Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Problems in retail - more thoughts after my earlier blog

In an earlier blog dated February 1, 2011, I wrote about how retailers can dramatically improve their performance. I pointed out that the two biggest problems are shortages and surpluses.

I will now share more insights about other problems I have seen in retail. Recently, I was at a grocery store of a large well-known retail chain in the states. When I walked in, there was not a single cart at the entrance to the store in the large holding area for carts. I heard other people complaining about the lack of them. I noticed a short time later that an employee brought in some carts from the parking lot.

It reminded me of an experience I had years ago in which a large retailer had run out of bags to place your purchased goods in. As a result, they were using trash bags from inventory that was supposed to be sold to bag purchases. These are examples of shortages, but not of products we intend to buy, but rather to use to facilitate our shopping. It is important for retailers to effectively manage all types of inventory they sell and utilize.

Another problem I encountered at a store of a large hardware chain was the inability of four different employees to help me locate the product I was looking for. I heard some of them state that products sometimes are moved in the store without them knowing where they move to. Most likely a problem in communication from management. I can understand moving goods for various reasons, but not ensuring that the employees know where they are does not support actual customers trying to find them to purchase. Some people may even give up in frustration before finding the product they had planned to buy.

This brings me to a related complaint. I don’t always understand the logic of where goods are located within a store. It is frustrating when you think you know which department they would be in but can’t find them. I also have experienced poor signage in stores, especially large ones, which would help guide you to what you want to purchase. I would suggest making sure signs and the layout of the store and products logically encourage purchases. In additions, signs should help anyone who is new to the store know where to head to find what they are looking for.

The experiences above and others have led me to conclude that the Retailer Transformational Strategy and Tactic tree (TSTT) needs to have more strategies and tactics added to it. The Retailer TSTT currently includes many important actions necessary for achieving the goal, but not sufficient to ensure that any retailer becomes ever-flourishing. Each TSTT needs to include all the actions (with corresponding logic) necessary and sufficient for an organization to effectively achieve its goal and eliminate any unnecessary strategies and tactics from being implemented in order to ensure that the constraints of management attention and the market or other resources are best leveraged for success.

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