Solving the Retail Cube

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The Rubics cube and retail – more similar than you might think. Have you ever attempted to complete the Rubics cube?

The Rubics cube is a devilishly designed puzzle from the 80’s. A cube with 6 different coloured sides, each side made up of 9 smaller tiles. In total there are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 different combinations of tiles but only 1 solution to get them a in the right place. Its possibly the most complicated puzzle every made (until the created the 4 X 4 and 5 X 5 versions) and I have tried to complete it for 25 years. Many times I have watched with astonishment as the best puzzle solvers complete it in a matter of seconds. I believe the world record is less than 7!

Now you might be wondering how on earth I can draw a comparison between a Rubics cube and retail – well let me explain.

The rubics cube has bugged me for a long time. I could always complete a side and get all the other colours lined up around the bottom. But that was it. Last week while tidying up after the kids I found the rubics cube just lying there. I moved a few of the tiles and had an epiphany – the old saying goes that if you want a different result you have to try a different approach. I realised that the cube wasn’t a puzzle with a random solution, it was a maths problem which meant there was a pattern or formula to solve it. Five minutes of Googling lead me to some formula to use. In under 15 minutes I had completed the puzzle – twice.

This the gave me a flash back from a conversation that I had with a client a few weeks ago. We had been discussing various retail numbers – the client was struggling a little. During our chat he threw away a comment – “running a shop is much more complicated than I thought – its like a Rubics cube”.

This got me thinking. This puzzle has bugged me for 25 years. But with a slight change in approach and some good advice and a plan to work with I was able to complete it. Could the same be said about retail?

I think YES.

Successful retailers often have a different approach – they have a plan and they get good advice. In some ways retail is simpler than a Rubics cube as there are thousands of solutions – all slightly different but equally successful.

If you want to solve the retail puzzle get a plan, practice using the right formula and think different!

As for Rubics cubes – with a bit of practice and a smattering of luck I managed to complete it in under 2 minutes.

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