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Inside The Sweetwater Difference: Sweetwater’s Merchandising Department

I think it’s time to give you another look “under the hood” here at Sweetwater and tell you about a very important department: Merchandising. Many companies have some variation of a “purchasing” department. The bottom-line job of those departments is to replenish inventory, and it can be treated as a very basic administrative function. Unfortunately, this really isn’t the best way to serve customers, because it really isn’t very customer centric.

So, what is merchandising, and how is it fundamentally and functionally different from purchasing? In short, merchandising is the art and science of bringing goods to market, presenting them in a way that’s best for the customer, pricing the products intelligently, and then promoting the products so that customers can easily find them and make their purchases. At Sweetwater, our merchandising philosophy is aimed at creating a best-in-class shopping experience for our customers. Combine this with our Sales Engineers, and we’ve got world-class service, a huge assortment of great products, competitive pricing, and tons of added value. All of these elements are part of the Sweetwater Difference.

Sweetwater’s Merchandising Department is a real powerhouse in terms of the talent and knowledge level of the buyers. These folks are all experienced musicians and audio engineers who are truly passionate about the products we sell. They aren’t using a “purchasing” approach and just ordering part numbers. Rather, they understand that the instruments and tools they procure will be used by creative musicians. For example, I personally love guitars. It’s amazing to me that our Merchandising Department has an extraordinarily knowledgeable, true wood-sniffing guitar lover selecting and buying the guitars we carry! And that’s a huge benefit for our customers. We will always have not only an amazing selection of guitars, but also a healthy number of unique and limited-edition models.

In addition to our guitar buyer, we have experts in place for keyboards, recording gear, live sound, drums, signal processing, guitar effects, pedals, and more. And each of the buyers has many years of experience to draw from. It truly is a powerhouse of talent!

To ensure our selection is just right and to really be effective at what they do, the Merchandising Department works closely with both Marketing and Sales, serving as the bridge between those two departments. Merchandising makes sure that our customers are able to buy as they’d like to buy. That could be as simple as understanding how guitarists’ buying habits, for example, influence how we sell strings. Rather than sell individual sets of guitar strings – which is how strings have been sold for years – we could offer 3-pack, 5-pack, and box sets (with progressively reduced prices for the larger quantities).

The bottom line is that we want to do all we can to serve our customers the way they want to be served. An essential part of this is having the right people in place in our Merchandising Department. They are instrumental in not only determining our product mix, but also developing marketing promotions and special offers, as well as solving the many day-to-day inventory issues that pop up as they work to keep our warehouse stacked to the ceiling with exactly the right gear for our customers. I know how hard our Merchandising Department works every day to make this happen, and I can’t express how thankful I am to have them as an integral part of our Sweetwater team.

Rock and Roll!

Jeff Radke
Executive Vice President of Sales
Chief Sales Officer

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