Best Buy Questions Whether New Management Strategy Can Steer the Company Back on Track

best-buy

Best Buy has to rethink it’s management plan because it is losing business. From a sales perspective, it has not been doing as well as it once was, and in this economy, it is really taking a toll on the business. The number one reason for the drop in sales is due to inexperienced sales associates who can not adequately tend to customer’s questions and needs. One retailer analyst, Gary Balter, referred to the franchise as “that blue and gold store where the salesperson usually can’t help you.”  This does not send out a good message to consumers nor help to turn this around. So what is Best Buy going to change in it’s operation strategy? Clearly, what they are doing now is not working.

One possible solution is that the Vice President is trying to turn this around by starting to implement product knowledge education into the company. If the number one reason for lack of sales is the sales people, then that is where the VP should start. By training the employees properly and quizzing them on the products, they can be more helpful to the customers who are asking the questions. Giving incentives for reaching sales goals is another great way to boost sales and invigorate energy out on the sales floor. Scheduling the strongest employees on weekends, when Best Buy stores are at their busiest, is another smart approach that the company has begun to implement.

One problem that Best Buy faces is it’s online competition. Twenty percent of Best Buy’s business comes through online purchases, but it’s competitors have a one-up on them. Running online operations is costly, far higher than other websites because of the high labor costs and long-term leases that come along with the fourteen-hundred existing retail stores. Another issue that pops up with the retail locations is the fact that many of the people that walk in the door are “browsers,” not “buyers.” Many will seek out different products yet resort to purchasing online or not at all, causing some stores to go out of business. There has been no improvement with store closures yet, but with the new strategy implementation taking place, customer satisfaction has gone up a bit recently.

Amongst other problems, staff turnover is higher than ever, historically speaking. The average staff turnover to date is about sixty percent, increasing from thirty five percent in previous years.

It is always a sad thing to see American companies go out of business. Hopefully, the VP’s plan works because as we’ve learned, understanding the marketplace and customers needs, wants, and demands is a crucial element in the success of maintaining a business. Operating costs are a key factor to take into consideration as well. Do you think Best Buy has a chance?

References:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324743704578444733449436900.html

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1440&bih=686&q=best+buy&oq=best+buy&gs_l=img.3..0l10.822.2889.0.3173.8.7.0.1.1.0.148.471.6j1.7.0…0.0…1ac.1.14.img._SW2SohCc8k#imgrc=sCo_DVyj7x89mM%3A%3BJu5F4ITQI9zFAM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.savingadvice.com%252Fimages%252Fblog%252Fbest-buy.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.savingadvice.com%252Farticles%252F2007%252F06%252F28%252F101581_12-tips-for-getting-the-best-price-at-best-buy.html%3B800%3B551

Forecasting in the Restaurant Industry, How Are Restaurants Keeping Up?

Forecasting is being used across the nation in order to find out what new foods and technologies are going to be used within the restaurant industry.  Since we are so attached to our technology, trends have changed drastically.

The reports are showing that about half of the consumers interested in eating out are looking at menus online in order to see if the restaurant is up to their standards.  Thus, making it possibly harder for restaurants to bring in new customers if their menu is not up to par.  This is especially important because ‘”the typical American palate is now much more sophisticated than 10 to 20 years ago.”’

Because of this forecasting in restaurants is now not only for how many customers are coming in, but the newest trends in food.  And restaurants are having some difficulties getting customers to come and sit down at their establishment because about seventy percent is now coming from take out and food trucks out of convenience.  Since seventy percent of the industry’s traffic is coming from off site many restaurants and food vendors have conformed to using food trucks that drive around neighborhood to neighborhood. However, the city of Chicago passed an ordinance that does not allow food to be prepared on the actual trucks.  This means that the vendors would either need a physical restaurant or at least access to a certified kitchen.  Due to this ordinance these vendors will have to either invest more money to continue or get out of the food truck industry.

