Where Products Go To Die

In a country where 90% of our consumer products become waste in about 6 months, sustainability is becoming a more pressing issue for companies operations.  A great example of a company that implements sustainable operations is Method a company that makes house-hold cleaning supplies, most popularly carried by Target. Method attempts to implement sustainability in their products, their process and their company itself. Their most important achievement in operations sustainability is being Cradle to Cradle certified.

Cradle to Cradle is the concept that a company can re-design products and change their manufacturing process in order to maximize positive impacts environmentally, economically and socially, where a company is less dependent on raw materials and energy and the supply chain is naturally more eco-efficient.  Most manufacturing processes are linear and considered Cradle to Grave, which is when a company uses raw materials to create a product, the consumer purchases the products and then eventually puts it in the trash where it is taken to a landfill or incineration. Cradle to Cradle attempts to create a cycle where a company pools materials to be re-used and products are returned from consumers and recycled back into products.

Method displays on their website their Cradle to Cradle certification and explains how they are certified in product design, product manufacturing and social responsibility. Method’s product design is evaluated by their ingredients which are comprehensively assessed for safety and environmental health and their packaging design and materials are evaluated for safety, effects on the environment and recyclability.  Method’s manufacturing processes are evaluated regarding their use of water and energy and their material recovery. Method’s social responsibility is evaluated through governance, ethics and transparency.

These are many ways companies can be more sustainable and the Cradle to Cradle certification is a great way to remain consistently sustainable. It also helps prove to consumers that your company is actually sustainable, rather than using the “going green” trend as a marketing ploy, which many companies have done.

Although Cradle to Cradle may be ideal for sustainable operations, it can also be very expensive, from redesigning products to tracking manufacturing in more granular ways. It almost attempts to challenge and change business models and the way products are produced. The only way to fight these challenges and expenses is to incorporate these practices from the beginning into the first business model. Which is why we should always challenge flaws in current business models and ask ourselves how we can create evolutionary business models.

11:11 Make a Wish – China’s Cyber Monday

Many may know and participate in the United States huge rush for online shopping after Thanksgiving, also known as Cyber Monday.  However this ranks as the second largest e-commerce event in the world.  In the recent years, an online shopping extravaganza has emerged for China.  It began in the 1990s by college students who did not have a significant other.  As a replacement for Valentines Day, young adults without partners began treating themselves to dinners and gifts.  The concept of the date arose by November 11th or 11-11 which has 4 singles (for singles).  It has now erupted into possibly the busiest online shopping day in the world.

The simple items have now evolved into jewelry, TVs, and even cars.  The event has also spurred the need for different marketing techniques and price cuts.  As the article mentioned, some retailers have promised discounts up to 70 percent off.  The deals are very hard to resist and resemble many aspects of the United States’ Cyber Monday.  Halfway through the day,  approximately $1.6 billion in sales have been accumulated by means of the largest website for online shopping in China, tmall.com.  This amount has surpassed the $1.25 billion that United States online retailers took in last year’s Cyber Monday according to the article’s source comScore, a research firm.

Companies have also had to begin planning and forecasting sales and delivery services months in advance.  Alibaba, the largest Chinese operator of e-commerce, has requested additional lounge chairs and made reservations for rooms in nearby hotels for their employees to take much need breaks and relaxation.  According to the article,  more than 800,000 delivery personal will be working Sunday with the additional 75,000 hired seasonal workers.  And one of the largest companies has even expanded their operating capacity by 50 percent.

Although the idea of a large shopping spree day online in China may be different from the United States, there are many similarities when it comes to the businesses and their preparation.  Do you see a growing trend in online shopping in American or believe that making the trip to the store is necessary?  In my opinion, I believe it matters in the nature of a product to either purchase it from a picture on the screen or physically taking the good off the shelf.


Article Source : http://finance.yahoo.com/news/singles-day-chinas-online-shopping-070856623.html

Helping yourself to the top spot by helping others

We have learned a lot of different strategies that firms can use in order to be competitive in the marketplace. They varied from having a quick response to offering the cheapest product. However, companies these days are trying to do everything in their power to stay competitive. There is no reason that they shouldn’t do anything in their power to be known as a great company and thus get better sales. A big new aspect for businesses is volunteering.

IBM is one of the biggest companies that has been volunteering and helping out communities since its inception five years ago. Just last year, IBM’s 430,000 employees spent 3.2 million hours volunteering. In her article Volunteerism as a Core Competency, Diana Brady said, “The company (IBM) makes sure its philanthropic efforts align with its business objectives”. They are incorporating their employees into helping out the community and those that are less fortunate. This is fantastic for a number of reasons. For starters, people who need help get reached out to and their lives are improved. There are also reasons that benefit the company. By working on these small projects together, the employees are building relationships with one another. A task force that knows each other and cares about each other can work as a well oiled machine and get things done faster than just a bunch of employees who barely know each others names. Lastly, there is also the benefit of goodwill. Goodwill is when a company is in the positive eye of the public because of the actions that it has taken. Customers want to purchase from companies that are helping the environment and the communities in which they are located. Purchasing from those companies makes the customer feel like part of their money is going into these causes that the company is helping.

