While this might seem like a shameless plug for my new book from McGraw-Hill entitled “Lean Retail and Wholesale” (…and it is!), I truly believe that the time has come for all retailers, large and small, to focus on the identification and elimination of waste in their businesses wherever it is found.
An excerpt from my new book below explains how things have progressed to this point…
“Lean thinking in a variety of manufacturing sectors, such as consumer goods, apparel, and food and beverage, has actually been accelerated by a select group of forward-thinking retailers such as Walmart and OfficeMax. These retailers have dramatically changed the way products are ordered, moving inventory rapidly through their distribution centers to the stores by utilizing sales data gathered electronically at checkout, sharing those data with suppliers, and primarily using bar codes to manage and accelerate the flow of product from the manufacturer to the store shelves.
…although this revolution has been going on in manufacturing and for a select few large retailers, the majority of retailers and wholesalers have implemented only some, if any, Lean concepts, and in a piecemeal fashion. Most of those activities have focused largely on their suppliers upstream, rather than on identifying what does or doesn’t add value to their customers in the first place.”
In the book, I discuss concepts and tools that all retailers and wholesalers can implement utilizing a comprehensive, holistic Lean methodology throughout their businesses to reduce costs and improve service and profitability, even while they are faced with shorter product life cycles and constantly changing consumer tastes, resulting in a demand for mass customization and an explosion in the number of items carried. I examine Lean opportunities in retail and wholesale from the viewpoint of retail strategy, merchandise management, and store and distribution operations.
In my opinion, retailers can, and should work tirelessly with customers, vendors, partners and employees in this endeavor. After all, retail is the “last 10 yards” in the supply chain and therefore, the last chance to maximize value to the customer.