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Is your Timing Correct?

As I have matured and experienced the business community I have learned that it is not always the way the world works.  Oh, yes, my team and I were the first along with Mervyn Morris of Mervyn’s to install bar-coding and POS in a retail environment.  We made retail history and front covers of the Wall Street Journal and retail publications covering this new technology to record, track, and control inventory.  We spoke at the National Retail Merchant Association in California before a huge audience.  The install of bar coding and POS was the right strategy, and it was the perfect timing.  My family business, Dolgin’s, experienced the ability to track our inventory as to amount and location.  The first 18 months of its install we reduced owned inventory by 25%.This was a perfect example of a strategy and perfect timing.

Go forward to 1986 after an acquisition of four small stores called Paper Warehouse.
My team wanted a product line which gave us a strong differentiation.  We sourced from a New York firm to add Halloween assortment of accessories and costumes.  We made front page news in all the media sources.  First year was a complete sell through and gave us a leg up over big box as well other party goods stores. Perfect timing for this strategy.
We thought and read of a new distribution channel-e-commerce and web sites.  In those years development of a web site was expensive.  We hired IBM and spent seven digits to develop a Halloween product web site.  We hired a distributor to help in the fulfillment in St. Cloud.  The investment was huge! 

Guess what, our e-commerce sales were non-existent
.  We had a tremendous loss.  Was the strategy flawed?  No, it was not flawed, but the timing was completely wrong.  We misread the market, and we were too early on the “trend marketing” curve.  If we had waited and moved into this strategy two years later it would have been perfect.  It was an excellent strategy with horrible timing.

One more example:
The strategy was called “Drop Shop.” 

This strategy was very simple, EBay was going strong.  It was the talk of the town.  People, we thought wanted to sell their stuff, they did not understand the process of photo, text writing, posting, selling and shipping items.  We opened five drop off sites.  In retrospect, it was the right strategy but too early and the strategy failed.

Today, FedEx has announced an “eBay valet” with a tag line “Let experts list and sell for you,” at your “Drop-Off Center.”  We had the right strategy but we were 14 years too early!  The take away is that the development of a strategy and its execution must take into consideration if the market is ready.

Timing is a crucial element that must be taken into consideration  
as you develop your organization’s strategic and execution plan.