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Friday, October 31, 2014

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Friday Morning Eye-Opener: Bulls, Bears, And Ecosystems

by Kevin Coupe

There is an interesting piece this week from Knowledge @ Wharton about how Amazon "has not been an investors’ darling of late," with the company's growing financial losses - in the face of still-growing sales - creating equally growing uncertainty about whether it will ever be able to monetize the extraordinary customer base and loyalty that it has built over the years.

Part of the problem, the analysis suggests, is the people who are bearish about Amazon, skeptical about its long-term profitability prospects, have specificity on their side. The losses are right there to be seen, in black and white (and red), and the company has been clear about its continued intention to pour money into product and service investments. Amazon bulls see the investments in a different light, believing that this is what the company needs to do in order to compete both with online and bricks-and-mortar competitors. However, it is hard to get specific about when these investments will pay off, which creates uncertainty.

Indeed, this uncertainty has been fed by the disastrous reception given to Amazon's Fire phone, and the way in which the company's fight with Hachette, the book publisher, has lifted the veil on how Amazon deals with suppliers. (The operative word has been "vicious.")

And, of course, there is the competition … which just keeps coming.

There are, of course, no guarantees that Amazon will still be around five years, ten years, fifteen years from now. I personally wouldn't bet against the company; I've been shopping there since the late nineties, and I fully expect to be shopping there until I drop. Then again, you never know. Rumors to the contrary, Jeff Bezos is only human … he's capable of making mistakes. (I think that's been pretty much proven lately.)

But I think the main reason that you can count me among the bulls is the fact that Amazon more and more seems to be pursuing the "ecosystem" strategy that has worked so well for Apple. The goal is very simple - make Amazon the best, first and often only real option for the online shopper, offering through both software and, increasingly, hardware, a seamless and smooth customer-centric experience that diminishes that offered by any competition.

That's what Apple has done. Very successfully. Buy a Mac laptop, and it almost propels you to buy an iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc… Everything works better, together. Disconnection seems pointless. And, to steal a phrase from Star Trek that I must steal several times a month, resistance is futile.

I think that for many retailers, the "ecosystem" approach is one that ought to be appropriated. It is the unusual retailer who will be the only option … but it strikes me as a noble goal to work very hard to be the first and best option for specific shoppers in specific categories.

I've always loved the approach adopted by Rudy Dory and Lauren Johnson of Newport Avenue Market in Bend, Oregon, who as CEO and COO have made it a core competence to find products that will make them "first, best, and different."

In other words, creating a kind of ecosystem. And learning from Amazon, despite its current travails.

It could be an Eye-Opener.

Leadership Changes At Food Lion As Newlands Campbell Departs

Delhaize-owned Food Lion said yesterday that its president, Beth Newlands Campbell, is leaving the company "for personal and professional reasons." She will be succeeded by Meg Ham, who has been serving as president of Delhaize's Bottom Dollar Food chain.

Newlands Campbell is a 27-year veteran of the company, spending the bulk of it at Hannaford in New England, beginning as a management trainee and finishing up her career there as president. She moved to Food Lion as president less than two years ago, in December 2012.

Delhaize America also announced that Gene Faller, vice president of operations for Bottom Dollar Food, will assume leadership responsibilities for the banner.  JJ Fleeman, currently senior vice president of Food Lion Strategy, has been promoted to Delhaize America’s chief strategy and development officer.

In a farewell memo to Delhaize associates, Newlands Campbell said, in part, "We live in a world of continual transition. Over the course of years, different things pull at us, attract us, and feed our desire to explore.  Recently and for all the right reasons, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to some personal and professional change. It is an appropriate time for me to make a transition.

There are a few things of which I’m certain as I write this to you……..I’m certain that Food Lion is on a great trajectory. Thousands of us have come together to build and execute a strategy for Food Lion that genuinely delivers on what our customers and communities want and need. We have rallied around the great legacy upon which this company was founded. Together we’ve revitalized an image for our stores that is truly deserving of its customers, sales and success. Our store managers have risen to the challenge and delivered in a way that we should all be proud. We’ve earned back the reputation that we’ve desired for a long time. Our communities count on us through Food Lion Feeds. We count on each other. We care.

