Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Of Paint Racks and Planning

Interesting article on IcV2 here.

And by interesting, I mean "the first half of the article seems reasoned and well thought out, but the last half of it seems to be little more than a monkey throwing his feces at the wall."
In this article, Scott Thorne says....

"It would really have helped us out in terms of budgeting if GW had given us more information about this more than two weeks in advance. "
I was told by my rep, almost TWO MONTHS AGO, that the current line of paints were going to be phased out. We were told that instead of ordering them by the box of 6, we could order them individually, so that we could have a 'minimum stock on hand'.

Now, it doesn't take a mental titan to figure out what's going to happen.   We were also told...MONTHS prepare for a 'large financial outlay'.    Again, it sure doesn't take a mind of Mensa to figure out what's going on here.

Now here's the funny part.  Scott here is bitching about an outlay of $2000 bucks.  Now, to a game store owner, 2 large isn't a small chunk of change.  It surely isn't.  But, if a person who was watching their money couldn't set aside the sales from all of the paint on their current rack (which will NOT be restocked), then I'd suggest a serious look at the way they do their financial tracking.    
Over the past couple of months, we almost completely sold out of the paint on our soon to be replaced rack.   The money from that, under normal circumstances, would go to pay for restocks, and then other sundry items, like rent, electricity.  Instead of putting that money into restocks (or, I'm willing to bet in Scotty's case... dumping those sales into other departments....) just set it aside.  When the time comes to shell out those bucks for that rack, one should have almost half of the money already set aside.

This is what we in the industry call "financial planning".
Now, in the interests of fair argument, this scenario doesn't take into account the fact that the range expanded from 70 some odd paints to 145. This means that, depending on the previous rack's stock levels, you'll have in the neighborhood of one quarter to one half of the new rack paid for. 

Now, for myself, hearing that the line was going to be expanding to 145 paints, I was fully expecting Games Workshop to want me to buy 12 bottles of each paint, putting the cost of the new rack system at about $3600.   When they came and said that it was only going to be 6 of each paint, that actually freed up about $1800 dollars in my budget. 

Still though, the point remains that anyone who possesses even basic observational skills should have been able to adequately prepare for the new rack. 
Now, onto his comments about the rack itself.

"Unfortunately, the new rack suffers from a design flaw, at least from the retailer point of view.  Unlike GW's last two paint racks, I guess in order to fit the wider range of paints into it, the paint slots fit at a much steeper angle, only holding six paints, unlike the older ones, which held 12.  Since GW ships paints in quantities of six, the store either has to maintain extras in backstock somewhere away from the rack or wait until paint runs out before putting in a reorder."
Really?  I mean....really? This is actually worth kvetching about?   Now, I noticed the same thing too, and for the briefest of moments my brow furrowed slightly at the fact that I wouldn't be able to store more than 6 points on rack.    My marginal disappointment at that was countered by the fact that now, with the increased angle, and another changes to the rack, All of the paints in the rack would actually slide down to the front of the rack properly.   Before, the rails that the paints set between were just a hair too narrow, and since they used a flat metal pan to slide on, there was much greater friction.  The result was many times people would buy a couple of paints, and the ones behind them wouldn't slide forwards.

 Sometimes, it would look like we were out of paints, when in reality we had plenty more, just tucked up in the darkest deepest recesses of that rack, unable to slide down into the light of day.
Now, we'll have to keep a box set aside with backstock paint.  I have several things that are in my backroom as backstock (and overstock too..which is another insidious beast).   It's not going to take too much for me to tell my employees to keep an eye out, and if they see a paint low on the rack, to check the inventory in the computer, and if there's plenty of inventory left, go into the backstock and get some.

This is what we in the industry call "inventory management". 
Is it a touch more inconvenient?  Yeah, I'll grant that.  Is it over the top inconvenient?  Not in the least.   It's more than made up for with a rack that has all of the paints slid to the front, and helping to make the rack look full and stocked.  As one of my retail mentors once said "if you can't afford to keep your paint rack stocked, get out of the business."  I'll take this rack six days of the week and twice on Sunday over that last rack.  My job is inventory management, and asking me to do my job isn't a 'design flaw'. 

Some people might think I'm just being a sightless fanboy, waving the games workshop banner in utter and loyal devotion.  People who know me will know otherwise, as I'm one who point out what I perceive to be flaws, but I also feel it's proper to point out when people only feel like whining about the potential negatives of a situation, instead of at least acknowledging the positives.
There are plenty of very legitimate things to bitch about concerning Games Workshop.   The fact that a retailer can't pay attention to some very basic signals, and seemingly can't be bothered to pay a little more attention to his stock levels, doesn't count among them.