The Art & Science of Modern Retail Merchandising

Jun 7, 2022

I sat down with DeAnna McIntosh of Retail Evolved in order to discuss the lost art, and science, of merchandising. What started as detailed discussion on planning, trends and in-store selling quickly became something much, much more. In this episode, we discussed over seventeen ideas and strategies for retailers in under an hour. Listen in to learn about:

  1. E-commerce and the truth about your conversion rates.
  2. How the problem isn’t your marketing, it’s your merchandising.
  3. Why and how merchandising became a lost art and science. 
  4. How to look at merchandising as the operational system for the back office part of your business
  5. How to get your products to the right people.
  6. Why your retail business needs to solve a specific problem for your customers.
  7. How to serve your customer at a deeper level.
  8. Why know your customer as well as, if not better than themselves, will put you 10 steps ahead of your competition. 
  9. Creating a better merchandising experience through headless commerce.
  10. Using apps and creating services for customer retention.
  11. Finding alternative uses for your store. 
  12. Rethinking your product mix.
  13. Pricing and sales in time of inflation.
  14. Standing for something and having a mission.
  15. Becoming a staple in your community.
  16. Adding services that solve customers’ needs.
  17. How to Create a VIP Day that also moves retail inventory. 

Find DeAnna at or, and on all social platforms at @DeannaJMcIntosh. Find out more about her Retail Business VIP Day, or learn more about the concept of VIP Days.

Welcome to Let’s Talk A Little Shop, a podcast created by ASD Market Week. Let’s talk a little shop aims to help small businesses navigate the rapidly changing retail landscape, whether you own a brick and mortar store or are an online seller (or both) this podcast provides tangible strategies to keep your cash register ringing.

Macala (00:24):

Hi everyone. It’s Macala and I am back with DeAnna McIntosh. And this week we are gonna talk about merchandising. So DeAnna, why don’t you start by introducing yourself to our guests?

DeAnna (00:38):

Hi everyone. I’m DeAnna McIntosh. I am the retail growth strategist at my company, Retailing Evolved, and I truly am so passionate about this industry and preaching about merchandising which seems like it’s a lost art form, nobody’s talking about it anymore. But we’re gonna talk about it today. 

I have a background in corporate retail as a buyer strategy manager, art director, a merchandising director, and logistics analyst. So I’ve seen the industry from a lot of different perspectives, but I’m really just passionate about driving the growth of small and mid-size retail businesses. So you can grow into big businesses.

Macala (01:21):

Awesome. So Deanna, let’s jump right into it. What are some of the biggest challenges you’re seeing retailers face today?

DeAnna (01:29):

Yes. Supply chain, no brainer, right? I mean, how many days do we go without hearing about that? It’s a huge issue which obviously impacts the cash flow, which impacts your inventory, which impacts your customer satisfaction. Supply chain is a major issue right now. It looks like it’s going to continue to be that way, unfortunately, throughout the rest of this year. And then also staffing, we’ve heard a lot about that across the board, across all industries. That’s really an issue, especially for people with brick and mortar stores right now.

Macala (02:06):

And what have been some of the challenges you’ve heard when it comes to selling online or e-commerce?

DeAnna (02:12):

Yes. e-commerce is one of my favorite topics, but from a different perspective, I really look at e-commerce as another sales channel. Whereas a lot of people in our industry see e-commerce as the bread and butter or e-commerce is the end all be all, but I don’t see it that way. 

I see it as just another channel to reach your customer. And so with that, e-commerce has its challenges that for some reason, again, a lot of people don’t like to talk about. One of the biggest ones is that low conversion rate. So last time I checked it was on average about 3%. So meaning if a hundred people come to your site, only three buy. That is critically important to know what your conversion rate. 

A lot of small businesses that I see their conversion rate is about 1.5% when we first start working together. So imagine how much marketing they have to do in order to get these people to their site to only have, you know, a couple of people buy. So that’s a huge issue which leads to that marketing issue, which is the high customer acquisition cost. It goes hand in hand. 