"I’m also certain that no one person is bigger than an organization. Leaders lead best when they lead with each other and share ideas and have each other’s backs. I’ve certainly found that to be the case here. No one of us is greater than all of us."

KC's View: Most of the email I've read today, and the conversations I've had with people in the know, indicate that the dye was cast for Newlands Campbell's departure when she did not get the job as CEO of Delhaize America when it became available with the departure of Roland Smith in September 2013; Kevin Holt, former president of retail operations at Supervalu, was named CEO of Delhaize America in June 2014.

The shame of it is that most of the folks I talked to said that Newlands Campbell has done a good job at Food Lion, and they're sorry to see her go … similar sentiments to when Cathy Burns left the company in December 2012. I think it says something positive about the company that Cathy was with the company for close to 30 years, and Beth was there for 27. That's a long time … and I have to wonder if there is some sort of purge taking place. I hope not.

Food Lion has had more than its share of challenges in recent years, and I feel bad for the good folks who work there that they have to go through yet another executive change, though Ham is a known quantity, and she is charged essentially with keeping the Food Lion ship on course.

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Study Suggests Walmart.com Has Lower Prices Than Walmart Stores, Amazon

Kantar Retail is out with its annual Walmart vs. Amazon pricing study, concluding that Walmart.com has a price advantage over both Amazon and Walmart's bricks-and-mortar stores.

"While historically the Supercenter has dominated from a price-point standpoint, this year’s findings indicate a shift to more alignment between Walmart.com and the Supercenter, with aggressive pricing in general merchandise on Walmart.com yielding the most competitive offer overall across the three venues," the study says.

The two major findings:

• "The Walmart Supercenter’s basket was 5% more expensive than the Walmart.com basket.  While the gap between the Supercenter and Walmart.com basket is narrower this year, the advantage for Walmart.com is a reverse from last year’s iteration of the study when the Supercenter was 7% cheaper."

• "Amazon’s basket was 12% more expensive than the Supercenter’s and 17% more expensive than Walmart.com’s.  Amazon’s baskets were most expensive in three out of four sub-baskets, including edible grocery, where the retailer was 37% more expensive than both Walmart channels."

“The results of this year’s study are not entirely unexpected,” says Anne Zybowski, vice president with Kantar Retail. “Amazon continues to hone its prices in the face of increased cross-channel and online competition, while Walmart evolves its alignment between its store and online positions."

Meanwhile, on the pricing front, Bloomberg reports this morning that Walmart is cutting prices on more than 20,000 items - a move designed "to get a jump on competitors before the holiday season … The discounting will last 90 days and begin with price cuts focused on electronics and toys. Wal-Mart will also reduce online prices on Nov. 2 for a 24-hour period, featuring what it described as 15 deals that are comparable to the ones found on Black Friday."

The story goes on to say that "to improve customer service, the world’s largest retailer plans to open more checkout lines during peak shopping times, executives said on a conference call yesterday. Wal-Mart is also considering matching in-store prices with online competitors if a customer asks, they said … The company is testing a plan to match online competitors’ prices at stores in Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Phoenix; and northwest Arkansas. Individual store managers are already allowed to match online prices if they want, the company said."

KC's View: Walmart seems to have gotten a bit of energy boost, perhaps from the leadership of new CEO Doug McMillon. That just makes life more complicated for its competitors … including and especially Amazon.

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From Barnie's CoffeeKitchen...





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Starbucks To Launch Food And Beverage Delivery Service

Time reports that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said yesterday that the company will "begin a food and beverage delivery service late next year … The deliveries will be available to the chain’s loyalty program customers in a few specific markets at first, and will be integrated into a new Starbucks mobile app set to debut in Portland, Ore., next month before expanding to the rest of the country. The app will also allow users to order and pay with their phones."

Schultz made the announcement as he discussed fiscal fourth quarter sales that went up, but that did not meet Wall Street expectations.

"We are playing offense," CEO Howard Schultz said, discussing what the Associated Press calls "the various steps the company is taking to adapt to changing customer habits, including their move toward online shopping and away from brick-and-mortar stores."

KC's View: So, I guess that if Starbucks can't get you to go to the third place, it'll now be happy to bring you coffee in your first and/or second place.

Starbucks is "all in" on this concept. Remember, Schultz has redefined his job as being almost entirely focused on digital. And this is all about digital connections.

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UPS Predicts It Will Handle More Than 585 Million Packages During Holidays This Year

Bloomberg reports that United Parcel Service (UPS) expects to have six days during the upcoming holiday shopping season that will be busier than its single busiest day to this point.

According to the story, UPS "today forecast it will deliver more than 585 million packages in December. That’s up 11 percent from a year ago, when harsh weather and a surge of last-minute online retail orders overwhelmed UPS’s capacity and forced it to miss some Christmas deliveries."

Indeed, Bloomberg notes that "investors and retail customers are watching to see if Atlanta-based UPS’s $175 million peak-season preparedness plan, which includes hiring as many as 95,000 temporary workers and setting up 15 'mobile delivery villages,' is up to the challenge."

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From WAFC…




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The MNB Walmart Watch

Reuters reports that Walmart plans to "close 30 underperforming stores in Japan, scaling back in what was once considered one of the retailer's most promising markets and highlighting the hurdles it faces to securing growth overseas … the 30 stores operate under the Seiyu brand, and the closure is part of a revamp that will include remodels and other investments. The closures represent 7 percent of Wal-Mart's 434 stores in Japan."

According to the story, "Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said that overall the company's Japan operations were performing well, with sales and profits expected to grow for a sixth consecutive year in 2014. He said Seiyu's online revenues were growing at a fast clip."

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From Samuel J. Associates...


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FastNewsBeat

• Nielsen is out with a study saying that global consumer confidence seems to be firmly in the "cautiously optimistic" column, as it "edged up one index point in the third quarter to a score of 98—up from 97 in the previous quarter and up two points from the start of the year. The index, which has been on a slow and steady rise since the first quarter of 2012, has now exceeded a pre-recession level of 94 for three consecutive quarters … Regionally, consumer confidence in the North America region improved the most, rising four points to 107—a score that matches Asia-Pacific’s score for the first time in Nielsen’s Consumer Confidence history (since 2005)."

The study goes on to say that "among the world’s biggest economies, consumer confidence saw a four-point jump in the U.S. (to 108), and increases of one point in Germany (97), three points in the U.K. (93) and four points in Japan (77) from the second quarter."


Fox 5 News in Las Vegas reports that Kroger has decided to convert six of its Food 4 Less locations there to its Smith's banner, will close others, and will pull out of the southern Nevada market entirely by the beginning of next year.


FierceRetail reports that Dekkers Davidson, CEO of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), said yesterday that retailers that are part of the MCX coalition that is developing the CurrentC mobile payments system are free to leave the coalition and use rival systems - such as Apple Pay - at any time. "They can make decisions for their consumers as they see fit," he said.

Davidson also responded to reports that Current C is perceived as merchant-friendly because it generates more usable shopper data by saying that "merchants do not share data with MCX, and that it belonged in the hands of the individual retailer. There is no consolidation of merchant information at this time. He added that there is no consumer information stored on a device in the physical world."


• In London, the Times reports that the fraud investigation into Tesco's accounting practices "could drag on for years," with experts saying that it "could take three to seven years to conclude any investigation into Tesco, “particularly if the matter progresses to a prosecution."

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A Timely Reminder From The Content Guy

Remember ... for most of us in the US, this weekend marks the end of Daylight Savings Time and a return to Standard Time. On Sunday, November 2, at 2 am, it will be time to turn your clocks back an hour. (Assuming, of course, you have clocks that require manual changing.)

Enjoy the extra sleep. I will.

From The MNB Sports Desk

In Thursday Night Football, the New Orleans Saints defeated the Carolina Panthers 28-10.

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From Coupe & Sansolo ... TWO NEW BUSINESS BOOKS THAT TOTALLY RULE!

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In "Business Rules!", Michael Sansolo brings his unique perspective on business to this guidebook for people running business big and small. Some of the 52 rules are surprising, as in “Fail fast and fail cheap” (Rule 14), which shows the power of failure. Others offer new insights: “Focus on your best customers” (Rule 4) shows how Lady Gaga is a model of loyalty marketing.

"Retail Rules!", by Kevin Coupe, offers 52 rules to steer a retailer to success. With a liberal dose of examples from today's business environment, Coupe gives advice on management, marketing, customers, and operations, reflecting The rules Kevin's unique - and often irreverent - view of the world of retail.


Now, here's the deal. The books are available for ordering today on Amazon, both as paperbacks and for Kindle … but if you'd like signed copies in time for the holidays, all you have to do is order from our publisher by November 20 … and you can have one or both books signed and shipped to you in time to give away as a gift (or, to keep for yourself).

Also … there's a special deal if you order both books. Yippee!

Both "Retail Rules!" and "Business Rules!" are designed to be fast, evocative reads … and they're both made even more fun by the drawings of Steve Hickner, the well-known animator and director of Bee Movie, who illustrates every chapter with the kind of exuberance that Kevin and Michael bring to their writing.

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Your Views: Diversity, Squared

Got a number of responses to yesterday's FaceTime commentary, in which I railed against what I thought were the idiotic ravings of a guy who equated women who use litigation and legislation as a last-ditch option to get fair treatment in the workplace with women who "fornicate" their way to the top.

I wrote, in part:

I'm not a litigious person by nature, but I'm smart enough to know that some things need to be litigated. I don't believe that government can solve all our problems, but I'm old enough to know that sometimes we do need laws to make sure that everybody has the same rights. Do I think that sometimes courts and legislatures can be overused, and that sometimes people take advantage of their situations and want something for nothing? Sure. But somehow when a white guy does that, he's crafty, ambitious and motivated. When women do it, they're manipulative and bitchy. But the idea that this clown - and I say that with apologies to actual clowns everywhere - would equate legislating and litigating with fornicating … well, I think that tells you everything you need to know about his view of the world. Essentially, he's fornicated up. If you get my meaning.

I can only hope that as my daughter embarks on her professional life, she will work for people who will afford her all the opportunities and chances that they would give anyone else. That they are nurturing, respectful and challenge her to be better and more brilliant every day. Heck, I hope the same for my sons. Not all their bosses will be thus, but I hope they get their fair share. And I hope none of them will have to deal with people such as this neanderthal - and I say that with apologies to all actual neanderthals - who bring such antiquated mindsets to the workplace.


One MNB user wrote:

Kevin, I’m a college educated female and I’ve been working full-time for 30+ years.  This issue is beyond frustrating for many women.  We live in a man’s world.  I was hoping things would change during my working life, but I’m not optimistic.  Think it will always be that way.  I feel sorry for your daughter and others her age.

From MNB reader Stacy Dye:

Just want to say THANK YOU for standing up for women in business, especially in this industry.  After reading your article, I had a flashback of an experience that happened to me at the NGA Show in Las Vegas a few years ago.  At the time, I was about 8 months pregnant.  I had a gentleman walk up to me in our booth and tell me that I was “putting my career on hold” because I was having children.  After resisting the urge to physically harm him, I explained that I’m actually the mother of three children, and I still have a very successful career which has, in no way, been affected by my pregnancies or motherhood.  In fact, my husband is a stay-at-home father who fully supports everything that I do, takes amazing care of our children, and cooks and cleans so that I can be my best at work. 
 
I really hope that the person who wrote the email to you is the same person that said this to me…because it would make me sad to know there are two people this stupid.


MNB reader Lyle Walker wrote:

Well said!  I remember at the first FMI Future Connect, Trudy Bourgeois, CEO of the Center for Workforce Excellence, moderated a session on 'diversity within the grocery industry'.  Standing before an audience of mostly middle-aged white men (self included), she started the discussion by telling everyone in the room, "This room does not represent the shoppers you serve".  It was a hugely powerful statement that made you think how different (and better) business could be with a more diverse set of skills/insights on the business.

MNB reader Anne Evanoff wrote:

Kevin, thank you for saying what you said in your Face time – I mean it – THANK YOU.

From MNB reader Mary Schroeder:

Thank you for saying what needs to be said.  I see these things as an Old Broad (with no apologies to Old Broads anywhere, we know who we are) and just sigh and hope my granddaughters are not faced with this type of behavior and antediluvian though process.

And another:

I really, really look forward to your commentary each day that it is published!  I thank you for the thought provoking vision(s) you write about and seemingly "open yourself up to post column" comments/commentary.

