March 28, 2022

The Future of Buying With AI

Kameron Keesling
Kameron Keesling, VP Merchandise Solutions, Sam's Club
Kristen Martin
Kristen Martin, Sr. Merchant, Housewares, Sam's Club

This week in the retail seminar, Kameron Keesling, VP Merchandise Solutions, and Kristen Martin, Senior Merchant, Housewares from Sam’s Club introduced how they are using data to drive merchandising decisions. Sam’s club is highly driven by its member-obsessed culture, and they understand the importance of having the right number of items and serving quality merchandise and service that members love. Therefore, the assortment process becomes particularly important for the development of Sam’s Club.

We are living in an Information Age with exposure to an explosive amount of data. Undoubtedly, buyers can make a more comprehensive decision when choosing merchandise with more information available to analyze. However, simultaneously, the process of filtering the data has become unprecedently complicated. With the data coming into the system ceaselessly, Sam’s Club strives to work with efficiency. With the integration of Artificial Intelligence, their determining assortment process has changed drastically.

To make the club assortment process more proactive in the future, Sam’s Club is planning on dividing its club assortment process into two sides: Science & Art.

On the science side, instead of Kristen, the Senior Merchant, gathering all the data directly from the customers and market all on her end, Kameron, the VP of Merchandise Solutions, will help generate all the member/item relevant data (such as current member, trade area, and item attributes, similar club/item, projected, prior sales, etc.), and this process is heavily driven by AI. With the organized data, he can then conduct a list of items regardless of the category number, which is basically a process of creating a research data-supported guideline for the merchants to refer to later.

Then on the art side, Kristen, the Senior Merchant, will become the “item hunter”, which requires her to have a keen eye on catching what’s being loved by the market. Using the filtered and focused data provided by the science team, she is able to save a great amount of time sifting through the data and instead put more focus on deciding what merchandise to go after based on the trend and members’ feedback to satisfy needs more precisely and create more excitement for the customers.

Through this process, members can experience a highly relevant assortment and are always able to find new, exciting items on the shelf, making the grocery shopping trip more fun and feeling less like a task that has to be completed.

Developing Excellent Interviewing Skills

Ed Perinelli

This week Retail You! welcomed guest speaker, Ed Perinelli, talent acquisition partner for the Northeast and Southeast divisions for Bridgestone. He provided participants with an inside look at what recruiters look for behind behavioral interviews. Ed spoke about the strengths of a behavioral interview and encourages future candidates to provide a four-part response to behavioral questions known as STAR: Situational, task, action, and result. He mentioned probing questions and which ones are the most asked, provided advice for phone interviews, and how to effectively close an interview. The presentation had students engaged in thinking about potential questions they could be asked, inquiring about what a resume should look like, and asking questions on tips and tricks to ace an interview.