What To Do When the Business Negotiation is Over?

What To Do When the Business Negotiation is Over?

The negotiation is over and done with (or at least this meeting that is a part of the negotiations is done with) and the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques have all been put away. Now you can go home, put your feet up, and relax until the next meeting. Hold on – it turns out that things really don’t work that way. Reaching the end in a negotiation is when the work really starts. Do you know what you need to be doing now?

What Was Achieved?

The most important thing to realize is that you need to get together with your negotiating team as quickly as possible after the negotiation is over. Our memory of what happened starts to slip very quickly so speed is of the essence. One of the most important things to discuss is a review of whether or not you got what you wanted.

If you had taken the time to define your objectives before the negotiations started, then you’ll be well positioned to evaluate the outcome. If it turns out that you were unable to meet your objectives, then this is the time to delve into why that happened. Your goal needs to be to learn from what happened and improve your odds of meeting your objectives the next time that you negotiate.

 

What Happened?

In every negotiation, there will be both good things that happen and bad things that happen. What you and your team are going to have to do is to sit down and come up with answers to questions such as what did you do that worked out? What went wrong? What could have been handled better?

Your goal in doing all of this is to learn from what happened. Your goal has to be to use this knowledge to improve how you go about negotiating. You’ll also want to talk to your negotiating team and get their feedback on how things went – what were their impressions?

How Have Your Assumptions Changed?

When we walk into a negotiation, we bring along our set of initial assumptions. These are effectively our best guess at where we think the other side is coming from and what they’d like to be able to achieve by negotiating with us. These assumptions are not always correct.

You may need to be open to letting your assumptions go. At the very least, you will probably find yourself having to either modify or eliminate some or all of them. It will be the additional information that you have picked up during the negotiations that will guide you as you evaluate your assumptions. Keep in mind that one of the worst things that a negotiator can do is to hold on to assumptions that are wrong!

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

It is a very natural tendency to want to take a break once either a complete principled negotiation or at least a part of it has wrapped up. It turns out that this is exactly the point-in-time that you need to be at the top of your game – there’s work to be done here!

 

The very first thing that you need to do is to meet with your negotiating team and review what has been achieved by your participation in the negotiations. How does this align with the objectives that you had mapped out before the negotiations started? Next you need to review how the discussions went. What was good about how things unfolded and what did you think was bad? Was there anything that you could have done differently? Finally, based on what has happened so far, how have your initial assumptions had to be changed?

I have often found that I’ve learned the most from my negotiations after they are over. It’s only when I have time to reflect on what has happened that I am able to understand how things fit together to lead me to the results that were achieved. The next time that you are involved in a negotiation, when it’s over take the time to review what you’ve learned and you just might be surprised!

Job Interviewing Preparation: The Winning Approach!

2f8bea9Job interviewing is the key to getting the all important job offer. You can write a powerful resume, your cover letter could win awards, you have a long list of relevant accomplishments but if you blow the job interview all the previous hard work goes down the drain.

Business executives and politicians spend thousands to media consultants to help them in presenting their agenda. The smallest details are securitized. How you sit in a chair, how to handle the most difficult questions, the color of your tie or scarf, and possible bad personal habits are critically reviewed and corrected.

The goal is to effectively communicate their agenda and not allow some relatively minor and easily fixed actions detract from the message. The same approach should be applied to the job interview. Your goal is to present yourself in the most positive way possible and to communicate your message so the employer is motivated to make you a job offer.

With competition for many jobs to be at a high level, the top candidates will be very close in skills level and qualifications. So the winning approach that will put you ahead of the competition is proper job interview preparation.

First, job interview preparation does not start when you get a call and are scheduled for the interview. Interview preparation should start when you begin your job hunt.

Waiting until the interview is scheduled will normally not give you enough time to polish your presentation. Being short of time means you’ll have to cram the information, you’re likely to miss critical aspects of the interview and your stress level will be at an all time high; all factors that are not conducive for you to be on top of your game.

Here are some steps to take in building your job interview skills:

1. Prepare great answers for questions. Interviewing means you will be asked questions. You can begin by researching and compiling the best list of tough questions you can find. Place the questions on one side of a card with your best answers on the other side.

As you do more interviewing research you answers will get better, will become more positive and more concise. Working and improving the tough question list should be an ongoing project.

2. Organize your interviewing. Break the question list into sections. Have a friend interview you and tape the interview. If you think its necessary, get professional help to coach you in best interviewing practices.

Critically study your performance and watch for distracting habits; like little eye contact, “oohs” and “ahs” during pauses, repeating “you know,” and other things that will work against you. Do each section until your delivery is positive, smooth and you effectively communicates your agenda.

Learn useful interviewing tips by studying individuals answering question on various TV programs. If sitting in a chair watch how they appear engaged by sitting on the front third of the chair. At the end of the interview do you know what their agenda was? How well was it communicated? What could they have done better and why?

3. You have questions too. The best interviews are conversations. To make this happen you have to research the employer and if possible who you might be interviewing with. What are the latest developments in the company? Will they impact the job?

Study possible questions to ask so you are provided information to determine if the employer would be a good fit for you.

Take notes and create a system so you can quickly research an employer and custom build a number of relevant questions. This planning will be helpful when you are scheduled for a job interview on short notice.

4. Have a strong summary close. In closing out the interview you want to thank the interviewer for their time, and express your strong interest in the job. Practice the summary close in your mock interview sessions. Does it sound natural? Is there the appropriate level of enthusiasm for the job?

Depending on the information you receive in response to your questions, you should highlight how your accomplishments match up to the needs of the job. Your summary close will be a bit different in each interview, but as long as you plan to tailor the close to the requirements of the job you should be able to end the interview on a high note.

In summary, interview preparation starts at the beginning of your job hunt. Research not only possible questions, but make sure your answers are positive, concise and address the employer’s needs. Adjust the questions you will be asking based on research of the company and the interviewer. End the interview with a strong summary demonstrating why you would be a good fit for the job.

Now you have a winning job interview performance that you can credit was possible because of a well planned program of job interview preparation

What is Business Etiquette?

What is Business Etiquette?

“Your manners are always under examination, and by committees little suspected, awarding or denying you very high prizes when you least think of it”, Ralph Waldo Emerson. When a person gets into employment for the first time he gets confused with the corporate culture and finds it very difficult to learn the corporate etiquette which is otherwise also known as business etiquette.

There will be vast cultural gaps from the background from where the individual has come and that of the organization he enters. He finds it very difficult to get along with new cultures, customs, norms and rules. There would certainly be a gap. It takes certain time to get adjusted and adapted to the corporate culture and learn the etiquette.

Every one knows the meaning of etiquette. Etiquette is nothing but manners to be followed in a given cultural environment. Every culture has its own etiquette. But overall the etiquette is universal with certain characteristics and qualifications that run across all people like a common thread. Business etiquette is also an etiquette that has to be adopted in every business keeping ethics and integrity in view. It varies from culture to culture and from country to country and from industry to industry. All the differences are only superficial in nature with the commonalities of basic business etiquette being at the core level. Etiquettes are of different types. It is desirable to focus on a few basic etiquettes which collectively constitute the corporate etiquette. They are Hand shake, Interview etiquette, Mobile etiquette, Telephone etiquette, Office etiquette, Dress code, Giving business card, Dining etiquette, Handling people, International business etiquette, Email etiquette, etc.,

HANDSHAKE:

When two men meet each other they shake their hands as a symbol and sign of meeting. There is a right manner in handshake. There has to be firm handshake that represents the confidence level of the persons. If a person presses down the palm of the other person and shakes his hand it indicates that the person is dominant in nature. On the other hand, if the person allows his own palm pressed downwards and lets the other person’s palm upwards it indicates the submissive style of the person. In the third scenario if both the persons keep their palms perpendicular to the ground and if both persons plays neutral neither being in the dominant level nor in the submissive level then it is the right method of handshake and it indicates win-win or assertive handshake. A person’s nature can be easily judged by the way he shakes his hand with others. It becomes the core part of any corporate culture.

INTERVIEW ETIQUETTE:

When going for an interview, the door is to be knocked, and after seeking the permission the person should enter the interview room. The person should greet the interview panel member like ‘Good morning Sir/Sirs’ depending upon the time of interview and wait for the permission to be seated. If there is a woman Interviewing Officer(IO) it is etiquette to greet her first followed by male members as it is part of the Indian culture to respect women. After getting the permission to sit, the person should sit with straight posture at the back with his back touching the chair and without dragging the chair or dragging the feet. No attempts should be made either to lean forward or to lean too much backward or to sit in totally at an ease position.

The person should sit straight and be alert by keeping both the legs together with both feet touching on the ground. When the question is posed, the person should fully wait till the completion of the sentence by the IO and then reply. No attempts should be made to interrupt or interfere with the conversation of IO. After listening carefully the person should analyze, process with in his mind and then should reply appropriately with clear cut thoughts. In case if there are any differences of opinion, the same should be handled with tact and diplomacy. In case if there is a need to clarify anything, the same can be asked with a request to speak the same. After the completion of the interview, thank them and exit the room smartly without any unnecessary noise.

MOBILE ETIQUETTE:

Now days, mobiles have become both a boon and bane. Whenever there is an engagement or any hectic or important activities are going on, the mobile should be kept in a silent mode. It is not proper to talk over the phone when important discussion or meeting is in progress. After the completion of the meeting the calls can be attended as unattended calls are reflected in the handset. These days, marketing calls do come frequently and it disturbs the mood and also the precious time. These are known as unsolicited calls. The best thing is to cut short such calls by saying, ‘I will get back to you’ or ‘Can I call you back?’