I have been an avid reader for probably three years plus and again - - - thank you!

I have two daughters; ages 23 and 26 (about the same ages as your three offspring) so I can relate to your comments on many fronts.

Your 10/30 Face Time is your "best ever A #1" commentary!  I do also hope that my daughter's never, ever have to work with that thoughtless, mind numbing type of "knucklehead" (And I say that with apologies to all actual knuckleheads)…


And still another:

I have a pretty good idea who sent you that rather ugly email, as I’m sure many long time readers do.  Discrimination can work both ways, I used to work for a female director, who while I liked her, if you were male, you weren’t going anywhere in her department.  All her promotions to management went to females, even if the male counterpart was better qualified.  I want to see a world where it doesn’t matter if you are male, female, black, brown, white, where race and gender don’t matter, where the same job for the same experience pay the same, where we are all given the same opportunity regardless of gender or race.  We’re not there yet, but we are getting closer.

Discrimination is stupid, no matter who practices it.

And here is a news flash. Women are as capable of being stupid as men.

From another:

That was fornicating awesome!

Another MNB user had a different take:

Your targeting of "middle-aged, white guys" left me frustrated with your logic. 

It's wrong to be prejudiced. Period. Your example of female execs at Safeway being let go shows your bias as you've shared that they are friends of yours and you may have crossed the line from opinion to activist in attacking MAWG's. 

People run companies, and people make personnel decisions every day. These decision makers do not have to correlate their decisions with your ideological perception of how the world should be. You pontificate that the executive suite should necessarily reflect the workforce or society. Maybe. But these execs are free to choose the best people for the job. When did the standard become that execs should look like the team? Who made that rule? I'm not against it, but I don't think that it's a litmus test for leadership.

As a middle-aged white guy, I'm disappointed that political correctness is becoming the norm, while conservative principles are demonized. We come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but I would agree that some balance is a good thing. I do believe that choosing the best person for a job regardless of race, gender, age, etc. is the right thing to do. Are more middle-aged, white guys going to get those jobs? Maybe. But there are probably more qualified guys in this pool because they have more experience than others. It may not feel right to you, but that's history and reality.

Look. Smart companies will choose the best people to lead their companies without regard to political correctness. What we have is a lack of leadership in business today. I'm convinced that if we fix our leadership issue, we put in place people of all colors and stripes that will choose the right people to fill other leadership positions in their companies.


A couple of things.

First, only one of the women to whom I referred - Larree Renda - would be considered a friend. And it isn't like we're good friends … I've just gotten to know her a little bit recently. I don't know Diane Dietz at all.

Second, my point about management reflecting the customer base is not a result of personal bias, nor is it political correctness. I think it is smart business …

Third, whether conservative principles are being demonized depends on where you sit. I know liberals who think that liberal principles are constantly demonized.

Fourth, you might be surprised about where I am on the political spectrum. My politics are a lot more complicated than you might expect.

From another MNB user:

Even though I find myself in agreement with your assessment of insuring that your daughter and all others, “will work for people who will afford her all the opportunities and chances that they would give anyone else”, I also find myself wondering why we continue to place such emphasis on our differences and not what we have in common.  I tire of the constant references to variations in skin tone, origin of birth, sex, what we choose to do hopefully in the privacy of our homes, what church we attend or don’t, how we vote, etc. etc.  The fact is both biologically, and in so many other ways, we have far much more in common than we do differences.  From the dawn of time, humans have experienced diversity, but can we not spend more time focusing on unity, or as Dr. King could say, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Another MNB reader seemed to agree with my sentiments, but not the length to which I went to express them:

We can all take a lesson from Mark Twain: "I would have written that shorter, but I didn't have the time"

Lose your cool, don't ramble.


And from another reader who disagreed with my comments:

Your chronic holier-than-thou sermoneering certainly does get tiresome.

First, I think the word is "sermonizing."

Second, and I mean this with all respect, people are welcome to worship in any church they want, and listen to what ever sermons they choose.

This is what I do. Been doing it for almost 13 years. Going to keep doing it until I run out of gas, or until people stop reading.




On the subject of Apple CEO Tim Cook's essay about being gay, one MNB user wrote:

Good for Tim Cook, for coming out of the closet, I know some will say they’ll never do business with Apple again, and while it’s stupid, it’s their right, however,  his admission will  bring others into the fold.