In order to keep up with these constant changes in the restaurant industry technology is being more relied upon in the actual establishments to encourage guests to come sit down and eat.  For example, at a Chili’s restaurant you will find a tablet on the table where you can play games, watch move previews, and pay your bill.  However, it is being said that more restaurants will participate by having iPads, in which, you can look at the menu and see more detailed pictures and descriptions of the menu items.

Along with all of these trends, many consumers are now more conscious than ever about where there food actually comes from.  People are looking for sustainability especially in large cities where there are many neighborhoods that are considered food deserts.  Restaurants are recognizing this and most of the newly opened establishments really take pride in offering sustainable food that has come directly from local farms.  And other restaurants are changing their menus in order to be friendlier to locally grown ingredients.

Do you typically go out to eat at an actual restaurant or do you find yourself getting take out?

How do you feel about restaurants using more sustainably grown ingredients?

Would you rather go to a restaurant that uses technology such as iPads or tablets for the tables or just a simple mom and pop’s?

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/01/03/168536679/hold-that-mini-burger-restaurants-forecast-food-for-2013

http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-01/rip-food-trucks-top-5-trends-2013-plus-one-wish-104644

Yahoo Or Google, Will Tumblr Change Which Website You Visit?

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 4.23.13 PMScreen Shot 2013-05-19 at 4.22.48 PM

 

For the past few years Yahoo.com has struggled to keep its website and affiliates at par with its competitors, which include Google, Ask, and Bing. Yahoo has relentlessly tried to modify its site to meet the demands of its customers, as well as retain new users to visit the once sensational site. Three years ago Yahoo completely changed its design capacity for the site, going from a search engine with many links, to a website that prioritized news feed. This new integration has helped the site reach new heights, but has still left them in the dust compared to its main competitor, Google. Around the same time as Yahoo’s new design, which helped utilization and efficiency for the website, Google purchased an even bigger venture, known as YouTube. This astounding company has helped Google become a giant in their industry. In addition, Google recently has increased its stock share to over $900 per share, making it one of the highest growing stocks of this year. Yet Yahoo is still at a measly $26 per share, but has been increasing for the better part of six months. Why has Yahoo’s stock been increasing when Google has completely overwhelmed all of its competitors?

Today the answer to that question was given. According to CNN, Yahoo has purchased Tumblr for a record $1.1 billion. Clearly Yahoo is not afraid to spend money, as a famous person once said, “you need to spend money to earn it.” By purchasing Tumblr, Yahoo hopes to compete with Google at a much more even playing field. According to Wikipedia, Tumblr “is a microblogging platform and social networking website,” which “allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. Users can follow other users’ blogs, as well as make their blogs private.” Moreover, when Google purchased YouTube, Yahoo’s usage rate fell dramatically, and today they purchased Tumblr in hopes to change that. In addition, according to the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, Tumblr “would allow the search engine to tap into a young, active online user base at the social network.” She goes on to say that our goal is to “engage Internet users and get them excited about using Yahoo again.”

I firmly believe that Google will always hold a slight edge over Yahoo, mainly because of its simplistic search engine. However, I do consider that this new business enterprise will dramatically increase user traffic on Yahoo’s website.  Do you think that Yahoo will finally be at par with Google, or will they continue to be an after thought in the search engine industry? Moreover, do you use Tumblr, and if so do you think this will prompt you to use Yahoo more often? These are questions I am very curious about, as I believe Yahoo will become a giant along side Google moving forward.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/19/technology/yahoo-tumblr/index.html

The Lighter the Better, Says American Airlines.

Do you ever find yourself incredibly frustrated when boarding an airplane? Travelers tend to find themselves wondering about the order in which everyone boards the aircraft. Recently, American Airlines decided to adopt a new method to allow passengers to board quicker. This new method saves about two minutes on average per flight. Although the new method does not necessarily make a large difference for passengers, it does cut about 6,000 minutes a day for the airline company. American Airlines longs to improve their on-time performance.

