June 1, 2007, 12:00 AM

The merchandise traffic cop

(Page 3 of 3)

Art vs. science

Technology can’t do it all, of course, and merchandise managers will continue to inject some of their gut feeling into merchandise plans, experts say. “There’s a lot of argument today about art versus science in merchandise planning,” says Hung LeHong, an analyst with research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. “Merchandise optimization injects science into decisionmaking rather than art. But there’s no way a computer can tell you that you need a blue shirt here and a black shirt there. That’s a fashion decision. That’s art.”

But with its new web-enabled system, Sport Chalet will blend its art and science in a more systematic and effective way, Kaminsky says.

“When blending the art and science of merchandising, we’ll all have quicker access to accurate information,” he says. “So if things are turning out better or worse than we had expected, we will immediately know about it and can start asking one another questions about how to build on good things or fix problems.”

paul@verticalwebmedia

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