Apple turns over entire inventory every five days

When I read this on MacFilos I was shocked.  I have been thinking about this for a weeks now, mostly pondering how Apple is doing this so well.  What they are doing differently etc.?  Daring Fireball commented on the original Gartner Report a well. There is no smoking gun here, no magic bullet just amazing products and supply chain management.

In fact I am sure most people don't care about this at all but it is truly remarkable.  I worked for a very large manufacturer in the United States for 7.5 years.  We were a global seller with manufacturing in several countries around the world and we sold a lot of product. The company was on the the bleeding edge of JIT (just and time) and cell manufacturing.  

We moved a lot of product - but we did not turn over our inventory EVERY 5 days!. I would say maybe every 20-30 days at best.   

Apple turns over entire inventory every five days:

Tim Cook, the maestro of just-in-time source and supply, has achieved the near impossible in turning over Apple’s entire inventory every five days. Just think: All that stock, all those millions of phones and gadgets, all turning over in such quick time. No chance of the shelves getting dusty down at your local Apple Store. 

(Via MacFIlos)

The Making of the Leica M9-P

This is a video Shawn Blanc posted last week that I have been meaning to link to.  Personally I love videos that are created like this which show an item being made.  Shawn says this is classy.  I have to agree.  The care and detail that go into making this Leica kit is amazing.  No detail is left untouched.  The leather case, the lens shades and the box are all treated with the same level of precision, there is no differentiation in parts and quality of fabrication.

If you want to see a real thing of beauty spend 3:00 minutes and watch this.  If you don't enjoy it I would be shocked.

 

(Via Shawn Blanc)

How To Download Your Data Stored Within Google Products

If you are trying to leave Google or you want a backup copy of your own information - this article from  hongkiat.com walks you through the steps.  Very helpful!

How To Download Your Data Stored Within Google Products [Quicktip]:

Downloading your collection of data stored within Google products can be a tedious job, especially when you have been using Google for years across many different applications. With hundreds of files and photos already uploaded, downloading them one by one is hardly an idea worth considering.

downloadgoogle How To Download Your Data Stored Within Google Products [Quicktip]

(Via hongkiat.com)

Please can I have my free drink -- electronically

If you have not seen the Starbucks iPhone app I am not sure what rock you have been living under.  I have been using on my iPhone for probably a year now.  It is a very simple app that allows you to pay for your purchase just like using your Starbucks card. 

When the product first went in I was a little skeptical that the scanning on the barcode would be iffy at best. I had used several loyalty card apps that store your member number and barcode and it worked in about half of the stores I tried them. Of course you would walk into one store, be in a huge line and not have it work only to hear the cashier sigh heavily before they had to enter in the barcode number manually. Aside - I always want to say hey there was a time before the scanner where you had to to this for every transaction. The Starbucks card works every time.

There are lots of nice things you can do with in the application itself. I can send eGifts to other people via email . Built in as well is the ability to reload your card. You can reload your card when:

  • on demand from a credit card or bank account
  • reload it when your balance falls to a certain dollar amount
  • add a fixed dollar amount to the card every X days

which are all great options.

The application also allows you to track your point status until you reach 15 points triggering Starbucks to mail you a postcard for a free drink of your choice.

This is the part that got me thinking. Why does Starbucks mail the postcards? There is an obvious printing and mailing fee associated with this process. I imagine the post cards all have to be printed on demand as the frequency that each person gets one will vary widely. It seems very old school for a company that has this progressive payment application to manage rewards delivery via the postal service.

In general retailers love gift cards and gift certificates and coupons. Think about it from their stand point. Cards are prepaid up front and inventory is generally not leaving the store at that moment. Several possibilities are also in favor of the store:

  • customers loose the cards
  • never use them
  • leave some money on them
  • allow them to expire without taking advantage of it (depends on the type of card)

Its a game, a bet. Not with obvious malice intended but calculated risk/reward.

Could this be why Starbucks[1] does not add my “free” drink to the app when I reach the goal level for the reward? They already know how many times I use my card, what loyalty level I am designated, what I drink or eat on a repeated basis. I am sure they know how frequently I actually use my free drink cards as well.