TELEPHONE ETIQUETTE:

It is more or less like mobile etiquette only. The caller has to identify himself first, and then should confirm whether he is looking for the concerned person and then should start conversation. Even if you are interrupted, exercise patience to the caller and respond. Radiate energy and if it is not possible, at least exercise warmth so that the caller feels comfortable and convenient to communicate. Do not keep the caller on hold without asking ‘Say like, may I put you on a hold for a moment?’ and then put the caller on hold till you connect the right person or to give the correct information. Personalize the conversation to make it polite and presentable. If the concerned person is not there and if the caller provides the information to pass on, then note down on a paper or a note pad, sign and make it accessible and reachable to the concerned person. Small things make major differences in telephone etiquette. Ensure that your voice mail system is working properly and is not full of messages to prevent incoming calls.

OFFICE ETIQUETTE:

When you visit to somebody’s office, do no roam around as though it is your own office. When you are a stranger to a place maintain and behave like a visitor or as a guest not like a host. Do not disturb the receptionist with too many queries. When you are asked to work in your cubicle stick to that only and do not encroach into others’ cubicles. You can call person by name at the corporate world but politely. There is no need to call ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ frequently. The body language must be positive and assertive it should neither be aggressive nor submissive. While addressing a woman if it is not clear whether she is married or unmarried, you can use Ms as that can convey politely for both married and unmarried woman. Personal space from person to person needs to be maintained properly. It is known as proxemics. You should not behave with unknown people by being too close by maintaining intimate distance as it creates discomfort for others.

DRESS CODE:

For men the shirt should be in light color with a tie. There should not be any cabbage socks. The socks need to be changed regularly. Avoid wearing white socks. The body can be applied with light perfume. It is essential to wear tie for formal meetings. A few companies have separate and specific dress code to its employees on specific days. There is a traditional formula for male attire. BBTTSS is the acronym for Boot and Belt which must be of the same color, Tie and Trouser should preferably match with each other and Shirt and Socks should match with each other. There is no hard and fast rule to accept this formula but it all depends on the situation and occasion. Ultimately the dress code should be pleasing, neat and clean and presentable.

Dress code for women is a very complicated one. It differs from region to region and from country to country based on their cultural background as well as their tastes and temperaments. They should not dress like a Christmas tree. There should not be any hanky panky costumes. Don’t decorate with excessive jewellery or ornaments. The dress should match as per the corporate culture and values of the organization. The clothes must be positive and presentable and not of tight fittings, no obscene clothes or revealing clothes etc.

BUSINESS CARD:

When business card is given, it must be taken with the right hand in India. It must be read with details like name, designation and other details and then it should be kept in a visiting card holder. Always give fresh cards and do not give the cards that look dirty or old or faded cards.

DINING ETIQUETTE:

• Wait for your host to ask you to sit or else sit after the host sits.
• Keep solids of the food on the left and the liquids on the right side.
• Keep the napkin folded towards you on your lap.
• If you have any food allergies tell the same in advance or to the server and if it is already served leave it on the plate.
• Don’t fill your plate with entire food at one go. Fill little by little as you consume.
• If you have any doubts regarding the starting of eating food or about the chronological order of eating food, observe your host closely and follow.
• At the time of eating, keep the knife across the top of your plate when you are eating, blade facing towards you.
• It is formal to leave some food on the plate at the end.
• If you are a slow eater and the host has completed eating food, you leave the food and catch up with the host.
• If the food is not good and if the host enquires how is the food, say politely, “Fine, thank you”.
• Once the meal is finished your silverware should be parallel to each other in the ten and four O clock position with handles at 4.00 and tops of the utensils at 10.00. The knife blade points towards you.
• The amount is usually paid by the host.
• Thank the host for your meal at the end.

HANDLING PEOPLE:

Every business person should learn basic etiquette to deal with people. Of course, there are number of written and unwritten rules and guidelines and when in doubt stick to the basic and follow:

• Build good relations with peers and subordinates.
• Never differentiate people based on designations and rank.
• Memorize the names of the people. If not, then correlate the name of the person with that of your previous acquaintances with in your mind for effective retention. Make a good practice of collecting the names of the people with their phone numbers, date of birth, family details. This will help you to build strong relations with them.
• Learn to appreciate people sincerely. If it is essential to criticize, do not attack the person rather attack his behavior as it takes the matter away from person-centric to problem-centric or behavior-centric.
• Never surprise your boss. Always keep him informed about the work related activities and try to be in the good books of your boss.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS ETIQUETTE:

With the rapid growing technology the globe has become smaller. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities since the communication has become easier. Employers began thinking broadly and are trying to set up their ventures at the global level. Along with that the employees have opportunities to work with the people across the globe.
It is necessary to know the basics of international etiquette such as the multicultural issues, different time zones, different workings hours, holiday patterns, table manner etc., Mr. Laxmi Niwas Mittal the global steel czar has clearly mentioned about the significance and importance of multicultural issues so as to succeed in the international business.