And so the amount of marketing dollars that you’re putting in the amount of time you’re spending on content and you’re on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, all the things trying to get these people to your site, just to get those few people converting. And so there’s just so many moving pieces in a retail business that I, especially with merchandising that we do not talk about enough, but merchandising is the glue that makes sure that all these different pieces that are moving in your business are working together to your sales plan.

Macala (04:03):

Often in our conversations, you’ve said to me, well, the problem isn’t your marketing, it’s your merchandising. Can you talk to the audience more about that in terms of the brick and mortar store, but also online.

DeAnna (04:23):

Merchandising is a term that is like this floaty cloudy word that is beautiful, but nobody really knows what it means. Like a lot of people think that it means visual merchandising and that’s one component of it. But truly merchandising is the definition of getting the right product, which is your most important thing. The right products to the right people, you know, in the right places at the right price. And I add in the right quantities with the right promotion. 

Merchandising is so many things, but I think the simplest way to explain it is that:

“Merchandising is the operational system for the back office part of your business.” 

And when it comes to marketing and merchandising, here’s another quote that I love: 

“Marketing moves people towards goods, merchandising, moves goods towards the people.” 

They’re both working to get the goods where they need to go, but merchandising is product facing. It’s all about your pricing, your customers. So getting your products to your people. They work hand in hand, but merchandising is everything that happens before you market your products. 

In corporate settings, I love to explain this because people don’t see the side of retail really, unless you’ve been in the corporate sector, but merchandising is the glue. The buyers are the merchants, they’re the glue. So everything starts and ends with them. So it starts with your financial plan having one (we gotta all start there right?). So how much in sales do you wanna do this year? And then from there we work with the inventory planning team to say, okay, awesome.

If my goal is $10 million this year, what does that actually look like? What does that look like by department? So top bottoms, pants and so forth. And then how many skews does that mean? You know, if I have a sales plan for a 50,000 for tops, how many actual skews do I need to bring in to hit that goal? And then from there you’re sourcing, or if you make your own products, you’re working with your design team development team to fill those gaps, fill those holes. So you have 50 skews, you source them, or you create them. 

From there, you’re working with production. All right, how much are we going to price these products? What are they going to cost? Which factories are we sending these to, you know, negotiating all those details. And then from there, the next step is visual merchandising. So now you’re like, okay, I have this physical product sample, where am I going to place it in my brick and mortar store or on my website.

So remember this is the first time that I’m separating those two merchandising for both brick and mortar, and e-commerce. It’s just what you do with it. The output is a little different. So then you’re like, okay, “Where am I placing the products?” And then marketing comes into play. You then ask, “How are we going to promote the products?” So you’ve just done all these other functions, the planning, the strategy, the pricing, like everything. 

And now you’re talking about marketing, that’s the part that’s always missing. Typically I see people buying the products and then you go straight to market, but you’re not thinking about all these other aspects that go into it. So that’s where merchandising comes into play. It’s truly like creating this little you’re the middle of the wheel. And then you’re working with all these functions in your business to make sure that they all work together. So everyday you have a plan, your content is connected to something because of that plan. So hopefully that makes sense.

Macala (08:21):

No, it really does. So can you delve deeper into how retailers can kind of take some of that methodology and build better merchandising plans around what they’re buying at the markets that they attend because you know, there’s hundreds or thousands of vendors with products across the board. So how would they, how do they do that when they’re in real time at the market?

DeAnna (09:03):

Yes. Great question. Well one I don’t wanna forget this tool is called the FAVES app. Look that up because that will help you when you’re there. It helps you to like, you can scan products and take pictures of them and load it into the app. So you can organize everything and keep track of your budget. Super important. So, but yeah, so showing up with a plan, knowing how many skews you need, but also not even just like I need 50 tops, but if you can get to this level of detail, try but know like I need four white tops or four white, long sleeve tops. 

If you can get down to that level of detail, which we do in planning, that is like a precise science, that’s a science part of merchandising, but that’ll at least help guide you more. So you’re not just like you don’t end up with 10 white tops. You know, so just go with a bit more granular focus on what you’re doing, but when you have that plan, if you know that in October, the message is cozy sweaters, you know that you’re buying sweaters for this specific campaign. It helps your focus more. That makes sense. So really just knowing what the trends are, which trends you wanna stand for, which feed into this plan that you have, which feeds into you going to market with a pristine focus on what you’re doing.

