A short time after graduating, I found one of my college friends managing the kitchenware section in a fairly big department store. Nothing in the Walmart range, but this chain was valued in the low billions.
He shows me a non-stick ceramic-coated skillet.
“See this tag?” he says.
“Well, yeah. Hard not to when you’re pointing right at it.”
“It’s printed in red. That’s how we could tell at a glance that we’re selling a product from a direct supplier.”
He then points to a black tag on an identical skillet a bit further up the same aisle. “All the ones with black tags are from a 3rd party vendor.”
Surprised, I picked up both skillets. They were the same product, from the same manufacturer. Apart from the tags, the biggest difference was that the one sold through the third party cost almost twice as much as the one sold directly.
“This doesn’t make any sense!” I muttered. Or maybe exclaimed. Whatever, it was a long time ago.
He continues “The funny thing is, they gave us this consignment when we were already had our stock on display. If they intended to price it lower than we did, we wouldn’t have accepted the consignment anyhow. Seems no one bothered to check if we had these skillets in stock.”
Fascinated by the oversight, I asked if the 3rd party vendor had sales.
“Of course. Not much though. A lot of customers don’t bother to check if there’re anything better on the same aisle. Some of us would point them the right way, but to be honest, most of us will probably just help them only if they asked.”
I think the lesson’s pretty obvious here.
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