retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got a lot of email about Kate McMahon’s column yesterday about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

MNB reader Terry Pyles wrote:


Ya know, I'm a big fan of yours.  I look forward to your columns every week. Today you hit a home run with your piece on Mark Zuckerberg, the accidental business tycoon.  

I tried Facebook for a cup of coffee many years ago.  Two reasons our relationship didn't last: 1.) I was dumb enough to accept friend requests from my then 20-something kids. TMI!, and 2.) Facebook's security left me very nervous. I jettisoned my account, but found out one can never really delete that account.  Kind of like a certain type of virus; you can force it into dormancy but it never really goes away.  They keep your account inactive, but it's always just a password entry away from re-activation. A hacker might still be able to get in.

I believe Mark Zuckerberg is the Dr. Frankenstein of the tech world. He had the smarts on the tech side to create this monster, but was ill equipped on the business side right out of the blocks. But he was (is) also too arrogant to admit it. The monster got away from him, became too big for him to control. At no point, though, was he conscious of the fact that Facebook IS indeed a business, not just a fun little social platform.  Moreover, he was not conscious of the fact that as CEO he IS indeed a business man, and as such responsible for any and all actions of his company.

Kind of reminds me of the Tom Hanks character in the movie Big.

Anyhow, thanks for a great column.  I always enjoy your provocative, tell-it-like-it-is style.

From MNB reader Steven Litt:

Thanks for covering this key topic. We raise it often at Seneca College, starting with J&J Tylenol and - decades later - Maple Leaf’s fast mea culpa directly from the top (Michael McCain after a listeria outbreak).

Sadly, there are many examples of ‘waffling’ responses - dithering or ham-handed executives at Abercrombie, Target, Equifax, Uber, Netflix and even a more recent team at J&J dragging their feet and obfuscating about baby powder. 

Verdict is still out IMO on how Samsung handled the flaming phone- but my students (the Target group) seem to give the phone maker an okay grade. 
Wonderful, worthy work- pls keep feeding readers your insights!

And from MNB reader David Spawn:


Also got a lot of email about Walmart’s patenting of drone technology that would help consumers find products in its stores.

MNB reader Bruce Christiansen wrote:

Given WalMart’s admitted difficulty staying in stock, it seems to me using them (drones) to identify out of stocks or near out of stocks is not only easier/safer but a better deployment of this emerging technology. Have all the products and consumers have fewer questions and frustrations.

MNB reader Glenn Cantor wrote:

I always find it amusing when a store has wayward birds flying around inside.  They know enough to keep out of the way of the people.  Having in-store drones is a an accident waiting to happen.  Instead, how about retailers just providing all of the product and information shoppers may need at the shelf?

From MNB reader Chris Utz:

And if the drone happens to dip a bit too low, I could get a free haircut.  Or at the very least, a new wind-blown hair style…

Finally, we had an email yesterday from MNB fave Glenn Terbeek in which he wrote about how the best kinds of supermarkets - locally oriented, customer-focused - will be great places to work for young people.

This prompted MNB reader Tom Robbins to write:

Kudos to Glen Terbeek ! I believe his comments are spot on and the best and brightest will find the Supermarket Industry is loaded with opportunity for those who are willing to “think” as well as work.

But another MNB reader wrote:

Kevin, can I get some of what Glen’s smoking? (And, in 50+ years, I’ve never smoked, not even one cigarette…)

A career in food industry requires starting at a point where (the good) changes Glen suggested are unlikely to happen for the average new hire.

Maybe the industry has to think of and use new hires differently…?
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