Macala (10:30):

And where do you usually advise retailers to find trends if they can’t subscribe to the very pricey but awesome trend services. That’s a big thing. So where do you look and where do you advise your clients to look?

DeAnna (10:44):

My favorite website for trends is It shows you trends from all industries all over the world, the coolest, craziest things. One of my biggest tips is to not think of yourself as a retailer, think of yourself first as a business that serves your customer and solves a specific problem. And if you don’t know what the problem is, find it like creating a problem that your store is solving. That’s how you never go out of business. But yeah, when you stop and you’re like remove yourself from, I just sell products, you should do more. 

You should also sell services. You should ask yourself “How can I serve my customer at a deeper level?” That’s how you start thinking more innovatively. So then when you go to TrendHunter and you see that somebody in Japan has some kind of crazy litter box, I saw it was like a spaceship litter box. I don’t know. You know, you see that and you might be inspired by a piece of that that would connect to your business. That has nothing to do with the pet business, but it’s just like, don’t box yourself into this retail box.

Macala (11:58):

And you’re, you’re talking about like individuation in your merchandising. There’s two things in there. So first, can you provide some examples of how someone could frame solving a problem and providing solutions through their merchandise, to the audience?

DeAnna (12:21):

Yes, let’s see. I had, and actually this is a good example of somebody who was getting ready to start a store thinking that she wanted to open a store. Self-care was important for her, so she wanted to open up a store with self-care items. And so I was like, okay, well we start talking more and more and more. I asked her:

  • What kind of products do you wanna sell? 
  • What kind of, who’s your customer? 
  • What are you doing? 

So as we kept talking, and by her answers, I realized she didn’t really wanna be a retailer. She just wanted to help people with their self-care routine. So then we started talking about that. And so her concept and mindset changed from being a self-care store to helping people create their own routines for self-care every single day. So in that respect to me and to her now she’s a service provider first, and a retailer second. So she’s actually selling routines for self-care that just happened to have products built into that routine.

Macala (13:30):

And that is ridiculously smart and it ties right into the second part of the question. How do you use your merchandising to stand out from other competitors, whether there’s one or there’s a hundred that may have that same product? So how do you do that? And then how do you maybe start to look for other products that aren’t as readily available to tie into helping with that as well?

DeAnna (14:00):

Yes. So how do you use merchandise to compete with people selling similar products? My answer to that is to look at yourself as what problem are you solving? Because a lot, a good chunk of businesses start by just selling products, honestly. I think that’s okay. And for some people it might be, but for me, I think retail, at least the future, the evolution of it is more lifestyle driven, community driven. 

People want to be connected to the retailer and there’s a lot less people who have a connection, a true deep connection with their customers. Then you think so it’s actually not that hard to be 10 steps above your competition. And the easy way to do that is to take some time to truly think about who your customer is and think about them. 

Like so intimately to where, what does this person do when they wake up, like before their feet even hit the floor, what are they doing? And how can you be inserted seamlessly into that? Like, you know, does your customer meditate? I don’t know, you know, what are they doing in every area of their day? 

Take a few hours and just jot down every single detail and then figure out where you can slot your brand in there. Because once you touch every area of their life, you become their best friend. Like you become a part of them in their routine and they ‘re essential at this point. And that’s how you can connect to them at a deeper level and truly outshine the competition. Who’s just trying to push products.

Macala (15:42):

You’ve touched on something interesting, like integration into a customer’s life. So if someone starts out selling in one category, how important is it to diversify into a wider array of products, making more of a lifestyle offering, whether that’s skincare, accessories and basics or some interesting mix. Can you stick to just the category of apparel or do in order to be successful these days and successful at merchandising as well as retail, you need to kind of think of it in the wider context, just like Anthropologie or Free People do.

