If you navigate cyberspace on a daily basis, you will have likely come across a web site that claims to use "Big Data" on a daily basis. You were probably left wondering what the big deal with "Big Data" is, too; after all, only the big dogs have the resources to hog all the data they could desire. It's possible that you didn't even know what "Big Data" is in the first place.
by Dr Will @ Iconic
We live in the era of fast and furious transactions, where hype is king and customer service is often lacking. The average retail customer faces frustrations at every turn — no enticing discounts to be had, service coming at a crawling pace (if at all), missing items that were promised to be held in layaway... The list goes on.
Before continuing our discussion of Taiichi Ohno's concept of muda as applied to the country club, there's one simple, but important distinction I want to make. Identifying an activity as waste does not always mean that activity should be eliminated or reduced. Every operation has to carefully distinguish between waste that is strictly waste and waste that is necessary auxiliary work, even if it doesn't directly add value. In the case of a country club, a certain amount of excess has to be sustained in order to keep up the aura of extravagance which is so essential to the members' experience. No matter how nice and well-kept everything is, a country club that doesn't maintain this aura is just a golf course with amenities.
In lieu of the five Iconic things, places or persons we name traditionally on every other Friday, we will give five bits and pieces of advice for you, the humble retailer, to consider. Yes, even country clubs count, as some departments follow the same rhythm and flow as their bigger (and smaller) brick-and-mortar counterparts. Without further ado...
Today's Tech Tuesday post will focus on how retailers can increase sales through inventory control methods. We'll be looking at an article by Rosemary Peavler for some of these methods.
It's easy enough to find out how many customers come in and out of your location each day, or how many are present at any given time. You just count them. But what if you want to know much time the average customer spends in your store (or in a particular part of your store)? Unlike your run-of-the-mill parts or stock, you can't very well tag a customer as she enters the store, then scan the tag on the way out. For some reason human beings seem to chafe at that kind of thing. (We think it's probably because the labels leave an annoying, sticky residue on their foreheads.)
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.
If you’re wary of operations management, the title of this post might sound like just what’s wrong with business these days: customers shouldn’t be treated like anything but people, right? Do you really want to start thinking of them as numbers? Businesses that do that are quite diabolical!