Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Computers Can't Think

More and more, I am noticing that once a store is out of stock on an item, more often than not it never regains a supply of that item. The result is a steadily diminishing supply of goods on the shelves, diminishing at an accelerating pace.

I have not been able to confirm, but I suspect that computerized ordering has much to do with this.

Computer ordering bases its order on what the store is selling. When the item first runs out there is still a robust history of sales, so the computer will reorder. The next time it places an order, however, there have been no recent sales (the store was out of stock), so it does not reorder that item.

So even if the item came in after the initial outage, it was not reordered afterward because of the period of non-sales. Then there are some sales which may trigger an order, but the computer shows diminished volume on the item, due to the period when it was out of stock.

That order, then, may be for reduced quantity, which causes the item to be out of stock even sooner, and reduces the sales history even further. That causes the computer to cut the next reorder quantity even further.

You can see the diminishing numbers that the computer is looking at, right? Diminishing numbers that eventually tell the computer that it is no longer worth reordering the item at all.

Shortage? Bad store management? Or both?


  1. bruce4:00 PM

    they should work on an extended historical time frame, trends, whatever. Or have a person review it, especially the fastest in demand items. But, no, that's what we have computers for, right?

    Or they do order it, but the wholesaler doesn't have any.

  2. Yes, that's what is unknown. What is the time frame of the history upon which they are ordering. Is human review done? Are orders not filled?

    You would think that investigative news reporters would be looking into things like that. When I was younger, they did.