DeAnna (16:23):

I think at some point you’re going to want to diversify, you know in some way, shape or form, because the goal is to one, serve your customers and to make money. So if we think about increasing the amount of money somebody spends with you every time they shop, if you just have apparel, okay, cool. But like, I’m gonna need a necklace. I’m gonna need rings. I’m gonna need other things. And I would love to buy that from my favorite retailer, but they don’t offer that. 

So you’re forcing your customer to go somewhere else or to just shop somewhere else when they’re looking for an entire outfit. They’re not even considering you. So I do think that you’ll want to diversify, but at the same time, if you’re like, Nope, I just wanna be apparel. No. Cool. 

Then you’re gonna have to add other things though. You’re gonna have to add services or events or some other type of way to connect with your customer to keep serving them. Maybe it’s a partnership with a brand who does sell accessories. Not sure, but yeah, I think you cannot be single-minded. You have to be flexible in retail.

Macala (17:36):

So by diversifying your merchandising and in order to be profitable, that does include shopping across different categories. If selling a product is a key focus, is what you’re saying. So then talk a little bit more to that. So let’s say someone is historically known for accessories and maybe like small leather goods. How do they go about figuring out what to offer next?

DeAnna (18:09):

Yes. I think, honestly, this is simple, I guess, but know your customer. You have to watch them all the time, right? Like look at TikTok or wherever they are and see what they’re doing, what they’re wearing, know what other brands that they’re shopping for and ask them. Go in your stories. You know, like I think social media is a good and a bad thing. It has its moments. 

But one good thing is that it gives you the ability to truly talk directly to your customer. I can literally go on Instagram right now and post a question for my audience to look at and answer, do it, talk to your customers, you know, host events, host innovative things to get them talking to you. Because of one thing that I’ve learned from being in this industry, if you ask your customers to tell you something, especially the bad things, they will tell you. So just ask and there’s nothing wrong with experimenting either, you know, try a collaboration maybe with a brand that sells a type of category that you’re looking to get into and sell that in your store and see how it does,

Macala (19:20):

So how do they, how would you recommend merchandising services and events along with physical goods?

DeAnna (19:35):

In my dream world retail would be based on a headless commerce model. And headless e-commerce, but there’s not this template-based grid system on the website. Yes, it works. But how much, how many other options have we really tried? You know, like what about interactive ways to see and engage with your customer on your website without just the blocks, because then it just looks like we’re just selling products again. 

A tool that I love is called Video Ask (it’s all over my website). It’s a video way to ask your customers questions or like your live chat instead of it being a little button. The traditional button that we see where we know it’s a chat bot, have it via Video Ask, where it’s literally the, a person saying, hi, how can I help you? Let me know? And you can respond back to them via video, audio, or text.

Macala (20:44):

I love that. What you’re bringing up is like providing customer service. Yeah. The mediums that your customers are more comfortable with – like video, some are auditory, and some phone based text. What are the results that you’ve seen from kind of adopting that as a new strategy in customer service?

DeAnna (21:14):

Absolutely. It really helps with retention. So again, with the marketing conversations, a lot of it is driven on getting new customers. Not enough is talked about really keeping the customers you have and growing how much they spend with you. And that’s where a lot of this stuff comes in. 

For example, when I come across a new brand, I buy something. Awesome. But what else is there? Like, how else can I engage with this brand? So when you have these services or events and things to really drive that connection home, we see absolutely higher customer retention rates, higher conversion rates, because again, you’re connected. So these customers will pay more for whatever good you have than this other person because they have that connection with you.

Macala (22:04):

So that is a great example. I think of another thing that you speak a lot about, which is increasing your sales without increasing your marketing spend. So do you have a few more examples of some of the innovative ways that you focused on retention to help your retailers without the complete outgo of marketing dollars?

DeAnna (22:27):

Yes. So marketing, I like to think of it as a tool that really just amplifies what you already have. There are a million things that you can do to your website or your brick and mortar store to optimize it for more sales before you spend a dollar on ads. So invest in looking at your UX on your website, the user journey, the user experience. 

