World-Class, Lean Performance in the SMEs - Small and Medium Enterprises - by Carlo Scodanibbio, Industrial & Business Consultant - Lean Management Consultant

Carlo Scodanibbio
Industrial & Business Consultant
Lean Management Consultant


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World-Class Performance Tutorials - Tutorial 03
deployment of lean thinking principles in the retail sector
solution & conclusions
by Carlo Scodanibbio

The proposed solution is based on the following considerations:

  • Any waiting time longer than expected or actually required is a loss of value to the customer.
  • The fact that customers may actually see fitters throwing bras (and swimwear) and their nylon bags and sleeves in the large carton is definitely not contributing to good image - moreover, some customers may get the impression that the bra they are testing has actually been tested by someone else (which is a reality in this type of retail outlet - however imagining or suspecting it and "visualizing" it are two totally different things….). Even worse it becomes, if waiting customers actually see fitters digging and searching for bras in the large carton….
  • The fitting rooms do not have any surface on which bras and their packages can be put during testing. The only working area is the supermarket basket fitters use to carry bras. Which is both inconvenient and detrimental to good image.
  • Practically all customers do not want nylon bags and sleeves for the bras they purchase.

The proposed lean solution (one possible solution) is based on the usual core principles of Lean Thinking: Value - Flow - Pull. This is their deployment:

  • The "utility" bra store is in a too far away location. The service counter is hardly utilised for any beneficial purpose. Why not transforming it into the utility store? Obviously some good shop-fitting has to be made, in order not to jeopardize the aesthetics of the area.
  • The lower part of the counter becomes the utility store for those bras that are slow/slower moving, while the top part becomes the utility store for the fast moving ones. Bras are stored in their nylon bags but without the cardboard sleeve. Sleeves are stored next to each compartment, at easy reach, should some customer prefer to get them with the purchased bras.
  • A number of special and dedicated shopping trolleys are designed and provided to each store. They are rather small in size but of the right height, so that they can be used as point of support during the fitting operation in the fitting rooms. If a customer hasn't a trolley, the fitter brings one to the fitting room with the required selection of bras. Any bra that remains unselected is immediately put bag in its nylon bag by the fitter, while the customer tries another one. Once the selection is made, the fitter brings the trolley to the utility store and, while the customer is dressing up, puts back the unwanted bras in their location. The chosen bras remain in the trolley, which is given to the customer to go to the till or to continue shopping. In this way two results are achieved: the fitter has time, means and possibility of putting back bras in their nylon bags (because they have a point of support and a working area) - the customer can continue shopping without leaving her chosen bras at the tills.
  • The large carton disappears forever and ever.

With the above:

  • Value to the customer is maximised - image is supported through the functionality of the entire process.
  • Flow is practically continuous, and there is no residual waste (searching, moving, re-packaging, etc.).
  • The entire process is pulled by the customer.

Which leads to the simple conclusion: Lean Thinking principles can conveniently be deployed in just any process of any industrial sector.

Read the case again - click here

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