Retail Trends & Strategies


  • Better market positioning: This involves more careful identification of market segments and providing service superior to that of competition.
  • Market intensification: This involves clustering more stores in the same metropolitan area and contiguous markets.
  • Secondary markets: Expansion will be increasingly focused on secondary markets  of under 100,000 population because there may be less competition from larger retailers, and costs, such as wages, may be lower.
  • Differences in store size: Retailers will have a more flexible portfolio of different sized stores depending on the size of the community and existing retail competition. More use of second-hand space will occur because this can result in savings of 30 percent or more in rent.
  • Productivity increases: The application of central checkout, self-selection, and low gross margins to areas of trade where these techniques have not been used before will occur. Look now at toy supermarkets, home-decorating centers, and self-service shoe stores.
  • Fewer product options: Product lines will increasingly be consolidated, and new product development will be cut back.
  • Service growth: Services retailing will continue to grow as a percentage of total retail sales. Services already represent about 50 percent of the gross national product.
  • More mergers: Increasingly, smaller and weaker firms will be absorbed as more retail outlets struggle to survive.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Economic Truths


Although there are few truisms that apply universally in the business world, there are four related economic truths that are valid in every business situation:

  1. Over the long term, it is absolutely essential to be a lower cost supplier or profit margins will erode.
  2. To stay competitive, inflation-adjusted costs of  producing and supplying any product or service must continuously trend downward.
  3. The true cost and profit picture for each discrete product/market segment is often obscured by traditional accounting practice.
  4. Real business winners concentrate as much or more on cash flow and balance sheet strength as they do on reported profits.

These points have always been valid, but they are far more serious today because there is much less margin for error in our more turbulent environment.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Follies of Losers


Losers lose out on repeat business. They use rather than value their existing customers. They haggle over prices and margins, and discourage ‘variations’ from standard offerings that might create ‘extra work’ and cause ‘systems problems.’ They do just enough to fulfill any contracts that are won. They don’t really care about their customers’ businesses and keep ‘outsiders’ at a distance to protect their ‘know-how.’

Losers do little to lock their customers in. they are reluctant to establish online links because of worries about importing viruses. Open book accounting and partnering relationships are also avoided. Not surprisingly, clients seeking a deeper and more intimate relationship look elsewhere.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Identifying Company Weaknesses and Resource Deficiencies


A weakness is something a company lacks or does poorly or a condition that puts it at a disadvantage. A company’s internal weaknesses can relate to a) deficiencies in competitively important skills or expertise, b) a lack of competitively important physical, human, organizational, or intangible assets, or c) missing or weak competitive capabilities in key areas. Internal weaknesses are thus shortcomings in a company’s compliment of resources. A weakness may or may not make a company competitively vulnerable, depending on how much the weakness matters in the market place and whether it can be overcome by the resources and strengths in the company’s possession.

Sizing up a company’s resource capabilities and deficiencies is akin to constructing a strategic balance sheet where resource strengths represent competitive assets and resource weaknesses represent competitive liabilities. Obviously, the ideal condition is for the company’s strengths/competitive assets to outweigh its weaknesses/competitive liabilities by an ample margin—50-50 balance is definitely not the desired condition.

Once managers identify a company’s resource strengths and weaknesses, the two compilations need to be carefully evaluated for their competitive and strategy-making implications. Some strengths are more competitively important than others because they matter more in forming a powerful strategy, in contributing to a strong market position, and in determining profitability. Likewise, some weaknesses can prove fatal if not remedied, while others are inconsequential, easily corrected, or offset by company strengths. A company’s resource weaknesses suggest a need to review its resource base: What existing resource deficiencies need to be remedied? Does the company have important resource gaps that need to be filled? What needs to be done to augment the company’s future resource base?

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Calculating Market Share


Market share is the ratio of the competitor’s annual sales to the total annual sales of competitive products in the market being served by the competitors. It is usually measured by dividing the  competitor’s sales in dollars by the total sales volume in dollars for the industry. Dollars are used in the calculation because monetary value is usually easy to obtain.

As may be seen from the dimensions describing the horizontal axis of the economic experience curve. It would make more sense to measure the market share in units sold during the year. Dollar volume does not double when volume in units shipped doubles if price decreases with experience.