At the Retail Innovation Conference, there was so much talk about, about UX and how, you know, if you’re, where should your add to cart button be and just all these little tinkering things, but invest in that because if you’re gonna spend thousands of dollars in getting people to your site, we wanna make sure that they actually convert. 

So for example, adding the live options as I was mentioning earlier with chat. Another example is actually making the site easy to navigate. It seems so simple, but just a lot of people don’t have a “Shop All” button and some people hate that. Some people don’t, but again, if I’m coming to your site and I’m like, I’m looking, for example, when I shop for photo shoots, I need an, a dress or whatever. I need a ring, I need all these things. 

So if I’m going to a new brand’s website, I wanna “Shop All,” because I’m gonna go through your whole entire thing and pick what I want and just add it all to cart. Do not make me go from tops. Then look at that. Now I gotta remember what tops I put in my cart. You know what I’m saying? 

Like make it, when you go through your site and even in your store, like take your best selling category and then look at how easy it is for somebody to shop that category, and to buy other things that align with that category. So those are some things, but I’m trying to think of some others.

One of my favorite things is like, I love gifts so having a gift bar in your store year round. Make yourself a destination for that. And a store here that I love. One of my clients in Atlanta owns Sustainable Home Goods. It’s in Ponce City Market. She has a second location in Serenbe, but she has a gift space in the store. So every time I have a new visitor come to my house, I go to her store and I curate their own little welcome gift box for them. Think of how you can make yourself a monopoly in your customer’s mind. So she has a monopoly in my mind, she’s the only person that I’m going to get these welcome gifts from. So it’s just kind of again, thinking outside of the retail box to create experiences and products and services that still align with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Macala (25:29):

That’s another unique way of using merchandising in order to retain customers and keep them coming back. So let’s take that example and get a little bit more tactical. What are the average retail price points of the gifts that you buy for people that you curate into these little customized packages?

DeAnna (25:53):

What she actually did, create one size box, it was just $60, and she had little travel size items or smaller size items. So she did have to do a lot of work to figure out which items fit within the margin that she wanted to hit. Got it, got it. They set that $60 box. You go in, you pick three items, put it in the box. It already has the filler paper in there. And then you go check out, they close it up, wrap it, and get a card at the counter. It was $60 at retail, and she just had to negotiate the cost for those smaller items.

Macala (26:50):

You mentioned margins, with inflation and with shipping costs and logistics, like I feel that margins have started to be eroded a bit. So what are the average margins retailers are seeing now and how are they coming up with creative or unique ways to improve margins?

DeAnna (27:16):

Yes. I’ve seen overall the margin it’s changing, but I’ve seen a lot of people doing price increases as well. But I think what I’d say to that, so it’s kind of flat, but I’d say do not just increase your entire assortment, like 10% or 15%, to really look at your entire product assortment. There’s always gonna be places that you can squeeze. Yeah. So, your best selling items, people are gonna notice if you change those prices. And they’ll probably be really pissed at you, but there’s a lot of other items that aren’t best sellers that you could probably increase the price by, you know, 10%, 15% or whatever the case is. And they won’t really notice and nobody will really care and that will at least make up for a good chunk of that margin. You might be missing from the best seller product. Know your numbers, I preach that a lot, but know your numbers and apply the increases where you can so that you don’t have to do across all the items you sell.

Macala (28:27):

What are you seeing in terms of “best sellers” for retailers in store or online? Is it staple best sellers or has there been a continual best seller created by current market trends?

DeAnna (28:46):

That’s a good question. I think it depends on the retailer. Some retailers have a true basic business, you know, so they might have some trendy things, but then they also have the things that sell day in and day out like staple t-shirts or socks. I really think it depends on the retailer, but knowing that, a lot of retailers do have the opportunity to have a basic business that they’re not thinking about. 

Which will help stabilize some of the things that we’re talking about, because if you’re risking your entire assortment, your entire budget on trends versus having maybe 60% trend, 40% basic, or whatever the mix is right for you. But you know, that 40% is pretty steady. You know, you don’t, you’re not impacted as much by when massive trend shifts happen. 

