Retail Technology – The Real Heroes

I recently read a Holiday news story from ABC news. It talked about the preparation of a JC Penney store for the day after Thanksgiving. The story then followed the store manager through his daily duties on the big-selling "black" Friday. Working in Retail Technology for more than 15 years, this story provoked many thoughts.

The store managers and employees are the "real heroes" of retailing, and retail technology. This is where the rubber meets the road! They execute, the best they can, with the technology tools we give them. If they fail to execute, the entire team fails. Forget that. Team failure is not an option! These retail leaders are groomed to "think" on their feet and come up with solutions quickly and decisively, just like a commander in charge of a battle! If a SKU is out …. and a display looks empty … fill it with another. Make sure associates are suggesting the e-commerce site or catalog. They assist the customer personally in making the purchase through another channel, yes personally, on the busiest day of the year! The store manager himself is busy assuring this is happening throughout the store, leading by example!

In this particular story, the manager talks about "outs by SKU", technology needs to be able to support the stores and other channels by capturing "specifically" how many sales were missed on the white mens size XL mock neck mens long sleeve shirt. the industry is in need of "intelligent systems" that tell us what was really missed in lost sales, based on the sales and percentages of similar SKU's in that style that were in stock, and% to total ratios. If we ran out of the SKU at 8:07 am, we need to know how many we could have sold not only on the day we ran out … but for the time we sat with zero OH. We transfer this "missed sale" number not only for this SKU, but every SKU of missed sales in every store, into a tool we use for merchandise and financial planning for next year. This will add value to the store, company, shareholders, and of course the loyal customers. This is basic stuff, but are we really enabling our buyers, store managers, and customers? I would like to take this opportunity to thank some of the "old time" JC Penney managers whom I have worked for and with over the years. These guys are the "Lombardi's" of Retail. They always played to win and grew the Company by doing the "basic blocking and tackling" without much help from technology. This holiday I would like to thank those that taught me (by example) guys like Ed Ullrich, Ken Hysel, Bob Gordon, Ivan Phillis, Jack "the item man" Stephensen, Dennis Osterholdt, Jon Gilman, Mark Whitworth, Curt Wolle, Lloyd Lubbert and Morey Handler just to name a few. I'm sure some of them have "been transferred" up to that "big store in the sky" where there are always sales gains, gross margin improvement at a minimum of 1.5X the growth of sales, 100% in stock, and never an empty shelf!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!
Especially you retail store managers!

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