If you remember your tales of Vlad, you may recall that slaying the un-dead requires a stake through the heart, a chance encounter with the light of day or…a silver bullet!
I have had the good fortune to spend some recent time with a few pretty sage industry ICONS and an ICON-in-the-making or two.
There were enough threads in those conversations to weave a bit of common wisdom.
We discussed long standing, unsolved industry ills. These center around the trading partner friction points in the demand chain…. implementation miscues and mis-translations, compliance and actionable measurement, mostly in-store.
If teased hard enough that fabric from these icons we find a couple of truths, some causality, and perhaps a real solution.
- There are no silver bullet solutions to these industry ills. If there were, we would have seen progress in fixing them! And while we have seen billions taken out of supply chain inventories we have seen no real improvements in the in-store implementations that frustrate consumers and waste BILLIONS. The proof of this lies in the statistics measuring out-of-stock levels, excess inventories on slow movers, wasted or ineffective in-store task labor costs, poor promotion execution, and even in shrink levels and price implementation costs and timing. These issues remain at the same levels of inefficiency as was the case when first measured.
- The skepticism that the industry shows in its adoption of new technology is to some degree justified (see truth 1!) but will doom the industry to a continuing, unresolved dialogue of these subjects for years to come. This doesn’t mean we have not spent (we have spent billions) but that we probably look at things too narrowly and seize the solutions that are the least expensive, simplest or constitute “point” fixes that appear to generate “hard” savings.
The cause (or some of them). We, as an industry, have tended to compartmentalize problems (out-of-stocks VS.
assortment VS over-inventoried slow movers) and we confound that by having problem/solution owners, ROI owners and budget owners centered around current business “silos” within companies. In all fairness, the solutions offered have been served up as “silver bullet” solutions that can fix a myriad of issues . However, unlike the solution for Vlad, there is no wooden stake, or silver bullet solution because there are a number issues which are connected across silos…and indeed across trading partners!
A solution? If we look at current and some newly emerging technologies individually (as silo-focused, silver bullets) we have no solution. Task management systems, forecasting systems, imaged POG strips, store by store planogram capabilities and item-based RFID solutions are all self-touted as full solutions to out-of-stocks (and/or other issues). By themselves they will fail. Stitched together appropriately and fit into the inter-dependencies of inter and intra company silos, they begin to look as if they might work.
I think we can stitch together current and new technologies and solve the in-store, implementation dilema across the silos inside and outside the companies. In the next few Blog-blurbs we will begin to examine those components.