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Look Back to Move Forward: The Year in Review

Look Back to Move Forward: The Year in Review

Continuous improvement – it’s a principle of Kaizen, or lean management, which encourages constant incremental advancements and uses past performance to suggest changes for future improvements. The coming new year is always a good time to reflect on the previous twelve months and look for new opportunities for improvement. With that in mind, here’s a recap of our informational offerings which we hope will help you achieve your goals for next year.


This year has seen remarkable changes, and one of the key elements to successful change management is flexibility. In February, we discussed how adaptability allowed ancient man to survive in hostile climates, and how it makes it possible for today’s facilities managers to handle the changing spatial needs of businesses and institutions. From telecommuting (August) to staffing fluctuations and workspace repurposing (January), adaptive furnishings are a good fit for agile organizations.

Proactive management

A proactive approach is one of the building blocks of continuous improvement, as well as a cost-effective way to manage change. Innovations in automation (February) help facilities and logistics managers monitor inventories and usage in real time, allowing them to respond to unexpected changes without any loss of throughput. A sound disaster recovery plan (September), including storage systems and inventory records that reduce or prevent loss, is the kind of forward-facing planning that supports business continuity and continuous improvement.


More efficient use of resources, whether it’s space, time, or finances, always results in better productivity – the ultimate goal of continuous improvement. When your facility can reclaim 50% of storage floor space with a mobile storage system or a vertical carousel system (October), that extra space can be utilized for more productive activities. RFID inventory management (August) lets retailers and logistics managers respond to unexpected demand with efficient JIT supply chains (July), with a resulting increase in sales productivity.

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. A clear-sighted look at your organization’s productivity during the past year will show areas where you’re achieving continuous improvement, and areas where you can add flexibility, efficiency, and proactive management to take your processes to a new level in the new year.


Photo © gustavofrazao/

Smart Lockers: The Customer Service that Pays You Back

Smart Lockers: The Customer Service that Pays You Back

“Porch pirates” don’t confine their larcenous activities to the holiday season, and the cost of replacing stolen packages is a growing part of inventory shrinkage for U.S. businesses. While there are no reported statistics for the cost of package theft, insurance companies and shippers alike are finding that their costs for replacement of stolen packages are increasing each year, as online shopping becomes a way of life for American consumers. The impact of package theft is felt by everyone in the supply chain, from manufacturer to consumer.

One of the least quantifiable effects of package theft is its impact on a brand. It takes a high degree of trust for a shopper to pay for a product without receiving it immediately. As noted by brand consultant Shep Hyken in Forbes Magazine, consumers blame the seller for a missing delivery even though the seller is not at fault. The aftermath of insurance claims and waiting for replacement only adds to the negative experience associated with the brand, making consumers less likely to buy from that seller again. The loss of customer loyalty, and the subsequent loss of future sales to those customers, drives the cost of package theft even higher.

Technology has an answer: smart lockers. Carriers notify the shipper’s server when a delivery is made to a smart locker, and the shipper automatically sends an alert to the recipient, including information about accessing the locker with a one-time code.

Fulfillment leader Amazon took on the “last mile” of the delivery system a few years ago when they began installing centralized secure lockers where consumers could retrieve packages near their homes, instead of having their packages dropped off at their front doors. Recently Amazon announced The Hub, a similar system for apartment residents. Uniquely, The Hub will accept deliveries from any shipper, not just Amazon.

By continuously improving the customer experience with better-secured deliveries, smart lockers are letting Amazon build on its reputation for trustworthiness. It’s a technology that other businesses can put into place with equal effect, wherever there’s a need for secure deliveries – retail, hospitality, universities, multi-family residences. Smart lockers underscore a brand’s customer-centric focus, which in turn builds brand loyalty. Smart lockers are a smart investment that pay you back in improved risk management and positive brand perception. Everyone wins (except the porch pirates).