It seemed like a normal Monday morning in the Vendor Development
Department at
Kmart’s headquarters in Troy, Michigan. All systems had
apparently run properly over the weekend and the merchandising staff
was in their normal Monday morning routine of evaluating sales.  

Early in the afternoon I began getting a series of unusual phone calls.
One of the services Vendor Development provided to Kmart’s suppliers
was that of a sounding board. Vendors were able to come to us with
questions they were afraid to ask their buyers (for fear of reprisal or
embarrassment) and we would get answers for them.

The first call came from Advanced Watch, a jewelry supplier claiming
their orders that week were larger than the entire past year. They wanted
to make sure the orders were correct as they would need to run
overtime in their shipping facilities to fill them. I took down some figures
from them so I could investigate.

A few minutes later a call came from Corning Ware with a similar, but
larger, claim. According to their customer service department the Kmart
orders were a two to three year supply. They had called the person
placing the order and been told the orders were correct because of a
policy change. Corning Ware said to fill the orders they would have to
take all the reserve they had for Target and Wal-Mart and ship it to us.
They were afraid we would find our mistake and expect them to take
back the shipments, paying freight charges in both directions.

An unfortunate command
I found out an order had been given by then company president Andy
Giancamelli. Wall Street had been criticizing Kmart for having an
appearance that stores were out of stock. A research study found that
customers had a negative impression because some shelves and peg
hooks only had 1 item which could easily be seen as a false front to an
empty shelf.

Andy had told his next in commands to make sure there were two items
in every position so the shelves did not look empty.

Click here to see how this was implemented.

As Aesop established hundreds of years ago with his timeless fables we
remember words best when we become engaged in a story. Max has
compiled an anecdotal story collection designed to generate “ah-ha”
Click here to see more.

©2007, 2017 Max Impact, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA
Andy G.