Published on: December 10, 2012
Some thoughts about the sweeping executive changes announced last week at Delhaize America:Time will tell if these mega moves fundamentally changes the performance of the company. Delhaize has never had a shortage of very smart, dedicated people. But even with smart people, they will be challenged as the entire C-suite team are now in a new roles with many of these folks handling responsibilities very new to them. Roland Smith obviously has a flare for the dramatic, but now that he has made these moves, the most important changes are yet to come as it will be more about the overall strategy coming from Smith that will determine the level of success Delhaize U.S. Achieves, not executive level musical chairs.
Obviously, with all these new assignments, more re-structuring and reporting assignments will be announced as each of these leaders will build teams around them. Given that, it will be very interesting to see how quickly this new team can form and train their effort on improving sales, profits and corresponding market share some very tough markets.
We've gotten a number of emails about the likelihood that Tesco will sell or close its US Fresh & Easy operations. This one, from MNB user Mike Parker, was sort of typical:If you reviewed your ancient emails when Tesco opened I advised you that they would fail due to their arrogance and the absence of a reasonable American presence in management. I take no pride in being correct, but I do take pride in my knowledge of successful and unsuccessful retail start-ups.
A lot of smart people thought that Fresh & Easy would work ... and a lot of smart people thought it would fail. I'm not all that smart, which explains why I was on the fence ... I had issues with the format, but I always thought that Tesco would be able to make the adjustments necessary to make the concept viable.
I was wrong.
In the end, though, I do think that it is time for people to stop talking about how bad timing and a tough economy caused Fresh & Easy's demise. Really good retailers adjust to circumstances, and don't blame circumstances for poor performance.
In this case, Tesco dropped the ball. No excuses.
Great line from MNB user Gary Loehr about the package Tim Mason is getting as he departs Tesco and Fresh & Easy:Just once in my life, I would like to be bad at something important enough that I would get paid $9 million to get out.
Regarding the delivery of marketing information to people's smart phones and tablet computers, one MNB user wrote:I think the bottom line is people aren’t interested in junk. It doesn’t matter if it comes electronically or in paper format. My junk e-mail box fills up fast and I empty it regularly without even looking at what’s in there. I have several rules set up that send undesirable e-mails do my deleted items box, which I empty daily. I never check the box on electronic forms to add me to mailing lists. I seldom look at the ads in the newspaper and only open personal letters and bills from my mailbox.
I don’t know the solution but I think marketers will be more successful when they develop something that enables the consumer to control when and how they interact with the retailer and that entices them to interact regularly.
We had an email last week from an MNB user complaining about customer service from a casino where they would only take a money order from the gift shop, and would not take a credit card. But another MNB user has a take on the situation:The reader who had to ask about why they couldn’t get a gift card with a credit card, the answer is very simple. Federal law prohibits it. Its illegal to pay a casino in any form than direct with cash unless you’re at the casino.
I had no idea.
We continue to get email that chimes in on the Amazon.com debate.
MNB user Garry Adams wrote:You make good points about Amazon as a retailer.
A client of mine is an on-line retailer. Great sales and growing. I think if they opened a small number of brick-and-mortar stores in select markets where they have a ton of customers, they would be hugely successful – like Apple, Microsoft, others. And isn’t Amazon opening (or has it opened) a bricks-and-mortar location?
If they have already established a brand, which they have, I think it would have great potential.
What do you think?
I think that when and where it works, multi-channel is a smart strategy. But I also think that being good in online doesn't guarantee that one will be good at bricks-and-mortar retailing. And vice-versa. I would walk quickly but carefully.
Another MNB user wrote:It is difficult to compete with Amazon, but there is one very important thing that brick and mortar retailers can do. That is to lobby congress to allow states to collect sales tax on all on-line business. The definition of having a presence in a state needs to be expanded to include shipping into it, not just having a warehouse or store. Then each state needs to be lobbied to collect the taxes. Arguments as to difficulty to an e-retailer to collect the taxes will be fixed by the market. It is easy for a company to create a database by zip code that can be updated by the states. The database will contain the required sale tax amount. The online retailer can apply the tax to each invoice and forward the data and one payment to the clearing house. This information and money can be consolidated and sent to the states. A company like GS1 could create something like this in a week. The Republicans in Congress keep claiming that they are small business friendly, here is a way to prove it.
This is already happening ... and since it is collecting sales taxes in a number of states, it is taking advantage of the moment to open warehouses there, which will allow it to speed up delivery times.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you think collecting sales taxes is going to slow Amazon down, you are mistaken. Lack of sales taxes has very little, I believe, with its success.
MNB user Allison Enright wrote:Couldn’t agree with you more on today’s FaceTime. Amazon continues to step up its game and it’s up to everyone else, if they want to stay in business, to figure out how to keep playing.
From another reader:With Google searches so often topped by Amazon, it looks like an opening for another search system which is more shopper neutral. I think it could be powerful to advertise “your searches are not for sale to the highest bidder”. Amazon, too may pass, or just become one part of a retail fabric.
MNB user Daniel Drotning wrote:I am not sure how to compete with Amazon as a grocery store, but we are trying to figure that out. However I do think that if another “super storm” like Sandy is going to hit your neighborhood tomorrow if you do not have a bricks and mortar store to run to for supplies going online to an Amazon like site will not make it to you in time.
Nobody is saying that there is no role for the traditional neighborhood store. Just that competition is tougher ... and you can't depend on hurricanes to keep your business viable.
From another reader:I think all the points being made were good. Competing with Amazon doesn’t necessarily mean going dollar-to-dollar with them. I do quite a bit of business with them, but I have “MY” local stores. Where I know the people. Where I sit and talk about what I’m looking for. Where I walk in and they recognize me and SUGGEST THINGS TO BUY for Emily or Elizabeth or Gabby or Skyler or Kate or Sarah or Piper or Timothy or Meghan BY NAME (our grandchildren). Gee, do you think they have figured something out there? This IS their competitive edge. This IS those retailers competing. The ‘buy local’ and ‘support your small business’ movements are great, but they have to earn that business by making ME want to shop or use their services. And price is not always the deciding reason.
We had a story the other day about how lobsters in Maine, because of overfishing, are resorting to cannibalism and eating each other to stay alive ... and I joked about whether a lobster wears a bib when it eats another lobster.
Which led one MNB user to write:How horrible. We’ve overfished their ecosystem, and they’ve had to resort to cannibalism just to survive. I think that’s sad, and there’s nothing funny about that at all.
But I take very seriously the admonition I recently got from MNB user Matt Mroczek, who said that "if you stop cracking jokes every time there’s bad news to break, I’m going to stop reading your blog!"
Never gonna happen.