Operations: Distribution, Sales & Service

11 Results


The Strategic Way To Hire a Sales Team

The equivalent of an entire sales force is replaced at many firms every four years, so it's critical that go-to-market initiatives remain tied to strategic goals. Frank Cespedes explains how in his book, Aligning Strategy and Sales. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

The Dynamic Effects of Bundling as a Product Strategy

This paper investigates the practice of bundling as a product strategy, and identifies how consumers make choices between products and bundles in a dynamic environment. Authors Timothy Derdenger and Vineet Kumar look at the handheld video game market to study bundling in a platform setting with the goal of investigating several key questions of interest to practitioners who make product decisions: First, do consumers value bundles over and beyond their component products, indicating a synergy, which some researchers have hypothesized? Second, have there been differing opinions on whether mixed bundling, that is offering both the bundle and individual products for sale, is more effective than offering only pure bundles or even compared to offering only the products for sale? Given the prevalence of bundling in technology markets, it is critical to understand whether bundling is more effective in environments with strong network effects or with weak network effects. Read More

How Mercadona Fixes Retail’s ’Last 10 Yards’ Problem

Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona offers aggressive pricing, yet high-touch customer service and above-average employee wages. What's its secret? The operations between loading dock and the customer's hands, says HBS professor Zeynep Ton. Read More

The Effect of Labor on Profitability: The Role of Quality

Determining staffing levels is an important decision in retail operations. In 2006, retailers spent $393 billion on employee wages, more than 10 percent of their revenue that year and more than their inventory holding costs. Hence, staffing levels have a major impact on retailers' costs. But at the same time, staffing levels affect conformance quality—how well employees execute prescribed processes—and service quality—the extent to which customers have a positive service experience at the stores. While there is overwhelming evidence that conformance quality and service quality improve sales, both generally and in retail settings, their effect on profitability is not clear. To examine how the amount of labor at a store affects profitability through its impact on conformance quality and service quality, Zeynep Ton analyzed extensive data from stores of a large retailer. Read More

Extending Producer Responsibility: An Evaluation Framework for Product Take-Back Policies

Managing products at the end of life (EOL) is of growing concern for durable goods manufacturers. While some manufacturers engage in voluntary "take back" of EOL products for a variety of competitive reasons, the past 10 years have seen the rapid proliferation of government regulations and policies requiring manufacturers to collect and recycle their products, or pay others to do so on their behalf. Toffel, Stein, and Lee develop a framework for evaluating the extent to which these product take-back regulations offer the potential to reduce the environmental impacts of these products in an effective and cost-efficient manner, while also providing adequate occupational health and safety protection. The evaluation framework is illustrated with examples drawn from take-back regulations in Europe, Japan, and the United States. Read More

Incorporating Price and Inventory Endogeneity in Firm-Level Sales Forecasting

Benchmarking and forecasting firm level performance are key activities for both managers and investors. Retailer performance can be tracked using a number of metrics including sales, inventory, and gross margin. For operational reasons, the sales, inventory, and gross margin for a retailer are interrelated. Retailers often use inventory and margin to increase sales; and sales, conversely, provide input to the retailer's decisions on inventory and margins. Inventory and margin also influence each other. This research uses firm-level annual and quarterly data for a large cross-section of U.S. retailers listed on NYSE, AMEX, or NASDAQ to construct a model that examines the interrelationships among sales per store, inventory per store, and margin. Read More

The Strategic Way to Go to Market

Too often channel strategies develop at the last minute--when a product is ready to go to market. But this haphazard approach leaves a lot of efficiencies and synergies by the wayside, says V. Kasturi Rangan. Enter the concept of the "channel steward." Read More

How an Order Views Your Company

HBS Professors Benson Shapiro and Kash Rangan bring us up to date on their pioneering research that helped ignite today’s intense focus on the customer. The key? Know your order cycle management. Read More

The Parable of the Bungled Baggage And the Unhappy Customer

Sometimes a seemingly harmless corporate decision such as a budget trim can lead to big problems elsewhere. HBS professor W. Earl Sasser tells what happens when budget constraints and customers collide. Read More

Control Your Inventory in a World of Lean Retailing

"Manufacturers of consumer goods are in the hot seat these days," the authors of this Harvard Business Review article remind readers. But there is no need to surrender to escalating costs of inventories. In this excerpt, they describe one new way to help lower inventory costs. Read More

Rocket Science Retailing

Retailers and e-tailers have enormous amounts of data available to them today. But to take advantage of that data they need to move toward a new kind of retailing, one that blends the instinct and intuition of traditional systems with the prowess of information technology. Read More