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Retail Industry Insight with Diane Neaven

I suppose that people in some industries could begin their introductions with meaningful personal insights Diane Neaven about how they chose their professions because they wanted to save human lives, grace the earth with more tasteful architecture, or endow humanity with more stringent accounting practices.  I, on the other hand, might as well tell you straight away that I gravitated towards retail, and later retail systems, simply because I liked shopping.

My retail resume spans nearly thirty years, two continents, and many roles, from part-time supermarket cashier to Director of Product Management.

In the course of my job, I talk to retailers from many walks of life and in roles ranging from CEO to data entry.  I meet industry consultants, market analysts, journalists, business analysts, technical architects, you name it.  I listen, I read, I research….  But what I try not to do is to lose touch with the bottom line, the consumer who drives the retail world.  What I’d like to discuss in future postings on this blog are tangible business topics that map to the shopping experience in a real and relevant way.  Within the retail product management team, my area of focus is the head office products, so some of the topics I would like to explore include assortment planning, markdown management and time-to-market challenges.  These are often discussed elsewhere (and I’m not adverse to borrowing from elsewhere), but I find that often many of the strategies we hear a lot about focus on one or more stages of the product lifecycle, but rarely include the actual consumer experience and all- important decision to purchase.  Retail has become very complex, and we all have a tendency to work in our specialized silos.  An analyst remarked the other day that he had talked to retailers who had invested in expensive markdown optimization solutions, only to find that their store systems were too antiquated to execute the new output!  We’re all familiar with the buzzwords by now – let’s have a look at the results and talk about some real world experiences.

Well, that’s the kick off.  Please stay tuned for the next installment, when we’ll talk about retail practices in various parts of the world -- different business models, VERY different consumer behavior.  Maybe you’ll learn something, maybe you’ll just say “Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with THAT!”

Posted by Diane Neaven, Director of Product Management, Epicor

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