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Alison–thanks for the comments! I agree with most of your questions. I think that they will look to expand channels. A few things I thought they could potentially do is partner with a big retail chain and offer an “in-store” display and ordering system. This could keep there operating and business models aligned. They could view the expense of entering the store more of a “marketing” expense. Additionally, I believe they are probably missing a good portion of their target customer base by being so focused on internet sales. A direct mail campaign to drive customers to use their hotline (with customers that are not internet savvy) could be a cheap way to drive more business. It will be really interesting to watch them grow! Thanks again. Doug

On December 14, 2015, Doug commented on Carnival Corporation :

Very interesting post. It is incredibly impressive that they are able to turn over these ships in just one day. The biggest thing I would be interested in knowing more about is how they manage the supply chain for food/drinks and how they control inventory management? I am wondering if they plan “port stops” around the amount of food/drinks/water they are able to hold on the ship (until they need a re-supply) or have they configured the ships to be able to store for a given length. In order to minimize costs associated with spoilage and incredible warehousing fees near ports, I wonder if they have created cheaper distribution centers near port cities. A company like Carnival must have an incredibly developed international logistics planning department to control for all of these different types of operations.
Knowing how long it takes disembark a ship with thousands of people, I wonder how Carnival has managed to control the variability in this portion of the process to ensure there is adequate time to turn the ship-over?
Thanks again for an interesting post!

On December 13, 2015, Doug commented on An Ode to Trader Joe’s :

Thanks–this is great! I always wondered how TJ’s was able to offer such great products at such low prices. The two questions that are still lingering in my mind after reading this are:

1. How has cutting distributors out of the acquisition process affected TJ’s inventory management system ? Having to source directly from many different suppliers could lead to varying lag times and put a lot of variability into the system. They seem to manage this process very well (they always seem to have what I need!) and wondering what parts of their operating model specifically allow and manage this.

2. They seem to iterate very quickly on product offerings and new products (as you mentioned in the article above) I wonder what in their operating model drives this and who is responsible for it? They seem to do a very good job of offering relevant products for the local customer. I wonder how they manage the information in conjunction with the products to make sure that if something is on the shelf it is going to sell?!

Thanks again–very enlightening article.

On December 13, 2015, Doug commented on Taco Bell: When You Don’t Have Time for Freshness :

This is an awesome article. I eat at Taco Bell more than I would like to admit, and I have never noticed that they don’t have to cook their meat (I wonder if this is intentional or am I just oblivious?). The big question I have after reading this article is: what are the risks associated with this strategy? It seems like a strategy that other fast-food chains would like to employ (and would have the bargaining power with suppliers to demand if necessary), but have not done. I was wondering if it has anything to do with the “type” of meat they are serving (vs a McDonalds) and the overall lack of variability in their system (I mean a cheesy double beef burrito isn’t that much different than a volcano burrito). With less lead time required to cook the meat, I also wonder if this allowed Taco Bell to adopt more of a just-in-time management system where the meat doesn’t need to even be heated up until there is demand for it–potentially minimizing spoilage–a major cost for anybody in the food business.