Sunday, April 3, 2011

Advantages of Cloud Computing– Part XXVII –Flexible Mobility

I sell “Turning Convenience Stores Into Cash Generating Monsters” and other books on Amazon, where I compete with millions of titles from ‘A’ to ‘Z’.

Amazon has fifty-one warehouses located in the USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Japan and China. I don’t know how many books Amazon sells each day. At any moment in time, day or night, including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, I can go to Amazon’s web site and see the number of my books left in stock, the turn rates, my sales activity for all of my books by the year, the quarter, or the month or day. In fact, I can see right now, three books have been taken out of stock and are in the process of being made ready to ship to readers. Amazon’s computer pays me for the sales of my books by sending an ACH to my bank account once a month.  

The replenishment process is simple: Amazon’s computer constantly monitors my sales in a real-time environment, and when their computers sense an increase in sales and the days-left-of-stock falls within the ‘trigger range’, Amazon’s computer automatically emails me an order, a shipping label with the appropriate warehouse address, and a packing slip.

The size of the order can range from one book to hundreds of books. I never know until the email arrives. All I have to do is take the books to the post office, affix the shipping label to the package, drop the packing slip into the box with the books, and pay the shipping fee. The post office does the rest. The only man-power involved is me taking the books to the post office and paying the clerk to ship the package. The system is quite efficient. If the USPS operated with the same efficiency, no doubt stamps would be three-cents again.

Amazon’s inventory control system is based on a model that has been in-use for decades. Convenience stores work on a model that’s been around for decades too, except that model has been stuck in a rut for over forty years.

All around you, your competitors are adapting just-in-time inventory replenishment similar to Amazon ‘s– 7-Eleven, Alimentation Couche-Tard, Walmart, Target, etc. If you plan to stay in business, there is no legitimate excuse I can think of for you to delay moving to a similar system. If it’s a matter of technology, it’s been available since the year 2000; if it’s a matter of cost, why should you care, if it cost less than what you’re spending now and doubles the profits in your stores?

The only other reasons you might be holding back are maybe you sense it’s impossible, would never work in your environment, cost too much, or disrupt you organization? Whatever your reasons for delaying the inevitable, it’s a mistake to ignore it entirely.

Is it the fact that you’re afraid to be a pioneer? You know, pioneers are the guys with the arrows in their backs. You don’t have to worry about that either. The technology has gone through the development and implementation phases and it’s becoming more accepted every day.

There’s no risk in doing a little research. If your data processing people can’t give you a direct answer and a definite time-line, ask someone else. We’ll be happy to tell you how we accomplished building ours and it won’t cost you a dime. The book, “Turning Convenience Stores Into Cash Generating Monsters” goes into more detail. If you can’t afford to buy it, I’ll send you the free PDF version. What are you waiting for?

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