Stein Mart (NYSE:SMRT) is a national retailer of fashion merchandise for men and women, accessories, shoes and home furnishings. Currently operating 264 stores in 29 states, Stein Mart’s mission is to provide high quality fashion apparel at prices comparable to off-price retail chains.
Stein Marts success stems from their strong desire of providing the highest quality fashion apparel with brand and designer names, private label and exclusive merchandise. As of January 29, 2011 there were 264 stores in operation in 29 states and the District of Columbia. These store locations are primarily located in the Southeast and Texas, and in power shopping centers that are close to upscale residential areas. Walking in to a Stein Mart store you are presented with lifestyle groupings of apparel and accessories for men and women based on career, special occasion wear, modern clothing, casual or trends at discount prices. Customers can design their shopping experience around their preferences for the merchandise which helps to promote multiple purchases.
Unlike other discount retailers Stein Mart utilizes sales through their website, www.steinmart.com, to enhance the on-line shopping experience. They offer a limited selection of merchandise compared to store fronts mainly focusing on their pricier selections of career and boutique clothing as well as home furnishings.
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Khol’s Corporation (NYSE:KSS): Kohl’s is a family-oriented department store located nationwide that sells moderately priced apparel, footwear and accessories for women, men and children. The stores available inventory is attributable to regional preferences but appeals to all customers interested in classic, modern classic and contemporary styles.
TJX Companies, Inc (NYSE:TJX): In the United States TJX Companies, Inc is composed of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Homegoods. Their 2,000+ stores offer 20-60% reduce priced apparel for men, women, juniors and children, as well as home fashions to the United States.  The stores primarily target the middle to upper middle income customer. Canada has Winners, Marshalls and Homesense while in Europe there is T.K. Maxx and Homesense. 
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Threat of new entrants: Medium – Stein Mart has several barriers to entry that will reduce the threat of new companies entering the industry. Stein Mart and its competitors are mature companies in a mature industry which prevents any new company from growth. The use of the Stein Mart Platinum MasterCard® and Preferred Customer Card programs help to establish incentives for the price conscious consumer to continue shopping for more savings at Stein Mart. The stable inventory of brand names that are popular at Stein Mart will keep the loyal consumers continually purchasing at a store that offers them at discounted prices, like Stein Mart.
Power of suppliers: High – Stein Mart’s suppliers are what keep this retail company in business, without any inventory the company’s margins would greatly suffer. In particular, DSW, Inc. supplies Stein Mart with its entire shoe inventory and therefore holds a very strong control over their operations in providing brand name shoes to consumers.
Power of buyers: Medium – Stein Mart is a company that provides specifically for consumers that have restricted discretionary income and are incredibly price sensitive. For these consumers only concerned about price it is relatively easy for them to pick a competitor over Stein Mart. Some apparel options like special occasion wear or business attire is purchased only periodically and for Stein Mart this is a relatively large percentage of their product offering so the power of buyers in this market is very high.
Availability of substitutes: High – The possibility of a consumer selecting a competitor’s product that has similar pricing, style, color, size and availability is very high in this industry. Fashion fluctuates but every retail company is trying to capitalize off a certain trend or style, therefore many closely related products are offered as substitutes from the high-end and expensive style and sold in stores like Stein Mart and their competitors.
Competitive rivalry: High – In this retail industry the competitive nature arises because the companies are quite similar. There is little to no differentiation between products sometimes, only on the price tag and who manufactured the product because many designs of product mimic one particular fashion.
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