The airline’s previous method was arranged by groups. Each passenger was assigned either group 1, group 2, or group 3, starting with group 1 at the front of the plane. The new method permits passengers with only a carry-on item on the aircraft second. This carry-on item, however, must be small enough to only fit under the seat in front of them. Passengers who buy business class or first class tickets do however, board first. This new method benefits passengers because those that do not have large pieces of luggage enter the aircraft and immediately take their seats.  Additionally, more passengers were willing to check their bags in at the gate because in return, they got to avoid baggage fees and were allowed to board early. Once those passengers are seated, those with luggage pieces have an easier time boarding since all the overhead bins are empty. Do you think this new method makes more sense? Personally, I have always thought the best way would be to board those in the back of the airplane second, then the middle of the airplane third. Business class would still board first, however.

Virgin America has tried this boarding process about two years ago and decided it wouldn’t work for their company. The problems they encountered included debates between customers and employees about sizes of bags that would/would not fit under the seat in front of the passenger. Additionally, sometimes those passengers that boarded first used the overhead bins anyway. An airline consultant, Robert Mann, said this new boarding method can however, cut down American’s revenues from baggage fees.

I got to experience this new boarding method when I took a flight to/from Fort Lauderdale. I decided to check my bag in as I printed my boarding pass because I did not feel like lifting my bag and creating a line once I boarded the airplane. I was especially annoyed when I got to my gate and realized that the airline was allowing passengers to check-in their bags free of charge. I spent around $50 checking my bags in only to realize the airline was doing it for free. When I asked if I could get a refund I was told it was non-refundable. Although the new method makes complete sense and I support it, I do not think it is fair to trick loyal customers into spending unnecessary money on baggage fees. At the end of the day though, I am happy companies are trying to new methods to make traveling easier for customers.

 

 

Photo:http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/2bP5nJdDKrEtP4NxjC37FA–/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTYwMA–/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/Reuters/2013-04-27T171531Z_1_CBRE93Q1BY500_RTROPTP_2_USA-AVIATION-DELAYS.JPG

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tedreed/2013/05/18/will-americans-new-boarding-process-work-it-failed-at-virgin-america/

 

What else is hidden in Google’s Arsenal?

What else is hidden in Google’s Arsenal?

Whenever Google comes out with a new application, product, or service quality is an after-thought. Google is in the process of coming out with something and entering a risky market that could hurt the high quality image Google Portrays. This new “thing” is upgrading its Google Play that launched last year. This wasn’t doing as well as anticipated so they are in the process of revamping it. Android hackers dug deep into Google’s servers to find this out which, is an interesting way of having a competitive advantage. Anyway, this market is extremely competitive and bumpy. A lot is needed to compete when there are only so many games to sign. Additionally, signing to right or wrong game could mean a tarnished image. This new revamp is intended to offer some new features that other companies haven’t yet added.  Social Integration, In-Game Chatting, and Cloud Capabilities are just some of the new additions that will hopefully put them above their competitors and bring a better and higher quality image to their brand. The Social Integration aspect will grant users the ability to use their Google+ profile compare performances on leader boards. Next, In-Game Chatting will build on the social capabilities and users will have the ability “to chirp your friend’s terrible performance.” The last addition are Cloud Capabilities. This will be where the management of quality comes in. Google Play Games will sync all saved data on servers the same way calendars, contact information, and mail is stored. The games, supposedly, won’t take up precious hard drive room; however, relying 100% on the Google servers may put too much responsibility in the hands of the company. If Google doesn’t capitalize on this opportunity and execute it some quality issues will definitely arise.

My Opinion

Google is taking the right actions to get ahead of its competition. I don’t think these changes are outlandish because innovation is what makes money now a days. Also, this won’t hurt Google’s quality and credibility because consumers don’t expect much out of mobile device games so the sky is the limit. Any upgrade or innovational addition will just bring more users into the scene and make it an even more profitable market. Google’s market share within this realm of entertainment will grow.