If I register my card (the Starbucks plastic one) and I loose it, they will provide me another card and transfer what my remaining balance was to the new one. But I can’t have my free drink eletcronically?

Using the application on my iPhone or swiping my member card also gives me a discount on “add-ins” that the drink might be made with, like falvored syrups or soy milk. The register will ring up the full price of the drink, I hold up the bar code on the screen and the discount is applied and removed from my balance. But I can’t have my free drink elecronically?

If I receive an eGift from another user via email, I can click on the link and the balance instantly goes onto my card, so clearly there is not a technology issue in play here. But I can’t have my free drink electronically?

As a registered member one of the “benefits” I receive are occaisional marketing emails that I gave permission to send alerting me of any special sales or new products at the store once in a while. So getting me into the store is not really an issue to spend more money. But I can’t have my free drink elecronically?

Starbucks long ago created the “third place” where you could go to hang out and relax or work. They created a culture of baristas knowing your name and anticipating your drink order. My hope is the compay is working on this process now. I have no idea if they are or not. I am trying not to be a cynic.

When I think of a membership or a reward program I think there should be benefits for both parties. Be it access, discounts, advance screening, or knowledge of my purchases. It is “quid pro quo” system. But in listing out all these points I am wondering if its really a false reward or a double dip. Even though they are providing this reward to you - it is in the format that is probably the most inconvenient for you, and they still hope you don’t use it. This takes away some of the trust that we have invested in our favorite stores. Please can I have my free drink electronically!


  1. I am using Starbucks as an example but they are not the only one who does this same thing.  ↩

Working with a professional

Learning your strength's and weakness's as early on in life as you can is a tremendous value.  You can always improve on both, no matter what.  Knowing when to hire a professional is very important. I have been slowly working on a personal site rebranding. Trying to indentify both the voice I want to use as I write and the look and feel. Having graduated college with an art degree in photography I assumed (we all know that that means) redesigning the site and my logo would be a piece of cake. Take note here… epic fail. So after hearing Myke Hurley of 70 decibels and Patrick Rhone of minimalmac speak so highly about working with Aaron Mahnke from wetfrogstudios.com I decided it was time to investigate hiring a professional.

I reached out to Aaron via his contact information on the web to see if he would be willing to work with a small blogger like me. He was super nice and explained all the various design packages I could choose from. After an initial deposit, I was sent the form to explain what I was looking for. It was similar to a creative brief. But it was brief! I was not sure I was able to provide Aaron with enough information to guide him in the design process. After submitting I waited for an email that would say something like:

sorry Austin you information is far to vague for me to help you. Please move along.

Instead a couple of days later I received 2 great logos! Both were amazing for different reasons. Two unique takes on what I was trying to convey. Now the tough part deciding. I expected one would resonate with me but both did. I was impressed with what the first pass looked like based on the very limited set of information I provided. I had explained types of imagery I liked, colors and general attributes for how the logo should appear. For the color combinations I detailed blacks and greys. I slept on the designs and offered my comments to Aaron including a few color options that I might like to see for comparison sake. In short order I had the revisions. (Aarons entire process is well laid out from scheduling to how to comment on the scenarios he sends to you).

Original Colored with full "T"My final decision rested with one small detail. All the original designs had the “T” breaking through the “D” just a little bit (see rev 2b with tip of “T”). I like the concept because it gave full recognition to the letter in a way that was truthful to the font.

But when I showed it to others, with no design background, everyone said

what’s that little smudge at the top of the letter?  

I suspected I would be answering that question over and over so I asked Aaron if he could revise it for me. The final version is below now the one current on the site.

Final Logo

I could not be happier with the logo. I am slowly working on the site making tweaks and modifying the CSS. If you recognize you are ready for professional help with branding and identity, or print and web services I highly recommend you contact Aaron Mahnke (@amahnke) from wetfrogstudios.com.

Process of building and selling

Slicehost logo

The other day I saw this posted over on 37signals site.  It is a 4 part interview with the founders of Slicehost the rails hosting platform.  The founders are interviewed by David Heinemeier Hanson about staritng the company and ultimately selling it to Rackspace.  This is a really good series about the process and the end result.  Check it out

http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2974-founder-stories-slicehost