Hoof Hearted or Who Farted?
What’s the difference? They sound the same, but holy horse crap Batman, there is a difference. One enjoys YouTube fame, the other a question echoed throughout dorm halls around the country.
Inventory is the same way in many regards - looks the same, feels the same, but it ain’t. Go to the grocery store and bring home the wrong peanut butter. “I said reduced fat Jif Creamy peanut butter, not Jif Creamy peanut butter.” Well, jeez they look exactly the same. What about salted butter versus unsalted, three cheese Prego and regular Prego, homestyle waffles versus buttermilk waffles? I have to admit I have no clue what the difference is between homestyle and buttermilk, but God help that frozen food manager who doesn’t have both in his cooler doors when the high priest of frozen waffles (aka frozen food merchant) rolls in for a visit. Somebody’s Eggo is going to roll for that one.
In the highly SKU / UPC intensive world of grocery retail it is important to have all the right product on the shelves, no matter how subtle the difference. The same goes for specialty retailers who are relying on having the right product mix. Mom and Dad can’t see the difference between the two pair of jeans, but their uber-texting, teenage daughter knows that one is a size 4, acid wash, low-cut, indigo, flare jean and the other is a size 4, acid wash, low-cut, indigo, straight jean. If the store doesn’t have both, then uber-texter is gonna Tweet, Facebook, and text the news to all her friends in under a minute. You feelin’ what I’m peelin’ here dude? It matters!
Initially, the responsibility falls on the merchant to put the right product mix on the shelves for their customer. What happens after the sales start rolling in then becomes an issue for lots of people – including your inventory service. Yes, your inventory service. The merchant has a product mix plan, store operations executes the plan, and the sales activity dictates further plan execution. Now, let’s throw in a physical inventory in the middle of the process. What happens when the inventory auditor counts all the peanut butter as reduced fat, the butter as unsalted, the waffles as homestyle, and the jeans as straight style? Let’s say he sees all the waffles, scans the first box he touches and enters a quantity for the rest – he just erased all the buttermilk waffles from your inventory. You denim inventory is now out of the flare style. Well, at least that’s what the physical inventory file says when you upload it into your perpetual inventory. In reality, the product is still in the store, but now re-order decisions are being made based on the physical inventory results. The numbers in total might be right, but the product mix is out of whack. Well, that stinks – who farted?
Your inventory service just left behind a nasty little silent but deadly effort in your store, and you’re going to be smelling that for a long time. Attention to detail is paramount for everyone in the supply chain – don’t forget about the inventory service and the potential impact they can have in your business. On the surface, they may all sound the same and tell you the same thing, but if you take a closer look you will see, there is a difference! Choose wisely my friend.