retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from an MNB reader after we wrote the other day about Kroger opening a standalone restaurant:

My girlfriend and I recently had the pleasure of dining at Kroger 1883, which is not far from her home.  The entrees, all made from scratch, were exquisitely tasty, which unfortunately left nothing to take home.  We mused whether portions of the menu might be banned for being too addictive; wondering if would be labeled Schedule I or II.  We previously had a favorite appetizer at a nearby pub, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Kroger’s offering.  Service was exceptional, genuinely friendly and timely, in a warm appealing atmosphere.  We were truly impressed and look forward to returning.
I had an 1883 Bourbon, garnished with a thin fruit peel, dark cherries and a gigantic ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass.  A recent article described patrons having to wait up to an hour to be seated; we were lucky to be seated after 7.  Waiting restaurant patrons have an attractive  new state-of-the-art Kroger Marketplace next door.  One of the learnings may be that perhaps Kroger should make their next restaurant a bit larger.

We posted an email yesterday from MNB reader Paul Schlossberg in which he talked about retail Darwinism, prompting MNB reader Joe DiVincenzo to respond:

I thought Paul Schlossberg’s comments regarding Retail Darwinism to be close.  I believe the strategic response is “It Depends”.  Sometimes adapting means deciding which areas you have a strategic advantage in, how you can leverage that both now and in the future, and which businesses it might actually make sense to walk away from at some point as you adapt to a changing world.

Look no farther than the once mighty Eastman Kodak.  Ironically they invented Digital Photography.  Rather than exploit this new technology knowing they would slowly start to cannibalize their own film sales while maintaining the relationship with their Consumers, they let the rest of the world cannibalize their business, which from the consumers perspective was saving memories, rather than exposing film.  I remember when if you lived in Rochester, either you or someone in your family and many of your friends worked for Kodak.

Adapt or Die.

From MNB reader Michael J. Eardley:

Reading all of the shared experiences of what used to be the pinnacle of tech devices and evolved bricks and mortar shopping, I just have to wonder if the people leading companies challenge themselves to experience their delivery of experience.

Having had three horrible experiences on American Airlines in the past month I found myself wishing that one of their executives were flying with me. They would have been embarrassed beyond words. I realize that flying is complicated and difficult but the way they are unprepared and unable to communicate the situation happening leads me to be scared for my safety.

What are people experiencing right now in your business? If it is unacceptable to you what are you doing to change it tomorrow!
If you don’t have a system to personally experience your product or service, you do not deserve to lead.

Norman Mayne would never allow a bad experience to be repeated.


On another subject that we’ve been discussing here, from another reader:

Hope you can handle one more Apple service story. Please don’t use my name - I know the store manager, which makes this all the more funny (I guess).

Went in for service on my iPhone. Phone would open up, but then the touch screen wouldn’t respond at all. I was signed in by one of “greeters” and was told it would be about an hour till service and I should “feel free to walk around the mall” (to check out the competition?), and they would send me a text right before they were ready for me.

I explained that this would be difficult, because MY PHONE DID NOT WORK, so he said I should just come back in an hour and they would get me “right in”.

Back in an hour, checked in with the same guy, and was told they were sorry, but it would be another 30 minutes and, “didn’t you get our text?”. Gotta love it.

Regarding new bag bans in various communities, one MNB reader wrote:

Agree or not, bag bans do not and are not working!! There is more plastic going into landfills than ever before. Austin TX bag ban opened the door for the new heavier plastic reusable bags which uses 5 times more plastic per bag. And at the end of the day they too end up in landfills.

Recycling is still the key and always will be the long term solution. The benefits are still proven to this day.

And from MNB reader Joe McGowan:

More to be addressed is the amount of plastic and styrofoam generated by fast food locations that is often not recycled thrown into the trash.

But another MNB reader wrote:

How about people be responsible citizens that are accountable for themselves and their actions? I and several neighbors all reused the plastic bags as garbage bags in the bathroom or when we walk our dogs. We now shop in the next town over that has no bag ban or we have to buy trash/dog bags. We have a large homeless problem that should be more of a focus rather than plastic bags.

Responding to our Instant Pot story yesterday, one MNB reader wrote:

I bought an Instant Pot for us on Cyber Monday and immediately prepared a meal using chicken breast… worked out remarkably well.   I was incredibly impressed with the cooking time and quality of cooking dense vegetables like potatoes or carrots without the need to chop them into really small pieces.  
We have much to learn about using our Instant Pot, but we already have big plans to use it for the big family Christmas dinner we are hosting on Saturday…..even though we have a double oven, this becomes one more tool in the “cooking tool belt”.   I’ve already sent one to each of my siblings as Christmas gifts.

MNB reader Matt Erickson wrote:

No idea how you missed it.  It was a top seller on Amazon last year in 2016 also.  I am a convert … ate my Instant Pot yogurt this morning for breakfast.

Finally, chiming in on the ongoing discussion about online vs. bricks-and-mortar retailing, MNB reader Christy Meyer wrote:

I also had a great (and a pleasantly surprising) experience at our local Best Buy. Honestly, I’ve never had a bad experience there, but this time was a little special.

Had an associate, Billy, who said he actually worked on the mobile phone side, walk my husband and I over to the camera section, stayed with us as he worked with the camera-specific sales associate to get what we needed and chatted and joked with us along the way. As he was walking us to the front of the store to pay, he specifically thanked us for coming into the store and referenced how we didn’t have to since there are so many online and other B&M stores we could’ve gone to.

I was really impressed with the level of service, how he stayed by our side the whole time and his sincerity. Nice job, Billy and Best Buy! I certainly don’t mind getting off my computer to go to a store when I get that kind of service.

No argument here.
KC's View: