Low-Hanging Fruit
In fact, there's nothing terribly new or cutting-edge about 99 Cents Only's use of information technology; Adams himself insists the company is too small and traditional to deploy "bleeding edge" technologies. It's primarily the intelligence with which the company integrates proven technologies into its overall system that sets 99 Cents Only apart. Adams usually has at least six or seven IT projects going at the same time. How does he prioritize them? "I'm going for the low-hanging fruit," he says. "If the ROI is obvious, the implementation is straightforward, and it gets the product to the customer faster or better, I'll go ahead." But he doesn't always finish what he starts. On the contrary. "We'll get the important things out of a project," says Jeff Gold. "Say 90 percent of the planned benefit, and then we'll put it on hold because something else comes up that we decide will provide more benefit in a shorter time period. We still get our 90 percent of the benefit, and it works out great that way."

It's all part of David Gold's original over-arching mandate: Create the shortest path possible between the customer and the sale. Never knowing what new close-out items they'll discover, customers return day after day, looking for amazing 99-cent bargains—the ten-pound jar of Gulden's mustard, the leather PDA case, the highly rated bottle of wine. "It's a treasure hunt every day here," Adams says. "Our customers are excited to come here because they never know exactly what they'll find."

This article was originally published on 01-01-2004
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