business news in context, analysis with attitude

We heard from one MNB user about yesterday’s PlanetRetail commentary about a new store format developed by Auchan:

“Auchan's hard-discounted loose items, if not a new idea, is an interesting revival of one. I dimly remember visiting whole foods type of stores with my mom in the early 70's that used this approach. As a kid anyway, I found it appealing (hey, you get to scoop stuff into a bag yourself) and as an adult it's intriguing. You only buy and pay for what you want - without paying for all the fancy packaging. get to scoop stuff into a bag yourself!

“Would this fly in America at this point in time, though? With one of the top considerations of customers being that a retail establishment is "clean", loose items would have to have a dedicated cleanup staff. With another top consideration being terrorism and food safety - note the plethora of safety seals on our packaging - this might be viewed with some suspicion. And the loose items would be difficult to police.

“Which overall is too bad. It is cheaper, better bargain shopping and fun. Would like to see how the concept develops for Auchan.”

Another MNB user wrote:

The description that you have written describing their format (above) sounds somewhat parallel to the Costco's in the NW marketplace. Given I haven't been to too many outside the Seattle area (of which there are many), one of the features I enjoy are several of the single gourmet food items that can be purchased along with the 32-roll pack of TP. Although it's not likely as expansive as Auchan's in the single offerings, it's one of the reasons I continue to shop at Costco. TP and other bulk items can be found for comparable prices other places, though some of the custom-packed gourmet food items found at Costco are not readily found other places that keep on bringing us back.

Here is a fascinating email we received on the subject of customer service:

“I work for a Safeway owned company. Customer Service and Safeway, you already know the history.

“But, speaking as an employee that does want to give a customer service, I think these big companies that come up with the PLANS to offer CUSTOMER SERVICE are making a mistake.

“Service can only be provided by employees that genuinely LIKE their jobs.

“The way that companies try to FORCE service and set guidelines, in my opinion, just makes it harder for employees to offer it freely.

“Each individual customer needs to be treated differently. Each one has their own problem and that problem or need, should be addressed to suit THAT customer. If all are treated the same exact way, then how can a customer feel special? Isn't that what management wants? To make each and every customer feel special? Wanted?

“If that one act, whether it is waiting on a customer or solving a problem, does not make the customer feel like THEIR PROBLEM or shopping experience was geared just towards them, then they won't feel the need to return.”

From your lips…

On the subject of broadband and the impact that it will have on e-commerce, one member of the MNB community wrote:

“Wow KC, do you have a strong opinion on this? I am not inclined to believe Forrester at face value because I think they have a biased position and would like the broadband revolution to fulfill its prophecy. However, if you believe the guys from Roper in their new book on the influentials (titled "the Influentials), they (influentials) are all over broadband and it is only a matter of time (short) before the word of mouth magic of this 10% of our population make it preposterous not to have broadband.

“Being one who labored on the Internet for 4 or 5 years on dial-up and then gained access to broadband, I can attest to the a feeling of elation from experiencing the speed and power that broadband brings. Don't sell this short, no matter what anyone says........momentum is in favor of broadband for everyone, for sure!”

Regarding tightening ties between Seiyu and Wal-Mart in Japan, we received this email from Japan:

“I visit and shop at one of Seiyu store in Tokyo and have found Seiyu is changing every moment to better direction. For instance the store hour at Seiyu several years ago was at 8 pm. Now they open up to 10 pm. The nice looking POP can be seen at the store and sales staffs look more active than before.

“I have no idea yet when and how the first WM store opens in Japan, but I guess WM may offer Seiyu a lot of IT management and MD at the first stage, then WM will open their first store in 2-3 years.”

On the subject of Tesco’s “skewed” organic advertising, one MNB user wrote:

“I’d like to know who doesn’t think fresh produce with less synthetic chemical residues (a.k.a. organically grown) is healthier than the conventionally grown produce. Common sense, anyone? Anyone? And if you really need science to open your mind, “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson and “Our Stolen Future” by Theo Colborn offer substantial bibliographies of research on the effects of a number of chemicals in the human body and the environment. The Consumers Union Dec. 15, 1997, and May 8, 2002, Consumer Reports March 1999, and August 2002 should all provide the proof of Tesco’s advertising as well. We buy cars and stereos based upon Consumer Reports findings, why not food?”

Responding to yesterday’s piece about companies laying off people at the top, one MNB user wrote:

“As you likely know, this is not only happening in the food industries we follow, but across the board. This recently happened in the golf industry where my husband works, with a number of Top managers (1 each from 3 diff. facilities) were let go and replaced by 1 person to oversee middle managers at all 3 sites. Quite honestly, not only was this a smart move financially, but it also is raising the level of contribution the middle managers have been wanting yet with only a modest increase in compensation. Although those let go aren't happy, everyone else seems to be more fulfilled.”

On that note, we wish you a terrific weekend…
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