As the article states, a lot of Wall Street firms need to rebuild their credibility in the wake of the financial crisis. Volunteering and getting involved is a perfect way of getting that done. But what kind of projects should they start? Regarding what to do, Diana Brady said, “Projects have more impact when they draw on a company’s strength”. That means that companies should try to get involved in a way that is similar to their business objectives just like IBM. An example is FedEx delivering emergency medicine to disaster areas. In that example, FedEx is able to help out using delivery which is something that they excel at. They get to show off their strengths to the public and possibly attract a lot of new business for themselves.

One aspect of this is that people would believe that a company is truly good and has good morals. With all the recent popularity of volunteering, more and more companies are doing what they can to help out. This is fantastic. However, are these companies helping out solely based on trying to get more sales? Either way people are receiving aid but should companies only volunteer in order to stay competitive?



Hurricane Sandy Causing Problems for Small Businesses

When compared to major corporations, small businesses have it rough.  They don’t have the staff, resources, or logistical capabilities of larger companies.  Imagine, then, the nightmare that so many small business owners awoke to after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast.  It’s for this reason that I’ve decided to discuss small businesses and the logistical difficulties they are facing after Hurricane Sandy – especially in regard to their supply chains.  The following New York Times article is one of the few I found that exposed the grim reality so many small businesses will face in the coming months.  Below is a synopsis.


A small business owner stands amongst the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.  Click the image to be taken to the article.

The article begins with a story that perfectly illustrates the dire circumstances so many business owners found themselves in after Hurricane Sandy passed through the East Coast.  Kristy Hadeka and Sean Tice – co-owners of Brooklyn Slate Company, a company that produces slate cheese boards – had been preparing for the holiday season when Sandy hit.  As a small business, the company depends on the revenue generated during this time of the year.  According to the article, holiday sales typically make up 75% of the company’s annual revenue.  Instead, they found themselves dealing with a litany of other issues – a depleted staff, damaged inventory, halted UPS shipments, and even customer emails requesting arrival times for orders.  Kristy and Sean even had to locate missing merchandise that was being transported to a Whole Foods store in Massachusetts.

Another small business, Linda the Bra Lady, had a similar experience. While the company did not experience any physical damage, co-founder Carl Manni explained that they did suffer financially as a result of the storm.  Manni explained that due to damage sustained to several of his vendors’ warehouses, he was unable to procure the inventory he needed to fill online orders.  He consequently had to back out of the orders – a decision that will cost him approximately $50,000 for this week alone.

Outside of lost inventory and stifled supply chains, the looming issue is that many of these business owners did not have insurance that covered a disaster of this nature.  Consequently, many small businesses will have to file for bankruptcy if they do not receive disaster relief funds from the government.

Ultimately, I feel that small businesses have a much harder time dealing with catastrophes of this nature.  Whereas large retailers can reroute their supply chain or reorganize resources to soften the punch Sandy packed, small businesses do not have the necessary resources to reroute orders or replace inventory – especially given the current state of the economy.

* The information provided in this post was drawn from the following New York Times article:


Questions to Consider

  1. How do the logistical challenges faced by small businesses differ from those faced by major corporations?
  2. In the aftermath of Sandy, who has the rougher road – large corporations or small businesses?
  3. Put yourself in the shoes of a small business owner, how would you have reacted to a disaster of this nature?
  4. Should the government help small businesses recover from this disaster?

Walgreens Inventory Management System


As early as 1994, Walgreens has been ahead of its competitors regarding inventory systems. Taking on new technology, which is defined as SIMS technology (strategic inventory management systems), which previously had not been applied to the pharmaceutical sales industry. This early technological approach to dealing with issues of inventory, such as over and under stocking, greatly benefitted Walgreens in the long run. This benefit was able to be transmitted to consumers as well as net profits for Walgreens due to their ability to track their inventory in all facets of its movement. The systems implemented by Walgreens allowed it to eliminate a great deal of its excess as well as virtually eradicate under stocking. However ultimately, what was most significant is what this process allowed Walgreens relative to its consumers. Walgreens, as a result, managed to cut its customer wait-time in half.

Walgreens has been able to use this basis of efficient to expand to over 4000 locations in ten years. Moving from a locally recognized Chicago pharmaceutical retail company to a major corporation, which many argue in large part is associated with its focus on inventory management. Because Walgreens monitors its inventory through every step of its process it is more difficult for anything to be lost in addition this data collecting process, which is becoming more and more utilized allows Walgreens to stay ahead of the curve.

