Stock assortment selections are an important subject for both the Army & Air Force Exchange Service and its customers.
Spotting hot trends and getting those items quickly on the shelves is a daily mission.
In fact, the Exchange is setting a new standard in data collection through partnerships with Nielsen and the NPD Group, globally recognized leaders in consumer and retailer market research. These relationships provide access to raw data, analysis tools and other additional services such on-site representation at Exchange headquarters for one-on-one training with Buyers.
In addition to research, the merchandise selection process is determined by several factors. Buyers meet with suppliers at trade shows as well as vendor and Exchange offices to review product lines. They review trade magazines, attend trade shows, review competitive weekly tabloids and visit the competition. The Exchange also utilizes category management and outside consultants to ensure stock assortments reflect industry practices.
Store input and feedback are also critical factors in product selection. The Buying Teams conduct quarterly conference calls to designated facilities and participate in “Meet the Buyer” visits. During these meetings, buyers frequently walk various departments to ask shoppers if they are able to find the styles, pricing and sizes they are looking for and find out what patrons would like to see added to their Exchange’s stock assortment.
“We study the market extensively when deciding upon stock assortments,” said the Exchange’s Chief of Staff Col. Tom Ockenfels. “Our Buyers review all of the information available and take every bit of information into account when making selections on what the Exchange stocks on its shelves. The result is selections as unique as the locations our facilities serve.”
Satisfying all Exchange customers in regards to merchandise assortment is an ongoing challenge, but one the organization continually works to achieve. In the event that a shopper is looking for a particular product or brand, they are encouraged to talk with their local store management to discuss the specific items they would like made available.