Wal-Mart Just Can’t Keep Products on the Shelves (In a Bad Way)

Wal-Mart Just Can’t Keep Products on the Shelves (In a Bad Way)

Wal-Mart has seemingly had a considerable amount of trouble keeping shelves in its stores adequately stocked since reducing the number of employees on staff at once in stores.  This is odd for a retail location since when products are not on shelves, there is not a large chance of them being purchased.  Especially disconcerting is that Wal-Mart has become the largest retailer in the world on the back of a supposed mastery of its supply chain.

Wal-Mart is now taking measures to ensure that the issue with product stocking is corrected.  The latest effort employed to do so is an external auditing process which entails a detailed process of checking each and every Wal-Mart location to make sure that products (when in stock) are on the shelves for consumption.

Wal-Mart refers to whether or not stores are adequately stocked via a metric known as on-shelf availability or OSA.  Due to the recent issues and the need to involve an external company to help stores ensure that they are stocked properly, shareholders are expected to vote at the next meeting as to whether or not Wal-Mart managers and executives should have their performance reviews and potential compensation tied to OSA.

When visiting a Wal-Mart location, check for neon green stickers next to the price tags on certain products; those are the ones that the auditors are going to be looking for.  Originally, the idea was to have the auditors go into the Wal-Mart stores and check on certain pre-determined items (unknown the store employees) and assign a grade based on how stocked those products were.  However, before the actual auditing process ended up taking place, it was determined that it would be beneficial to the employees at the stores to know the products that were being checked because those would most likely be highly driven items for the time of the year.  This entailed a rather tedious process for store managers as they had to allocate employees to the task of sticking green stickers next to products that needed to be stocked instead of actually just stocking them.

While the idea is good in theory, the actual outcome has been less than stellar since a good portion of the stores now have incredibly well-stocked green dot items with very poorly stocked products immediately next to them.  This should have been expected since the employees could focus purely on the products they would be evaluated on.

This situation is a very direct link to supply chain concept discussed in class.  In this case, the retail stores a sort of bottleneck.  After the products are produced and shipped to retail locations, they are not being put out fast enough to get to the customers.  Managers need to focus on properly allocating their limited employee resources to getting the task completed.

Do you think that this process will work?  How else could Wal-Mart improve its product stocking?


Open Season Ending For Social Media Hackers

Twitter Hoax Causes Market Decline–Washington Post


Following a recent slew of high profile Twitter accounts being hacked, the popular social media outlet is beefing up its security efforts.  If the company were to allow for the same security measures to remain in place, it would not only be damaging its own reputation, but it’s very operations would be ignoring a major ethical concern surrounding people’s right to privacy.

People are posting more and more of their personal information on the internet and social media outlets for various reasons and in varying capacities every day.  Naturally, such a movement has led to a simultaneous leap in presence of hackers.  The danger of social media hacking does lie solely in loss of personal data, however.

Individuals are now relying on social media as a primary source of news.  Inaccuracies in what is posted by seemingly reputable sources then has the potential to make for major overreactions and misunderstandings.  This is evidenced in the recent Twitter hackings of members of the Associated Press (AP) that led to several different incidents of false information being spread via the social media site.

Recently, false posts from a hacked AP account contributed to a stock market decline.  A hacker (following the tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombings) posted untrue information regarding an explosion at the White House.  He even went so far as to say that President Obama was hurt in the explosion.  Reactions to the news led to the aforementioned drop in the S&P 500 that saw a $136 billion dollar decline in market value.  This news is especially threatening to Twitter considering it was only a few months ago that the sharing of market-sensitive data was made legal on the social media site.

These sort of issues directly speak to the need for greater security measures to be taken by Twitter to ensure that private information and accounts are not compromised.  In response to the recent account hackings, Twitter has begun to take proactive steps to ensure that these sorts of issues do not continue.  New security measures are to include a multi-step authentication process that may even include identification codes being sent to account owner’s cell phones that must be utilized in order to be granted access to one’s Twitter account.

The increase in security measures is a great move, but it would appear that such a step is long overdue.  As we learned in class, proper planning steps could have addressed the potential for these ethical issues originally and saved the hassle now.  Individuals and companies entrust Twitter with personal information with the assumption that they will be protected from hackers and the like.  If Twitter or any other site is unable to live up to such assumptions, a very serious ethical issue could cause the reliability and credibility it has attained to be lost.

What other steps can Twitter take?  Do reports of these sorts of issues make you wary of the credibility of Twitter sources?