Taking Online Shopping Offline

Online Shoppers who choose to forgo shipping chargers visit Walmart to pick up items ordered online.Link to NYTimes article “Luring Online Shoppers Offline”

Online shopping has caused retailers such as Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears and The Container Store to loose millions in sales. Consumers have had such a profound obsession with purchasing a product at the lowest price possible that almost every product sold at traditional retail stores is constantly being matched up with prices online. Currently, Best Buy is even going to the extent of customizing the bar codes on their products so they cannot be scanned by consumers so they are able to look up online prices from sites such as Amazon.

To avoid having in store sales reach an all time low, retailers are attempting to lure consumers into the store by promoting their own online operations on site. Walmart has made an effort to add Web return centers, pickup locations, free shipping outlets, payment booths, and drive-through customer service centers for online sales to appeal to the growing amount of online shoppers.

Retailers like Walmart believe that they could potentially have an advantage over their online retail competitors due to the fact that shopping offline eliminates the expensive shipping fees. Walmart gives customers a variety of options such as being able to order products from their online website and then being able to pick it up and pay for it at the store, thus appealing to customers who have a trend of preferring to pay cash for products.

From focusing on the cash option, Walmart has seen a dramatic rise in demand due to promoting online pickup at their stores, which now accounts for half their sales. As a whole, Walmart has the advantage of appealing to customers that do not have a bank account of credit cards. In addition, the in store pickup also appeals to consumers that favor to buy items in bulk that do not qualify for online purchases.

Fellow retailers of Walmart such as The Container Store and Sears have taken on site purchasing to a new level by promoting a drive-through service that allows for consumers  to get what they need on the go. This service has also seen great success because it appeals to the consumers who shop online because they do not have the time to navigate their way through the retail store to purchase the products they need. Recently, a new trend has shown that customers who used this pick up  service have caused them to visit 50% more than customers who regularly shop in the store.

The competition between traditional retailers and e-commerce companies will continue to exist, but the efforts made by the traditional retailers to keep up with online shopping have been greatly significant. With all the new bells and whistles added to their offline services, will retailers truly be able to take shopping offline for good?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/business/retailers-lure-online-shoppers-offline.html?_r=0

Quality of Care or Save money? Maybe Both

Inventory system being used

One of the most depressing parts of this article was the fact that some hospitals believe they have to choose between quality of care and saving money. Why can’t you have both? This is what Seattle Children’s Hospital is helping to solve.

Before implementing the continuous performance improvement plan, nurses at the Children’s Hospital actually resorted to stealing and hiding tools and supplies needed for everyday use. When reading this, the first thing that came to mind was a hotel. It reminded me of taking supplies off of the housekeeping carts and storing them in the hotel room. So is this a proper way of keeping track of inventory? Of course not, so they implemented a plan similar to retail or manufacturing companies, where each nurse would have a fully stocked cart with two bins for tools and supplies needed for everyday use. When they used one bin, the next would be readily available. The empty bins would then go to a central supply office where the bins are scanned for restock or reorder. If this sounds oddly familiar, it should. The company most known for this inventory plan is Toyota.

I saw this plan up close and it really works well. I plan on working in the Healthcare field after graduation, so I shadowed a healthcare administrator at one of the Park Nicollet hospitals in Minneapolis (not at the Minneapolis campus with Nellie Munn). This inventory system is actually one of the topics you can still talk about with nurses and see how they needed time to get used to it, but highly prefer it over the other “steal/hide” system.

Do you think that Hospitals should start implementing methodologies of operations management?