the power of the BU

So, here’s the thing. There’s a group of three people who are so aligned they make decisions easily because they already know what the other people would say. They rearrange priorities consistently to ensure that they are keeping their fellow group members on-timing, they keep a multi-million dollar business running smoothly week after week, and they have been known to blast some of the hottest tunes on Friday mornings when most people haven’t even had their first cup of coffee.

These three people? They’re the Ice Cream BU.

While I might be a tad bit (or completely) biased, I am convinced that I have the amazing privilege to work in one of the best “BUs” or “business units” in the company. In merchandising, a business unit is a team made up of a buyer, a business analyst (BA), and a merchandise specialist (MS). This team is responsible for certain categories, and they run all aspects of those specific businesses.

For a quick breakdown, this is generally how roles and responsibilities are broken out amongst these three people:

  • Buyer: Creates/drives strategy in making assortment and promotional decisions
  • BA: Ensures strategy success by optimizing supply chain and ensuring inventory is at the right place, at the right time, in the right amount
  • MS: Facilitates item-level and vendor-specific maintenance

As I’ve mentioned before, Target is all about the team and being a collaborative team member. Personally, I feel that this is most evident in the BU and how the effectiveness of the BU’s ability to work together can greatly impact business results.

For example, a buyer can have the greatest strategy in the world…but if their BA can’t get the inventory to the store profitably and the items aren’t set up correctly by the MS, the business will fail miserably. On the flip side, an MS and BA can have the items set up perfectly and the supply chain optimized perfectly…but if the strategy the buyer has created doesn’t complement the reality of how inventory can flow throughout the country, the sales will never materialize.

As you can see, the BU is where the merchandising magic happens. We sit near each other and we are in constant communication through e-mail…or more frequently through yelling over cube walls. If a BU is running smoothly, there’s a good chance that the businesses they run are as well.

Overall, as a BA, I rely on my fellow BU-mates (or “halfsies” as we call each other) to be able to do my job every day, and they rely on me as well. The trust that we have in each other is a major factor in how much we have been able to accomplish during this past summer, and it’s what’s setting us up for success as we are beginning to plan summer 2014.

So, while I may be biased that I’m in the best BU ever…I still think I’m right. I mean, how many BU’s have secret hand signals?!

Interested in a career in buying, planning and brand management? Search and apply for jobs here.

  • Dejah Foster

    September 21st, 2013

    Hi, I wanted to know what internship position did you have when you got an offer as a business analyst?

    Reply
  • Austin Wentzlaff

    September 25th, 2013

    Hi, I’m a Gustavus student as well! I will be graduating this spring with a degree in Financial Economics. I was hoping I could get more information on how to apply to be a Merchandise Planning Business Analyst and other similar roles. Thank you!

    Reply
  • elisa

    elisa

    September 26th, 2013

    Hi Austin-

    Thanks for your interest in Target! There are a few ways to connect with us:

    1) Check with the Gustavus career center to see if Target will be attending an upcoming career fair. Career fairs are a great way to meet our recruiters in person and see which positions would be the right fit for you.
    2) Openings are posted on our careers site, linked below, when they become available

    https://corporate.target.com/careers/college-students

    Thanks!
    Elisa & the Target Careers team

  • Jenni Harms

    September 26th, 2013

    Hi, I am also a Gustavus senior and I am looking for any openings as a Business Analyst Role for Target. Alaina- your blog is awesome to read and it makes me really interested and excited about opportunities that Target has to offer! I am graduating this spring with a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Economics. Thanks!

    Reply
  • JENNIFER STEWART

    October 22nd, 2016

    YES I AGREE. A COMPANY SHOULD BE RUN THE BEST WAY THAT IT CAN BE WITH VERY GOOD EMPLOYEES. AS I WAS READING THIS ARTICLE; I WAS THINKING ABOUT HOW I WOULD CLEAN THE STORE BECAUSE I HAVE SEEN FOOD HIDING IN THE STORES FOR YEARS. I WOULD BRING A NAIL FILE WITH ME TO TRY AND GET THE FOOD OUT FROM IN BETWEEN THE CABINETS. THAT WAS THE ONLY IDEA THAT I COULD THINK OF THAT WOULDN’T GET IN MY WAY WHILE I AM WALKING AROUND DURING THE DAY. MY FAVORITE CLEANING CLEANSER IS PINE SOL WITH WATER IN A SPRAY BOTTLE.

    Reply

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