retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story last week about how major retailers like Walmart have their own CSI-style operations, which prompted MNB reader Gail Nickel-Kailing to write:

I assume that because 1) they are not law enforcement agencies (city, state, county, federal) that they don’t have to operate under the same legal constraints developed to protect personal rights, 2) since they are not “accredited,” they may be using methods, procedures, systems that might not be approved under accreditation. (This only raises a question because we don’t know… )

The services you list range from extracting information from a damaged hard drive - something that data recovery companies do all the time - to tracking on employee behavior to check to see if any laws are being broken. 

I don’t fault companies for feeling they have to go the “do it yourself” route if there are not properly accredited organizations with enough bandwidth to provide services, but who’s ensuring our civil liberties - and our data - are being protected?

Just a little concerned here…

We had a story the other day about how "Amazon is launching something called Amazon Cash, described as a service 'that allows consumers to add cash to their balance by showing a barcode at a participating retailer, then having the cash applied immediately to their online Amazon account'."

One MNB reader responded:

I think it's hard for us that have bank accounts to fathom life without one. My brother was one of those paying a percentage to cash his paycheck. I have stood in line at the Dollar Tree and watched people pay hundreds of dollars to load a pay card. The cashier told me they always buy things in addition to loading the card. So maybe that's why merchants will work with Amazon Cash ...

From another reader:

Walmart addressed this “unbanked customer” opportunity a few years ago with their Walmart MoneyCard.  Customers can cash their paychecks to the card and not incur any check cashing fees, as well as load additional cash to it.  The card is then usable for online purchases.  Sounds like it is Amazon playing catch-up for a change …

Regarding completely automated bank branches being tested by Bank of America, one MNB reader wrote:

I recently stopped in my local BOA bank to handle some banking needs that I generally prefer a teller to handle.  When I walked up to the counter and presented my banking, the bank teller politely told me I could do all that I wanted done outside at the ATM.  I responded that I would have but there were already three people in line for the ATM and I saw that she was not busy.   The banks are definitely trying to steer customers away from direct person-to-person interaction, unless you want to apply for loans or make some investments.

MNB reader Ben Kizer had a thought about our story looking at how UPS finally is getting into the Saturday ground delivery business:

I very much enjoy Morning News Beat and as I celebrate my 33 year in consumer sales, change still seems to be the only constant in this business.  I for one hope we don’t see Sunday deliveries.  Sunday should be a day for Church and Family.  In fact, I wish more businesses would go the way of Chick fil a and Hobby Lobby and close on Sunday.   

Like it or not, that horse is out of the barn.

The thing is, not everybody goes to church, and some people need to be able to do shopping and errands on Sundays so they can take care of their families.

A business can choose not to do business on Sunday if it wishes, and a consumer can choose not to get Sunday deliveries or not to go to the store on those days.

Finally, in a discussion of how its position on public bathrooms - saying that people can go to the restroom reserved for the gender with which they identify, as opposed to their birth gender - has hurt Target, I conceded that I may have misread the degree of opposition ... but said that this probably is because I am a Northeasterner with urban predilections.

Prompting one MNB reader Jim Martin to write:

I'm a child of the northeast with heavy urban influences, Brooklyn and North Jersey, and I completely disagree with your position on this subject.

Fair enough. It would be a mistake to suggest that urbanites are homogeneous in their views, and that certainly was not my intention.
KC's View: