What Makes a Modern Merchant?

What traits do today’s modern merchants need to succeed in an environment where technology and behavior shift more rapidly than ever?

Julie Pike, Chief Merchant at Bonobos, and Angelo Ng, Chief Merchant Officer and SVP of Wolverine Worldwide, joined host Grant Barth to provide their insights and expert knowledge on the situation.

No matter the merchandising platform, there are fundamental philosophies at work that help merchandisers successfully champion their brands. Ng spoke about the merchandising evolution over the years.

“If we go back, merchants have existed as long as there’s been trade,” Ng said. “From my point of view, it’s almost like coming full circle from what we would consider the initial merchant. They knew the consumer, and they went somewhere around the globe to bring them something that didn’t exist within the market and bring it to them, or they created something themselves. As everything evolved, we had a split between the wholesaler and a retail consumer.”

Ng believes today’s merchandisers are returning to that ownership role as omnichannel grows in importance.

With the onset of the pandemic, many changes have taken place, but Pike said many of these changes were already occurring. The pandemic only created the necessity to change faster.

“How you put the consumer at the core has become more important over the last 12-18 months than ever before, because those shifts and behaviors and trends that we probably needed to be more consistent previously have turned on their head,” Pike said. “I think that’s been so important to be more in real-time than we’ve ever been before.”

And, while it is important for merchants to look at data analytics to make decisions, it’s equally important to listen to the motivations of consumers.

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