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We reported yesterday on Amazon’s opening of a new Baby and Toy store, and suggested that it has implications for food industry companies:

A couple orders the book “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” from Amazon (at a 40 percent discount, by the way). Amazon then knows that it can send this couple not just notes about baby products, but also baby food and diapers (thorough its new grocery section). And age appropriate toys.

For the couple with a new baby, struggling with all sorts of new time constraints and pressures, this will be a dream come true. And it comes with discounts. Amazon can even time it right and send them a note about books on saving for college… Like we said, a dream come true. And it is all because Amazon may end up knowing its customers - in basic, fundamental ways – better than the so-called local retailer down the street or around the corner. This is called a wake up call, folks.

One MNB user responded:

Regarding your Amazon story. I certainly can see your point and it's definitely any marketer's dream but there are shortcomings to such a system under any number of scenarios.

The most obvious of which: the book might well be a one-off gift for a co-worker's baby shower, after which the gift-giver's interest in said child ends. Or, more seriously, tragedies happen and pregnancies fail. To continually badger a customer with offers tracking what would have been the life of a lost child is tantamount to torture.

At the very least, the tracking must be opt-outable at any time.

True. We should have made the opt-in/out features part of our scenario…because that’s exactly how Amazon does it.

The fact remains that Amazon knows far more about us as a customer than virtually any brick and mortar retailer with which we do business – including (especially) the food store where we have spent $150 a week for the last 23 years. And we have given Amazon permission to market to us based on our needs and interests, because we like being catered to that way.

One MNB user read our story and immediate had a suggestion for products that he would like Amazon to sell:

The day that Trader Joes agree to allow Amazon to sell Trader Joes products online will be the day that both companies show they really know their customers.

Y’know that isn’t the dumbest idea we’ve ever heard. It would give Amazon a line that would almost be proprietary, and Trader Joe’s distribution beyond its physical markets.

The only problem is that it might be counter-intuitive to Trader Joe’s traditional ways of doing business.

We had a piece yesterday about Albertsons being sued for not doing enough to deal with alleged racial harassment in one of its warehouses.

One MNB user responded:

I would hope the EEOC will put the lawsuit where it belongs, on Larry Johnston who "slid" out of this problem too, it seems. He can afford to be tapped for a couple dozen million bucks!

It doesn’t seem fair for Albertsons’ new owners to have to deal with this issue, but it would seem to be a case of “buyer, beware.”

We thought the same thing about Johnston, but made a conscious decision yesterday not to bring him into it. During our recent trip to the CIES Summit in Paris, a number of executives who we respect told us that they thought it was time to let up on Johnston, that we’d been beating him like a rented mule that that it was beginning to make us look petty. So we have him a pass. This time.

MNB user David J. Livingston wrote:

These immature harassment activities are pretty much the status quo at all companies who have warehouses. Typically you do not hire the most sophisticated people to staff these facilities. I have been to the restrooms at various retail distribution centers across the country and you will always find a variety of off color remarks, including racial slurs, posted on the restroom walls. There is really very little a large sterile corporation can do about it other than repainting the restrooms every day. A mature person would just ignore it. A crybaby screams harassment.

We beg to differ.

We find it deplorable that under any circumstances racial slurs and off-color remarks would be acceptable in any environment, much less a business environment where diversity and tolerance should be the rule.

Furthermore, let us quote briefly from the Idaho Statesman article about the suit:

“Swastikas and ethnic racial slurs remained on bathroom fixtures, walls and elsewhere for months and years in some cases, the attorneys charged. Other drawings depicted black and Hispanic individuals with ropes around their necks. The lawsuit alleges that representatives of Albertsons Inc.'s human resources department failed to act when a black employee accused a white manager of threatening him with physical violence.”

A crybaby screams harassment?

We don’t think so.
KC's View: