Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Importance Of Saying “No”!

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Finding yourself yet again hunched over your laptop at an ungodly hour? In the fast paced modern Earth that does not come as a surprise, and especially when you talk about B-schools. We all have our platters full of work and sometimes it overflows into our lives taking over every other thing. But what at times might surprise you is the reason behind the late night show this time. This time you catch yourself scooping the bits off that had been ladled on to your plate just because you could not say “no”.

A friend asked you to review a project he has been working on? A classmate asked you a favor to get a report done by morning that was supposed to be done by him? A teammate asked you to cover for her? Yes, we all go through that, and the next thing you know there is a random stranger coming up to you and asking you for a favor just because he heard on the block that you don’t say “no”! Time to get a better grip of your time and direct the reins as you wish, isn’t it? The magical two letter word that can make your world better is simply “No”.

People have a hard time saying no because they feel that it might hurt the sentiments of people asking for help. That saying no might create rifts and in future you will still have to work with these people. Or simply because they like being the nice person who wants to help everyone. But what they do not know is that saying “no” is actually a better thing at times.

Here are 5 reasons why we should learn the art of saying “No”.

  • Know your priorities– You have to submit a crucial presentation in the morning that will propel your project forward and your roommate wants to go out with you. You know that the project means a lot to you and if you do not say no, you will end up messing it. So prioritize; tell your roommate that you have a report to complete and be assertive leaving no room for negotiations, promising to go the next time you get a chance.
  • Know your limitations– You are already handling three deadlines and your teammates come up to you ask you to work on an entirely new live project. If you take on the project, you will be stretching too far and eventually end up damaging all the projects you had as well as the new one. So if you were hoping your “yes” would impress your teammates, now they will be furious because you could not properly do even one. All the work for nothing. So if you know that you can’t do it, say no. Instead of making you look incapable, it shows that you know what you are doing.
  • Heed your needs– After 21 hours of slogging which is a common thing in a B-school, you wrap up your work and head hostel. While unlocking the door to your room, the neighbor invites you to hangout. If you say yes and go along forgoing your sleep because you could not hurt his/her feelings, it might affect your health and in turn make it hard for you to work properly. So you have to learn to turn down people politely in order to make sure your needs are fulfilled first.
  • Increases the value of “Yes”- If you go around agreeing to do anything for anyone, people start taking you for granted and won’t even give you due gratitude for helping them out. But if you say no to the things that you can’t do, when you do say yes, people know you are doing it for them as a favor and will hold your efforts in a better light.
  • Time for yourself– Every once in a while one needs time to do their own thing, be it read a book or watch a movie or just lounge on a sofa and watch the game. Going overboard with saying yes and not giving yourself time will make you feel miserable and you will constantly feel overworked. So learning to say “no” to the right things can help you enjoy life a lot more. People will not judge you for this but respect you because of your assertiveness

This article has been written by Ankita Jena, PGP-1 student at IIM Indore.

Faculty View: Comparison of Competitive Advantage of E-Commerce and Brick-and-Mortar Companies: Part-I

So, the war is on! The traditional stores are facing a stiff competition with e-commerce companies. Analyzing on a general basis, we can say that, yes, e-commerce companies are the future or there will be an amicable combination of both the channels for the customers. But, as business management graduates, it becomes important to compare the business model and understand its sustainability. Clearly, sustainability comes from keeping your stakeholders not only happy but also locked-in your eco-system. Does it happen or will it happen with e-commerce companies? Let us see by comparing the following:

  • Customer preferences and format of delivery,
  • Supplier relations
  • Discounts for the customers
  • The joy of shopping

Customer preferences and format of delivery:

E-commerce:Customer preferences for e-commerce have been towards Cash-on-delivery but is COD an advantage for e-commerce companies? Definitely not, because the money is collected by the distribution companies (also known as e-kart companies) who deposit a security amount with the e-commerce firm. Thus, in case the e-kart company cannot reconcile the account, the uncollected amount which e-kart company owes to the e-commerce firm is deducted from the security deposits.

Thus, one of the principal partners of value delivery, the process of reaching the customers,is played by the e-kart companies which are unhappy since they are getting penalized for an event for which they are not responsible. Thus, if one of the essential stakeholders is unhappy then service delivery will suffer which will result in a bad customer experience, which is not good for a service company. Therefore, e-commerce companies will have to build an actuarial system having an information repository of successful transactions and failed transactions.  It will be done location wise and they will identify the good customers and the bad customers. Now, if there are good customers in bad locations, then they will get penalized. Thus, in both the cases, you are actually penalizing the wrong person, first the e-kart company and second, the good customers at bad locations.

Brick and Mortar:In traditional brick-and-mortar stores, cash on demand happens across the counter and it is a norm. Thus there is unlikely to be any slippage as in the e-commerce case. One form of slippage can be in terms of counterfeit notes but that has been prevented with machines that help identifying such notes. The other form of slippage can be in terms of debit cards/credit cards but that also hasbeen taken care with Safe-POS machines. Thus, efficient transaction and the firm being responsible for money collection and service delivery keeps the service experience also intact.

Suppliers:

E-commerce:The e-commerce firms are holding just a list of names (websites/platforms/customer data) to their chest and the suppliers are directly supplying the material to the e-kart companies on the basis of customer orders. The money reconciliation happenswhen the suppliers when the e-kart company hands over the money to e-commerce firm which thereby hands over the money to the supplier. Now we can see that there is an additional agent in the system whose core strength is handling the customer data. But, they are an intermediary in money circulation. Thus, more the no. of intermediaries, the higher is the inefficiency of the system. Thus, the suppliers will ideally like to by-pass the e-commerce companies but that is not happening because they are holding the list of customers and the products. At the same time, e-commerce companies will eliminate COD and to sustain their positon, e-commerce firms will promote wallet systems. Now, introducing wallets such as Paytm will be to support future competitors and substitutes. So, Paytm has their own list of customers and products and what they need to do is to aggregate with suppliers and replace e-commerce firms. Essentially, why did e-commerce companies aggregated with suppliers, that was because they wanted to keep the system lean and not hold inventory following the Japanese Toyota Production System (TPS) in which all the cost of holding the inventory is borne by suppliers but TPS and Toyota’s plan worked because they had a strong culture which is trust-based where they never shifted to another OEM. But here we can evidently see a lack of culture and an implicit trust relationship among suppliers and the e-commerce firm which leads to lower switching costs. Thus, it makes sense for suppliers to aggregate and by-pass the intermediary. Thus, instead of managing and having a bargaining power on suppliers and e-kart companies, they might get sandwiched between the two.

Retail:In the retail channel, the shop-owner keeps his stock at his own warehouse. This carries huge costs and holding the inventory is a concern but over the time they have learned ways to minimize both. The logistics is apparently invisible from the point of view of the customer and a critical success factor is managing the logistics. The number of channels of customer reach are under the control of the retailer such as the store experience, managing the variety and product assortment, etc. There is a trust relationship between the supplier and the retail shop owner as well.Thus, these heavy fixed investments and proper protection of logistics, stores, and customer value proposition which can be a sustainable advantage for the retail store. Also, the supplier is not waiting for the money to be collected from a third party as in the case of e-commerce business model leading to an effective transaction.

Thus, after elaborating on two of the four aspects to be discussed, I leave it to the students to analyze it more till the time we discuss the other two aspects of comparison, i.e., discounts for the customers and the joy of shopping in the next part of the article.

The article is written by Prof. Shubhabrata Basu, faculty in the domain of Strategic Management of IIM Indore.