If your business's processes cover everything from maintaining data consistency to creating and keeping sales reports, you know how challenging data management can be. An integrated business solution can streamline operations across departments, but this kind of system may sound too complicated to deal with on a daily basis, especially in a fast-paced retail environment. New data integration technology can manage some processes automatically, making these systems simpler and more user-friendly -- not to mention profitable in the long run.
by Dr Will @ Iconic
Are you enjoying some success attracting customers to your establishment? Good. You’ll need these cost-effective tips to succeed even more in a world of fast-evolving technology.
There's at least one case in which pushing for maximum efficiency can actually slow down an operation. This particular instance involves a certain muda I didn't discuss in my "Lean on the Green" series: defects. If something goes wrong in your process, and you don't catch it promptly, it's going to cost you. When it comes to quality control, it's pay now or pay later. Every step in the process adds to the potential cost of a defect, and the farther along the flow unit gets before a defect is found, the more it costs to start over. This cost is especially bad if you don't catch the problem until after your flow units have passed through the bottleneck. Before that point, each of your resources has some capacity to spare, so that the extra motion won't be too taxing. But the bottleneck by definition is already operating at capacity.
Keep in mind that a flow unit can be anything that undergoes a defined process, whether it's a widget on the shelf or a customer in the store. Just as you would want to inspect materials or ingredients early in a process, you want to verify the quality of your customer's experience before they get too far in.
All of this is one more reason to identify your bottleneck, so you know where to concentrate your quality control, and also to anticipate normal attrition, lest you count your chickens before they hatch. Stay tuned for a complete demonstration of how to make these calculations.
Unlike an auto manufacturer’s standing inventory of parts, the customers in a retail operation interact with the process even when nothing is happening. You can’t look at them like stock parts, not because it’s objectively wrong to count heads, but just because they won’t stand for it. Especially when it comes to waiting. As we discussed last week, customers flowing through a bottleneck don't just wait passively. For a retailer, an overwhelmed bottleneck is not just a cap on the overall flow rate; it can actually reduce demand.
You gently tilt a bottle of wine (or soda, if you’re a teetotaler) and watch a steady, slender stream of your liquid of choice descend into your glass. That’s nice, but you want more, faster, so you turn the bottle up a little more. The stream widens (and so do your eager eyes). But it’s still not enough, so you turn the bottle on its end. Suddenly that steady stream disappears and is replaced by a bursty, messy, series of explosions. Somehow, less liquid comes out of the bottle instead of more, and half of what does come out lands on the table instead of your glass.