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Healthcare industry could learn from supply-chain practices of retail industry, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

FAYATTEVILLE, Ark. — The healthcare industry’s supply chain may have a few tips and tricks to pick up from the retail industry’s supply chain, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Arkansas.

The researchers, led by industrial engineering professor Edward Pohl, surveyed 96 healthcare industry managers, mostly hospital providers, and 20 retailing managers, finding that the retail industry has done better at collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment, which involves suppliers and retailers working together to adopt order forecasting and inventory planning to create an integrated supply-chain network. The managers working in retail were all from Walmart, Pohl told Drug Store News, and respondents also included vendors and manufacturers.

"The retail industry has a long history of adopting automation, complemented by scientific and mathematical models, to improve supply-chain operations," Pohl said. "Conversely, health care has been relatively slow to adopt these methods. Based on survey responses, we believe that considerable efficiency gains might be available to the healthcare supply chain through the adoption of best practices from the retail supply chain."

The researchers drew up an initial list of 22 best practices based on a review of existing literature and guidance from a steering committee of industrial leaders. Based on the steering committee’s review, they narrowed the list down to 10 best practices: centralized purchasing and supply; supply chain services reorganization; regular cycle counting and stock rotation; performance management; actual usage inventory management; e-commerce; and data standardization.

Larger retail stores and hospitals were found to be more likely to have implemented best practices, and across both industries, 80% of respondents thought the identified best practices had a significant or very significant effect on business. Meanwhile, 40% of retail respondents perceived implementation of best practices as easy or very easy, while most healthcare respondents perceived implementation as easy, as well as cheaper and requiring a lower minimum rate of return.

"This may indicate that the healthcare industry is underestimating the investment necessary to achieve the full benefits from some of the best practices," said another researcher, Vijith Varghese.

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Reports: Costco co-founder to be honored at entrepreneurship awards ceremony

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — An awards celebration this fall at the University of Missouri-Kansas City will honor the co-founder of Costco Wholesale Corp., according to published reports.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday that Jim Sinegal, who retired as the club retailer’s CEO in January 2012, would be among the honorees of the university’s 28th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards celebration.

Sinegal founded Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco together with Jeff Brotman in 1983. The company now operates 626 stores, including 449 in the United States.

 

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Meijer, Fred Meyer offer mobile credit-card system

BY Alaric DeArment

TROY, Mich. — Five regional retailers — including mass-merchandisers Meijer and Fred Meyer — are selling a mobile point-of-sale credit card processing system compatible with most smartphones and tablets in their stores.

PayAnywhere consists of an app and small credit card reader that hooks on to an Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android or BlackBerry device and allows for payment on the spot. In addition to Meijer and Fred Meyer, Walmart and other retailers such as Brandsmart, Hastings Entertainment, MicroCenter, OfficeMax, Home Depot and Pep Boys sell the system as well. PayAnywhere is aimed at small businesses that want to be able to accept credit cards.

"Many business owners and professional contractors prefer to ‘shop locally’ when they can to support their regional retailers," PayAnywhere VP sales Scott Addyman said. "The ability to purchase the PayAnywhere reader from these retailers is important to them."

 

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