Making people smarter, one shower at a time.

Inventory management is definitely one of the most important aspects of any business! I am currently running a company selling educational shower curtains and one of the biggest hurdles we’ve been trying to jump is our stock issue.

My company sells over 10 different styles of educational shower curtains. We were the top selling shower curtain on, until we were out of stock of the top three styles being sold through Target. Since Target only carried three of our styles, we were unable to restock because we had around 6,000 unsold units in our warehouse of the other eight styles.

When it comes to getting products manufactured in bulk, there is usually a minimum order quantity. For shower curtains they generally range from 500-1000 units per order. This makes it difficult for small companies to project which styles will do well, and which styles won’t.

It was interesting hearing the professor talk about how crucial it is to have effective inventory control. This is definitely something I’ve experienced and still learning from!

18 thoughts on “Making people smarter, one shower at a time.

  1. I’ve seem these on before! This issue I think has a lot to do with forecasting for each product. Looking at past month or year sales for each individual product can help determine how many you need to product. Doing so can help you see what your most popular products are and which ones you should keep in stock more. Especially for the more popular products when buying in bulk it’s probably better to have extras then to not have enough.

  2. I have never heard of these before, but I found myself wondering if I should go buy one of these. Forecasting is key because you have to make sure that you have enough inventory to satisfy customer demands. You also have to take into account if you would rather have cash or inventory.

  3. This is extremely interesting, as it perfectly relates to proper inventory management AND forecasting. It would be extremely difficult to forecast something like this, since it’s a design and you really never know what it is that people will want until you make a mistake.

  4. You bring a a good point as to small businesses having to order in bulk, and not knowing which items will hit and which will miss. I hope you do good with your business. One way I view this also, is that maybe your are in your introduction stage of the product life cycle. Once you have a steady demand for your product, you might be able to estimate how much you will need to order next time. Good Luck with this venture of yours.

  5. Having a warehouse full of products that will fulfill exactly what Target customers are looking for must be challenging. It would be interesting to hear if the forecasting equations we learned in class would be beneficial towards your business model. I hope it continues to go well for you!

  6. This is a really interesting post, and I love your business idea. I think that there is a real disconnect between shipping and commodity companies and the businesses that they are selling to. While I do understand the old rationale behind the huge incentives that lay in buying in bulk due to economies of scale, there are areas not being serviced within our economy that are crucial to growth, namely smaller enterprises. The future of our country rests on continued growth and our ability to nurture these blossoming corporate entities. With money so cheap these days, we should expect to see a continued influx of start up companies in practically all sectors. Suppliers would be wise to look at ways that they can better service these young companies in an effort to build strong mutually beneficial future relationships, and our domestic economy as well.

  7. I also saw these on and I found them to be very interesting. I think your biggest challenge is forecasting for the next quarters however a look at the environmental factors plays a big role in high sales. I would forecast that you would sell out more of the kids related styles before schools starts. Every kid wants to impress their friends before they start school with some interesting facts. Also any kind of big holiday would forecast higher sales. Selling out particular style might depend on different seasons. Also increase in housing sales will give you higher sales because people move and they usually buy a new shower curtain for their place.

  8. Your company should have produced a lot more shower curtains to meet their demand, especially if they were selling their product to a huge retailer. Since Target only carried three of the products, the company should have focused more on producing those products. I personally think it would have done a lot better and generated more revenue. If Target continually ran out of stock and your company wasn’t able to produce enough to meet their demand, then they will terminate their contract with you.

  9. This is a great idea, lots of college kids love tools like this so that you can turn a daily chore into a learning activity. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get into Target? Do you give them your product on consignment? regardless of these questions way to go, and you surely will stand out at a later date and time if you choose to get a job in corporate America. I find personally people that have worked retail, service positions, and have started their own company make the best employees to some extent. this is in direct correlation to how happy they are at their job; i mean if you have an employee that wants to start up a new company you now wasted your time training them, and have to dedicate more resources to train someone new.

  10. Great concept! Since class has ended have you been able to figure out a way to work around this problem? This reminds me of problems that I feel many candy companies have to deal with. In most cases there are always the “favorite” and “best selling” flavors of any type of candy and many retailers find that they have high inventory of the less liked flavors. Did you ever think that maybe you should discontinue some of the curtains that aren’t selling well? Just a thought!

  11. I agree with your statement that inventory management is very important to business since if you cannot manage your inventory, you could surfer a huge loss. I think a good way to forecast which products will do well is to learn the market better. For example, you can have a research on those customers who brought your products to find out the reason that they brought your products. Once you understand what customers’ real needs is, you can have a better management on inventory.

  12. This is a good idea. I have never seen a shower curtain but would definitely check it out. Forecasting is crucial for a company especially when they are producing variety of a product. It is important for you to know which style is selling the most so you can make more of those. For example, a lot of shoe manufacturer would produce a higher quantity of 7-8 since they are sold the most and they sell out faster. This forecast helps companies maximize profit by producing less of what has less demand for and more for what has more demand for.

  13. I agree with Vincent, this is a great concept. With regards to inventory management, have you considered conducting research as to when (specific time of the school year) that certain test are conducted on specific subjects/subjects? Figuring this information out may assist you with inventory forecasting. I wish you great success with your business!

  14. This is very true! In any business effective inventory control plays a major part, hence it plays as well part in satisfying customers and keep existing ones. Choosing the right product will always be a challenge in every business.
    Forecasting the market and knowing the customer wants will provide you with great hints to enable you to know which items needs to be supplied most.

  15. This is a great product, a smart one actually! I totally agree that you shouldn’t place an order of new stock while you still have a large inventory. It is crucial for any company that sells pre-ordered goods to think of different scenarios that may turn their initial plan and to be prepared to adapt to changes. I believe you had to think even further when you decided to go on, this can be considered for future orderings.

    Your objective right now is how to get rid of the 6,000 unsold units! I think in this situation you should focus on selling in bulk rather than selling to individuals. Try to target organizations who might be interested in purchasing in large quantities, such as dorms of private schools and universities in the US and abroad. Children hospitals and other care centers can be within your target market well.

    We learn from our mistakes to succeed in the future.

  16. For a small business like this you might consider just in time inventory system (JIT) so that you will reduce the risk of this problem from happing again, if not you can stay with the same system but you must either ask Target.Com to sell the other styles as well or focus on top three selling products only!! It’s tough being a small business it todays expanding world!!

    Ali Shbbar: Certainly Sayed (In a British accent)

  17. Great business idea and a very innovative way of encouraging kids to learn what they have to while showering. We still didn’t cover forecasting and inventory management in the class in detail, but there is no doubt that managing inventory and appropriate forecasting is a key factor to the profitability of any business. I also agree that bulk ordering is an issue for many small and micro businesses, where I would suggest in such cases to find similar business owners in your area and have a bulk order distributed amongst you all in order to benefit from the discount provided from ordering bulk and get the cost shared between you, without effecting your liquidity much. However this solution might not be feasible if you are running a unique business idea.

  18. What did you do to stay in business after this issue? Target was probably your biggest customer so I would see their business as crucial. Did you just start selling the other styles you still had plenty of in stock or get a deal with your provider to be able to order less at a time from now on?

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