I’m tempted to say inventory management is an issue only in the Philippines, but that would be a lie. I’ve seen it as an issue in certain places in the U.S. Today, I’m focusing on the local stores, here in the Philippines.
If I ask a store employee where to find something, the most annoying reply is “out of stock, sir”. Especially when it isn’t true. It’s a standard reply when they don’t know where it is or what it is.
My wife, Josie, and I do most of our grocery shopping at the Royal Subic store at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. It’s duty-free and VAT-free. In other words, the price you see on a product is the only price you pay.
Over the past decade, we’ve learned certain lessons the hard way. If we ask one of the people stocking the shelves or some other employee where to find a specific item, we’ll get one of two answers. The first is a gesture, pointing to the general vicinity of the aisle it’s on. The second is “out of stock” followed by “sir” or “ma’am” (which sounds like “mom” to me).
I’ve found when I’m told it’s out of stock, it’s only true about half the time. If it’s a relatively new employee who isn’t familiar with the store, the employee will use the out of stock excuse often. Josie and I won’t even bother asking these days until we’ve already scoured the entire store.
What surprises me the most, and it has for a long time, is how often they actually run out of stock on familiar items. These are the things that shoppers always buy. It tells me that the people (or single person) responsible for the inventory doesn’t have a handle on it. And it’s been like this for more than 11 years.
CD-R King is a retail chain that sells mostly discounted computer parts and accessories. If I need something they carry, I can visit the branch at the SM City Olongapo mall or the other one at the Harbor Point mall at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. In my experience, the employees at the Harbor Point mall branch are friendlier.
One time, when I was at the branch in the SM City Olongapo mall, I nearly lost my temper. I asked about a certain product that I’d seen online and got the standard “out of stock, sir” reply. The only problem with that was they had more than a couple of them displayed up on the wall shelf, which I quickly pointed out. She apologized but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
In the case of Royal Subic, they use computerized receipts (they still write out receipts at CD-R King). That means their sales are tied to a computer system. If they’re not using any type of inventory management software, they’re just being dumb.
I worked at a military automated service center once. One of my jobs was making sure we had enough supplies on hand for the mainframes we used. We went through tons of single-part and multi-part paper. The supply room was only big enough for a month’s worth of supplies. If I failed to order enough to keep it fully stocked, I was in hot water.
I did it on paper and I was able to keep myself out of trouble for two years (until I transferred). With today’s software, it would have been a lot easier.