retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB took note the other day of how CVS Caremark announced this week that it is expanding its partnership with Google Health, allowing its customers to have their pharmacy records and histories, including those from the retailer’s MinuteClinics, downloaded to their online accounts – an initiative designed to make such patient histories more accessible and complete.

I commented that “if we could only get to the point where that information could be integrated with dietary and nutrition recommendations, so that the connections between food and medicine could be made even clearer and more actionable…That’s when the circle gets closed.”

MNB user Vonnie Veldman thought I was thinking too small…

You are missing the whole potential of this technology moving forward. My teenage daughter is treated at Mayo Clinic, a world renowned health provider, for neurological problems she was born with. On her recent follow-up visit I asked her doctor if it was possible to download her medical history to my local hospital and clinic computers, in the event she was hospitalized in an emergency. Made all the sense in the world to me that an ER doctor would have full access to how to treat her affliction rather than relying on me to accurately recite her meds and history in a time of crisis. His response was not comforting- that technology was not available, but the doctor could call whichever neurologist was on call at the time if guidance was needed. It seems to me that millions of people live with life threatening conditions who would benefit from the instant information system of the internet. I would pay a fee to participate in a network such as this, and I am likely not the only one.

You’d think such a thing would exist. Just another piece of evidence that maybe our health system isn’t everything it is cracked up to be.

Responding to our piece yesterday about Blockbuster looking into the abyss because of credit issues and heightened competition from the likes of iTunes and Netflix, MNB user Connie Montgomery wrote:

Poor, Poor Blockbuster. It took them long enough to even think about
throwing in the towel.

There is not only Netflix as competition. I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in South Texas we have Redbox. We can rent the same movies for $1.00 a day; that is better than Netflix. Sure it is only 1 day rental, but you can keep longer, and they just bill your credit card. It does not hit the credit card until it is returned, and if you keep a certain amount of time, you can keep the movie at about $20.00, the cost of
the DVD if you were to buy it. They have first run, you can put in a reserve first run online in advance, and pick up at the Red Box the day it is released. They have been here for 1 year now and I have never had any problems with them. And they are everywhere; Valero Corner Stores, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and many more. Just about every corner.

How does Blockbuster compete with that???

MNB user Bob Vereen chimed in:

Another factor has to be the explosive growth of Red Box and another similar concept, which offer DVD rentals for $1.00 daily in locations such as Walmart stores, Kroger and dozens of other "convenient" retail locations. We've used both and find the convenience, as well as the cost, satisfying.

You both make an excellent point. I forgot about Redbox…but have noted recently that I’ve been seeing it in more and more places. Thanks for filling in my blank.

MNB user Erik Mortensen also had a thought:

I felt compelled to tell you a story about my most recent visit to Blockbuster.

First I couldn't agree more about their inability to adapt to a changing industry. But going even further I'd argue the employees and locations are inadequately armed to service customers that mostly rely on Netflix but when it's convenient grab a flick at Blockbuster.

My most recent trip to a Blockbuster only came about because my wife and I were in the area and we didn't have a Netflix movie at home. I proposed stopping at and picking something up. The wife was staying in the car with our 1 year old and I was going to run in and pick something out. I found a title, shot through the line-less cue and approached the single check-out person. I present my movie and he asked for my Blockbuster card. I said I didn't have it, I hadn't been there in quite some time. I offered my driver's license to prove who I was and so that he may look me up in the system. He searched for my name, but no results were returned. I gave him my wife's name thinking it was probably under her name. Again, no results were found. He asked just how long has it been since we rented there. I told him it had probably been 2 years. His response was something like "oh, well then you're profile is purged from our system, I just need you to fill out this form again, we'll update the system again and then you can rent this movie". I told him to hell with it, I only stopped in because it SEEMED convenient at the time, but that I'd just go home and pick a movie from "On Demand".

Now maybe some, or maybe most, people would have been fine filling out all the paperwork again, but agree with me or not, this scenario is being considered more and more inconvenient. In a Fast Food world where everything is available right now speed = convenience and to a large extent speed is the expectation.

If Blockbuster has any chances of survival they must adapt and do it yesterday (there's the speed thing again!). They need to realize and accept that their customer's trips are and will become more sporadic and unpredictable. Between Netflix, movie downloads and now mandatory digital TV, people won't have a need for a weekly trip to rental stores.

Blockbuster may survive in the short term, but I think it is a dead company walking.

Finally, responding to yesterday’s story about Diageo creating a chilled cube for cold beer that can be installed in retail locations, one MNB user wrote:

All I can think of when reading this article is the new Heineken commercial with the walk-in beer closet and the guys yelling while ladies are screaming on the walk in shoe closet. Now that is using a product to sell an experience……. Someone will have one of those for real before the end of the year, maybe one of those rich actors or ball players, but I bet someone will build one.

You’re right – that is a laugh-out-loud funny commercial.

And there is hardly a guy alive who didn’t “get it.”

KC's View: