Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Computerized Inventory Hacking

A little messing with the computer inventory for fun (and profit of the 'victim')
  (+16, -2)(+16, -2)
(+16, -2)
  [vote for,

Computerized inventory systems are everywhere now. Systems track what is selling, and move/order inventory to cover demand. If the chain of stores has only three widgets on the shelf, but they keep getting bought up, then they will order 4 next time and so on.

What if we all hack the system. I was thinking just in my town, but even MORE fun on a worldwide basis. What if we all create a brief, unexplainable demand for an obscure product?

It has to be something that doesn't sell very well normally. If it's tomato soup, there's not much of a blip on the radar. But if it's something wacky, then each store selling 5 in the same day (when they normally sell 5 in a month) is a big blip.

Let's say, on a certain day - MARCH 15/06 everyone in their own town goes to a super-market and buys say a jar of capers. To not waste the food item, after you buy it, drop it into the charity food hamper that is in many grocery stores, or drive it to a food bank - or enjoy it yourself.

It's kind of a global, virtual flash-mob without the co-located people part.

Just think of the spike on the chart in the "Capers marketing board" meeting at year end, and the scratching heads as the suits try to explain it.

rossgk, Mar 10 2006

Caper HQ http://inventoryhack.blogspot.com
To test the concept, I've created this HQ for coordination [rossgk, Mar 10 2006]

Harpers Magazine: My Crowd http://www.harpers.org/MyCrowd_01.html
Extra, extra. Inventor of flash mob tells all. [jutta, Mar 12 2006]


       I like the idea, but we already buy capers. How about a more obscure product like Sardine flavored dental floss? +
xandram, Mar 10 2006

       Give me the date, i'll buy a dozen!
funky monk flying, Mar 10 2006

       [rossgk] owns a caper factory, so as such this is a very original advertisement campaign.
zeno, Mar 10 2006

       The advertising guru's would just decide to call April 15th National Caper Day and Hallmark would make a card. Then your significant other would get pissed if you didn't get them a nice Caper Day present.   

       Hey, an idea strikes... Let us institute National Caper Day on the 15th of April anyway, but nothing to do with the foodstuff. We shall all caper merrily around town on this sacred, time honoured day of frivolous capering and striking of whimsical, jesterly poses. Images of a Monty Python-esque Caper Day Parade are marching through my mind...
Salmon Of Doubt, Mar 10 2006

       Hey - I hadn't even noticed the correlation between capers and the other meaning of the word - ha!   

       I do have to call my broker and get a big order in on caper futures.   

       I thought a bit about victimization - like if we all bought sardines - would fishermen go out and kill more sardines than they could sell next year? I think we're pretty safe with capers - caper farmers probably won't till extra fields based on a one day blip. Plus, they do benefit from the actual sales.   

       We buy capers too - but once every 3 or 4 years.   

       Just think of the other great side benefit - somewhere poverty stricken households people will suddenly develop a taste for capers. It will become a new opiate for the masses. That might benefit the farmers too - an actual new market developed.   

       I say we do it! April 15 - tell all your friends. one day only. Delay your other caper purchases for that day!   

       It's the caper-caper.
rossgk, Mar 10 2006

       Hard to see how you're going to get critical mass while maintaining stealth against the suppliers, though. I mean the guy who makes capers is much more likely to google "capers" than you or me.
sophocles, Mar 10 2006

       I suspect this caper caper would be lost in the noise. Google is so set on advertising now, I suspect without paying for caper ad-words this will be buried in the other hits.   

       Also - April 15 is a long way away - I've adjusted the orig post to say March 15 - strike while the iron is hot!!   

       If it catches on, it could be fun to put up a blog, publicize it, and pick a purchase item on the morning of the event. Everyone checks the site and goes a shopping.   

       Heck, blogs are free, I'll put one up anyway as a gathering point for bookmarks. perhaps every month, the 15th can be "Buy something wacky day".   

       I'll set up inventoryhack.blogspot.com
rossgk, Mar 10 2006

       I will bun it for the idea but in reality any smart business owner does not rely solely on what the computer inventory says. For instance, if you own a Napa Auto Parts franchise and you discover that you have to order more rebo disks for a 73 volkswagen, more than likely you are going to look on the shelf to see if the 4 that you had last month are still there.   

       As lost and disconnected as the big-wig suits might appear to be, they always have a group of geeky snitching corporate wannabes who keep their finger on the pulse of things like this. Like when there was a chain letter going around the internet about how we were going to join together and refuse to buy gasoline on May 22, the big oil companies would not have been surprised. They knew that people were planning this all along.
Jscotty, Mar 10 2006

       I am marking this on my calendar. I'm not sure I can find a jar of capers in Northern Oklahoma, but I'll take a whirl.
Noexit, Mar 10 2006

       Shall we share caper recipes? I going to have to do something with them.
normzone, Mar 10 2006

       What's a caper (edible kind)?   

       That said, [+]
DesertFox, Mar 11 2006

       Sadly, I think that the problem with this idea is what I'll just call "dilution". [rossgk], you haven't really addressed the statistical significance part of the problem.   

       What bothers me is that you're comparing this to flash mobs, and while I suspect that some recent print articles regarding flash mobs are probably the source of the inspiration, this is VERY different.   

       The reason that flash mobs work at all is that the people are converging on a place where the quantity of the people is unusually high at a particular time. That's what gets noticed. Also, the participation in that appeals to a number of human characteristics.   

       Here, you're getting people to converge on a product purchase instead, unfortunately, geography alone will dilute the results to an extent that will result in the failure of the intended result. Let me explain...   

       Where I am today, there is only one store close by (a Fresh Market) that even sells capers. Even if they sell out on "caper day", those results only really appear in their system. Unless we all agreed to do this at only Fresh Markets, it will fail because there is no way that sales of capers from Winn-Dixie or Publix supermarkets will ever cross paths with Fresh Market.   

       Contrary to your imagination, there are no "suits" sitting in a room pouring over caper sales reports. It just doesn't work that way.   

       Your idea doesn't address the problem of how this information will end up getting aggregated in any way to change ordering of anything.   

       I'm a little surprised that you're avoiding an M-F-D on this one for a few reasons, but I don't want to be the one to spoil the fun so I'll leave that alone. Finally, I'm not sure why you refer to this as "hacking". It's not. It's buying something. No hacking involved.   

       How about just some flash giving to a particular charity? Oh, right... that wouldn't be fun -- there is no "victim".
zigness, Mar 11 2006

       I doubt capers will work. There are only so many capers in the world; they do not increase with demand spikes. Perhaps a consumer electronics item.
geo8rge, Mar 12 2006

       Holy downer, [Zigness]. Smile and have some fun! This is the first attempt (March 15) If it catches on, some retaillers will see the impact - of course many (most?) won't.   

       Some guy in BrokenArrow Utah (sorry if that place exists- just read obscure place) might participate,and have fun just for being part of something global.   

       Somewhere (at a Winn Dixy or whatever - I'm guessing that is some store in your country?) might have a bunch of people do it some day. Who cares if some places don't notice and some do.   

       Imagine if it got some steam and a million people world wide jumped in. 50 at a Tesco's in Manchester, 40 at a Loblaws in Toronto, 10 at a LeMange in Paris, 50 at a WinnDixy in BrokenArrow - that would be kind of cool, no?   

       The FlashMob analogy is a good one in that it is a group of anonymous people doing the same thing for no good reason but fun.   

       Thanks for the attempted slight about "I suspect that some recent print articles regarding flash mobs are probably the source of the inspiration" but remember the whole world doesn't live in your town reading your print articles. People come up with fresh ideas off the top of their heads all the time.   

       Smile, be happy and and do something just for fun, not because there's a good reason.   

       By the way, the suits are an analogy. Gosh, you're so literal.
rossgk, Mar 12 2006

       So did this plan work? Were stores stocking extra capers a year later in case some obscure culture's obscure-holiday-meal- that-involved-capers created another blip? :)
paix120, Sep 17 2009


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