So really looking at the business and seeing if there’s an opportunity for you to do basics. Like if you sell a lot of transparent or chiffon things, you should sell tank top. Really just being in tune with what’s going on, like we’ve talked about, with what’s trending, but also your own business and finding those hidden opportunities.

Macala (30:14):

Have you seen retailers kind of gravitating to the online marketplaces with success or lack thereof? Cuz I know retail, you know, sometimes you really wanna see it and touch it, feel it. What has been the impact of the wholesale online ordering sites like Faire or other private sites through the trade shows, that they attend things like that.

DeAnna (30:39):

I’ve seen that people still really value in person, especially for apparel and things that are so important for you to know the quality of it, the tangible quality of something. You cannot replace that at all. But also, and I’m working on something for a client that I’m thinking about for furniture and the home industry, and I’m trying to search online. It is a lot more wrangling versus showing up at this trade show. 

I have all the information on this, the app for the trade show you know, or the person right there in my face and I can get things done and move on. So I think people do like the convenience of being able to source products online. Yes. But the backend stuff like the chasing and the runaround, not being able to touch things, makes it a bit more difficult. And especially for brands, the brands who are showing online for the first time have a really difficult time.

Macala (31:51):

So as we move into the rest of 2022 and 2023, what are some of the strategies that you’re advising clients to kind of start considering?

DeAnna (32:02):

Yes, definitely. Obviously I’m gonna keep saying services and event. It’s still everybody looking.

Macala (32:09):

Go into that. Talk about how a retailer can start to offer services. If so, what type, or if they’re gonna do an event in their store, what does that look like? So, throw it down and throw it out.

DeAnna (32:22):

Well, I’d say something that I think we’re gonna see emerging. It is emerging. It’s truly community driven events. An example that I learned about at the Retail Innovation Conference was Footlocker. They actually have community stores and they have community events within the store environment. 

And the one that they were talking about was I think they had 20 local artists come into the store and it was a collaboration with New Balance and I forget what they exactly did. I think they designed the sneakers, but it’s connecting them to the community. That’s a big one. I think retailers definitely have the opportunity to reach out into the community that they’re a part of and find new ways to collaborate. So whether it’s, I don’t know, Mimosa Mondays and you know, things like that. Or think about how you can give back to your community.

This is another big one. You know, if you are a women’s store, how can you connect with women in your community who need help or who need support. There are so many things that you can do with other small businesses within your community who need exposure. 

So again, remove that “I’m here. I sell products.” No, you have a space where you happen to sell products, but the ultimate goal is to serve this problem for your customer. So what other people around you are serving these same problems that you can connect with?

Macala (34:09):

It sounds like there should be a level of more specificity in the problems they solve for whomever the audience is. So you could specialize in natural skincare and organic products designed for women of color, or more specifically black women, that aren’t based on like more mainstream market things. Because there are differences. Or I’m just throwing some examples out there to kind of get people thinking. Right. Or, you know, you could do something really cool with, like you’re saying men’s grooming products for men that might be in larger bodies. Like you can look hip and hot and still be a little honky. Is that kind of where you’re going with it?

DeAnna (34:55):

That’s it, really niching down!

Macala (34:58):


DeAnna (34:59):

You cannot serve everybody. If you are trying to serve everybody, then you are competing with everybody. So the further you niche down a good, good way to look at it too is Regina Anaejionu, but she’s a coach in the service business world. She called it “Carving Your Monopoly.” So it’s like, who do you serve? And then how can you add an element to that that nobody else is doing? 

An example is myself. I’m a retail consultant and how I serve people is different. So for example, I do VIP Days. A retail client can hire me for one day, we hash out your strategy. Like what’s working, what’s not working. Where do we wanna see your business going? What are those new things we can infuse into your business to help you grow? And we do it in a day because you guys are busy and I hear it all the time. 

VIP Day Retail Busines

Macala (36:16):

Let’s talk real quick about VIP Days. We both love VIP days. So why don’t you tell people a little bit about the concept, where you learned it ,and maybe is there a way for a retailer to even design a VIP day for their clientele?

DeAnna (36:32):

Ooh, I like that.

Macala (36:33):

Right Let’s talk about VIP days, because you and I love them.

