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2

strange case prompt

I had a final round interview with a boutique firm and the case prompt was:

You’re the manager of a hyper market store (e.g. a Carrefour store), it’s the peak time of the busiest day of the week, you have 2000 shoppers in the store and you get informed by the IT department that the bar code scanners stopped working and won’t be back before 24 hours.

when I asked about the target, I was told prioritizing objectives was part of my task as manager and I was not given time to form a framework.

any ideas on what could have been a good solution?

I had a final round interview with a boutique firm and the case prompt was:

You’re the manager of a hyper market store (e.g. a Carrefour store), it’s the peak time of the busiest day of the week, you have 2000 shoppers in the store and you get informed by the IT department that the bar code scanners stopped working and won’t be back before 24 hours.

when I asked about the target, I was told prioritizing objectives was part of my task as manager and I was not given time to form a framework.

any ideas on what could have been a good solution?

2 answers

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Best Answer

Hi Emad,

Without knowing anything else, I assume that the objective would be to allow shoppers to continue their purchases, i.e. minimize revenue loss due to the malfunction of the barcode scanners.

Hence, a meaningful follow-up question would be: “How indispensable are barcode scanners to make the billing? Is it possible to enter barcodes manually instead of scanning”?

Then a structure could look as follows:

  1. Customers pay now
    1. Manual input of barcode (through number pad)
      • Thoughts: This would take longer than scanning, but could be a viable option. If we want to make sure not to lose revenues (customers leaving due to long queues), we might think about opening more counters, so we would need to activate “emergency cashiers” who would be available immediately. This of course would create more costs – which is irrelevant if your objective is to minimize revenue loss.
    2. Manual input of barcode not possible
      1. Purchase shall happen in this store
        • Repair bar code scanners
        • Rent new bar code scanners
        • Buy new bar code scanners
        • Work with accounting books, i.e. everything has to be written down manually
      2. Purchases can be outsourced to other stores
        • Establish a transport service to the next Carrefour store
  2. Customers pay later
    • Let cashiers write down what customers purchased, their address etc., validate using customers’ identity cards, let customers sign (“written contract”) and make them pay later

Note how MECE that structure is. The objective of the exercise is that you have a structured thought process for which it helps to set up a MECE structure. This does not claim to be exhaustive but is a first starting point. Try to enrich it with further of your own ideas.

To get the most out of the exercise, I suggest you present your own thoughts first next time.

Hope this helps :)

Best regards

Hi Emad,

Without knowing anything else, I assume that the objective would be to allow shoppers to continue their purchases, i.e. minimize revenue loss due to the malfunction of the barcode scanners.

Hence, a meaningful follow-up question would be: “How indispensable are barcode scanners to make the billing? Is it possible to enter barcodes manually instead of scanning”?

Then a structure could look as follows:

  1. Customers pay now
    1. Manual input of barcode (through number pad)
      • Thoughts: This would take longer than scanning, but could be a viable option. If we want to make sure not to lose revenues (customers leaving due to long queues), we might think about opening more counters, so we would need to activate “emergency cashiers” who would be available immediately. This of course would create more costs – which is irrelevant if your objective is to minimize revenue loss.
    2. Manual input of barcode not possible
      1. Purchase shall happen in this store
        • Repair bar code scanners
        • Rent new bar code scanners
        • Buy new bar code scanners
        • Work with accounting books, i.e. everything has to be written down manually
      2. Purchases can be outsourced to other stores
        • Establish a transport service to the next Carrefour store
  2. Customers pay later
    • Let cashiers write down what customers purchased, their address etc., validate using customers’ identity cards, let customers sign (“written contract”) and make them pay later

Note how MECE that structure is. The objective of the exercise is that you have a structured thought process for which it helps to set up a MECE structure. This does not claim to be exhaustive but is a first starting point. Try to enrich it with further of your own ideas.

To get the most out of the exercise, I suggest you present your own thoughts first next time.

Hope this helps :)

Best regards

(edited)

Some creative ideas could be as below. None of them is a super good simple solution but they may save the day.

- Send some staff to different sections of the market and create a price list by checking all prices. Then merge all of them and copy for each payment point. Because it will be based on sections, it will be relatively easy to find the prices.

- Cashiers can take a photo of every item and at the end take a photo of the customers' credit card without CVS number together with their phone number. They charge their credit number later by checking all photos and send them informational SMS.

- They can inform customers at the entry and customers can take a photo of price tags for each item they buy and they show at the payment point.

- Staff can be responsible at each section to distribute price tags manually to all customers. E.g. once they buy milk, staff can give them a price tag with 2 USD

I liked the question!


Cheers

Serhat

Some creative ideas could be as below. None of them is a super good simple solution but they may save the day.

- Send some staff to different sections of the market and create a price list by checking all prices. Then merge all of them and copy for each payment point. Because it will be based on sections, it will be relatively easy to find the prices.

- Cashiers can take a photo of every item and at the end take a photo of the customers' credit card without CVS number together with their phone number. They charge their credit number later by checking all photos and send them informational SMS.

- They can inform customers at the entry and customers can take a photo of price tags for each item they buy and they show at the payment point.

- Staff can be responsible at each section to distribute price tags manually to all customers. E.g. once they buy milk, staff can give them a price tag with 2 USD

I liked the question!


Cheers

Serhat

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