retail news in context, analysis with attitude

I love it when MNB readers are smarter and funnier than I am.

Last Friday, we took note of a Bloomberg Businessweek report that "President Barack Obama said Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Apple Inc. and Ford Motor Co. are among about 300 companies that have pledged to take part in an initiative to help the long-term unemployed find jobs … The administration and the companies will 'establish best practices' for hiring that 'do not screen people out' because they’ve been unemployed for an extended time, Obama said in an interview with CNN."

I didn't comment on the story. Because I didn't connect the dots the way I should have.

But a number of MNB readers did. Here is a typical email, one of many that made the same point:

Walmart donates $10 million to a initiative to create jobs in the US. Then, a week later, Sam's Club announces it is laying off 2,500 workers. And then, a week later, Obama praises Walmart for helping the unemployed.


Very. There does seem to be a disconnect here somewhere. Or maybe it is just more proof - as if we needed it - that there is a difference between how companies donate money and how they actually do business.

Some irony, huh?

MarketWatch reported last week that Starbucks, which has been enormously successful in getting customers to use applications on their smartphones as prepaid cards with which they pay for coffee, is considering a tweak to the app that would allow customers to order and pay for their coffee before actually getting to the store.

My comment:

This strikes me as an option that seems better in concept than it might be in practice. I'd rather wait the few minutes in the store than have cold coffee.

Not everyone agreed. One MNB user wrote:

I love the idea of adding this feature to the Starbucks app. I will use the feature any time I'm ordering Jimmy John's or Chipotle at lunch, and it's great being able to bypass the line to get my food that is ready to go. I think if Starbucks adds a proximity feature, so your order doesn't get sent until you're in the parking lot, or at least close to it, most instances of cold coffee could be avoided.

From another:

I'd use the app to order from outside the store if there was a really long line like there usually is at one of my favorites. Seem logical…

Fair enough. If Starbucks offers it, I'll certainly try it. I'm willing to be converted.

Finally, we took note the other day of a story in the Irish Independent about Chris Martin, CEO of Musgrave, the company that acquired the iconic Irish supermarket chain Superquinn in 2011 and currently is in the process of rebranding its stores with the SuperValu banner. While eliminating the Superquinn name has been seen as being a controversial decision, Martin says that it was both inevitable and necessary - that Superquinn was expensive to run, had niche appeal, and of a different time and place.

Which prompted MNB reader Steve Methvin to come up with the following terrific line:

Some Irony? The last chapter of (Superquinn founder Feargal Quinn's book) "Crowning the Customer was “Don’t let the Accountants Win!”

Yup. Some irony.
KC's View: