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A store is a place where goods are sold.

While normally requiring a business license and zoning that allows businesses, smaller stores have sometimes been run out of houses, basements, etc. Stores traditionally took up space and had products that could be viewed, but changes in technology have also opened up the world of on-line stores where virtual pictures take the place of viewing physical items.

"Kanban" Just in Time: Interdependent Fragility of the Store Distribution Systems

Retail store chains of supply are lengthy and fragile. Most American and European store business models are based on a "just in time delivery" or "JIT" or "Kanban" as the Japanese inventors called it in the 1960s.[1] The JIT inventory control of the retail and food distribution system is both interdependent and fragile.

The world's biggest chain of stores, Wal-Mart, is proof that we live in a fragile society. The kanban or "Just in Time" inventory system was developed in Japan and became popular in America starting in the 1970s. It is now ubiquitous in nearly every industry. The concept is simple: Through close coordination with subcontractors and piece part suppliers, a manufacturer can keep its parts inventory small. Kanban is a key element of lean manufacturing. Manufacturers order batches of parts only as needed, sometimes ordering as frequently as twice a week. Companies now hire Six Sigma consultants and Kaizen gurus, they buy sophisticated data-processing systems, and they hire extra purchasing administrators, and these expenses actually save them money at the bottom line.

Just In Time inventory systems have several advantages: less warehouse space, less capital tied up in parts inventory, and less risk of parts obsolescence.

The downside is that lean inventories leave companies vulnerable to any disruption of supply, for instance in the food distribution system or food production system. If transportation (UPS, post office, Fedex, trucks, ships, railroad, and airplanes) gets snarled due to a trucker strike or bad weather or a disaster, or if communications get disrupted, or a parts vendor has a strike or a production problem, then assembly lines grind to a halt. Just one missing part means that no finished products go out the door.[2]

The kanban concept has also been taken up by most of America's retailers (with Wal-Mart leading the way), most notably its grocery sellers.

Threats to the Store System of Distribution

Some examples of threats to the modern grocery store "JIT" style goods and food distribution system include:

See also

External links


  1. The Japanese invented the "just in time delivery" or "JIT" inventory control system called "kanban" in Japanese.
  2. Christopher Steiner, 20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better, Accessed December 15, 2014