DeAnna (36:39):

We do. We do. A VIP Day is a three to eight hour day where you solve a specific problem for your client. We learned about it from Jordan Gill of Systems Saved Me. She has a whole program about it. How could retailers do it? Well, one thing I’ll say is that it’s not just a day. We should say that.The disclaimer is for you, it’s just that day that we meet. But for us it is research. Like as soon as you book, there’s a questionnaire and then we’re doing research and we’re actually doing a lot of work to prepare for that day so that we can get a lot done on that day. And then there’s sometimes deliverables after, but how a retailer could do a VIP Day. 

Macala (37:33):

Styling a home in a day to help them stage a room?

DeAnna (37:36):

Exactly. That’s a good one.

Macala (37:38):

I’ve been looking forever for someone that offers fashion styling VIP Days for petite, curvy girls. As we’ve been talking, maybe like that’s another idea, and that’s a service thing, the retailer just happens to have the products that tie into that. The problem that they’re solving for their customer!

DeAnna (37:58):

Yes. That’s so true.

Macala (38:00):

There are people that are readily willing to pay you to like help them style their rooms, help them dress — in a day. Versus having them go to 15 different stores over a couple days in order to achieve one thing. Shopping can be overwhelming for some people.

DeAnna (38:19):

For sure. That’s true. And you made me think of like a kid’s store, get your entire, back to school wardrobe or shopping done in a day. If you sell office supplies or clothes for kids. That’s interesting.

Macala (38:39):

I know we’ve gone from B2B to over to B2C to back again. I think that is why we decided to have this conversation, is to help retailers reframe the way they look at what they’re selling as not being so purely transactional. And to also introduce the idea that they could be more experiential or service-based – to provide an outcome. And then the win-win is you’ve got a customer that you’ve helped and they’re gonna keep coming back to you no matter what, because you helped them achieve something or solve a challenge that they had.

DeAnna (39:13):

Right. When you’re saying that too, it makes me think, because I feel like a lot of retailers are stuck in a rut cuz it’s been rough, you know?

Macala (39:23):

Yeah. It has been.

DeAnna (39:24):

Retail’s a hard business, but it’s been rough these last couple years. And I do feel like there’s a lot of retailers who are asking themselves is this really what I wanna be doing or something’s missing. I need something else. And I truly feel that it’s because they’re missing that, that deep connection to that customer or having a problem to solve, you know? And you can change that around. We just talked about many ways to do that. Find a local community organization you can partner with, or change up your mission. Have a mission! Like something, but find another thing. 

I keep talking about the Retail Innovation Conference. There were a lot of good nuggets. For example, Sackcloth & Ashes, every time you buy a blanket, the company gives one to the homeless. The founder said:

Find something that you love and then find an injustice you absolutely hate, and marry those two things together. And you found something that won’t feel like work. 

And I was like, “Oh yes, that is it!” It’s just all about, you gotta know who you are, what you want, and that changes. You know? So it’s so easy to change what looks like a retail business from the outside to be more of a service business. A lot of us, we’re in the service business. So it’s just like, look at your model and throw retail out the window and rethink what you’re doing and see how you can do it in a fresh, new way.

Macala (41:11):

I love it. So Deanna, where can everyone find you?

DeAnna (41:16):

Yes. So or, but on all social platforms at @DeannaJMcIntosh.

Macala (41:25):

Awesome. And then I will link to those in the show notes and everything else for you guys. And I will also link to her Retail Business VIP Day, cuz I think many of you in the retail community could benefit from just doing that. offering, she has, and it’s at a fantastic price point too. You know, I’ve talked to Diana for a couple hours in the last few weeks and she’s blown my mind, and I can only imagine what she could do in a day.

DeAnna (41:54):

Thank you so much for having me.


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Macala Rose

Macala Rose

Macala Rose is a writer and researcher who specializes in health, wellness, and consumer behavior. Her expertise has been published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, and many more publications. When she’s not writing about consumer behavior or food, she can be found scouring for deals in antique shops or on the back of her horse. You can with her on Linkedin at or via