Other key applications include strategic product support, i.e. deciding on the most appropriate inventory at each individual location based on sales performance and trends. This includes determining when to switch columns from hot to cold product or vice versa.
Other crucial applications center on managing stock-outs. These include both the operational tasks related to refilling empty columns and the more strategic task of reducing stock-out situations through improved column management and more efficient call interval planning.
Selecting The Right Product Mix
With approximately 200 SKUs available for vending at any time, but room for only 10 to 20 product varieties in each machine, selecting the right mix of products for each location is a big challenge. The Column Control System supports the route salesman in planning the optimal assortment for each specific location. Today, information from the data warehouse, including both fresh sales data and historical trends, is fed into the Column Control System to enhance this process.
Key bottlers, including CCWJ and Hokuriku CCBC, have been working with Teradata for more than a year to leverage the capabilities of the data warehouse to improve the vending business. The bottlers are working to start a data warehouse center where they can share vending applications and IT infrastructure in the future without implementing their own sites. This shared data warehouse concept has been recommended by the Coca-Cola Japan franchiser.
The data warehouse also plays an important role in new product management. Fresh data from the online vending machines is used to help evaluate the performance of new products, while real, up-to-date consumption data also helps with phase-out management.
Data from the online machines represents immediate, direct feedback from consumers, Shimizu points out and has been of tremendous value in evaluating trends not only in networked machines, but in offline locations as well, by applying information from online vending units to offline units with similar consumer characteristics. It has been particularly invaluable in evaluating new product performance, where historical trends, of course, are not available.
Among Hokuriku's key goals for further improving the system is to find ways to lower wireless communications costs, to enable a greater percentage of machines to be networked online.