Published on: July 27, 2017
Commenting on a story yesterday about Hy-Vee's plans to open a super-sized convenience store, I suggested that format definitions are probably a lot more important to retailers and the media than to consumers. This prompted MNB reader Joe Luehrmann to write:I will make one comment on convenience stores.
Since I retired four years ago, I have kept careful track of my spending. I have noted one thing. When I need a quick meal, I will drive by all of the fast food places to stop at either QuikTrip (C-store) or the local Fry's store with a lunch counter.
QuikTrip (like Wawa and Sheetz) offers a variety of food options, many healthy, as well as a made-to-order counter that is open from 6 am- 10 pm. In addition to that, they offer plenty of free deals to those who use their apps. And the value is excellent. For example, you can get two 4 oz sausages on bun with every condiment imaginable for $2.59. The service is out of this world. Locally, the Circle K and 7-Eleven stores are struggling to remodel.
Or I will head to Fry's for a chicken dinner - three pieces of fried or baked chicken and two sides for $4.95. It is a better deal than any of the burger joints.
I think that there are a lot of opportunities for smart operators to capture the prepared food market.
We had a story yesterday about how President Trump continues to attack Amazon, conflating it with the journalism of the Washington Post
, and accusing it of not paying taxes. I pointed out that, in fact, Amazon collects sales taxes in every state that has them, but MNB reader Mark Littrell responded:Something to keep in mind, state sales tax collected by Amazon did not happen until last year in my state, as well as some others. If Amazon didn’t have a physical presence in the state, sales tax was not collected. When filing the state returns where I live, you had to note whether you purchased anything online and whether sales tax was paid. If not, you were to include the amount you owed. It was strictly on an honorary basis.
Two things remain true. Amazon complied with the law, and now collects taxes in every state.
Got the following email about Walmart's new pickup towers:Yesterday when I read that Walmart was adding this new feature I thought of Service Merchandiser too. Today they add some technology and it is labeled as new. It all seems to come around just with a different slant, and the younger generation thinks it is grand. I worked for a local grocery chain that was at ahead of its time. In the mid 90’s we started grocery pick up and loyalty cards. There were no real tech programs or software to support these innovations yet we did it. It is just now that grocery pick up and delivery and loyalty cards are working. I look back now and smile at what we had accomplished. Is that an age thing????
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
We had a story the other day about changes that Albertsons is making in order to compete with Amazon on one end and Lidl/Aldi on the other. We had an email yesterday suggesting that what Albertsons really ought to do is scale back on its slotting allowance demands, which prompted another MNB reader to respond:Well said on the part of that reader. Slotting is a major source of income. Items are brought in for the slotting fees and all knowing that they will fail at the market due to poor strategy selection or exorbitant retail pricing. In regards to market strategy, I am still trying to figure that out!
Got the following email from MNB reader Mike Nichols:In your reference to the Business Insider article that reported on how Walmart is using an “easy reorder” app, you commented that “asking me to reorder amounts to imposing a step that I’d rather avoid.” While this may be true, there should still be a large segment of the population – me included – that finds this arrangement appealing. I also think that your comparison is slightly off. Instead of competing with Amazon’s subscription service, this seems like it would more directly compete with Amazon’s Dash buttons.
I say this as a devoted Amazon customer who makes heavy use of their virtual Dash buttons to reorder items. I have never gone to their subscription model because I like to stay in control of the timing of when orders are placed (I don’t necessarily run out of products at consistent intervals). And, the Dash buttons allow me to stay in control of the reorder process while still offering most, if not all, of the convenience of a subscription service. They also avoid the hassle of having to cancel/delay pre-scheduled orders, which would inevitably come up with a subscription service. Walmart’s “easy reorder” app sounds like it would be about as attractive and convenient as Amazon’s dash buttons.
And, on another issues from another reader, about LL Bean's repositioning of its brand:LLBean’s brand is really strong, starting with their return policy. While current management may wish to change it, the fact is that part of LLBean’s loyalty is their return policy. For me, they get “first purchase consideration status”. To me, this is worth $5-$10 more for their shirts (for example). They change their return policy – they become a “price merchant” to me.
On another subject, one MNB reader wrote:The Taco Bell/Lyft hook up seems like a really good idea—especially if they can tie the apps together for mobile ordering to make the drive-thru trip more efficient (or at least to save some poor Lyft driver from having drunk frat boys scream chalupa orders at his or her head).
We took note yesterday of a Boston Globe
report that the Organic Consumers Association has announced that it "found traces of glyphosate in 10 of 11 samples of the company’s ice creams — although at levels far below the ceiling set by the Environmental Protection Agency." Glyphosate, the story notes, is "the herbicide that is the main ingredient in the popular consumer pesticide Roundup..."
I commented:The interesting thing about this, at least to me, is that I completely accept the rationale offered by Ben & Jerry's that they're caught by surprise by this and are doing their level best to meet the standards they've set for themselves. They've earned that kind of credibility. Unlike, say, Chipotle, which has no credibility in my view.
MNB reader Jessica Duffy wrote:What really bothered me about this report is that Ben and Jerry’s has never claimed to be organic, so if the cows producing the milk and cream for their products feed where glyphosate is used, then it could certainly show up in the product. The fact is that glyphosate is used so universally across the agricultural spectrum as a weed killer that it is probably in just about everything not certified as organic. This is a classic ploy by the Organic Consumers Association to put up some big name to get some gratuitous attention. They have done it for years to Whole Foods. They are shady and try to pump people up to grab themselves donations. They love to breed some bogus controversy to get peoples’ attentions. I don’t know if they actually do anything positive for the extension and support of organic growers or not.
But another MNB reader had a different perspective:I remember when you s**t a brick when they found sawdust in Parmesan Cheese as their filler. Put a cancer causing agent in ice cream and that's fine.
I don't think I said that this was "fine." I said that some companies, in my view, have earned an extra measure of trust, and my willingness to cut them a little slack. Others haven't.