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Description: FOREWORD I remember when the executive vice president of Best BuyRetail asked me to teach him about merchandising so thathe could better understand the end-to-end picture of aretail marketing organization. An odd request? Hardly. Dozens ofpeople ask me the same question every year. They are theaccountants, store managers, advertising associates, and seniorleaders. And each of them has recognized that the merchant orbuyer is central to any retail organization, and they want someinsight into how it works. The role of the retail merchant/buyer has changed over time,much like the face of retail itself. Think back to the '50s.Department stores (Sears, Wards) and variety (S.S. Kressge, G.C.Murphy, Ben Franklin) dominated the landscape. In the early '60s,the deep discount retailers emerged (Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target).In the '70s, warehouse clubs (Price, Sam's, Costco) came into vogue,and the '80s gave us specialty superstores (Office Depot, Staples,Sports Authority, Best Buy). Megastores followed (Wal-MartSupercenters, Super Target) in the '90s. As these formats evolved, so did the role of the merchant. The"old school" buyer selected vendors and items, placed orders,approved payments, negotiated freight terms . . . basically, theydid it all. Over time, inventory specialization relieved the merchantof that chore. The role became more focused. Category managementbecame popular in the late '80s and throughout the '90s, especiallyin the food and drug channels. Today, "integration" is the buzzword. Teaming is fashionable as decision-making authority becomesshared. As these progressions have taken place, retailers havebenefited from the development of more generalist leaders, yet I'veobserved that the core merchant skills and knowledge have greatlydiminished. In this observation lies the purpose of this work. My goal is to have the book work on three levels. First, thiswork is focused on the basics of merchandising. Each section dealswith one of the fundamentals that every merchant needs tounderstand. I have attempted to be agnostic with each subject.That is, these principles should be applicable to all channels ofretail, whether mass, drugstore, specialty store, club, mail order,or grocery. Next, this effort is meant to be a "how to" book with tangiblefacts and methods taken from real-world experience within amerchandising environment. I have always found "how to" booksto be big on nebulous generalities, filled with grand ideas that aremore motivational than they are practical, often leaving the realsubject unaddressed. Within these pages, however, the readers willfind that "how to" means exactly that. This work offers practicalexplanations and real lessons that can be applied in retail. A final objective is to provide a bridge between the manufacturerand the retailer (seller and the buyer). Category management hasopened a lot of minds to the idea that collaboration, partnership,and the sharing of ideas can help all parties to better serve theconsumer. Still, many sales professionals will readily admit thatthey do not understand the buyer's mentality. This book shouldclose that gap and enable both buyer and seller to realize that theirworlds are actually quite similar. As for credentials, I do not profess to be an expert on all subjects,but I have drawn on my twenty-plus years of merchandisingexperience to pull this material together. During that time, I have