“My Macy’s” Engages Employees

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune called Macy’s gets gold star for employee morale discusses how the company’s “My Macy’s” strategy is helping to invigorate employees.

In early 2009, I gave the thumbs-up to My Macy’s strategy of localized merchandising.Here’s how Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren recently described the My Macy’s strategy:

“…we can adjust sizing, colors, fabric weights, items, categories and brands on a store-by-store basis. At holiday time, that means we have the dexterity in our organization to sell wine country Christmas ornaments in northern California, Elvis ornaments in Tennessee, and Our Lady of Guadalupe ornaments in areas with significant Hispanic populations… It also means we can have the right sweater weights in the right climate zones. And we can be selling larger pots and pans as gifts in Utah, where families are larger, and Scandinavian baking tools in Minnesota.”

It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to know that different markets want different products.What I didn’t recognize at the time, though, was that this localized merchandising would change the dynamics of employee engagement. And it has — for the better.

Since individual stores have more say in their merchandising, store managers and local merchandising managers have more decisions to make. This gets them to solicit more feedback from employees and spend more time “on the floor.” The ultimate dynamic is to give employees a stronger feeling of ownership and connection with the company. This is another example of the employee experience virtuous cycle.

The bottom line: Get your employees more involved in the business.

McDonald’s Showcases Glocal Strategy

If you’ve dined in both the UK and the US, then you don’t need any focus groups to figure out that Brits and Americans have different culinary palettes. So it’s no surprise that a global food company might need a slightly different strategy in each country.

An article called McDonald’s: The World’s Local Restaurant pointed out how McDonald’s business has grown significantly from introducing products tailored to the specific customer tastes in other parts of the world like Little Chorizo Melt in Britain, McItaly burger in Italy, Maharaja Mac in India, McLobster in Canada and an Ebi Filit-O in Japan.

This is similar to what Macy’s found when it tailored its local merchandising as part of its My Macy’s strategy. In Macy’s case, the local changes affected different parts of the US.

These efforts are not isolated, but represent a move to a strategy called Glocalisation. While the term was originally used by Japanese businesses in the 1980s (thanks for the reference Deepak), here’s my spin on a definition:

Tailoring products and merchandising to meet local needs while supporting global brands

Here are some differences between Glocalisation and the typical approach of just translating a global strategy into local markets:

  • Corporate marketing and merchandising groups will need to rethink their efforts. Rather than just setting strict global standards, they will also need to define parameters for local innovation.
  • Local leaders will need to take on more responsibility for innovation, and not just operate in conformance with corporate standards.
  • Innovation will need to be funded at both the global and local levels.

The bottom line: Is your strategy Glocal enough?

Barnes & Noble Leads Retailers In Customer Experience

My research plan for Forrester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index (CxPi) includes an analysis of all 14 industries in the rankings. I recently published the retail analysis which examines the 25 retailers (out of 133 total companies) in the CxPi. Here are the overall results: 

As a group, the retailers did quite well; grabbing 12 out of the top 20 spots in the rankings. Retailers also showed a modest improvement over the 2008 CxPi. Here are some insights from looking at the retail results:

  • The best retail customer experience. At the top of the list, 7 retailers ended up with “excellent” ratings: Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Macy’s, BJs Wholesale Club, and Costco Wholesale.
  • The worst retail customer experience. At the bottom of the list, 2 retailers ended up with “okay” ratings: Office Depot and Marshalls.
  • Best Buy & Macy’s got better. When we compared the 2010 results with those of the 2008 CxPi, we found that nine retailers improved. Best Buy and Macy’s made the largest gains. Going in the other direction, Toys “R” Us, Old Navy, Borders, and Staples had the largest declines.
  • Wal-Mart and  Office Depot aren’t enjoyable. The CxPi contains three underlying components: 1) meeting needs, 2) being easy to work with, and 3) enjoyability. There were only 2 ratings that fell below “okay” in any of those three areas: Both Wal-Mart and Office Depot received “poor” ratings for “enjoyability.”
  • iTunes is most difficult to work with. 24 of the retailers received “good” or “excellent” ratings in the second area, being easy to work with. The lone exception: Apple iTunes received only an “okay” rating.

The bottom line: Retailers are good, but not great in customer experience

My Macy’s Provides Recession Blueprint

Late last year, Macy’s consolidated its divisions and started tailoring in-store merchandising to the needs of different regions, an approach that it calls “My Macy’s.” It turns out that “My Macy’s” has been such a success that it is rolling out the effort across all of it’s stores. According to Karen Hoguet, Macy’s CFO:

For the spring season, the My Macy’s districts outperformed the remaining stores by 2.6 percentage points

My take: These results aren’t surprising. In a previous post, I gave “My Macy’s” a thumbs-up for following a recession strategy that I called: simplify, target, and align. During a recession, companies have less opportunity for sloppiness so they need to more effectively align their offerings and efforts to the specific need of target customers. Since the needs of customers vary across regions, it makes sense to merchandise in different ways in different regions.

