global landscape, he directs international teams to deliver dynamic product assortments aligned with innovative merchandising, marketing and visual initiatives.
Co-founder of Merchandising Metrics, Bennett provides direction to Men’s, Women’s and Children’s retailers and manufacturers, maximizing brand identity, market share, and profitability. Services include:
- Trend Analysis aligned with a brand’s essence, focusing on high return design concepts.
- High Value Programs targeted to key markets.
- Product Merchandise Management, building and establishing product positioning.
- Design & Product Development, exclusive product and assortments with an existing or outside team.
- Product Strategy, establishing visual merchandising methods aligned with assortment strategy.
- Pressure Testing, filtering and challenging a design team’s product range and development theory.
- Reengineer Design Process from zero base complete overhaul to minor alteration in the design method.
Bennett spearheaded a turnaround for Giordano International, achieving ground breaking top and bottom line results. He achieved a turnaround for Giordano Korea, reestablishing profit. Rebuilding the merchandising strategy, he reestablished leading market position, generating record profits and top line sales.
Previously Bennett was Senior Vice President of Oxford Apparel Sportswear. Conceptualizing and launching a license CHARLES F. ORVIS Signature Collection, he elevated the total brand helping Orvis establish a premium price point that achieved record margins and allowed expansion into new distribution channels. He then leveraged the Orvis aesthetic, branching Oxford into a new tier of distribution opening the WalMart and Costco accounts, transitioning the design team from a three month to three week turnaround.
As President & Design Director for Blue Khaki Inc., Bennett launched a Menswear sportswear and tailored clothing collection spanning a diverse customer base targeted to an “American man with a modern attitude.” Enthusiastic press reviews labeled Bennett “a rare designer who can dress father and son appropriately.” Living in Hong Kong and New York for Giordano International, he catapulted the brand into the leading casual specialty retailer in the Pacific Rim. He spearheaded enormous growth from $5 million to $750 million, directing design, product development, and brand management in 25 countries. A member of the Executive Board of Directors, Bennett launched the brand in Korea, assembled a global product development team and expanded throughout Asia and The Middle East. He built a flexible product structure for over 1500 retail outlets, accommodating these diverse cultures.
Bennett’s career began at G.F.T. (U.S.A.) Corp., as a designer and merchandiser for Valentino and Emanuel Ungaro. He studied Architecture at University of Maryland followed by Menswear Design & Marketing at Fashion Institute of Technology, where he won the Cutty Sark Award.