For a Buying and Merchandising Team performing quite a traditional function for a business that is moving towards a more Agile approach, the uncertainty around impending changes could be a cause for concern. But they shouldn’t be. I think Buying and Merchandising Teams are already working in quite agile ways.

Accepting change

Merchandisers will start a year with a target for how much they think a product will sell, which they use to buy the right quantity of stock. They’ll create a plan based on last year’s sales information to suggest how much will sell, when and where (which shops), but

Merchandisers inspect the sales and adapt the replenishment of stock to shops to maximise the sales potential.

Small batches

A merchandiser could send all the stock they have out to shops at the beginning of the season, but instead, through analysis of sales patterns they break the stock down into small batches and distribute it to shops for when they need it.

Merchandisers slice the available stock into small batches.

Fast feedback

New products are introduced in a disciplined way. They are bought in smaller initial quantities, trialled in a small number of shops, and watched carefully to see how they perform. These initial reactions are then used to plan further roll-out of the product to more shops, or discontinue the product.

Merchandisers get fast feedback from customers and use it to inform how to distribute stock to shops.