Walgreens has been able to become the company it is today as a result of its constant revising and tireless focus on technological internal opportunities in the inventory and customer care sectors. It is this technological focus that has lead Walgreens to become a major market share holder per the NAICS able to hold it’s own against CVS and RiteAid while acquiring smaller scale pharmaceutical retailers.





Black Friday vs. Black Thursday !!!



It’s that time of the year again Black Friday deals. I never understand why so many people sleep outside all night to get something that is limited to very low number like five or ten pieces and the person there whose number eleven just got nothing but waited all night in cold weather. Last year I decided to try and shop at midnight I went to Macy’s waited in line for about two hours and when we finally got into the store I honestly didn’t find any good deals so I think it was not worth it for me to wait in cold weather for noting. I just wanted to experience it and I did but I don’t think I would repeat it again. Well I found this interesting article that talks about opening as early as 8:00pm on Thursday this year that means Thanksgiving will be cut short for a lot of people. Wal-Mart was the first one to announce that they will be opening as early as 8:00pm this year. And this is when competitors come in to place Sears also announced they will open at 8:00pm. Now Wal-Mart has to worry about their competitors and what they are offering to beat their prices.

Wal-Mart also announced that they will have enough inventory from 10:00-11:00pm for customers to get the same deal as they would get in store online. Now inventory managing will be a big part of this they will have to make sure that inventory will remain available and the numbers of inventory are accurate so that no problems will occur with consumers. Wal-Mart has to make sure that their entire inventory will come on time with correct amount to avoid any problems. The best way to make sure inventory is accurate is to forecast their inventory and make sure the demand numbers are correct. Some customers are already unhappy because they will have to cut their Thanksgiving with family and friends early to go shopping so that’s why inventory has to be done correctly so that customers will be satisfied. But what happens to those poor employees who want to spend some quality time with their family and friends on Thanksgiving Day? Now they have to come to work early but will the quality of employees towards customers be the same? Of course not employees will be unhappy and quality will go down. This is where Wal-Mart and Sears need to work on quality management system so that they will make sure their employees are happy so that customers will be satisfied and happy also. So maybe paying them double on that day will make their employees happier. So opening early is good but Wal-Mart and Sears need to make sure that quality, and inventory is in good shape for customers to be happy and for them to make good profit.

Do you think opening early this year is a good idea? And will quality and inventory be in good shape or will there be a problem?




Preventing Supply Chain Disruption Like Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy in the East Coast resulted in roads to be closed and shortages of gasoline and groceries in some areas of New York and New Jersey. The damages cost approximately $50 billion. Moreover, the storm also impacted the supply chain of products, which can determine success or failure of retailers during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

A high transparency of supply chain management system from procurement to warehouse to transportation is very important, for the reason that it allows businesses to quickly respond to the unexpected or disaster. According to The New York Times, before the Hurricane Sandy, economists expected 1-2 percent growth of the fourth quarter. After Sandy, they expect that the growth will be reduced by half a percentage point, and this may cause “ripples throughout the holiday season” (Knotts).

However, the storm is no longer an outlier of the supply chain disruption it caused based on a study by the Business Continuity Institute. This is because 85 percent of respondents worldwide experienced at least one disruption mainly associated with weather. The disruption becomes worse and worse “with the increase in megastroms worldwide and the growing complexity of international supply chains and E-procurement” (Knotts).

It is interesting that one third of the respondents do not know where disruptions occur due to the fact that the full supply chain is not being analyzed. A half of respondents said productivity is decreased due to the disruption, and a third said that they lost revenue. Fortunately, automating command and controlling of supply chains can mitigate losses.

The following lists are what companies need to take into account to create an effective supply chain management.

  • Inventory: Businesses need to focus on stock quantity, location, shelf life and expiration, which will help businesses avoid costly mistakes.
  • Asset: Businesses can use software to “accurately account for all assets across each facility from procurement to retirement with real time data available anywhere you have access to a browser or mobile device” (Knotts).
  • Transportation: Transportation process should be automated including route planning and status notifications.
  • Work orders: Businesses can use software to track all details of goods and services. Good work orders help businesses enforce accountability, timely response and work quality.
  • Warehouse management: It should be automated for full transparency. By using software, it helps businesses “map the warehouse for maximum storage effectiveness and schedule enough workers to receive shipments, among many other capabilities” (Knotts).

This article relates to supply chain management topic from our class lecture. As we know, supply chain management is very important in today’s competitive market place since competition is among supply chains not companies.  Therefore, it is crucial that companies have a good understanding and manage their supply chains effectively to avoid risks and costly mistakes that may happen.


