1. A convenience store chain attempts to be responsive and provide customers what they need, when they need it, where they need it. What are some different ways that a convenience store supply chain can be responsive? What are some risks in each case?
A convenience store can be more responsive by doing exactly what Seven-Eleven Japan is doing; many locations, rapid replenishment, appropriate technology deployment, and an equally responsive supplier (vertical integration for many of their SKUs). The risks associated with this system are the costs coupled with demand uncertainty. If demand patterns change dramatically, or the customer base changes, then Seven-Eleven is left with an operation that is not needed. In Seven-Eleven Japan’s case, multiple operations might be shuttered if an apartment building or large employer shuts down or relocates.
2. Seven-Eleven’s supply chain strategy in Japan can be described as attempting to micro-match supply and demand using rapid replenishment. What are some risks associated with this choice?
Micro-matching supply and demand using rapid replenishment assumes that each store will repeat the same demand pattern on a daily basis. The tour bus phenomenon, where a group of unanticipated customers comes to the store and buys all of a type of product will cause difficulty for regular customers. During such an event, the store will likely stock out and customers may visit the next Seven-Eleven site down the block to make their purchases. Some of this demand may permanently shift, causing a local ripple; the replenishment may be excessive at one site and insufficient at an adjacent site for the next cycle. Another possible issue would result from delays in transportation; although deliveries are scheduled for off-peak hours, a disruption in traffic flow will result in low service levels for the next wave of demand.
3. What has Seven-Eleven done in...