retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to last week’s discussion about a possible national sales tax, one MNB user wrote:

I have chosen on purpose to stay out of commenting on political issues due to the nature of the adversity it creates. However, in this instance I do have one thought. Rather than having people write in their complaints, why don't they instead offer honest and viable alternative suggestions? There are plenty of folks out there who find it easy to complain but have nothing to offer. What I keep hearing from the administration is a willingness to entertain better ideas. It's time for such a noble dialogue rather than simply saying no.

I think the complainers would respond that they do have a suggestion – stop spending money. Which always seems to be easier said than done.

On the subject of the coffee wars, MNB user Sue DeRemer wrote:

It would be interesting to know if McDonalds coffee drinkers are already McDonalds customers (now buying coffee there too), or if McDonalds is picking up Starbucks coffee customers. Nothing in these study results specifically answers that question. Given the large difference in demographics and opinions, I'd guess the former.

I make my own (fair-trade organic) coffee, so I'm neutral.

Another MNB user wrote:

I am not defending Starbucks…but comparing demographics, purchasing behavior and attitudes does not reveal the strategic psychographic differentials between McDonalds and Starbucks customers. McDonalds is still the hero of Fast Food Nation and the star in section one of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. And McDonalds is the villain in the “Slow Movement.” McDonalds is a driving force in childhood and adult obesity and the destruction of the family eating together. McDonalds sustainability and social responsibility must be questioned as they promote, through usage, inhumane slaughterhouses or the deprivation of farmers and farm workers a decent wage. McDonalds shiny little roadside stops are the antithesis of what many Starbucks customers feel business corporate responsibility is all about. Me…I make my coffee at home using fair trade organic coffee using reverse osmosis filtered water.

Reacting to last weeks story about speculation about Amazon’s interest in physical locations, and my endorsement of the AmazonFresh test, MNB user Glen Syvertsen wrote:

I have long held the opinion that the large centralized distribution model for online grocery shopping is the problem. Does anyone remember Webvan or Even and tried and abandoned the model for something more decentralized. Transportation costs must be enormous. I believe as e-commerce becomes more prevalent, the independent grocer will be entering the market in increasing numbers. Given a similar online grocery shopping website that is a well-designed, easy to use and competitively priced from my neighborhood grocery, that would be compelling.

MNB user Paul Schlossberg had some thoughts:

What’s important is that Amazon is looking at ways to expand their business.

They’re a successful “clicks” company – with their powerful on-line presence. Will they now become a successful “bricks” company – with retail stores? If this is a retail venture, how will Amazon maximize their “clicks” knowhow in a retail setting?

It is a distinct possibility that a company like Amazon will deploy an automated shopping solution. Automated convenience stores are already up and running in many countries, including the United State. Vending solutions dispense iPods and other tech products at retail; some sell at $200 or more.

Retail brands, convenience stores and vending operators should pay attention to what develops if Amazon moves ahead with a “bricks” strategy. Amazon’s own evolution offers some clues. The Kindle, Amazon’s wireless reading device, allowed them to move from selling books to selling how you read books.

What advances might Amazon make in automated retail? Technology could be deployed to make the shopping experience fast, easy and simple (uncomplicated). Odds are it would be a cashless system.

The lessons to be learned are clear. Don’t be limited by the strict boundaries of the business you’re in today. Find new ways to reach the shoppers you serve. What you’re after is a bigger “share of wallet” – the money shoppers spend in your category.

Amazon might soon be leaping from your computer screen to a location down the street.

Words and ideas worth taking very seriously, methinks…
KC's View: