Author Topic: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?  (Read 8568 times)

Offline Jesse James

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #105 on: October 31, 2009, 01:42 AM »
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Would it make any sense to set up an ordering system that is 100% dependent on an automated process that couldn't be corrected in the case of errors?


No, but it also doesn't make any sense to leave ordering in the hands of anyone who doesn't know what they're doing, which generally most store managers and below don't at Target and WM, that's why the auto-ordering system is in place.  It's to replace merchandisers because it's considered "more efficient", and efficiency is WM/Target's central structure of their logistics model...  And ultimately problems are to be addressed via the store manager's contact to the distribution center and the person who has the actual power to do something about it.

Allowing individual stores control over the auto-ordering system is actually a very negative thing because of the gumming it can create in the works then, as they have the system set up now anyway.

Like I said, in an ideal world I think a merchandiser should be on-hand in the stores, as it's usually helpful if they know what they're doing...  It's what I did interning for JC Penney's when I graduated, and then I moved into Service Merchandise right after with a similar job even though I was the visual merchandiser for the district.  I still handled merchandising for my main store as well, to help the main manager/merchandiser.  It's people's specializing in knowing the product that helps a lot.

I'm all for having someone in the store that has an inkling of what they're doing, but WM and Target aren't set up like J.C. Penney's, Macy's, Boscov's, etc., as far as their inventorying goes, but they've all started heading more that direction, especially Penney's which canned a lot of folks way back when I was still there, because the system was changing gradually.

I think what you'd see if you had people at WM with the power to just say what they wanted, would be a distribution system far worse than the current (most likely) shorter-term backlog of crap.  At least if you didn't have them better trained to know their store inside/out, as far as merchandise goes.

Locally the best thing that could happen I think is retailers getting off their ass, clearing out blue/white carded stuff at a discount, and getting the SW aisle 100% to the new packaging.  But that seems unlikely to happen anytime soon, and has zip to do with Hasbro other than them getting their **** together and getting figures back to a "month-at-a-time" with the waves (at least).
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Offline efranks

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #106 on: October 31, 2009, 03:53 AM »
It's my understanding, of Target anyway, that the store does have the ability to zero out the counts of an item to force the computerized ordering system to request more product from the DC.

It may not be the team member stocking the aisles, it's probably the store manager or whatever person covers the area of the store that contains the toys.  If someone at the store didn't have the ability to do that then they'd never be able to compensate for theft, damaged product that wasn't correctly taken out of inventory or cashier mistakes that cause an item to not be rung out correctly.

They probably don't walk through an aisle and find a hole and force an order, it probably only happens when it's been brought to someone's attention and they take the time to investigate.  That or a rep comes through, finds empty pegs and checks up to find out what's going on. 

Don't get me wrong though, I'm sure the stores do rely heavily on the computer ordering system and it probably takes a lot of motivation to get the employees to actually check up on things. 

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Offline JediJman

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #107 on: October 31, 2009, 01:14 PM »
There is someone at Target who specifically goes through the toy section aisle by aisle looking for low inventory counts on a regular basis.  They are trained in what they do (contrary to Jesse's comments about all retail staff not knowing their ass from a hole in the ground) and they will zero out inventory as E mentioned to reset counts when they feel it is needed.  The automated system is there to simplify the process and take care of 95% of the work, but there needs to be someone checking on it and able to correct it when needed.  

I don't know about Wal-Mart or other retailers, but I would be shocked if they didn't have a similar process in place.  I've met some very helpful and intelligent sales people at WM who have gone the distance to help me out, so Jesse, I find your comments indicating that they are all untrained ignorants to be pretty offensive.  Kind of ironic that you are calling them ignorant then talking out your ass about inventory management systems you know nothing about.

Now are these people "merchandising specialists" who are expressly trained in knowing the nuances of every item in the toy section inside and out?  Of course not.  But they don't need to be a specialist in toys to understand that empty space on the shelves should be scanned and investigated and are trained to do that fairly simple task.  

The problem with Star Wars is that you can't easily tell the three different lines apart.  I don't blame retail people for that - there are numerous UPCs per DPCI code and a slight color change on the packaging is all that they have to go by.  They are told to front face all the pegs when cleaning up the aisles, and if they can't tell the figures apart, then they're going to be putting Legends and CW figs on the Legacy pegs - they're just trying to do their job.  Hasbro obviously realizes this is a problem as they've already commented that they will be making the packaging more distinctive next year.

I think we're all a little frustrated by some of the distribution issues of late, but I think what retailers are doing is a very very small part of the issue.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2009, 01:15 PM by JediJman »
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #108 on: November 2, 2009, 02:30 AM »
There is someone at Target who specifically goes through the toy section aisle by aisle looking for low inventory counts on a regular basis.  They are trained in what they do (contrary to Jesse's comments about all retail staff not knowing their ass from a hole in the ground) and they will zero out inventory as E mentioned to reset counts when they feel it is needed.  The automated system is there to simplify the process and take care of 95% of the work, but there needs to be someone checking on it and able to correct it when needed.  

I question to what extent they know their jobs, depending on what level they are I guess, yes...  These are likely the people who say, "spread it out" on the 3 different rows of pegs to make it look fuller than the individual line's numbers are showing.  Which I don't blame them either Justin, that's not really their job to know the 3 lines specifically...  In many store systems people who do jobs like that aren't paid much more than the average floor employee.  I really don't blame retailing employees totally, or at all in many cases.  They're at the mercy of the systems they work in generally.

Like I said, this is what I did right out of school...  Too many years of retailing really, which drove me away from it because it's nutty at times, and not very appreciated generally.  Merchandisers are usually replaced with a "department head" (or other similar title) now though, which isn't a replacement at all when you compare the two realistically.

I don't know Target's system thoroughly though, I've admitted...  Wal-Mart's I'm more familiar with.  Target seems a bit more efficient, I think, and it's generally similar.  At WM's there isn't a large group of people with the authority to screw with inventory.  THat's left to management only, and major changes (not loss adjustment) are done through district.  Dept. heads can bring things up, but management can shoot it down...  And they answer to district who can shoot their decision to change inventory for re-ordering purposes.  It's not that people CAN'T do it, it's that they don't do it for the things people are suggesting (getting new stuff on the pegs because the auto-order isn't doing it to their satisfaction, collector complaints, etc.).  That generally takes a district manager's approval.  Is it the same at Target?  Maybe not I guess, but I just have doubt that it is dramatically different.

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I don't know about Wal-Mart or other retailers, but I would be shocked if they didn't have a similar process in place.  I've met some very helpful and intelligent sales people at WM who have gone the distance to help me out, so Jesse, I find your comments indicating that they are all untrained ignorants to be pretty offensive.  Kind of ironic that you are calling them ignorant then talking out your ass about inventory management systems you know nothing about.

It's equally ironic you just said I'm talking out my ass about it, considering I do know about WM and a variety of other retailers...  My background just says differently, and I'll leave it at that I guess.  I've had some very, very helpful employees at WM, Target, and anywhere I shop myself as well.  My comments aren't meant to be offensive more than they are meant to say, "don't blame retail employees, as they're not experts and don't have the ability to fix things the way you want them".  But that's been my experiences in the industry before I quit for the better.

My experince with Target has mostly been limited in that I've studied their business model several times in the past because of its competitive efficiency though, and successes compared to other retailers, in particular logistical issues...  maybe they've got a system with a much wider birth on inventory alterations, distribution fixes, and a general ease on who can access and change these things, and things of course change in 11 or 12 years time I guess.  Still though, loss replenishment's one thing, but we're not talking about theft...  We're talking about a major adjustment to inventory replenishment issues at individual stores.  These things are not the same, and they require a bit more than the average floor employee or department head.  Usually it takes management contacting district/distribution centers...  that's why Hasbro's, "working with retailers" to fix it, and all that jazz.

People did the same thing with inventorying at Penney's and they were called MA's (merchandiser's assistant).  They helped the store merchandiser control inventories for each department on a more micro-managed level, but they held no real power either.  They didn't even handle scheduling for their departments.  It's not a knock on them, they aren't experts, but they helped keep the merchandise stock flowing and things replenished steadily, and they always knew their section best compared to upper management save for the merchandiser for that group of departments...  they were basically sales floor associates though.  They couldn't fix distribution issues like we're seeing...  Penneys is way different than Target though.  But still, the sudden ( or complete?) depletion in the system at (at least) stores I imagine requires a reason and in my experiences it cannot be accomplished without one being given to the powers that be.

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Now are these people "merchandising specialists" who are expressly trained in knowing the nuances of every item in the toy section inside and out?  Of course not.  But they don't need to be a specialist in toys to understand that empty space on the shelves should be scanned and investigated and are trained to do that fairly simple task.
 

And I hope they've had these months to sort this all out then.  I'd imagine it's shown on their inventory sheets for their department now for a while that one of the STar Wars lines is sorely hurting, as all 3 will show separately on a sheet since they're 3 separate numbers...

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The problem with Star Wars is that you can't easily tell the three different lines apart.  I don't blame retail people for that - there are numerous UPCs per DPCI code and a slight color change on the packaging is all that they have to go by.  They are told to front face all the pegs when cleaning up the aisles, and if they can't tell the figures apart, then they're going to be putting Legends and CW figs on the Legacy pegs - they're just trying to do their job.  Hasbro obviously realizes this is a problem as they've already commented that they will be making the packaging more distinctive next year.

And as noted above, a department head should have a sheet showing them, 3 different lines.  This is what Hasbro's talking about when they say that it's three separate lines and that retail knows that.  It's obviously real tough to discern visually in an aisle, but it's much less complex on a store's inventory sheet for that aisle.  It may even break it down by # on a visual mock-up to the aisle's display, similar to a plan-o-gram, so the employee can see that column 1 has 4 pegs and 24 figures (or whatever, this is all hypothetical), column 2 with 4 pegs has 2 figures, and column 3 has 30 figures (or whatever, that's somewhat simplified).

I agree totally, it's not the retail employee's fault on the floor that theyr'e told to get the section cleaned up and not leave pegs empty, that's pretty standard stuff and in some cases it is even part of OSHA regulations, but if department heads are following up on inventory counts and things to help the management, they certainly get a comparison and see 0, or whatever, for an active number as being in stock on the floor, and that's where they're hopefully fixing that by working with management...  THough why the inventorying system is NOT re-ordering is odd, and for a very long time now it seems.  If it's down so low (I saw a Target today down to one peg of Legacy stuff total).  That's usually a sign either the re-order point's been lowered because sales have stagnated, or there's a flaw in the system itself I suppose, or there's a distribution issue from the manufacturer, which Hasbro's denying.

I've personally thought it's been more in the middle...  re-order points have been lowered or frozen because of stagnant sales.  Retailers are backing off.  Store managers can be lectured all day by collectors on an issue like that, but it'll take more than someone upset they can't buy the latest Legacy case to fix that kind of a problem, as a manager can't tell district "I want more Legacy stuff", when district's the one who stopped it for something they feel is a legitimate reason.  That's where Hasbro reps should be coming into play, and helping break the logjam.  That's also why Hasbro would take anything back, as well...  Retail said, "no", and Hasbro has had to react.

Sadly, by my estimation locally though (and some others as well it seems), some of the OLD cases were still in the pipelines with WM and Target both, and so some older figures that Hasbro cleared out have returned....  back to square one.
« Last Edit: November 2, 2009, 03:40 AM by Jesse James »
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Offline efranks

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #109 on: November 3, 2009, 06:04 PM »
Alright, Target finally restocked again tonight!!

Oh, wait, 2008 wave 4 Revision 2.

We're back to 3 Breha, 2 Bail, 4 Stass Allie and 4 327th Star Corp figures plus a pair of Grievous and Saleucami Clone and whatever else was left...

Is E gonna have to choke a bitch to get this fixed?

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Offline darth_sidious

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #110 on: November 3, 2009, 06:40 PM »
During November and December, we will be chasing 4 waves of Legacy figures and 2 (maybe 3) waves of CW figures - that is a distribution train wreck in itself - not to mention Legacy waves are harder to find now, and most stores only put out 1 case at a time - Hasbro needs to figure something out before we have a melt down.