Questions

  1. Will this new version of Google Play be too risky and tarnish Google’s accolades in quality?
  2. What else could Google do to make this “less risky”?
  3. What can Android do?
  4. Are Google’s new additions attainable or impossible?
  5. How does this effect quality in the market or with Google?

http://news.yahoo.com/expect-googles-mobile-game-hub-214655725.html

Earnings forecast: How companies set low expectations to create a “surprise” growth

With the second quarter of 2013 well under way  companies are beginning to put out their first quarter earnings.  271 companies of the Fortune 500 which make up the S&P 500, have reported a earnings growth at 3.9 percent, 2.4 percent higher than the forecast of 1.5 percent. “Some 69 percent of the S&P 500 have beaten forecasts, once again conforming to the pattern of lowering expectations enough to “surprise” by beating them. The 69 percent figure exceeds the long-term average of 63 percent. This has been the pattern for the last 15 quarters, with growth estimates at the beginning of earnings ultimately being beaten by at least a full percentage point.” According to the article, companies are purposely low-balling their estimates only to beat those forecasts at the end of the quarter. This has held true for the past 15 quarters and seems to be the trend going forward. Investors and stakeholders will continue to be surprised and will be looking at positive earnings growth at the end of the quarters. It seems to me as if investors don’t really mind the idea of that since these earnings reports has caused the S&P 500 to rise 1.2 percent since the first company released its earning back on April 8th.

Photo credit: stockopedia.co.uk

Though the companies that have posted earnings have had a good growth, the companies that are yet to report are expected to have a 0.4 percent decline in earnings. Among these companies could be Walmart and Home Depot since they have not posted their earnings yet. First quarter revenue was projected to have 1 percent growth but instead is expected to fall 0.3 percent. Even though, companies have had a success when it comes to profits, revenue forecasts have declined, which goes to show that many companies still have a decline in sales. “’It does concern me. It’s not sustainable over the medium or the long term. There’s only so much companies can do to sustain growth without increasing sales,’ said Paul Zemsky.” They are able to get higher earnings through cutting costs and expenses but not through an increase in sales. This poses a threat to the economy in coming quarters because it will mean that companies will be hiring very less now since they will try their best to cut cost.

After reading this article, I felt that companies have to better forecast their earnings since there is such a gap between the forecast and the actual amount. They may have to use a different forecasting technique to come up with their earnings projections so that there isn’t a “surprise” when the actual numbers come out.

Do you think that companies are doing the right thing by setting low forecasts of earnings? Does this fairly present the true position of a company?  Also, as I mentioned before, many companies are doing good with profits and yet the revenue is going down. Do you think these companies can survive through cost-cutting measures or will they have to do something to increase sales?

 

 

“Earnings beating forecasts but jury’s out on rest of season” by Caroline Valetkevitch and Ben Berkowitz

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/earnings-beating-forecasts-jurys-rest-211325797.html

 

 

NEXTflix Problem

Netflix is taking a bold move after spending over two years recovering their losses from their last big controversial pricing and programming change. The Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is doing everything possible to avoid another Qwikster disaster.

Since their lose of nearly 800,000 users and 75% of it’s value, Netflix has worked it’s way back to the top with over 29.1 million members, surpassing enterprises like HBO. [1] However, Netflix could not have done this without turning back the focus to their users wants and needs.

Netflix has done a great deal to reinvent their service, pricing and licensing deals. Recently, Netflix has utilized Facebook to create a Netflix Social , where users can link their facebook and Netflix account and view tabs of “what your friends are watching” or “friends favorite”. [2] Netflix also just made a deal with Dreamworks to begin producing another Children’s original animation series. [3]  Furthermore, Netflix’s production and release of 15 new episodes of the popular show Arrested Development  has also received a lot of praise by Netflix users..[4]

Despite their growth and efforts to reconstruct their service, Netflix has run into a new growing problem.

