Analytics Replace Chief Merchants in Retail

The importance of data has increased over the last decade, and is starting to take the guess work out of retail merchandising. Companies are relying more on numbers than merchant executive instincts. Chief merchants, usually seen as potential CEO successors, are now expected to master left-brain skills in addition to right-brain creativity. For example, Wal-Mart started using google analytics to make decisions on food stock. J.C. Penney is also focusing more on analytics for replenishing merchandise. The latter company is currently looking for a new chief merchant.

Although big data can help make important decisions when it comes to restocking stores, some oppose the idea because it can potentially inhibit intuition. The fear is that when data takes over the retail industry, stores will start to look uniform due to a loss of creativity and instinct. Compared to the baby boomers, who tend to rely more on their gut, millennials, entering the workforce currently, tend to gravitate towards data for decision making. As big data is starting to make its way into retail decision making, the debate continues as to whether or not the shift is beneficial.

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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