Offline Morgbug

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #111 on: November 4, 2009, 04:17 PM »
Brand new case of Legacy put out this morning, I even scored the empty box from the store.  Of course given I'm in Canada, the only thing I scored actually was the empty box with the street date of July 2008 replete with more Yarna.  Yay, thanks so much for that. 
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Offline iFett

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #112 on: November 4, 2009, 04:20 PM »
Wow...that's pretty sad Brent.
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Offline JesseVader08

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #113 on: November 4, 2009, 04:27 PM »
Shouldn't you be doing your civic duty and filling said box with Yarnas?   :-*

Offline Morgbug

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #114 on: November 5, 2009, 01:26 PM »
Dude, I own two Yarnas - that's 12 boobs worth, more than enough for any man. 

Went back again today and they'd put out the old Legacy stuff.  Well, it was brand new, but it was the white card, round top Legacy card - Seulacami trooper etc.
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Offline JediJman

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #115 on: November 5, 2009, 01:32 PM »
Dude, I own two Yarnas - that's 12 boobs worth, more than enough for any man. 

Went back again today and they'd put out the old Legacy stuff.  Well, it was brand new, but it was the white card, round top Legacy card - Seulacami trooper etc.

I had to limit myself to 2 Yarnas as well.  I might have gone for extra if she had more of a Darth Talon frame though.   ;)

Has there been any official word that newer Legacy waves won't be shipped to Canada?  Thought I read that somewhere on here, but wasn't able to dig it up.  Let us know if you need help from your neighbor to the South - we've got waves 8-10 popping up here and there right now.
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Offline Rob

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #116 on: November 5, 2009, 09:10 PM »
I don't know if anyone's done the math or not yet... but in the last 5 or 6 weeks I've bought:

Target Geonosis 2-packs:  10 Figures
Episode I wave:  7 figures (including B.A.D.)
Episode VI wave:  10 figures (including B.A.D.)
Episode IV wave:  10 figures (including B.A.D.)
Episode III wave:  7 figures (including B.A.D.)
Second Ugnaught
5 Comic Packs (still missing one):  10 figures
Gunship Battlepack:  2 figures
Re-released Mynock Han and Chewie
Wedge X-Wing:  2 Figures

That adds up to 61 figures in about 6 weeks.  It's a year's worth of stuff in under two months.

Which is out of control.

« Last Edit: November 5, 2009, 09:11 PM by Rob »

Offline Morgbug

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #117 on: November 5, 2009, 09:58 PM »
That's ridiculous.  But it's also wholly off topic for this thread considering how much you've found. ;)

I do believe precisely none of that has been released in Canada; now I could be wrong about a wave or two but I don't think so.  I've been able to pick up some of it from hts.com but I'd like that second Ugnaught, Rum Sleg and a few others.  I've mostly been waiting on hts.com to get them, but usually out of stock. 
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Offline Rob

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #118 on: November 5, 2009, 10:40 PM »
That's ridiculous.  But it's also wholly off topic for this thread considering how much you've found. ;)

I figured this was the best place to put it because it was in part the terrible distribution that led to all of this product showing up right now.   :)

Offline McMetal

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #119 on: November 6, 2009, 09:16 AM »
I don't know if anyone's done the math or not yet... but in the last 5 or 6 weeks I've bought:

Target Geonosis 2-packs:  10 Figures
Episode I wave:  7 figures (including B.A.D.)
Episode VI wave:  10 figures (including B.A.D.)
Episode IV wave:  10 figures (including B.A.D.)
Episode III wave:  7 figures (including B.A.D.)
Second Ugnaught
5 Comic Packs (still missing one):  10 figures
Gunship Battlepack:  2 figures
Re-released Mynock Han and Chewie
Wedge X-Wing:  2 Figures

That adds up to 61 figures in about 6 weeks.  It's a year's worth of stuff in under two months.

Which is out of control.



Don't forget the TIE Interceptor, AT-ST and Dewback which are out now too! It's crazy!

I could post a list of the new TCW stuff I have found in the same time span, but it would be a lot shorter.  ;D
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