Facing the Harsh Facts


Many companies that have lost profits or market share have managers who are still waiting patiently for their business to “get back to normal.” Others are looking for government help for their declining market and profit positions. Neither of these approaches is a viable situation. What is needed is less wishful thinking and rhetoric and greater willingness to squarely face the true facts about their markets and competitive positions. The demand changes that have occurred in many markets are structural, not cyclical, and it is unrealistic to expect any kind of a dramatic recovery or turnaround that will restore demand to former levels.

It is extremely difficult for managers who have built their entire careers around specific products and technology to accept the fact that their former business base has now leveled out from prior peaks, or worse yet, become obsolete or irretrievably lost to new competitors or technology. Obviously, many old-line steel managers could not imagine today’s world of aluminum cans, plastic auto parts and bodies, or Japanese, Korean, and small regional producers who constantly “beat their pants off.” Nor could managers in the high flying semiconductor business foresee the situation where their markets have not only ceased to gallop ahead, but decline dramatically, and where foreign sources, including Brazil, Korea, and Taiwan, have captured the bulk of the remaining business. Unfortunately, these are the facts, and an equally discouraging set of forces applies in many other markets.

It is understandable that managers who have grown up and lived through the growth years in any of these industries find today’s conditions difficult to accept. But they must change their myopic or unrealistic views of their business so they can tackle the hard work required to regain a profitable competitive footing. Otherwise, their situations will not improve and will most likely deteriorate further.

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

A Retailer’s Value Chain


The value a retailer adds lies in providing more choices, greater convenience, better quality, availability, and lower prices. To do so, it must perform several activities. The first stage of this chain is store operations, in which the retailer must perform four kinds of activities. First, it must make the right choices about the mix of goods that its stores must carry (merchandising). Once the mix of goods has been determined, purchasing must seek suppliers who are dependable, that is, would deliver on time and at good prices. The retailer, on the one hand, must also make sure that it does not run out of items that customers want but, on the other hand, cannot afford to be stuck which inventory that customers do not want. It cannot hold the goods too long either, because doing so also costs money. Moreover, the prices of products such as semiconductors or computers drop so fast that a retailer can loose a lot of money by holding inventory. Thus, inventory management is critical.

 

The second stage of the chain is logistic. The retailer must get the goods from suppliers to the right stores, at the right time, at the right cost. The last stage is marketing. The firm must market itself and its products through its advertising, promotion, and pricing, which is often done with the help of or in alliance with suppliers. In some cases the retailer may also have a service network to repair or maintain products.

 

In performing the activities of its value chain, a firm must interact with suppliers, customers, and firms in related industries. These other firms also have value chains of their own. What we really have, then, is a system of value chains called the value chain system.

 

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