Running a retail business is a lot like gardening?

Witnessing my parents taking care of their garden for a living, I’m thinking running a retail business is a lot like gardening.

If we think of a product as a seed, our garden has also got thousands of plants to take care of. In order to grow the plants well, there are three important factors that we need to consider: soil, water, and sunlight. But each plant requires a different amount of them. For example, sunlight brings the nutrients for plants to grow but too much sun can cause the leaves wither. Besides, we also need to notice the climate, when is a suitable time to add nutrients, or to prune each type of plant. So the thing is how can we know what time and which plants and which ingredients that they need.

Beyond the plant level, we also need to figure out the way to optimize the whole garden to make the most out of it. For example, should we plan unions next to carrots to deter pests away from both, or should we add more flowers next to vegetables to attract bees, which in return pollinate the other plants, leading to a bigger overall yield. 

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So we always need to understand the whole landscape to foster growth for all aspects of their garden. The task is not easy at all. And since the garden is quite large with thousands of plants, my parents had to hire a team to work with them and support each other. Each person is in charge of a specific part like drainage system, soil cultivation, seed quality controlling, harvesting, …

Thinking back to the business, the bigger it grows, the more complex the business management is until it’s too much for a person to handle. That’s why once the business grows, there will be required different roles within the company to take care of different aspects but work together towards the common goals to thrive the business. 

Since each role has their own mission and responsibilities, the challenges that they face are also different. Here are the common ones: 

  • CFO:
    – Difficulty to control cash flow due to over purchase order and absolute stock.
    – Sales overstock are very low due to the lack of instant alert information.
  • CMO:
    – A smart tool to analyze the effectiveness of any promotion/campaign.
    – Delighting customers by product availability & demand analysis.
  • Merchandising Director
    – Making a purchase plan and forecast for thousands of SKU 
    – Balance stock in all retail stores
    – Manually analyzing sales & stock demand
  • VP of Stores
    – Spending too much time on paperwork to check data and read manual reports.
    – How to maximize the efficiency of store staff to improve sales performance.
  • CIO
    – Don’t have a data science team and expert in data mining to support the C-level team.
    – Manual work which takes time and does not deliver useful retail information.

Understanding these challenges, many retail companies are eager to find a technology solution that can help them address all of them automatically. 

In your opinion, which type of solution could be able to address these challenges?

Riley Dang
Data and process-driven business consultant with a demonstrated history of working with retailers. My aspiration is to help businesses to scale-up and thrive by implementing unified systems.

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