Standardization key to inventory streamlining

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

CLEVELAND – The HME industry should walk a mile in the footwear industry’s shoes when it comes to inventory management.

Visualize the typical shoe department’s backroom – stacked to the rafters with boxes containing every style, size and width made for men, women and children. Availability is the lifeblood of the shoe business and stores can’t afford to be out of stock in anything.

That’s why Acor decided to simplify things for its orthotic shoe line, said President Jeff Alaimo.

“We became painfully aware that the key to making money in the retail shoe business is inventory control,” he said. “What often happens is that when you go to the shelf, even though there are aisles of shoes, you don’t have the one you need.”

To serve the inventory-sensitive HME industry, Acor decided to standardize its footwear lines so that retailers could stock a minimal amount of product, but still offer an adequate selection of functional, yet aesthetically pleasing shoes, Alaimo said.

Design played a key role in scaling back the number of shoes Acor produces. The Oxford style features tandem Velcro and lace closures. A false lace bar conceals the Velcro strap. Using a circular pattern, arthritic patients can close the shoe with one hand.

“This cuts inventory in half,” he said.

Alaimo uses the term “genderneric” to describe how the shoes are not gender-specific. By making one model for men and women, “it cuts inventory in half again. One shoe is worth four,” he said.