Their current problem is that over 10 million users are not paying for the streaming service Netflix’s CEO is trying to be very cautious about handling the shared user and password issue. Hastings does not want to lose or ban viewers, but instead he wants to keep people positive and excited about Netflix’s service.[5]

Analysts insist that Netflix’s profit would exponentially increase if Hasting’s cracked down on the issue. One analyst believes they could be making up to 5% more per subscriber if they fix their current pricing or offer different plans for users.[6]

Instead, Netflix’s CEO is celebrating the idea “that people love the service”. [7]

The new plan that will be unveiled will allow four streams for $11.99, while the current pricing of $7.99 for two streams per account will still be available. They expect less than 1% of customers to opt for the new plan, but they hope as their service becomes in bigger demand that users will begin to see the value.[8]

Other plans consist of adding a $3 increase for added users , adding extra fees for children programming or limiting the number of devices that can be attached to the account. [9]

Netflix users are vulnerable  since the last price and policy change, so Hastings needs to remain very sensitive to the issue in order to sustain their level of expansion and growth in the market. Therefore, Hastings is not interested in making any drastic changes, but slowly implementing different plans with added benefits.

 

Whether you are a current Netflix user or considering a subscription to Netflix, what plan or price increasewould drive you away? What added benefits or licensing deals would make you keep your subscription?

 

Going Nuclear: Building the World’s Largest Puzzle

An international nuclear fusion project, known as Iter, has been making progress by finally gaining approval for the design of a component that will be one of the most challenging to install. In a forest of Provence in the south of France, there has been the construction of a site that’s purpose will be to harness the nuclear power of the sun and stars. 34 nations have joined together in what is known to be “the biggest scientific collaboration on the planet.” If this project succeeds, then global energy demand will increase by three-fold, and it will change our world that has been struggling with the fight against climate change.

This highly complex fusion reactor will be built with about a million individual parts and each component will come from different regions built around the world. Then it will be assembled “like a giant Lego model” in a building near the site. These individual parts can get as big as small houses, and the building they’re assembling it at is equal to 81 Olympic-sized swimming pools. I already cannot imagine what it will take and has taken to bring so many countries together and decide what is going to be built where. It reminds me back to one of our first classes where we made the paper fortune tellers and how it took majority of the class to work together and complete the project.

 

Complexity of Iter has been proven through the length it had taken to reach the initial stages of construction. The earliest start time for this project dates back to 1985 with meetings and discussions between the nations. Today, scientists involved have claimed it will still take another ten years of building work and an extra ten years after that for testing the reactor before it can go online. If you were one of the managers on the team for this project, how would you being planning and creating a Precedence Diagram? Do you think there could be multiple critical paths in a project like this? One of my concerns about an enormous project is the time it takes to complete it. Over time, information becomes stale and the technology used becomes outdated because of the changing markets.

A critical phase of the project is injecting plasma, a super-hot electrically-charged atomic fuel, and it is scheduled for November 2020; unfortunately, because we do not live in a perfect world, there have been delays that pushed this phase back to October 2022. An unforeseen circumstance where a worker left a towel on one of the superconducting cables became compressed within the coil causing extra work by scraping off the debris left behind. I believe this is a perfect opportunity for the project managers to consider crashing this project because it is becoming behind schedule. Do you think that crashing a critical path in such a big project dealing with nuclear reactors would be a good idea to enable them to finish the project by the due date?

 

Links: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/one-giant-leap-for-mankind-13bn-iter-project-makes-breakthrough-in-the-quest-for-nuclear-fusion-a-solution-to-climate-change-and-an-age-of-clean-cheap-energy-8590480.html

Follow LeanPath: Way to reduce food waste

Among 150 hotels, hospitals and universities, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is utilizing an innovative method to reduce food waste conjured by a company called LeanPath.

According to LeanPath, the issue of food waste is getting to be tremendously harmful for energy and water resources. Being the biggest source of waste in the United States, food waste accounts for $8 billion to $20 billion worth of waste annually. This is because about 4% to 10% of food bought is wasted rather than consumed.

What exactly is this waste? What LeanPath tracks is not exactly what we think of when we think of the term “food waste”. It is not the food our moms tell us to “finish because kids in Africa are starving”. The food waste that LeanPath targets is focused to tackle the root of the problem. It is the food that is wasted even before it reaches the plate. This can be anything from meat to vegetable trimmings. Imagine you are making mashed potatoes. How much of the potato are you really peeling? How much potato skin are you discarding? Leanpath can measure and put a dollar amount to all of these questions.

