life 07 Sep 2005 08:52 am

Forging the Supply-chain

Losing a room-mate is a lot like going through a divorce: Silence fills your apartment, and half the furniture disappears. I probably missed his 27-inch flatscreen TV more than my ex-roomie, so I went to Walmart to get me a decent-size flat-screen of my own. (‘Decent-size’ here meaning ‘not portable-size’) I decided to get a 20-inch and found that the brands that matter the most in Walmart — the Durabrands, the Emersons and the Magnavoxes — were completely sold out. The salesperson told me that a shipment was due that very evening and I was amazed at how quickly Walmart responds to customer demand.

I remembered someone posting on /. about Walmart’s data-mining on crisis-shopping. I googled for it and found this blog on Gartner:

For example, in between the two Florida hurricanes of last year, Wal-Mart analyzed which products consumers purchased. With Hurricane Frances not yet arrived, Wal-Mart analyzed sales data from Hurricane Charlie to get a better sense of what consumers would need for Frances. In addition to the usual items such as flashlights, Wal-Mart discovered that Pop-Tarts were a big seller.

It’s surprising what you can deduce from good statistics; makes me want to make ‘Freakonomics‘ my next read.

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