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Style and Statistics by Brittany Bullard

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Introduction

Have you ever walked into a department store and wondered how the magic of sights, smells, and staging came together? The sweet smell of gardenia wafting from the fragrance department; the eclectic assortment of pumps, sandals, and flats in the shoe department; and the eye-catching visual merchandising of in-season colors and fashions that captures the essence of time? Such is the life of a retailer, who blends art and science to create an environment where you, the shopper, take center stage.

Many major retailers started out as individually owned stores. The owners ran the store themselves. They were in the store day in and day out so they knew their business. They knew their customers and their customers’ preferences. Pricing of products was a pretty basic concept. The owners marketed by word of mouth or through local flyers and newspapers. Successful owners were able to add on more locations. As location growth increased, the complexity of buying, planning, and marketing increased. No longer were the owners in each location every day, nor did they know all of their customers on a first-name basis. With this expansion, retailers understood their customers less and were unable to tackle the workload on their own. Marketing became more difficult as well. The sheer volume of work became increasingly larger as businesses grew.

Therefore, owners began to hire a staff, who became an essential piece of the puzzle. Buyers or merchants were responsible for picking out ...

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