How does LeanPath help and what does it do exactly? Quite simply, LeanPath provides the means for establishments to track the food they are wasting. Employees can do this by weighing their waste on the scales provided by LeanPath.  The employees enter in the type of food, size of container, type of meal and the reason it is being discarded in to the LeanPath machines. The machine then calculates the waste into a dollar amount using their special software. All of this would cost the establishment about 5,000 dollars. Though the software doesn’t provide the employees with solutions to reduce food waste, it provides them with useful charts and graphs that help the employees make these decisions. The employees and their managers then meet up once a month and brainstorm best practices to reduce the waste they are calculating on the LeanPath scales.
How effective has this been? Specifically, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has saved $300,000 dollars after it has started using LeanPath’s methods. I think that this is a great start to saving a lot of waste in the food industry. I do think LeanPath would be more effective if they gave practical solutions to reuse food that is intended to waste rather than giving facts and charts. With LeanPath’s program now, it looks like only the institutions that are most dedicated to sustainability will benefit from LeanPath’s products. This is why more commercial institutions like restaurants and food courts are not using LeanPath. Anyone can weigh the food waste but there needs to be an active desire to come up with solutions to reduce food waste in order to make this program more effective.

Can LeanPath eventually reach more commercial industries? Do you think it needs to alter its program to do so? If so, how?

Links: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-04-11/dont-throw-that-out-leanpath-harnesses-data-to-fight-food-waste

Be GREEN, or be SQUARE!

More and more customers now are looking for companies to be transparent, but it’s kind of hard to be competitive and sustainable at the same time.  Companies are now using value chain processes to get the job done fast.  They are not only focusing on suppliers but also taking into account By-Product-Synergy, which is “taking waste from one part of the production process and using that waste in order to generate a new product.” But how can companies become more sustainable if only “80 percent of management uses just 20% of the available opportunities?!”  The remaining 80 percent is where management needs to focus the rest of their energy.

It’s crucial for management to set goals and assess their risks, thereafter they can easily seek out opportunities for future improvement.  The first step to become a transparent company is to implement a sustainability program, and of course to develop a strategy.  The next step is to identify the companies “main processes and map data throughout the value chain.”  By using life-cycle-assessment software, the companies will have a more clear idea of how to lower their costs.

A similar approach was taken by ThyssenKrupp (FWB: TKA), a German elevator company.  Since ThyssenKrupp uses a considerable amount of steel in the manufacturing process, they thought the operational aspect had the greatest environmental impact. To their surprise,  the “company’s elevators themselves left a greater carbon footprint then their manufacture or any of the company’s other operations.”

As a result, ThyssenKrupp dramatically changed their product line after implementing a sustainability program.  They made the following changes to their products and services:

  • Elevators use LED lights which reduce energy consumption by 80%, and automatic fan and light shutoff which reduces CO2 emissions by 193,000 tons per year.
  • Getting rid of harmful chemicals used to manufacture the elevator.
  • Using petroleum based biodegradable fluid, with a vegetable-based option called “enviromax.”
  • Elevators are equipped with regenerative technology, meaning that the energy generated from the braking system is put back into the building.

In a way the article gives motivation to other companies who are taking their first steps towards becoming a transparent company.  It gives them few ideas and pointers on “unlocking supply-chain opportunities.” It’s important for different industries to decipher various ways to be more environmental friendly.  After all, there is more to being sustainable than just showing off your environmental initiatives.

Do you think ThyssenKrupp can take additional measures to make their company more sustainable?  Or better yet, are there any companies that you want to see become transparent in the near future? How would they need to change there operations?

Links:

http://www.thyssenkruppelevator.com/Sustainability/products-services

http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/04/26/whirlpool-thyssenkrupp-supply-chain-transparency?page=0%2C1

http://opsmgt.edublogs.org/2012/06/28/transforming-waste-into-profit/