The bottom line: What’s your “My <Your Company>” strategy?

Macy’s Pushes Execs In The Wrong Direction

Macy’s announced that it will be tying executive compensation to the performance of the company’s stock price over the next three years. That’s an interesting approach given this recent advice from Jack Welch:

On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy… Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.

If I were one of Macy’s shareholders, I’d rather have the execs focused a little less on the stock price and a little more on employees and customers. Maybe they should tie executive compensation to Forrester’s Customer Experience Index. Macy’s ended up tied for 15th place out of the 25 retailers we examined; well behind other department stores like Kohl’s and JCPenney.

Rather than following an outdated management approach, I suggest that Macy’s execs download my free book: “The 6 New Management Imperatives: Leadership Skills For A Radically Changed Business Environment.” In it they will find 6 alternative places to focus their energy:

  1. Invest in culture as a corporate asset
  2. Make listening an enterprisewide skill
  3. Turn innovation into a continuous process
  4. Provide a clear and compelling purpose
  5. Extend and enhance the digital fabric
  6. Practice good social citizenship

The bottom line: Isn’t it time for new management thinking?

Learn From Home Depot And Macy’s, But Not Office Depot

There was an interesting article about the latest earnings announcement of retailers like Home Depot, Macy’s, and Office Depot.

First of all, Home Depot and Macy’s are following a recession strategy that I call simplify, target, and align (okay, I just made up that name). Home Depot simplified by closing peripheral businesses like Expo Design Centers and cutting 7,000 of its staff. It targeted by keeping high in-stock levels and maintaining its incentive pay structure. The align step should come next; they need to get the organization to understand and embrace the strategy. And, I loved this quote from Home Depot’s CFO:

We believe if we take care of our associates, they’ll take care of our customers

This statement perfectly aligns with the 4th law of customer experience: Unengaged Employees Don’t Create Engaged Customers. But what makes it even more impressive is that it came from the CFO! Hopefully Home Depot can ignite the customer-centric spark that it once had.

Macy’s, on the other hand, simplified by consolidating its four divisions into a single organization and it’s targeting with an initiative called “My Macy’s,” in which it will tailor the merchandise in stores to target the customers in particular regions of the country. I feel compelled to say DUH! It shouldn’t have taken a recession for Macy’s (or any other retailer) to create localized merchandising strategies.

The article also discusses Office Depot’s disappointing earnings and weak same-store sales. Those results don’t surprise me. Office Depot ended up in last place out of the 25 retailers in Forrester’s 2008 Customer Experience Index and also had the largest drop in its ratings from last year.

The bottom line: Simplify, target, and align!

The Best And Worst Of Cross-Channel Design

We just completed a pretty extensive evaluation of the cross channel experiences of the following 16 large companies:

  • Airlines: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Air Lines
  • Banks: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wachovia, Wells Fargo
  • Department stores: JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears
  • Mp3 manufacturers: Apple, Creative, iRiver, Sony

The research used Forrester’s Cross-Channel Review methodology (which is a form of an expert reveiw) to grade the experiences across 57 criteria. The analysis looked at interactions via the Web, email, IVR, phone agent, as well as cross-channel transitions.

Here are some of the findings from the research:

  • None of the 16 companies received a passing score [+57 or higher].
  • Airlines received the highest average score [-8] and MP3 manufacturers the lowest [-29].
  • Delta received the highest score and iRiver received the lowest score.
  • There were 4 criteria that all of the companies failed:
    • “Is text legible?” (Web Site)
    • “Can customers get a confirmation of their phone conversation in another channel?” (Phone Agent)
    • “Can the user complete her goals in all required channels?” (Channel Transition)
    • “Can the user control how he interacts with the company?” (Channel Transition)
  • Results differed across the channels we evaluated:
    • Web Site: Delta was best; Sony was worst
    • IVR: American Airlines was best; iRiver, JC Penney, Southwest Airlines were worst
    • Phone agents: American Airlines was best; JC Penney was worst
    • Email: Sears, Creative were best; Southwest Airlines, Apple, iRiver were worst
    • Channel transitions: Macy’s was best; JPMorgan Chase, American Airlines were worst

I need to give a shout out to the Adele Sage, Vidya Drego, and Andrew McInnes who did most of the hard work on the research.

The bottom line: It’s not all bad news; firms that make improvements can really differentiate themselves.

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