Tag Archive: sears

Should We Listen to all the High Tech Talk?

January 22nd, 2020

Client Question
Should we pay attention to all this high tech talk? Certainly it seems like everyone and their brother is talking about artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and even the use of technologies such as virtual reality and autonomous vehicles. And this is aside from mundane topics such as ERP systems. And,  we need to function on a daily basis. We need to serve customers and deliver value to the bottom line.  And, we prefer to only get distracted when necessary.

The Answer
We have seen clients get carried away with the latest and greatest technology fads. Although it was an interesting personal education, it typically didn’t result in a return on investment. On the other hand, we have also seen clients ignoring technology that becomes vital to survival in their industry. After all, it is easy to do. When Sears used to be the Amazon of the age, no one thought they would be going out of business.

So, as usual, the answer is “it depends”. You must pay attention, learn about and invest in technology so that you can make a good decision on which to pursue and which to ignore for your go-forward business strategy. If it were easy, we would all be successful for 100 years running.  There are VERY few companies in this position. Do you have a position or a person who is dedicated or allocates part of his/her responsibilities to this role? If you don’t call it out, it will fall by the wayside. This should be similar in concept to an R&D/new product focus. Why should we focus only on new products and not new technologies?

Food For Thought
No two clients are alike. Some ask us this question and it is an obvious,: YES, you must invest to stay relevant and increase business value. For others, it is an emphatic, NO. Why waste resources on additional technology when we haven’t implemented or used the available systems capabilities that will move the business forward? As it seems to go in business, it is usually the best executives and CIOs who are on top of their technology road map who ask these questions. The rest won’t even invest enough to find out where they should prioritize limited funds so they don’t become the next Sears!

At a minimum, once you get to a certain size or complexity, the minimum you should do is upgrade your ERP system so that you have a modern technological backbone and can scale up quickly as needed. With that said, it is rarely enough if your goal is profitable growth.

If you’d like a technology and ERP systems assessment, please contact us. At a minimum, read our numerous articles and get started in evaluating your situation!

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The Amazon Effect is Still Going Strong!

July 1st, 2019

The Amazon Effect remains top of mind with CEOs. Whether they compete directly (which is less than 1% with my clients), supply or distribute for Amazon (which is a slightly higher percentage) or are just impacted by the Amazon Effect, it is a major source of concern and/or opportunity. Have you thought about what Amazon is doing lately and how it might impact your business? Better yet, have you thought about becoming the disruptor?

Here are a few of the latest headlines about Amazon (all in the last few days):

  1. Kohl’s will accept Amazon returns across the board starting in July – The pilot programs in Los Angeles, Chicago and Milwaukee have been successful. Kohl’s and Amazon see this as a win-win.
  2. Amazon announced that one-day free shipping will be the standard for Prime members – It is very hard to go backwards once you get accustomed to a new level of service. All organizations watch out!
  3. Amazon is interested in buying Boost from T-Mobile and Sprint – There is no telling what Amazon is thinking of disrupting next.
  4. Amazon seems to be saying it isn’t a retailer – It appears as though the threat of Amazon purging thousands of smaller vendors from its core business is coming true. Stay tuned…
  5. Amazon makes a big splash in the travel industry – In India, Amazon will offer flight booking services.

Amazon gets a ridiculous number of headlines. In the interim, one of the last Sears stores in Phoenix had a massive closeout sale recently. Sears used to be the Amazon of the times 50 years ago but lost its way with a few strategic missteps and lack of innovation. Waiting around for Amazon to determine your course is not a wise move. Instead, think proactively about your strategic advantage and how you’ll get out in front of the crowd.

Think about what Amazon and other competitors do not do well.  Find a way to capitalize on these opportunities. Of course, you’ll have to adhere to the new model of doing business – rapid deliveries with short lead times and high tech opportunities.  Find what is unique to you and your product or service and drive differentiation in your market segment.

We find that there is significant change occurring across the board. Perhaps the reason some companies are vertically integrating is to do what Amazon cannot do completely at this point: take control over the complete supply chain. Amazon seems to be pursuing this strategy as well when it comes to transportation infrastructure although last mile delivery is quite the challenge. If you’d like to get an assessment of your business and profit opportunities as it relates to the Amazon Effect, please contact us.

 

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What Do Sears and Amazon Have in Common?

October 10th, 2017

Thanks to my client Dan Vest, I read a fascinating article about Sears and Amazon. Who knew Sears and Amazon had so much in common? Pretty startling! The Reader’s Digest version is as follows: Sears was the former Amazon about 100 years ago, growing 50-fold within a decade with its world-famous catalog and then transforming from a mailing company to a brick-and-mortar giant. They were the everything store with an uncanny feel for consumer demand. Sound familiar? So what might we learn from history and paying attention to trends?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Perhaps Sears isn’t something to be totally ignored… As transformative, customer-focused and growth-oriented as they were 100 years ago, they stopped looking for the next customer-focused innovation and have suffered mightily. Clearly, if you lose track of your customer, you are likely to lose track of your growth and profits. It is also easy to get lost as you get big – suddenly what used to be innovative is replaced with ridiculous rules and bureaucracy with no glance in the direction of the customer. Walmart came on the scene with amazing service and low costs. And now Amazon is the 80 pound gorilla.

There is another interesting development to note. Amazon tends to choose strange bedfellows and has partnered with the brick-and-mortar giant. Amazon will sell smart technology such as the Echo in Sears stores and the Sears flagship Kenmore brand product line will be sold online through Amazon. Unique collaborations seem to be driving success.  Just look at the partnership of innovative Amazon with “not-known-for-its-innovation” United States Postal Service (USPS), yet it works. Do you see postal trucks delivering on Sundays? I do.

In short, pay attention to history, trends and never stop thinking. Add collaboration into the mix and you might just hit a home run.

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