Some recent personal shopping experiences got me thinking about retail buying and how our perceptions as consumers often differ from our perceptions as purchasing professionals.

There has always been a lot of buzz about Walmart’s leadership in the field of Supply Chain Best Practices. Numerous articles detail their use of RFID technology, how they approach supplier management, and their streamlined/automated fulfillment processes. So why is it, ever time I go to Walmart to buy electronics the item I am looking for is out of stock? For me, it seems like they define “Just in Time” to mean “Come back tomorrow and we might have it”.

As a purchasing professional, I would not continue to utilize Walmart, at least not without developing performance metrics and meeting with their operations team to ensure these issues do not continue. As a consumer, I find out where the next closest Walmart Superstore is, and start driving with fingers crossed.

Home Depot
This past week, I had Home Depot come to my house to quote on some window replacements. I have a drafty old house and its time to upgrade the single pane windows. During his pitch, the sales person shared an interesting statistic – Home Depot estimates the average homeowner will spend $70,000 at Home Depot over the course of their lifetime. I feel like I already spent that much, but I probably haven’t (yet). It did shock me to see that everyone else was in the same boat – and keep in mind – this estimate is just for Home Depot – and doesn’t factor in Lowes, Ace, True Value, or any of the other players in the Home Improvement industry.

As a purchasing professional, before adding a new product category to an existing agreement, I would take a closer look at my annual spend volume with the supplier and the term of the existing relationship. As a consumer, these thoughts never occurred to me. Based on my aggregate volume and the nature of our long term relationship, shouldn’t I be getting a discount on these windows?
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Joe Payne

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