EMAIL ETIQUETTE:

Paper correspondence is gradually losing its relevance. In every business there is growing significance attached to Email and it is necessary to dwell at length about email etiquette in this context. The subject matter should be simple, specific, short and identify yourself. It should not be like compound sentences. The receiver should be in a position to identify its source and the objective behind it. In the ‘To’ address column put the main addressee and if the same is to be informed to other addresses you can add those emails in the ‘CC’ column. It is usually considered unethical to use the BCC column. If the mail is not to be known to the other addressees and in extreme cases you can use ‘BCC’.

Personalize the mail to create bonding with the reader. Dear Sir/Madam, followed by the name of the person with designation as it impresses the reader for the significance you have accorded to the designation and also for having made it personal. Follow proper alignment and the margin on the left side. Write the contents in simple, straight and short manner. The contents must be concise, crisp and clear. Put across all the points. At the end, you may conclude with ‘Regards’, or ‘Best regards’, or ‘With regards’, or ‘Best wishes’ followed by your signature. Before sending check for grammar, syntax, sentence format, punctuation. Read and reread the email before hitting the ‘send’ button as it becomes an evidence for future records. While replying to official mails do not check ‘Reply all’ button as the confidential information, if any, will be known to all.

CONCLUSION:

Etiquette and business etiquette is essential to survive and succeed both at the personal and professional level. It has paramount significance and importance at the corporate world either to make or break the business deals. Therefore, it is mandatory to stick to the basics of all etiquettes to become a successful professional. To conclude, the business etiquette is essential from peon to principal and from employee to employer.

Three Essentials to a Successful Job Interview Preparation

job-interview-guideOne of the signs that a job hunt is going well is getting calls for interview. When you first submit a job application, you don’t hope for nothing more than getting an interview. That’s why your résumé and cover letter must be written with that objective in mind. Now when you do receive a call for an interview, you are working toward your next goal which is getting the job. Getting the job is the purpose of the job interview. That is why you must carefully prepare your job interview so it does its job-getting you the job. In this article, I go over three things that I consider absolutely essential in preparing a successful job interview. Remember, a successful job interview is one that gets you the job.

The first thing you need to do in preparation for your job interview is to have a good understanding of the position you are going to interview for. There is nothing worse than giving your interviewers the impression that you don’t understand the position for which you have applied and are seeking to be hired. This did happened to me once. After I sent out many applications, I received a call for an interview for the very next day. Because of a combination of both excitement and stress, I only asked for the address where the interview was going to take place and the time. Nothing more. I also failed to go through all my applications to figure out which job I am scheduled to interview for. I can tell you that when I showed up for the interview, my confusion was obvious. It became clear immediately to my interviewers that I was not sure why I was there. The interview did not last very long and it certainly did not go over very well.

Once you are scheduled for a job interview, take time to review the job description. Do it carefully. Pay close attention especially to the tasks and responsibilities involved. Visit the company or the organization’s website, if it has one. Read its mission’s statement, vision as well as core values. Try to have a sense of what it is like to work in that environment and be associated with that company or organization. And as much as it is possible for you, present yourself as someone already working there. For example, try to dress the way you think employees are expected to dress there. Get into the mindset of the place. Having said all this however, never try to put on a persona that is definitely not you. Remember, the job interview is not a drama. It is a real and genuine conversation with real people.

The second essential to a successful job interview preparation is to anticipate the questions you will be asked and think of your answers ahead of time. Based on the company and the job you applied for, you may be able to think of the kinds of questions you will most likely be asked. Write down these questions as well as your answers to them. Do that carefully. As you may already know, some questions are almost always asked during job interviews. For example, there will almost always be a question asking you to introduce yourself. Be sure to rehearse your answer to that question. Also, most often than not, you will be asked why you want to work for the company or organization in question. Again, make sure you have a solid answer to that question. Also make sure that your answer reflects how you will be a great fit for the position. Again, remember to be genuine and honest.

The third thing to consider during the preparation of your job interview is to plan to be on time. You already know how important a good first impression is. You can be certain that you will not make a good first impression if you are late for your job interview. To avoid being late for your job interview, double-check the address and the time. Make sure you know very well how long it will take you to get there. If it is possible, take a trip to the area where the interview will take place ahead of time. That way, you will be sure that you are not mistaken about the address and you certainly know how to get there. On top of all that, on the day of the interview, plan to arrive about 15 minutes earlier. This will allow you the time to get relaxed and maybe briefly meet and have a casual chat with someone before the interview.

Being invited for a job interview is a great opportunity. It must not be wasted. It means that your résumé and cover letter are among those which stood out. The job interview is your turn to stand out as an individual. Your job is to prove the impression already made by your résumé and cover letter. Plan not to disappoint your interviewers. Do not take it for granted. A good job interview is one that is carefully prepared. And a successful job interview preparation hast three essentials: being acquainted to the job for which you will be interviewed, anticipating the questions you will be asked and planning how you will answer them, and planning to be on time.

Supply Chain Management in Retail

Supply Chain Management in Retail

Supply Chain Management (SCM) is a network of facilities that procure raw materials, transform them into intermediate goods and then final products to customers through a distribution system. Previously, individual activities of the SCM process were warehousing, distribution, transportation etc. done separately. Later, the process moved on to logistics where every activity was carried out in a logical sequence following a specific timetable. Now, an information backbone supporting the SCM process has helped retailers in greatly reducing cycle times and attaining efficiency.

