Chick-fil-A and Amazon-orders

Amateurs talk strategy, General Omar Bradley said, professionals talk logistics. The placement of a product affects the business model. Each method has strengths and weaknesses and trade-offs to make.

There are a few aspects of placement:

The TiVo problem is one aspect of placement. Can innovators gain distribution faster than distributors can gain innovation? White Claw did it. Five Hour Energy did it. TiVo did not. Amazon is hard to compete with because of their placement advantage.

For consumer products there have been four eras of distribution: rural homes and mail, city centers, suburbs, and the internet. When the distribution era changes the incumbents lose some advantage.

In Nomadland, Jessica Bruder writes about the nomads that move from sugar beet harvest to national park service to – at the end of the year – Amazon warehouses. These ‘workampers’ are “fascinated” by “America’s appetite for sex toys” Bruder writes.

Thanks anonymity! Sure, a warehouse picker at Amazon knows Ken Jacobs in Tulsa orders this, but Amazon is so large and Jacobs’s mail is opaque that products with ‘social restricted action‘ have never sold better.

The second is the first Chick-fil-A Manhattan location.

When you think about a restaurant in Manhattan, location ties you down to specific systems that you have put in place. If you have a location with three stories you have to figure out how to split a kitchen in half. Or, how do you refrigerate trash? People don’t usually think abut that. When do you see trash? At night.

For us the biggie was upstream ordering: How do you take a line of people that stretches from 6th Avenue to 5th Avenue and get them through in a fast way? You don’t do it the same way as a suburban location.

Steve Nedvidek, Manage This – The Project Management Podcast, July 2017

Make something sell something is not business. How and where a product gets to the customers matters too. Both sex toy retailers on Amazon and Chick-fil-A in Manhattan had to choose among trade offs when their distribution model changed.

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