Repeat after me: Love your B.A.
Behind every great buyer is an even greater business analyst. And behind me—a still-learning, puts-her-best-foot-forward, occasionally-makes-some-flubs buyer—is a great business analyst. The BA (“business analyst” takes way too long to type…)/ buyer relationship is an interesting one. Together, they equal a business unit. Apart, they can’t really get the job done.
Buyers are in charge of setting and executing the business strategy of a particular category. This includes developing assortments and marketing plans to build sales, profitability and long-term market share. BAs let the buyer strategy come to life by analyzing sales trends, forecasting with vendors and negotiating inventory levels to distribute product across our stores in the most profitable way.
A lot of Target buyers started as BAs after undergrad, which is why the company is full of really talented and experienced merchants who understand the implications (cost + logistics) of buying decisions. They help balance out the folks like me who joined the company with a hungry strategic lens obsessed with driving sales + profitability, but with zero past merchandising experience. Fortunately, Target embraces my diverse career background and by working closely with Jo (my BA extraordinaire), I’ve learned a ton about how to be thoughtful in my planning, how to maximize productivity of the items I choose to buy and how to keep ridiculously neat + organized color-coded Excel grids.
I received some great advice when I was an MBA intern. It was simple and clear: “Love your BA. No really. Love your BA.”
I took that advice seriously, and I hope Jo recognizes how much I appreciate her support, patience and thought partnership. Aaaaand her eagles eyes. She catches everything. Many a times has she caught something fishy on a buy grid, ad entry or negotiation template. I guess it doesn’t hurt that her boss is really good at crafting homemade photo hunts – way to keep those eagle eyes sharp Matt!
Anyway, for all those future buyers out there: just remember to love your BA. They keep things running smoothly and can often times get you out of a pickle.
(PS : if you’re wondering what “smapps” is… SMAPPS = small appliances. hi-five to Jo for coining that one!)
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