SCM MANAGEMENT DECISIONS

There are three levels of decisions-strategic, tactical and operational. The strategic level decisions are long-term decisions about location, production, inventory and transportation. Location decisions include size, number geographic location of supply chain entities. Production decisions determine what to produce, where to produce, which suppliers to use etc. Inventory decisions decide the way of managing inventories throughout. Transport decisions decide the mode of transport. Tactical level decisions are medium term decisions such as weekly demand forecasts, distribution planning production planning, material procurement planning. The operational level decisions are of short-term decisions concerned with day to day operations

Efficient Inventory Planning: Efficient inventory planning enables the retail organization to achieve its strategies and benchmarked standards of customer deliveries and thereby reducing supply chain expenses. Forward planning is done by forecasting sales and Beginning of Month (BOM) and End of Month (EOM) inventories for specific periods, and preparing the OTB (Open to Buy) plans. Efficient inventory planning optimizes purchasing controls through OTB so that the planned stock turns are achieved for the store with just-in-time inventories for freshness and achieving customer satisfaction through the seven ‘rights’ of merchandising –right product, right place, right quantity, right quality, right price, right mix and right time.

Pre-Purchase Order (PPO) and Purchase Order (PO): The PPO is an instrument through which the tentative plan of order placement to the vendor is done for the whole season as soon as the inventory planning is completed. The Purchase Order is the confirmed order for supply.

INTEGRATION OF SUPPLY CHAIN

The end-to-end integration of all supply chain elements and functions are achieved by applying interlinked packages. The integrated supply chain starts from the design stage at the vendor level to the time when there is consumer response at the retail stage. The benefits of having an integrated supply chain are best delivery performance, reduced inventory, faster cycle time, accurate forecasts, lower supply chain costs, improvement in overall productivity, improvement in capacity utilization, and so on.

Vendor Management: Efficient vendor management involves selecting the right vendors capable of giving the right quality of merchandise and to deliver the right quantities to get the right ‘hit ratio’. The right hit ratio measures the gap between delivery and purchase orders and helps eliminate backlog in deliveries. In a chain store scenario, vendors’ direct delivery to stores is an important element in attaining good supply chain efficiency.

The vendors directly manage inventories in a few retail organizations. Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) is ideal for retail organizations as it totally eliminates inventory-carrying costs. The vendors manage the inventory at every store, monitoring the flow of information and ensuring just-in-time deliveries. The vendors are able to take back slow-selling and non-moving merchandise, thus reducing the scope for mark-down losses for the store.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) helps in establishing an efficient information flow on stock movement, and the vendors can know sales and inventories instantaneously. Reorder supplies are immediately planned and executed by the vendors. The time taken to exchange documents for placing orders is eliminated thus achieving just-in-time inventory management. EDI is done with the help of the organization’s ERP package that interacts with the vendors’ systems.

Warehouse Management The retail warehouse or the distribution centre receives the ordered stocks; checks for the right quality, quantity and price; stores and tags the merchandise with both the MRP and security tags; prepares the merchandise; transports the merchandise; receives goods returned from retail stores, if any; and sends returned merchandise ‘to vendors back as returns.

A Goods Received Note (GRN) is prepared when the merchandise received at the warehouse from suppliers is checked and matched with the relevant purchase order after certifying all the elements of quality, quantity, etc. The GRN is then automatically recognized by the system after authorization for payment to the vendor by the accounts department. The merchandise is then docked and tagged with bar codes and price tags if applicable.

Inter-Transfer Note (ITN) When the prepared and readied merchandise is supplied to the retail stores ITN is prepared. The reverse ITN (ITN out) is prepared when goods are sent back to the warehouse by the retail store. Goods that are returned to the warehouse are then sent back to the suppliers and vendors. The system recognizes the same and raises a debit note to the vendors.

Transportation is done according to timely delivery schedules so that replenishments are delivered as per the plan. Cost efficiency and reduction in delivery time are critical success factors in transportation.

Efficient docking with a plan ensures the best utilization of space. Docking ensures that the First in First out (FIFO) delivery plan is followed so that ageing of merchandise in the warehouse is kept to the minimum.

Material Handling Equipment in the warehouse should be tailored for specific varieties of merchandise. At a micro level of handling, most of the time garments are delivered by hangers and sometimes by the browser itself in a ready-to-sell state. Value Chain The entire SCM process is a value chain where bottlenecks, value-adding factors and liability factors are identified and addressed, thus enabling the retail organization to have an efficient supply chain. The entire process needs to be audited to meet timelines, and may be reengineered to achieve cost efficiencies and reduce cycle times.

Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) This is a replenishment system designed to link all parties in the logistics channel to create a massive flow-through distribution network. Replenishment depends upon consumer demand and point of sale information. In a retail organization, an integrated supply chain — with the right application of packages enabling the free flow of information and consequently merchandise and services elicits the greatest response from consumers since it addresses their needs appropriately.

PROBLEMS OF INVENTORY IN SCM

While oversized inventories are a costly inventory management strategy; low fill rates are also costly. Therefore the company’s interest to balance inventories holding cost and the cost of imperfect satisfaction. The main pitfalls in inventory management are:

•Inappropriate information system
•Incorrect delivery dates
•Organizational barrier
•Incomplete supply chain
•Failure to account uncertainties

RETAIL AUTOMATION AND SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT

The challenges that a retail organization include huge stock-keeping units (SKUs), seasonal variations of product lines necessitating the introduction of new SKUs, complex tax structures, the sheer geographic spread of the country, changing consumer demands, etc. A retail organization has to plan perfectly to satisfy the needs of every customer. Automation through the implementation of ERP systems has helped many organizations improve their efficiency and helped them grow.

3 Tips for Reducing Nervousness During an Interview

Preparing for a job interview is quite nerve-wracking as in fact, most job interviews are quite intimidating. You want to stay confident, but nervousness potentially arises from the pressure of impressing the interviewer and answering questions correctly, or presenting yourself in a professional. This can always happen even in the most seasoned of people. Fortunately, there are several things that you can control right before and during the interview to help in reducing your anxiety and make you look confident.

Dry mouth, sweaty palms and nervous twitching are just to name several situations that most people experience before and during a job interview. As long as these signs of anxiety do not interfere with your ability to look well during an interview, it is absolutely fine to feel this way. Otherwise, you need to do something to overcome your anxiety before it decreases your career success. Here are 3 tips that you can follow to calm your nerves before and during a job interview:

1. Be well prepared with your interview material.

It is important to research everything about the interview in advance. By doing this, you will know where you are going and can avoid getting lost on interview day. You can begin by researching the job and the company that you are interviewing for. Research them as much as you can and get all your past work experience notes straight. Even if you are quite familiar with the company and job in which you have applied, you still need to get some extra information, so that you can predict what kinds of questions you should ask at your interview.

You can note the questions that you will want to ask on a piece of paper prior to your interview. Familiarizing yourself with what you want to question will make you feel more relaxed and also will make you ready for the pending interview. Also, you can note why you could be the right candidate to fill the job you are applying for.
After listing some of the qualities that you believe makes you good person and employee, you can rehearse some of the possible answers that you can say either with another person or in front of a mirror. Knowing what you want to say will make you ready for your upcoming interview.

2. Be ready before your interview day.
If possible, you can go to the gym, or exercise before going to an interview. Exercise can help you clearing your mind and decrease your anxiety.

Select the outfit that you want to wear for your interview at least several days before the day of the interview. Get something that will make you feel comfortable physically and mentally while still looking professional and confident. It is not wise to try out a new style for an interview. Arrange your clothes for the interview to include brooches, tie clasps, cufflinks, and any jewelry. Be sure that every item is well cleaned, while your shoes are well polished.

Have a healthy breakfast. For example, you can have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, as it will give you enough energy and it has magnesium, a natural relaxer. You can add several slices of banana and a glass of orange juice. These foods can help in releasing serotonin, the “happy” hormone while giving you extra energy. Avoid the caffeine from coffee as it may make you extra jittery.
It is important to bring a cell phone. If something happens and delays your arrival, you can contact the company to explain it while you will be late.

3. Be well prepared during your interview.

On the day of your interview you should try to get an early start to avoid feeling rushed the day of your interview. You can wake up extra early or begin preparing several hours in advance. Remember that if you are in rush, you will tend to feel stressed. Worse, the nervousness from rushing around may make you forget important things such as the address of your destination or an extra copy of your CV.
Prepare for the interview process. Remember that most of your anxiety comes from not knowing what you expect. It is more productive to use that nervous energy to prepare for the interview. For example, you can visit several web sites offering practice interview questions, you can drive to the interview place ahead of time, you can have a copy of your CV, or you can make your outfit ready before interview.

Before your interview session, try to take deep breaths. This will help you releasing some of that nervous energy. The proper way to breathe in is through your nose and the right way to breathe out is of your mouth.

It is also important to set your expectation levels to a realistic level. If you hope too much from a job interview, you will tend to feel disappointed. It will be bad if you go in with a negative attitude but having no expectations could be harmful too.

Try to look confident and don’t forget to give smile during your interview. Do not worry if you still have sweaty palms. You only need something to wipe your hands as probably the interviewers will shake your hand before the interview. Get relaxed and remember that those interviewers are just humans. Probably they are just as anxious as you are!

In short, by doing the right research and rehearsing ahead of time, you will be ready for any job interviews that you are facing. Although entering into any interview is very stressful sometimes, you must remember to relax. By adopting the above practice steps, and practicing several relaxing techniques, you can always be fine on your way for your pending interview.

Basic Small Business Marketing Principles

35jxfggMarketing is defined in many different ways according to who you ask, but all responses usually are part of the same answer: marketing is a combination of all of the activities you implement or participate in which help promote, brand, and sell you product, service, or business. Why is marketing important?

Many small business owners feel sales is the most vital part of their business. Sales are very important, but your brand, image, and, ultimately, marketing determines your customer loyalty and growth of your business. Marketing establishes the basis for your sales strategy and how you will close sales. What does marketing cost?

Small business owners are confronted ever day with sales pitches for various costly marketing activities. Most small business owners see marketing as an expensive business component they just can’t afford. This is not true. In fact, small businesses can’t afford to overlook marketing, and it doesn’t have to drain the bank account either. One of the best forms of marketing that is very affordable is a consistent and professional image.

Elegant business cards, matching letterhead, and an informative and effective website are just a few pieces of a small business’ tool box that can do much more than a high-dollar advertising campaign. How do small business owners create a consistent and professional image? The first thing a company will create is a name. There are many steps before this point, but this is the first product. Next, comes a unique logo that conveys the right image. Once the marketing package has these two pieces, consistency becomes the primary focus.

Small business owners usually put off the rest of the basic building blocks until they can put it off no more. At that point, professionalism and consistency goes out the window in favour of a quick answer. The right way to approach this issue is to prepare on the front end. Following the name and logo stage, the small business owner must push on. Create the right business card, elegant letterhead, useful brochure, and quality website. By creating all of these things at the point in the start-up process, all of the basic components of your marketing become consistent, professional, and effective from the start.

Should You Cut Marketing Expenses During the Recession?

If you read marketing journals and blogs these days, you likely have come across the advice that you should spend more on marketing in a recession. The typical logic is that your competitors are spending less and so it’s a good time to pick up market share. Note that most of these recommendations come from people who have a vested interest in you spending more on marketing (e.g., advertising agencies).

I dislike basing marketing expenditures on what competitors are spending. It’s not relevant for budget decisions during “normal” economic conditions and it shouldn’t matter in a recession. You should increase or decrease your marketing budget solely on the basis of what maximizes operating income – based on your own measurement systems.

Certainly, if your competitors are dramatically reducing spending and therefore giving up sales opportunities that you can exploit, then you should go after those sales, provided you maintain your required level of profitability. However, it is more likely the case that your competitors are cutting back on their marketing right now because there is less total demand in the marketplace – not only for them but also for you.

The purpose of marketing is to maximize the long-term profitability of the enterprise. If you are managing marketing effectively, you have measurement systems in place both to determine the return of past marketing programs as well as to help you predict the return of future programs. Economic trends are inputs into your models and will help you determine how much to invest in marketing. Most of the time, an economy that is slowing rapidly will result in your analytical models advising you to spend less on demand generation. Besides, how much do you know about your competitors’ spending on marketing?

While some types of expenditures like advertising are highly visible, you have no way of knowing what competitors are spending on most types of communications, like database marketing, SEO, direct sales, etc. You could waste a lot of resources trying to figure out what your competitors are spending and still be way off.

To make your marketing efforts profitable, you need sophisticated analytical systems, and a comprehensive understanding of integrated marketing communications. You don’t need to know what your competitors are spending, regardless of the state of the economy. So don’t listen to the advice of experts who tell you when you should increase or decrease your marketing expenditures. Constantly improve your modeling capabilities, find the best data you can and spend marketing dollars in ways that maximize your bottom line. Any other approach is likely to waste your money – and will waste your time for sure.

Top 10 Marketing Concepts for Small Business

Top 10 Marketing Concepts for Small Business

Over the past decade more and more people are getting fired, getting downsized, or getting fed up with their corporate jobs and embark on the journey as a small business owner. Unfortunately, most of the new small business owners fail to consider their marketing plans or strategy. There are many marketing concepts for small business marketing to consider and plan for, but here is our list of Top 10 Marketing Concepts For Small Business Marketing.

Marketing Concept # 1: Consistency

Consistency is the number one marketing concept for small business marketing only because it is left out of marketing concepts for so many businesses. I have worked with a long list of clients, big and small, that are extremely inconsistent in all areas of their marketing. Consistency helps lower the cost of marketing and increase the effectiveness of branding.

Marketing Concept # 2: Planning

Once small business owners decide to be consistent with their marketing, planning is the next major concept to engage. Planning is the most vital part of small business marketing or any level of marketing, for that matter, and so many owners, marketing managers, and even CMOs plan poorly. Put the time into planning your marketing strategy, budget, and other concepts presented here to ensure success.

Marketing Concept # 3: Strategy

Strategy immediately follows planning because your strategy is the foundation for the rest of your marketing activities. In the process of planning, you must develop your strategy: who you will target, how you will target them, and how will you keep them as a customer.

Marketing Concept # 4: Target Market

Target market is also another key concept for small business marketing. Defining exactly who you are targeting allows small business owners to focus on specific customers and reduce marketing waste. A well-defined target market will make every other marketing concept so much easier to implement successfully.

