Jim and I just published our new book, “Turning Convenience Stores Into Cash Generating Monsters” and you can find a link to order to the right of this blog. The theme is “this is best time ever to be in the convenience store business” because of the enormous opportunities that are being missed by almost everyone.
Throughout America, retailers are struggling to keep up in a Walmart competitive environment. This book focuses on the convenience store industry because c-stores are like most other retailers on steroids. The book explains how Cloud Computing will devour small software firms and put retailers on a level playing field with their larger competitors.
In 1918, Henry Ford created an efficient environment to facilitate the manufacturing of automobiles. Through his efforts, the key components needed were created on site, providing the just-in-time arrival of parts to streamline his assembly lines. The effects were a reduction in time, cost, and the creation of the world’s most celebrated manufacturing facility.
Nearly 100 years later, the retail industry is about to catch up.
The facilitator of this paradigm shift is Cloud Computing, but this book is not entirely about Cloud Computing; it’s about how retailers will rise and fall as visionaries begin to abandon traditional desktop computer systems and local area networks as they are forced to integrate with trading partners. The carnage will be horrific because it will annihilate the bulk of the existing information technology work-force who will be buried in graveyards alongside typewriter salesmen and buggy-whip manufacturers.
The end of information technology as we know it started even before it began. All technologies are transitional and their genealogy can be tracked through generations that proceeded and ancestors to come. For example: Celluloid film bridged the gap between live performances and video tape; video tape was a bridge from celluloid film to laser disk and DVDs; and DVDs took us from video tape to downloadable streaming video as evidenced by the rise of NetFlix and the imminent death of Blockbuster Video.
Desktop computers running DOS, Windows, Unix, Linux and Mac OS, are transitional technologies and will be remembered as the bridge from ‘time-sharing’ to large data centers accessible over the Internet. It will be decades more before desktop computer will become extinct; however, they have already begun their deadly slide into oblivion as thin clients proliferate to fill in the gap.
Retailers will be compelled, possibly even required to join networks of interconnected businesses in order to survive. Suppliers will need to rise to the occasion as retailers will demand more timely deliveries of the right inventory to meet their customer service levels. Today, most retailers are forced to carry twice the inventory needed, as markets change rapidly, leaving them with warehouses filled with obsolete and unsellable merchandise. Suppliers’ inventory control systems are antiquated and desperately in need of re-engineering.
The proof will come as we begin to see more cloud networks forming between trading partners and advanced by throngs of cash-poor data centers operating at a mere 10% capacity. The era of Cloud Computing has begun.