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We got a number of emails in response to yesterday's commentary about auto-replenishment models. We wrote that one of the ways in which "retailers should reward top shoppers is through a regular auto-replenishment program for items such as, say, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, and the like -- items that are a pain in the neck to pick up, fairly bulky in size, and that don’t go bad when left in the garage or front porch for a time. Free deliveries of such items to top shoppers' homes would be a great way to establish greater connectivity to their lives and needs, and a way to ensure that they are not going to other outlets for those items."

One MNB user wrote:

"I've always wondered if the reason brick-and-mortar companies don't offer these kinds of services because they aren't smart enough to think of it, or there isn't any money to be made in it? And, as long as the larger grocery chains are public companies and therefore may feel they don't have the luxury of a long-term view, can they afford to do anything that does not drive profits now? As of yet, I'm not sure if I know the answer."

Another MNB user wrote:

"Keep talking about this. You are definitely on to something. This is a powerful way to lock customers into your store and your services...especially when it is tied into to cross promotions and other top customer benefits. Every so often I come across something that I realize that I have to remember to do weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. Things like putting Front Line Flea medication on the dog. Now, wouldn't it be neat if a retailer picked up on that and every month on the same day they send me an email reminder with a bunch of coupons in the pet care area or elsewhere in the store. Now, it so happens that every 6 weeks or so I have to go to the store to get a big bag of dry dog food. Every 8 weeks I need to pick up the case of 24 cans of
regular dog food which I mix with the dry stuff. None of this stuff goes bad if left on the door step....And over a year's time they add up.

"I can safely say that this kind of service would not eliminate trips to the store...just eliminates the hassle of the large bags and cases and perhaps generate additional cross sales. .

"A lot of people are hesitant about setting up automatic programs like this because their circumstances change so easily, but with today's technology it would not be that hard to do this by internet URL giving the person the reminder, the usual order, the option to add to, subtract from, or change delivery dates or times, etc.. It isn't the order itself that is important but the courtesy reminder that is important. The extra step to mold into a persons life style."

We got email regarding Kmart's decision to issue new shares in the new company, eliminating ant financial interest held by shareholders in the previous company:

"Kmart did have one feasible option regarding its former shareholders' holdings: They could have done a reverse stock split. Shareholders may have still been justifiably irate, but at least they wouldn't have been shunned and kept "outside" the new Directors' Boardroom door -- unless, of course, that is what the new, post-Chapter 11 Board actually intended."

Trust us. That's exactly the intention.

Another MNB user wrote:

"What is really amazing to me is why anyone would want to buy their stock again, but there are many people who will, or that there will be anyone who wants to work for them, but again, there are many people who will. To quote P.T. Barnum, there is a sucker born every minute."

Regarding yesterday's story about a California county trying to legislate a ban on supercenters, and our commentary that such bans do nothing but sanction the inability of smaller companies to be competitive, MNB user Andy Casey wrote:

"I absolutely agree with you. The role of government has traditionally been to protect competition, not competitors. Retailers who require shelter from other competitors should change their business model to compete more effectively rather than rely on the government to protect them. Otherwise, it is the consumer who loses in the form of higher prices, limited product offerings or fewer services.

"Besides, does anyone really believe this will stop Wal-Mart? And let's face it, that is exactly where it is aimed. The Bentonville Behemoth has demonstrated over the years it is the very definition of retail innovation to adapt to changing market conditions with not only supercenters, but club stores, neighborhood markets and other formats as well. When this fails to stop them, will the next step be regulated prices?"
KC's View: