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I hope everyone is doing well, especially after the winter storms that rolled in this week. In one form or another, we made it through the week and it’s time for our weekly shoot the shit. We talk about guns and gear during the week, but on Friday we generally have a shoot the shit topic that may be totally unrelated. Shoot the shit rules are simple, you don’t need to know what you’re talking about so you can make any unsupported comment, express yourself with uncensored profanity, you can insult anyone you wish or change the subject at will. We have these shoot the shits because their efficacy is far superior to sitting down with a jackass who’s sole reason for studying psychology was so they could understand themselves better. In fact your chances of being reimbursed by your insurance company are better with us than with your therapist. There’s a reason for that folks!

So let’s talk about merchandizing. Have you ever wondered why store shelves are arranged the way they are. It’s done to present products and to derive an understanding of what is performing as measured by dollars in sales per square foot. Merchandise generating strong sales per square foot will have additional space allocated. Merchandise that’s underperforming will have less space, is removed  or moved to an area where dollar sales per square foot requirements are lower (like the basement, as an example). The merchandizer determines product presentation and placement.

With computerized point of sales and inventory management systems, the classic role of the merchandizer has been diminished, opening the door to the retail jackass like what you are likely to find at any Wal-Mart. Nowhere on the face of the planet will you find Coca Cola on a soft drink grocery shelf and Pepsi in the middle of the store somewhere. Looking for bathroom towels? Some are in the bath area the others are with candles, silverware or greeting cards. It probably took a Harvard graduate to come up with that mapping strategy.

So Wal-Mart here’s an idea for you. You already have customers checking themselves out, so let’s expand the self serve  concept a bit more. Install customer terminals, with speech recognition functionality, located throughout a store in sufficient numbers to be useful. The customer can walk up to the terminal; ask for what they need, using any language preference. The system can respond, in the preferred language, directing the customer to the appropriate product location. The technology is there and mature enough to be included in your capital plan.

As always, let us know what you think. Remember, anything goes! Have a great weekend stay safe and warm, and spend some quality time with friends and family.

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