The dimensions of the experience curve are fully allocated unit expense in constant dollars and cumulative number of units produced. The reference to doubling sales is measured in units shipped. Because this kind of measure could be counted off on the horizontal axis of the curve, it is possible to relate the growth in shipments to fully allocated expense in constant dollards, a reasonable profit margin, and the resulting dollar volume of sales.

The difficulty in obtaining the information needed to calculate market shares in terms of units shipped is often resolved by trade association data, which reports in both units and dollars. Still the associations may not include every possible competitor among their membership. In almost all cases, however, the non-members are not big enough to be significant. Even without the non-member data, the trade association information is a good approximation to the actual figures.

Given that sufficient data is available, it is not entirely necessary to know a competitor’s exact market share. The information most meaningful to a manager is market share compared to that of the nearest competitor. This gives rise to the concept of a market share ratio.

A proposed ratio that has special meaning when used in conjunction with the economic experience curve. The ratio may be best understood as:

Market Share Ratio =   Your Market Share __________

Market Share of Your Biggest Competitor

The interesting result of defining the ratio this way is that only one competitor has a ratio greater than one. All the others have functional ratios, less than one. For instance, if you the largest market share your biggest competitor will have a smaller share than you, and your ratio will be a number greater than one. If your biggest competitor has a market share larger than yours, your ratio will be less than one.

Because only one competitor has market share ratio greater than unity, the dominant competitor is identified by a number greater than one. Also, the degree of the biggest competitor’s dominance is indicated by the size of the number.

Typically, when a new business concept arises that can be represented by an economic experience curve, several competitors enter the marketplace within a very short span of time. There is an initial market penetratiuon in which market shares are established. Managers have learned how difficult it is to change the market share of the competitors once they have been established. Market shares among suppliers who are competing forcefully tend to remain reasonably constant. Cummulative experience relative to other competitors tends to be aligned with the market share ratios.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Yoking Technology with Market Opportunities


Developing new products that cost less or perform better has always been crucial for any technically based company. In our increasingly turbulent business environment, developing the know-how to keep pace with or even ahead of technological developments and competitors’ moves is more important than ever for several reasons. First, exploding technology is spawning new products and processes at an accelerating rate that threatens almost every product and process in place. Second, competition continues to intensify from abroad and a plethora of new startups and many substitute technologies that encroach on established products and processes. Third, product innovations that result in superior performance or cost advantages are the best means of protecting or building market position without sacrificing profit margins. This is especially true in today’s world when many industrial markets are flat or slow growth and excess capacity is commonplace.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Competitive Forces


Competitive strategy has become an area of specialty among management researchers and consultants. These specialists find that the competition within an industry is constrained by an underlying structure consisting of five powerful driving forces:

a)    Rivalry among existing firms in the industry

b)   The threat of new firms entering the industry

c)    The bargaining power of suppliers to the industry

d)   The bargaining power of the buyers from the industry

e)    The threat of substitute products or services

The underlying forces determine the profit margins that are characteristic of the industry. They limit the prospects for greater than normal profit margins. They influence the intensity of the competition and the long-term probable outcome of the competition. To entrepreneurs who are not familiar with these forces represent fate.

We often attribute the success of an entrepreneurial venture to its entrepreneur. We shouldn’t detract from the importance of the leader in a new venture, but it is very important to recognize that there are other forces that contribute to the success. A super individual with a good product entering an industry with an adverse underlying structure may have little success. A lessor individual entering an industry with a more favorable structure may succeed despite mistakes and misjudgments.

There may be many factors that influence a business firm’s performance in the short term. These factors are transient such as economic conditions, material shortages or strikes. In the long term, however, the five underlying structural forces determine the potential returns achievable by the industry. The various firms competing within an industry are thereby limited in their potential profit margins and returns on investment.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Principles of Quality Management


Vision-based:

  • Vision will give a sense of direction.
  • Vision will motivate human resource.
  • Vision will help the organization to stay focused.
  • Without vision an organization will fail.
  • Absence of vision will lead to confusion.

 Customer-focused:

  • Open economy has given away monopoly. It is buyer’s market which is in existence now.
  • Without customers no business can exist.
  • Internal customer orientation will improve productivity.
  • One dissatisfied customer can create havoc by unprecedented actions.
  • Retention of customer is the key issue in business.

 Prevention oriented:

  • Prevention is better than cure is a well acknowledged phrase.
  • Prevention orientation will take one nearer to ‘Zero Defects’ status.
  • Foolproof prevention techniques such as ‘Poka Yoka’ are available.
  • Corrective approach calls for costly monitoring mechanism.
  • Correction does not stop recurrence.