But MNB reader Frederic Van Roie had a different thought:

Why are private matters such as sexual orientation to be displayed publicly in the business world? And why is that “commendable” to do so?

Would he publicly come out and divulge an affair with a mistress with the same purpose? It’s very PC but I don’t need to know nor should I care.

It bothers me that these private matters are pushed and hailed in the public’s face.


To be honest, I find it a little disturbing that you equate admitting an affair with a mistress to being open about being gay.

They're not the same thing.

Listen, it'd be nice if we lived in a world where such things did not matter. But they do matter. And I found it particularly moving that Cook seems to be very specifically thinking about young gay people growing up in cultures where they are not supported and loved, and in fact are bullied and victimized or, at the very least, marginalized. That seems to have been his experience, and he wants to give those young people someone with whom they can feel a connection, who can give them some hope.

Cook is only being public because there remains in this country a high degree of intolerance, though I think it is changing. Perhaps even more importantly, Apple does business is countries where homosexuality is illegal … and Cook's personal statement creates political and cultural implications.

Is all this commendable? I think so. in fact, I fervently believe so.




On another subject, MNB reader Jack Traynor wrote:

Thanks for another hilarious link regarding John Oliver’s sugar consumption video.
 
Good stuff – keep ‘em coming…


I will. I promise.




And, on the subject of mobile payments, MNB reader Karen Shunk wrote:

I was reading your article on the MCX/Apple Pay competition, and noted your comment that the definition of Customer-Centric can be fuzzy.  Not so! 

I work for a standards organization (ARTS, a division of NRF), that has worked very hard to understand Customer Centricity and produce tools to help retailers determine if customer centricity is the correct strategy for them, as well as resources for how to achieve it.  (By the way, good customer service is not a substitute for Customer Centricity.)

Customer Centricity differs from Product Centricity.  Apple is a classic example of Product Centricity - they built a better mousetrap and the world beat a path to their door.  Customer Centricity rests on something more difficult - determining who your best customers are (you can also say “profitable”, “core” or “target”) and shaping your business to meet their needs.  Determining who your best customers are is hard enough, but gaining insights from your interactions with them, and then putting them into practice in your business is really hard.  You want to shape your assortment, make meaningful offers and actually cultivate a relationship with these customers in a way that is mutually beneficial. 

I can’t really think of a company out there that is truly customer centric.  Kroger probably does it best in this country, Tesco is often held up as a good example in Europe.  In fact, for a minute I thought Tesco was going to make a run at it with Fresh & Easy here in the US.

I would urge anyone who is interested in Customer Centricity to check out the work of Peter Fader at the Wharton School.  We did a webinar with Professor Fader last month.  It is unsponsored and informational … We like to say that the customer used to be a passenger in the retail transaction - now they’re the driver; if you don’t think Customer Centricity is for you, you should at least be able to say why.

I know this is quite a tangent from your MCX/Apple Pay story but I just had to say something!  Thanks for the good work - I truly enjoy reading your newsletter every day.


Not tangential at all. Thanks.




On the subject of the World Series, one MNB user wrote:

Being from KC it was sad to see the home team lose.  Madison Bumgarner’s performance cannot be touted highly enough winning 3 of the 4 games needed.  Having said that, it was a magnificent season for the Kansas City Royals starting with winning the Wild Card game in spectacular overtime fashion to break a 29-Year post season drought, then sweeping the A’s and then the Oriels to make it the World Series, and then to extend the drama all the way to game 7.  It was also historical.  The Royals have the record for winning the most games in the Post Season without actually winning the Series. Quite a feat, thank you Kansas City Royals for such an memorable season!

And another:

As a lifelong Giants fan I feel blessed to have seen the team win three World Series titles especially after resigning myself to the fact, many years ago, that perhaps I’d never get to see them win the whole thing.  Beyond the fact that I’ve enjoyed seeing “my team” win three titles perhaps even more gratifying seeing them win with the mix of players that make up the team.  In each of their championship seasons they’ve done it with a diverse mix of veterans, rookies and journeymen…both foreign and domestic.  However, there is a common characteristic that everyman has shared on all three of those clubs…a complete lack of ego.  They truly seem motivated to play for three common reasons: each other, a city/fan-base that loves them and a love of the game of baseball.  To steal a phrase from you…”there is a business lesson” in there somewhere but I’m just too elated right now to figure out what that is. 
 
GO GIANTS!





And finally, a comment about the new governmental investigation being conducted into Tesco's accounting practices, MNB reader Jule S Andrews wrote:

So the investigation was launched by the “Serious Fraud Office” – really?  Is that down the hall from the Ministry of Silly Walks?

Boom!

Extra credit for a funny line with which to finish out the week!

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Make Your Next Event Unique, Mesmerizing & Provocative

Here is everything you need to know about what Kevin Coupe - MNB's "Content Guy" - can bring your meeting or conference:

"The response from our staff to your presentation has been overwhelming. There has been an excitement and enthusiasm that I have not witnessed since taking over this position. The thanks in the hallways, the emails, the comments … have all been extraordinary. Thank you for capping off the perfect company event yesterday."
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"He brought a unique perspective, and  helped us think about our industry and the changing consumer in new ways ... He left us with a lot of rich conversation and actionable information ... He was terrific."
- Lynn Marmer, Group VP Corporate Affairs, The Kroger Co.

"Kevin Coupe was an injection of high energy. Both his presentation and the session he facilitated were huge hits with our team.  Unanimously, people told me how right on, topical and extremely well presented his speech was!"
- Peter T. Wolf, Chief P Global Sales Operation, ParTech Inc.

"Kevin Coupe is authentic, witty, informed and speaks from the heart.   His pace and style of walking the room kept our members engaged and attentive and his remarks were punctuated by a mix of thought provoking and entertaining pictures and videos.  Kevin is direct and challenged our members to think and take risks by tapping into both sides of the brain.   The positive energy that Kevin generated lasted throughout the day; expect to be surprised.” - Shelley F. Doak, Executive Director, Maine Grocers Association

With a uniquely fast-paced, provocative and entertaining approach, Kevin Coupe identifies the ways in which consumers are changing, the reasons behind these changes (technology, the economy, culture, demographics), how new and unorthodox competitors are altering the marketing landscape, and what companies need to do to find and exploit differential advantages.

"My team was mesmerized by Kevin’s presentation. Thanks to Kevin, they left the meeting newly energized with a strong sense of purpose.”
- Donna Giordano, President, Ralphs

"He’s refreshingly real and authentic…it’s more of a conversation than a presentation ... He uses everyday customer experiences to think about food retailing and the possibilities ... Many times he was reaffirming where we were headed, occasionally he pointed out something we hadn’t thought about and in at least one moment, we knew we had a lot of work to do ... " - Beth Newlands Campbell, President, Food Lion

"Our group felt your presentation was filled with fresh, practical information and is excited about trying some new marketing approaches.”
- Norman Mayne, CEO, Dorothy Lane Market

Want to bring this kind of excitement and energy to your next meeting or conference? Check out KevinCoupe.com.

Contact Kevin Coupe at 203-662-0100, or email him at: kc@morningnewsbeat.com .

Now back to regularly scheduled editorial...

OffBeat: Performance Art

Just a quick movie note this Friday…

The Judge is one of those movies that seems like it comes out of the John Grisham school of courtroom dramas, except that the plotting is not nearly as tight and the narrative is not nearly as strong. It has plot holes you could drive a truck through, and at 2 hours and 21 minutes, feels about a half-hour too long.

That said … The Judge - which is about a high powered Chicago defense attorney who returns to his Indiana hometown to defend his estranged father, a judge who has been accused of murder - sort of works because the two lead actors, Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, bring a high degree of professionalism to their roles, creating actual characters with inner lives where lesser performers would have been hurt of the lack of subtlety in the writing. (I also liked Vera Farmiga in a supporting role with a surprising character twist.)

That's a pretty good business lesson, by the way - that great performers can make even a flawed concept work … though a flawed concept can only go so far before the flaws make it fall apart.

I'd wait for it to be available for home viewing, if I were you. It isn't bad, but there are better ways to spend an evening.




That's it for this week … Have a great weekend.

See you Monday.

Slàinte!

PWS 28