What other factors other than those listed above do you think that companies should consider when it comes to effective supply chain management?




Amazon: Prime Joining the Battle of Video Streaming

A long while back Amazon introduced Amazon Prime, a program that provided their customers with all kinds of perks: free two-day shipping, instant streaming of movies and TV shows, and instant access to thousands of Kindle Books; all with the price of $79 dollars a year, and $39 dollars a year for students. This service is another asset to the e-commerce giant. Recently, in response to the holiday season upon us, Amazon decided to offer another pricing option program: $7.99 per month. By offering the $7.99 per month option, Amazon has placed themselves in the middle of the video streaming battleground along with Netflix and Hulu Plus. However, as of right now, Amazon knows that their video streaming options are not as grandeur as Netflix and Hulu Plus, but they do have free two-day shipping and Kindle Books up their sleeves.

Amazon’s strategy had always been focused on the consumer. They keep customer service and pricing a priority giving them a competitive advantage. When Amazon decided to offer the $7.99 per month option, they knew full well that they are ready to duke it out with Netflix and Hulu Plus. Since all three company’s prices are identical, they are now competing on differentiation.

  • Amazon has their free two-day shipping, Kindle Lending Library, and Amazon Instant Video.
I absolutely adored the free two-day shipping; I  have a Kindle Fire; Amazon have movies that I can stream that Netflix does not have [ex. The Breakfast Club].
  • Netflix has the largest assortment of movies and TV shows
They have A LOT of movies and full seasons of TV shows!
  • Hulu Plus provides a collection of movies and TV shows along with new episodes of shows the very next day in case you missed it.
I always miss my TV shows when they air, so Hulu Plus is my lifesaver.

Honestly, for me, it would be very hard to choose. I currently have all three services and I cannot seem to let go of any of them because each of them provide something the others do not have.

As for Amazon offering a new pricing option for their Amazon Prime was a subtle but yet effective move. As a customer perspective, I know when I first saw the price of $79 a year upfront, I hesitated. As a student perspective, the $39 a year was a bargain. As for a person that does not like to commit to one company for a whole year, the $7.99 option is a must have. Amazon might not have as much video options as the other two, but Neflix and Hulu Plus should keep an eye on Amazon because that can change.


  • How do you feel about Amazon Prime’s new price option?
  • How will Amazon Prime fare against Netflix and Hulu Plus?
  • Which service is your favorite?

Will iPhone lose its top spot?

The iPhone may have some actual competiton now. According to BusinessWeek, in the third quarter of this year, Samsung Galaxy III has outsold the iPhone by 1.8 million during this 3-month period when comparing shipment orders to sales of the iPhone. Samsung has been the only smartphone even close to competing with Apple since the iPhone’s inception. We have recently been talking about supply chain management and this could be why Samsung has such an edge up compared to other smartphone manufactures. As we learned in class, companies are not competing against each other, rather by their supply chain. Samsung is able to produce its own chip, flash memory for internal storage and Super Amoled handset displays. They are the only smartphone manufactures who do this, while Apple designs their chips and then hands it off to someone else to manufacturer them. They also outsource their production of the actual phone to factories in China. Apple’s supply chain process has been working will for them which are why they are ahead of their competition besides all of the features of the phone. Samsung is closely following Apple’s supply chain model by controlling what they can as much as possible. Samsung has also recently been sued by Apple for imitation of their phone. Do you think they will eventually be able to have a leg up on Apple do to their supply chain model? Or are they a top competitor because their phone is so closely imitated to the iPhone?



Source: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-09/why-only-samsung-builds-phones-that-outsell-iphones#r=nav-fst



scratches on the iPhone 5

How important is a small scratch on an iPhone? In our class, one topic that interested me was product quality and its many definitions, dimensions, and quality systems. Through vacation trips and experiences around the world, I have obtained all kinds of products not knowing much about quality comparisons. I did not realize that there was a quality system like ISO 9000 that companies acquired. Learning this will help me better examine products before making the purchase.

On Forbes.com, there was an article that talked about the struggles in quality control. Thousands of workers for the production of iPhone 5 strike over workload and pressure. China Labor Watch claims that those on strike are mostly from the “onsite quality control” line. Workers not only have regular long hours but they need to work on holidays as well. On top of this, the precision and demand of product quality has pushed workers too far. Indentation standards are 0.02mm and workers did not have training for corresponding skills making it extremely hard for employees to meet the standards. Fights have started causing several quality control inspectors to be hospitalized.

Learning from the puppet production, the number of defects is high when you do not regulate and check on each worker. In my opinion, to ensure that every customer receives a product with no defects, standards need to be set high. I think it is reasonable for indentation standards to be 0.02mm. Do you think these standards are set too high? What do you think about this strike?