retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, MNB took note about a New York Timespiece about the innovation model used by Apple and Steve Jobs, and suggested that there are ideas here that could and should be adopted by retailers and manufacturers.

MNB user Bob Vereen wrote:

Enjoyed your comments about the iPad, and featuritis.

It made me think about Aldi, which recognizes its role--a purveyor of basics, recognizing that other stores with broader inventories, in-store bakeries, etc., are still going to be shopped by consumers, but by limiting its assortment, operating smaller stores and concentrating on private brands, it reduces its operating costs and thus can sell its limited assortment for less.   And serve its core customers.

MNB user Rick Rector wrote:

Good, thought provoking piece. It's just another example of why I continue to read your newsletter even though I'm no longer directly connected to the food business. Keep up the good work.

One MNB user, however, had mixed emotions:

I always find your comments on innovation enlightening and amusing.  Enlightening, because you’re usually right.  Amusing, because you haven’t adopted any innovation on your own website or business.

I believe yours is the only news website I ever encounter where a reader cannot comment directly on a piece right alongside the editor.  ‘Our Views’ have to go thru the black box filter first.

I actually have to come to the website to read the stories rather than getting a teaser sentence or two on the email to decide if it would be worth my while today.  I know why you do this, but all the other news emails I get give me a taste first, which actually does value my time and intelligence.

Lastly, not a mention of how the iPad might actually change your business model.  The hype around the hardware is that it will revolutionize the content business, which you are in, but that doesn’t get touched on in your comments.

All fair criticisms and observations.

Just to explain my rationale...

There have been times I’ve considered a “message board” approach to reader comments. It would, to be honest, save me a lot of time...I spend hours each day reading all the email I get. But there are two reasons that I have not adopted that model. One, because I try to respect readers’ time, I think it is part of my job to edit the “Your Views” section and keep it focused; while this means by necessity that it ends up reflecting my priorities even while reflecting your sensibilities, I think that is sort of what people expect of me and MNB. Two, there is a lunatic fringe out there that I don’t want to inflict on the general MNB community. So I’ve stayed with this model to this point.

I understand that some folks would like a teaser sentence...but the idea that this is how most other sites do it isn’t my idea of a good reason to adopt that model. Again, MNB is designed to be different...though I have tried to cut down on the vague headlines and make them more specific so that a teaser sentence isn’t necessary. (Though sometimes I cannot help myself.)

Finally, I have no idea now the iPad is going to affect my business. That doesn’t mean that I’m not trying to figure it out, and talking to a lot of people far smarter than I to try to get a sense of how MNB might need to change and evolve.

This, of course, includes the MNB community. I love emails like this that challenge me, that make me think. I’m always open to suggestions, and read every email that I get...even if there are so many of them that I can’t always respond.
KC's View: