Today brought about the beginning of a pretty monumental task at work. We are changing wholesale sources, and as such we are having to change every single shelf tag in the entire store. That, in and of itself, is not so bad really, just swapping a tag for a tag. What is really making the process so monumental is that we are having to replace all of our ‘Store Brand’ items with different store brands.
The part of the process that we were doing today was the easy part, we were just switching out old price/order labels with the ones from the new distributor. This was just on the national products. So they had six guys swapping out tags and writing price changes on the products so that I could scan them with our hand-held device to upload the new price to the cash register. I am not new to the switching wholesaler thing, so I was making sure to note any price changes that were more than about 20 cents. I put all of those type of items into a separate cart to be dealt with in a much different manner. That being that I will reprint a tag at the old price to put over the tag with the new price. The whole reason that we switched was to make it so that our prices are lower for the consumer, but at the point where you have to sell the stock on the shelf at a twenty percent loss, the consumer needs to foot some of that cost until we are able to buy the stock at the new, lower price. Whether the owners believe me or not, I am not about to actively make a change that is going to cost them a lot of money, I mean they write my paycheck, if I were to knowingly make a decision that would cost them a lot of money that would be a bit foolish.
The team that is helping me in the process didn’t arrive until almost two in the afternoon, and they arrived after having been on a plane for a couple of hours and an equal amount of time in a rental car on the drive down. I kind of admired their stamina as they worked straight through until six, as did I, but they were doing it without ever even seeing the hotel that they are going to stay in or anything of that nature. I would mention that they all worked without lunch, were it not for the fact that I only ate anything today after I was already off of work, and then I just ate a hot dog from the local circle K.
We made some pretty good headway today. Completing about 90% of the direct changes, that being the ones where the item needed a new tag and a price change in the register. The thing about that is that, like I said, there were six of them and one of me. Six of them were tagging and pulling changes, one of me was trying to scan all of the changes and get them uploaded to the register. There were six shopping carts that were constantly being filled with items that needed the changes which I had to scan, as quickly as possible, and then return the items to the shelf, then upload the changes to the register so that the price on the new tag would be the price that the product scanned at.
The team had planned to leave at 5:30p.m., after which I would have completed the price changes myself, but seeing that I was now staring at six whole carts full of additional price changes, they stayed for fifteen more minutes to put the items back on the shelf after I had scanned them for changes. I am quite thankfull that they did, else I would still be there hammering away at the archaic pc in the office as opposed to telling you all about it here.
Mind you, we have basically completed the easy part. Tomorrow we will start at 8a.m. and likely work until 6p.m. on the more complicated part, then with a bit of luck, ten more hours on Thursday and we will be done. The hard part is with the new items (item changes if you like to look at it that way), the store brand items will all be changing. We (the store) was forced to change store brands when Fleming went out of business last year, and to this day our shelf is still not properly tagged for replacement items. That is why we are going to make damn good and sure we get it done right now this time. The previous wholesaler did not help in any way with the new tagging, new items and the such, these guys are willing to, and I am going to hold them to it.
Steve, the guy who is running the team, is going to go up and down every aisle with me tomorrow and work with me on every single item change. The goal is that every single item that is being replaced will already be in our system when it arrives, and at the correct price, which is quite important. I do not know how difficult it is really going to be, nor will I know before tomorrow, what I do know is that if I have to add the items based on typing in UPC’s it would take about a minute per new item. Based on that, it would take me about 34 hours to enter the number of new items that we assume there will be. Now, even working at maximum efficiency, I don’t think I will be able to do 34 hours of work in less than 20 hours time, so I hope we can find a better way to do it. Regardless of time, it will be done. I do not want to be sitting here at this time next year bitching about how long the change has taken, I want it to be done…Done
Steve also mentioned that it would be possible to scan the new item tags by aisle, transmit them to his base in New Mexico, and have them fax back a sheet that would have all of the information that I needed to actually enter the items via the keyboard on the pc. I am thinking that while I am quick on the hand-held device, I am way faster on an actual keyboard. If the fax has all of the information necessary for adding new items we may just try it that way. That would lay all of the necessary information out in a page that would be far easier for me to deal with than to have to type in the UPC’s out in the store (since the new tags have item order codes instead of the UPC’s that I programmed our old system to print on the tag). -I would probably get really mad, again, if you were to ask why I had to reverse engineer the source for the old tags, then modify it so that they looked remotely presentable, please don’t bring it up.-
I don’t know how long they (the team from New Mexico) are planning to stay tomorrow, so I really don’t know when/if I will ever be free to come home. I do know that half of the team is going to fly back tomorrow evening, so they will likely be pretty gung-ho about getting most everything done. If I do not make a post tomorrow, just assume that we all decided to work a bit long to try to take care of this whole thing all at once. It may suck for me in the immediate future, but it will be so much nicer in the long term.