Marketing Concept # 5: Budget

Although it is listed at number 5, budgeting is important throughout the entire process. Creating a marketing budget is usually the hardest and most inaccurate part of small business marketing. Most small businesses owners lack a great deal of experience in marketing, so their budgets usually end up skewed. The most important part of this marketing concept is to actually establish a marketing budget. From there, you can worry about how to distribute your available funds.

Marketing Concept # 6: Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is usually defined as product, pricing, place, and promotion. As a small business owner, you must specifically decide on your products (or services), the appropriate pricing, where and how you will distribute your products, and how will you let everyone know about you and your products.

Marketing Concept # 7: Website

In today’s market, a business of any size must have a website. I hate when I see businesses that have a one page website with out-dated information. Customers, be it businesses or consumers, will search the web over 60% of the time before making any purchasing decisions. This marketing concept contains a slew of additional components, but you must at least develop a small web presence of some kind and keep it updated.

Marketing Concept # 8: Branding

Many small businesses owners also neglect this concept. Small business marketing must focus on this marketing concept just as much as large corporations do. Branding consists of the pictures, logo, design scheme, layout, make up, and image of your products and even your company. Branding is how your customers perceive (please place a lot of emphasis on that word!) your products and company. Make sure to pay special attention to what kind of brand you are building through each step of your planning and implementation.

Marketing Concept # 9: Promotion and Advertising

Promotion and advertising is a very complex marketing concept, but must be considered for any type of business and its products and services. Once you engage the previous 8 marketing concepts, you must finally let your target market know about you and your products. Proper promotion and advertising will result in effective brand recognition, and, ultimately, increased sales.

Marketing Concept # 10: Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The concept of customer relationship management has become a huge industry in the marketing world. There are many types of software and services offered to help businesses of any size handle their customer relationship management. Since there is so much available, usually for a large sum of money, small business owners usually look at this concept as something they are not big enough for or have enough money to implement.

Supply Chain Maturity

Supply Chain Maturity

Managing the supply chain and finances are the core factors that determine the success of any organization. For ages, executives keep on experimenting with different approaches to optimize their supply chain and cash flow.

Supply chain management is one of the most important strategic aspects of any business enterprise. Decisions must be made about how to coordinate the production of goods and services, how and where to store inventory, whom to buy materials from and how to distribute them in the most cost-effective, timely manner. What are those Critical Dimensions or Key Performance Indicators that drive the agility and maturity of a supply chain? Most of them are quite obvious and most of the organizations keep a religious watch on this but even then those companies make only the 10% of all those organizations that can benefit much more if they streamline their processes, capabilities and compliance related stuff connected with SCM. Let us look at some of the critical dimensions in this respect:

Supply Chain Visibility: End to end supply chain visibility is the first major need to make it more agile and mature. It is highly recommended to use a commercially available best of breed (or ERP) solution to monitor line level statuses in orders, on hand inventory and those assets that are not stationary and this includes field inventory, service equipment, containers etc. Certain visibility initiatives like financing triggers, warning alerts on events that drive inventory stocking, tracking actual total landed cost as sales order progresses etc. are the hot initiatives in this area

Automation Level: It is not just automation of order entry to picking to shipping and from forecasting to demand to plan to build/procure but also end to automation of all systems that complements your main system of reporting and transactions. It includes systems like PLM or B2C order capturing portals that are input systems as well as Business Intelligence tools that act as the output systems to your main transaction system. The more the automation, more mature and agile is supply chain

Logistics Agility: Processes such as using nearest warehouse to the customer, supplier drop ship, transit order re-direction or grouping shipments in same route play a major role in streamlining the supply chain. Organizations need to keep on thinking on new actions in this space and plan to execute them frequently.

Business to Business Collaboration: Customers and Suppliers are to businesses that one must collaborate with. This will not only keep the inventory to the minimum level but also will help in improving fill rates and reduce stock-outs. Identify the processes where collaboration will help the organization most and take actions accordingly.

Risk Management: Supply chain resiliency is one of the most critical factors in maintaining the agility of supply chain and it is seen that though most of the organizations are worried about this but do not take substantial actions in this area. It is important to manage supply chain resiliency to risk related events. Also, employ network design and inventory optimization tools to quantify supply chain risk and create short-term and long-term crisis response plans.

Compliance in Trade: The more manual hand-offs are present in the processes, more are the chances of inconsistency in compliance of trade laws. Also, not having a single source of truth and independent databases for import and export data per country will also contribute to non compliance ultimately impacting the supply chain processes. It is high time to have one single enterprise wide trade compliance platform that is automated and integrated with all the related processes.

Competitive Resourcing:The times of in-house resourcing are now ripe and the success of outsourcing story has proven that while the in-house resources in certain areas are more costly, they also are less efficient that their BPO counterparts. Need is to evaluate carefully, where exactly this initiative is required and what are the tangible or non tangible benefits expected and take an informed decision. The good part is that most BPO’s come with their own collaboration and visibility techniques and also share their best practices that they picked from their customer across the globe and this makes move a “check and mate” move to improve the supply chain maturity.