A few words with a Merchandiser at Foot Locker

Kristina Buivydaite is strategy consultant at Accenture. Previously worked at Foot Locker European headquarters as a Merchandiser. Lithuanian, 28 years old, bachelor´s in Economics and master in Business and Economics. Travel fan, has lived in different countries such as the Netherlands, Mexico, South Africa and Spain.

The Fashion Retailer: What Foot Locker is?

Kristina Buivydaite: Foot Locker is one of the largest global sports fashion retailers,  founded in 1974 in California, with over 7BLN $ revenue. Its major markets are the US, Canada, Europe and Australia with +3.360 stores across the world. In Europe, Foot Locker has more than 600 stores. Foot Locker sells the well-known sports fashion brands – Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Puma.

It leverages exclusivity agreements with its vendors – e.g., some sneaker models are exclusively sold in Foot Locker. Its target customers are youngsters (16-25 years), aspired by sports – basket, football, with a passion for sneakers. Foot Locker has also dedicated stores for kids of all ages.  Foot Locker would attract real sneaker heads – people chase after the latest sneakers and releases. As a multibrand stores, it sells brands such as Nike, Adidas, Jordan, Under Armour, Asics, Reebok, New Balance, Converse, amongst others.

TFR: What was your role at Foot Locker?

KB: I worked as a merchandiser in Foot Locker Europe, in Amsterdam for over 2, 5 years. I was managing Foot Locker´s private label apparel (t-shirts, hoodies, fleece pants…).

Foot Locker Store Footwear collection assortment fashion retail

TFR: Could you define the structure or hierarchy in your team?

KB: Every product department is managed within the triangle – buyer, planner and merchandiser. The buyer has the key responsibility – determining the styles for the new season, leading negotiations with vendors, being accountable for the overall product performance.

TFR: Could you define your main activities? Pre-season vs in-season?

KB: Merchandising plays a key role in in-season management – flowing the stock to stores, executing seasonal product conversions, setting and adjusting inventory levels to meet sales targets, changing allocation strategies to maximize commercial opportunities, maximizing full-price sales by for seasonal products and executing clearance sales.

Pre-season, merchandiser would provide insights for the buying group on what worked best and in which markets (styles, colours). Merchandising would also determine the sizing for the new styles, analyzing the sales history based on product similarities. One of my projects was new store openings – ensuring that stores can open with full assortments according to the space available.

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TFR: What was the creative side?

KB: Creative side of merchandising for me was about determining sales expectations for initial allocations. For completely new products (e.g., very new styles), it could be quite challenging. Thus, I would be having conversations with my team, thinking of the customer profile that might be interested in this style and discussing performance of products with shared similarities.

TFR: What was the scientific side?

KB: Europe is a very diverse market. If in the US sales follow similar patterns in every state, Europe is a completely different. Every country in Europe has different public holidays, populations with diverse religious backgrounds, price sensitivity, pay weeks, customers with different shopping habits and fashion aspirations, not to mention climate. In order to react to the dynamic sales patterns, I was focused on getting feedback from divisional managers, analyzing markets on past sales trends, price sensitivity (e.g., when the sale comes).

TFR: What skills do you fill are the most important to succeed in this role?

KB: I think as a merchandiser you have to be a quick learner to get to know your product and markets in a short time, very analytical, good with systems and also be good at team work and communication.


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