Week 5: Personal Contributions
As I have discussed in some of my earlier blogs, one of the greatest strengths of the Bloomingdale’s internship program is that employees, including executives, value the opinions and contributions of the interns. During our meetings with executives and advisors for our intern group project and during my mentoring with my specific buying department, Bloomingdale’s employees actively seek out intern opinions because they think that we offer creative, fresh and innovative ideas to the company in light of an evolving marketplace. Because of this mindset (which I know is not prevalent in all workplaces for interns), I have already been able to personally contribute to Bloomingdale’s through specific projects.
During my shadowing time with my buying (RTW) group I have been able to attend market appointments and business meetings where the leaders solicit my opinion specifically. For example, this past week I shadowed my buyer to a roundtable discussion on a program that the buyers use every day named Stella. Ultimately, Stella is a program that requires several approvals (including buyer approval, copy approval, vendor approval and site approval) to get a product with all of its details live onto the Bloomingdale’s site. Stella has experienced delays between interactions with the copy team and the buying team, which I have witnessed by using Stella to approve items. As a result, they are considering taking out the buying team as the final approval since there are numerous approvals before them required. The woman in charge of the meeting, knowing that I was an intern, asked my opinion on the topic of removing buyer approvals (which I knew my buyer wanted to do). I had also just shadowed an MMC (the person in charge of coordinating the photographing, copy and uploading of the merchandise) so I knew her opinion as well. Therefore, my input was that eliminating the buyer approval would allow the MMC to have more authority and responsibility (which they generally want) and it would expedite the process which is too long (approximately 3 weeks for the item to go live).
Other than day to day contributions such as my input at meetings (discussed above), analyzing sales and reports each day, small miscellaneous tasks assigned from my buying team and my group project (discussed in earlier blog posts), I have had two main personal contributions. My first contribution I created out of my own initiative after I sat in on a meeting with the site team for Bloomingdale’s.com. This meeting centered on how our brands (Theory in particular) were struggling on sales on .COM but doing well in the stores. In the meeting, the site team and buyers discussed possible solutions such as the sequencing of items, promotions and featuring them in look books such as “The Work Shop”. The site team asked our team if we could submit recommendations for additions to the Work Shop which is an assortment of business casual and business professional clothing for women. I talked to my supervisor and submitted my recommendations for the work shop based off of 4 conditions: 1. Items that we have on replenishment (a constant re-order because they are basics) 2. Items that are new 3. Items that we have a lot on stock at Chesire (the .COM warehouse) and 4. Items that are selling extremely well. I created an Excel spreadsheet with my suggestions and reviewed them with my buyer before she submitted them to the site team who has already uploaded my recommendations to the work shop. As a result, some of these items that were featured on the work shop have actually been selling better on .COM!
My second contribution I have just begun and I will present at the individual contribution symposium at the completion of the internship. Each intern is required to complete an individual project that is assigned by their buying department and to present their one page findings on this symposium day. For my assignment, I will be creating an informational pamphlet that will be emailed to all Bloomingdale’s stores. This pamphlet will include information on three new brands that my buying department will be introducing. One of my greatest insights about leadership at Bloomingdale’s is that the leaders of the store and the buyers (merchants) are extremely divided. This pamphlet which will includes vendor contacts, brand history and culture, the items being bought and how they should be styled so that the stores familiarize themselves with these new brands that the merchants bought. Therefore, it will be a bridge that I have recognized is necessary for the gap between the merchants and the stores and actually should be reimplemented for existing brands. If the stores want to be able to passionately merchandise and sell these brands then they need to be educated on the brand, the items and why we bought them. Additionally, it is important to create and maintain a relationship with our vendors and this is one way that I will be able to interact directly with the vendor.