 Scientifically approached:

  • Scientific methods are based on fundamental or derived laws of mathematics and science and hence the foundation is strong.
  • Scientific methods are well proved over the years and hence chances of going wrong is remote.
  • Use of scientific methods gives a sense of pride and improves the self esteem of workers.
  • Unscientific methods make one ti depend on the previous experience, which may bot be appropriate.
  • Logical reasoning which may not always be appropriate is avoided in scientific methods.

 Process given more importance than end results:

  • End does not justify means.
  • Proper means will ensure quality result.
  • Zero defect is possible only if the processes are perfect.
  • Process orientation will make workers more responsible.
  • Result orientation will end up with huge los as all the defects are to be rejected.

 Data-based analysis:

  • Data-based approach will always give the best insight to the problem and solution.
  • Information-based or knowledge-based approach may mislead at all times.
  • Data collection is a strenous process; however the returns will be higher.
  • In many situations the raw data themselves will provide solutions to problems or at least provide useful clues.
  • Data collected and documented for one specific purpose, can well be used for some other purpose, thus providing a databank or multiple applications.

 Continuous improvement strategies

  • No one at any point of time can say that ‘Perfection’ has been achieved. Even six sigma companies talk about 3 ppm defects. Hence there is always scope for improvement in everything. Quality improvement is a never ending process.
  • The world has become so competitive that dynamism should reflect in every facet of business, even in product development.
  • Crativity and innovation are the order of the day in business circles.
  • Established tools such as ‘benchmarking’ are available for continuous improvement.
  • Improved products will have a cutting edge in the market.

 Cost conscious attempt:

  • ROI (Return on Investment) is the performance index for any business enterprise.
  • The visible quality costs are like the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of hidden  costs that go unnoticed.
  • Quality is free, meaning poor quality costs can be offset by good quality profit margin.
  • Affordability is the key factor for customers and profit margin is the key factor for manufacturers.
  • Prevention which could be done with $1 is missed, the failure/defects due to that will cost the company $10. the cost ratios are so high.

 Documentation for traceability

  • Stakeholders ae assured of the quality through documentation.
  • Traceability is effective and easy with documented information.
  • Documentation will amount to standardization.
  • To err is human; documentation helps in curbing human errors.
  • Role clarity is ascertained which reduces workplace confusion.

 Reward/Recognition assured

  • Recognition is one thing that every human being long for.
  • Motivation is the key factor for sustaining quality initiatives.
  • Rewards may be helpful in motivating non-performers to join quality initiators.
  • Disinterest in the job being done is the main culprit for low productivity and poor quality.
  • Human component plays a major role as compared to system component in quality initiatives.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Revisiting Leadership


Human beings are designed for learning. Unfortunately, the primary institutions of a society are oriented predominantly toward controlling rather than learning, rewarding individuals for performing for others rather than for cultivating their natural curiosity and impulse to learn. The young child entering school discovers quickly that the name of the game is getting the right answer and avoiding mistakes—a mandate no less compelling to the aspiring managers.

 

Our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning. The forces of destruction begin with toddlers—grades in school, gold stars, and on up through the university. On the job, people, teams, divisions are ranked—reward for the one at the top, punishment at the bottom. Incentive pay, business plans, put together separately, division by division, cause further loss, unknown and unknowable.

 

Ironically, by focusing on performing for someone else’s approval, corporations create the very conditions that predestine them to mediocre performance. Over the long run, superior performance depends on superior learning. A full one-third of the Fortune 500 industrials listed in 1970 had vanished by 1983.

 

Today, the average lifetime of the largest industrial enterprises is probably less than half the average lifetime of a person in an industrial society. On the other hand, a small number of companies that survived for seventy-five years or longer. Interestingly, the key to their survival is the ability to run experiments in the margin to continually explore new business and organizational opportunities that create potential new sources of growth.

 

If anything, the need for understanding how organizations learn and accelerating that learning is greater today than ever before. In an increasingly dynamic, interdependent, and unpredictable world, it is simply no longer possible for anyone to figure it all out at the top. The old model, the top thinks and the local acts, must now give way to integrating thinking and acting at all levels.

 

While the challenge is great, so is the potential payoff. The person who figures out how to harness the collective genius of the people in his/her organization is going to blow the competition way.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight