Why are Retailers so Overwhelmed by Overstocks?

overstocks

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NO SURPRISE, the retail industry is swimming in excess inventory lately. Overstocks leapt forward by double digits in the latest quarter for a dozen of the nation’s largest chains, as they rebound from the supply shortages and out-of-stocks which have vexed them since early 2020.

Today on RetailWire.com, I weighed in on a lively discussion about this problem entitled: Why are retailers struggling so hard to balance inventory? Certainly 20, 30 and 40 percent leaps in stock on hand are partly a sling-shot effect, since retailers over-ordered desperately during the 2020-21 supply disruptions. The situation has been rough on all retailers, but the apparel leaders are taking early and aggressive markdowns on overstocks that arrived too late for missed seasons.

Opinionated as I am about inventory accuracy in retail, I jumped on my high horse with a critique of the global manufacturing and shipping industries. I tossed in a not-too-subtle swipe at Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” for good measure.

The implications span both micro- and macroeconomics. Long lead times are too often tolerated in the name of scale economies. Big plays in highly concentrated markets set the stage for massive disruption when things go wrong.

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Third Party Grocery Delivery? Omnichannel Grocers Wrestle With Choices

grocery delivery

THIS MORNING on RetailWire.com I jumped on my high horse again with this little screed about grocery delivery strategies for supermarkets. As usual, I didn’t shade my opinion about 3rd party solutions, and I know some will take exception. That’s OK. The debate is important.

For perspective, when I founded the VStoreNews e-letter in 1998 I posited a world where grocery stores delivered everything – their own products plus those of other local retailers. Hasn’t happened yet.

The Grocery Delivery Debate

My comments today on RetailWire.com:

I’m squarely in the camp that advocates for own control of all customer-facing services by the retailer. High delivery costs remain a challenge, but this factor must be accounted for in a comprehensive manner. What do you really risk when you put digital moments of truth in the hands of an outside solution provider?

Third-party services intermediate the retailer’s service experience and divert essential data about shopper behavior. I could never agree to hand over control of my brand relationships to gig-workers directed by a company that is angling to become my competitor.

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NRF 2019: Three Vibrant Themes from Tenser’s Take on BrainTrust LIVE!

NRF 2019

LIVE FROM NRF 2019: My BrainTrust LIVE! report from the Big Show in New York, Jan. 14 2019.

Tenser’s Tirades reports from the crossroads of the Big Show floor as hundreds of attendees flow past. This year’s event boasted 37,000 registered attendees, 900 members of the media and more than 120 keynote, breakout, and vendor-sponsored educational sessions.

BrainTrust LIVE! January 14, 2019 – With James Tenser

Topic: Our BrainTrust panelist, James Tenser, reports in from the floor of NRF’s Big Show and boils things down into three areas of innovation he’s seeing as most prevalent at the show. [13 minutes][Posted by RetailWire on Monday, January 14, 2019]

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A Little Problem With Big Data

Courtesy RetailWire.comA STIMULATING DISCUSSION in RetailWire.com this morning led me to once again think deeply about how retailers are confronting so-called Big Data and applying it to their businesses.

The question posed was an intriguing one, given the continuing hype and mysticism ascribed to Big Data over the past several years.

What is your take on the advancements (or not) retailers are making in the use of data capture and analysis? Is it all leading to significantly improved customer experiences down the road, or something less?

The responses mostly seemed to accept two tacit assumptions: One, that all store data is Big Data. Two, that the primary goal of Big Data analytics is the creation of targeted promotional offers. I have a little problem with that.

When did retail POS data suddenly become Big Data? We’ve been collecting it (and mostly discarding it) for decades. Now that storage costs have finally declined, we can capture and hold it long enough to run a few queries and design a few models. Shopper in-store data really hasn’t changed much, but our ability to mine its potential has certainly advanced.

Certainly data flows from the POS and frequent shopper programs continue to expand. There are even some new sources, like in-store shopper tracking, entering the mix. Yes there’s lots of data. But is this really Big Data?

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