The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Debbi Fields. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
When doing business in the retail industry, one thing many people take for granted is the service aspect. Not only are you selling a product or multitude of various products, but you are also selling a service, which includes helping customers, being friendly, and making sure they enjoy their day. This is exactly what Debbi Fields is an expert at.
She stated, “I will also tell you that, to me, I’ve never felt like I was in the cookie business. I’ve always been in a feel good feeling business. My job is to sell joy. My job is to sell happiness. My job is to sell an experience. …”
Debbi took her people skills and turned them into money-making skills despite having an original agenda of baking great cookies. When she was convinced otherwise, the company exploded and her “need” to be able to control every store became impossible.
That is where her husband came into play the most, and his integration of an information system into the strategy.
More important than monitoring the stores’ basic business functions was the preservation of the factors that made the stores a success in the first place – Debbi Fields’ marketing techniques. Her experience was captured in expert systems that every store could access at any time, via Retail Operations Intelligence systems. (Newquist, 1990)
The implementation of the Retail Operations Intelligence (ROI) was perfectly parallel with Mrs.
Fields’ business objectives and beliefs. As stated earlier, she believed employees should spend their time focusing on the customer and ensuring an enjoyable visit. The ROI system simplified the paperwork process and significantly cut the amount of time that managers would need to spend in the office analyzing numbers or doing interviews.
The development of the Retail Operations Intelligence systems by Randi Fields was a new look to the entire way businesses in the industry, or all businesses for that matter, operate internally.
Substitute products still exist just as they did before the use of Mrs. Fields Cookies and their ROI system. Consumers have the option of eating anything else as they did before: sit-down restaurants, fast food, food courts at a mall (since it is the first major location of Mrs. Fields Cookies), ice cream shops, or people could choose not to eat at the time at all.
Competition between firms included many of the niche market business mentioned above as shopping malls represented the largest source of spontaneous business for specialty stores. Competition for the most favorable mall locations – next to large apparel stores, as opposed to the food court – was fierce. As most malls had few such locations, developers were selective about the stores they allowed outside the “food courts.”
The ROI system did not have a great influence on bargaining power for buyers. They still have the option to pay the price that Mrs. Fields Cookies are sold for or choose not to buy. Of course, if more customers choose not to buy, the employees will seek out potential customers to give samples too, which in turn is giving the buyer some power because they can receive the product at times for no price at all.
The company’s use of an IS system did not have any affect on how they dealt with suppliers. The supplier’s hold the power due to the loyalty to the original vendors by Mrs. Fields. This is evident by her $6.6 million purchase of chocolate from the same supplier the company had used on its first day of business. This decision truly showed Debbi’s way of thinking when doing business, whether it be selling cookies or buying the ingredients. She liked being treated like she was the only customer and that’s the way she treated her customers.
The uses of the ROI system by managers can be attributed as strengths to Mrs. Fields Cookies, because managers can work closely with their employees and meet and greet customers instead of spending ours doing monotonous office work. The strategic goal of the IS area, according to Randy Fields, was “to put as much decision making and intelligence into the store level PC as is necessary to free the manager to do those thing that uniquely people do.”
Weaknesses can also arise from the dependent uses of the system by managers. If security or availability isn’t kept up to the fullest, the system could be at risk. Would the managers be able to successfully run the store without having to depend on the ROI system?
The development of Randi’s system can greatly increase the productivity as it relates to the value chain. One aspect that is improved is Inbound Logistics; most notably the inventory control. If Mrs. Fields Cookies has a strict policy against leaving baked cookies unsold for more than two hours, the amount of inventory has to be controlled to a reasonable level so that revenue numerous batches of cookies are not being lost due to not being sold. The Sales/Marketing aspect can also be increased by having the manager be more involved in the employee activities and face-to-face confrontations with customers.
The company has since taken advantage of their system and formed Fields Software Group Inc. in 1988 to develop and market the ROI system. Since then, 8 companies, including Burger King Corp., have agreed to purchase the system. (Personnel Journal, 1991)
This business action was needed due to a few failures (which have been since corrected) which include the opposition of franchising, bad financial decisions, the acquisition of LPB, and partial miss-use of the IS. The company did not do enough research when they decided to go public on the London Exchange and it showed as they were not very successful, with much of the doubt concerning the lack of will to franchise. They also did not properly integrate with the acquisition of LPB and consequently suffered at the time. And lastly, as was covered before, the use of IS deskilled the work force and they were dependant on the system alone for decision making.
To extend her vision Mrs. Fields decided to start franchising the business in 1990…It’s now the rarest of franchise opportunities. A new dynamic opportunity that’s backed by name recognition and approval from worldwide consumers. (mrsfields.com, 2004) The franchise company Mrs. Fields Famous Brands now includes many household businesses including Mrs. Fields Original Cookies, TCBY, Pretzel Time, Great American Cookies, and Pretzelmaker.
Debbi Fields has taken a childhood love for cookies and developed it into an extremely successful business by focusing on a specific niche market and utilizing customer’s instincts for snacks. She also implemented numerous new or at least uncommon business strategies as she states herself, “And so the difference was bringing, in essence, something that was considered a commodity and making it unique and different. And the best way I did that was what I call ‘try and buy,’ letting people try it with the opportunity that if they like it, they’d actually make a purchase.”