A Balance Is Needed
In theory, this viewpoint makes perfect sense. Surely a retail professional raised in a retail family, who works in a hands-on, entrepreneurial environment, can figure out something as basic as when to mark down a price. As if he wouldn't know when something wasn't selling at a certain price. In a previous column, I even exhorted retailers to not rely too much on merchandising systems, but to let common sense and human knowledge prevail. I still stand by that column, and also understand why this particular gentleman, and so many other executives at SMRs, feels that investing in advanced merchandising systems is unnecessary. But like so many other things in life, effective merchandising requires a balance.However, with a sophisticated merchandising system, that executive can gain visibility into likely sales problems well before they happen. They can make a better pricing decision, or shelving decision, or any other merchandising decision you want to name, the first time out, and thus avoid having to use their instincts to figure out why a certain item isn't moving. Like free lunches, free throws aren't really free. Proper execution of free throws requires a great deal of investment, not in money for college hoops players, but in time and effort spent practicing. And at crunch time, free throws can make or break a championship. Just ask Coach Cal. Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.
Granted, no machine can replace human instinct and wisdom, but a machine can supplement human instinct and wisdom, and enhance the performance results of that instinct and wisdom. An experienced retail executive has a good sense of when a particular product isn't selling, and can probably figure out why.