Walmart: Check It Out

Walmart: Check It Out

May 17, 2018

Consumers can check out Walmart’s “Check out with me” technology to pay for their Lawn & Garden Center purchases at 350 stores across the country.

Walmart associates, toting cellular devices and Bluetooth printers, scan heavy items like bags of mulch while it’s still on the shelf, saving customers the hassle of loading it into carts and pushing it back into the store to fixed checkout stations.  The technology will also assist customers outdoors in the live plant and potting soil areas.

The system is being tested in Lawn & Garden Centers, because that is where it is most needed to improve the customer check out experience.  However, eventually it could be used elsewhere in the store as well.  If successful, the system could be implemented at Walmart’s 4700 U.S. locations.

Walmart may also have checkout-free technology in the works to battle Amazon’s Whole Foods or the new Amazon Go stores, where customers can just pick up their items and leave while cameras, sensors, and AI technology track and charge them for their purchases.

This post is based on the Retail Leader article, Walmart makes more digital moves, by Gina Acosta, April 23, 2018; and on the Continue reading

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H&M May Be Going Out of Style

H&M May Be Going Out of Style

H&M, the Swedish fashion retailer, became famous for rapid conversions of runway fashions into affordable street clothing. This strategy led to stellar growth with thousands of store openings worldwide.

Lately, the company seems to have lost its momentum. Store sales have slowed, and unsold inventory has piled up. Clothing trends are very short-lived, making it difficult to introduce new products in a timely fashion (no pun intended).

This post is based on the NY Times article, H&M, a Fashion Giant, Has a Problem: $4.3 Billion in Unsold Clothes, by E. Paton, March 27, 2018. Image source:
Erica Simone Leeds
.

Discussion Questions

1. What factors have contributed to H&M’s sluggish store sales?

Guidance: Discuss the intense competition from Zara and other competitors, the decline in brick-and-mortar retail store sales, distasteful advertising, the inability to respond quickly to changes in demand globally, and top management’s apparent failure to identify the roots of the problem and fix it.

2. According to the author of the article, luxury brands and quality apparel have made a come-back. From a product design perspective, what does it mean for H&M?

Guidance: Discuss the place of H&M’s fashions in the product life cycle (maturity/decline). Continue reading

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Is the Medical Supply Chain a Risk to National Security?

Is the Medical Supply Chain a Risk to National Security?

March 24, 2018

Previous OM in the News posts have looked at the IV bag shortage in the medical supply chain, and many other shortages of medications and supplies. The causes of the shortages are many, including quality issues at production facilities, and Hurricane Maria’s damage to production facilities on Puerto Rico.

Shortages in this particular supply chain can have deadly consequences, and the risks need to be addressed.

Over the years, the supply chain for medical products and medicines has become very lean, and many items are manufactured off-shore.  The last penicillin production in the US was in 2004.  Only 10% of the generic drugs used in the U.S. are made onshore, and eighty percent of the active ingredients in medications are produced overseas, mainly India and China.

Considering the length of the supply chain, combined with ongoing shortages, does a lean medical supply chain present a threat to national security?

This post is based on the Wired article, Medicine’s Long, Thin Supply Chain, by Maryn McKenna, March 5, 2018. Image source: Douglas Sacha/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions

1. Should the United States Government develop policies to insure that critical medial products and medicine are produced Continue reading

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