Monday, January 27, 2014

Making it Work Back to Front

As sophisticated as Wal-Mart is and continues to be, I found this article to be almost a challenge.  HELP WALMART STOCK ITS SHELVES!  I can see it now!  Promotion cards all over town, commercials asking the next person to step right up and make a difference and advise this already highly developed retail king on how to get the items from the back to the store front shelves!

Observably, Wal-Mart has their supply chain down to a science and the mere mention of automated replenishment, when stock is low a computer tell us and it automatically puts orders in to replenish! Brilliant! This really excited me, leaving me to wonder, why not carry this refined process past the delivery dock.  

Wal-Mart already has people, process and technology.  Let’s work with each of these and combine them into an advanced and continuous step.   It is obvious from the article that labor hours play an enormous role, the final stop in the supply chain movement.  “One analyst figured that Wal-Mart would have to spend $448 million to increase the number of sales associates by 5 per store.”   $448 million is a lot of money my friends, so why not try something traditional and help each other out.  Here Wal-mart should consider picking and choosing its battles…If there is a labor cut in the stock area then employees who have downtime should be given the opportunity to assist in restocking the shelves. Dedicated employees replenish. This may not always work, but any idea is better than no idea.  

 Better yet, why not take it to another level and work with the sophisticated technology already available to the world.  Invest, if not invest in labor then invest in technology.  For staging purposes, have all items staged immediately upon arrival and ready to go to the floor.  But don’t rush it yet, this t-shirt rack which is already on the floor has a sensor on it (similar to an ID Sensor) and before it is put on the floor the sensor gives a reading for how much the items on the rack weighed (minus the actual rack itself).  This information was logged and for replenishment reasons will alert the backroom when the weight hits a low number.  Remove this shelf and bring out the staged one, take this one back and replenish! Replenish! Replenish!

  Duties should be assigned accordingly, and I do understand when there are lines, bodies are pulled from everywhere.  In my thoughts, it is obvious where the bodies are most needed at times and that is the back, this is an around the clock duty.  If the items are not available on the shelf then maybe all employees are not being utilized to their fullest.  The items go the store; focus should be strictly process system and creating a flow.  Cutting labor is one less cost, utilizing your labor wisely is positive.  Wouldn't it be fair to consider a smooth process system within the tall Wal-Mart walls as opposed to thinking there may be a speed bump elsewhere?  Isn't it more efficient to keep all cash registers moving in sync with products being stocked?  If customers are leaving this is going to present a stigma, Wal-mart is already in the line of fire for many other topics, why add another to its already superior process?


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