Published on: October 10, 2018
Got the following reaction from MNB reader Steve Dirnberger to the GH Lab store opened at the Mall of America:Being a merchant at heart I didn't care for the store. I like HUGE displays - not one of each item.
Stack it high and let it fly baby!
Since I am in the grocery business I wondered what a grocery store with the smile codes would look like? One can of corn sitting on a shelf?
I get your point, but I guess I would suggest the following…
True, the approach may not make sense for every retail format. Though I might argue that limited assortment stores - I’m talking everything from Aldi and Lidl to Trader Joe’s and Stew Leonard’s - already have gotten the SKU editing part down. Could they open stores where a person could walk through, use a smart phone to choose items quickly by scanning codes placed next to a single display item, and then have the order immediately delivered to a person’s car? I certainly wouldn’t argue that this is an impossibility. In fact, as I describe it, I’m sort of nodding to myself and thinking that I might want to patronize such a store.
As a merchant, you may not like the idea, but what really matters is whether there are consumers who would like it. Not every consumer, and not all the time … but maybe enough consumers enough times to make this a viable format in certain categories. Again, don’t bet against it.
On the same subject, one MNB reader wrote:A quick thought on the GH Labs pop-up store at Mall of America: On top of all you wrote about, I think the folks who came up with this deserve some kudos for keeping (returning?) the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval relevant.
On the subject of Instacart, and how we’ve been talking about it here on MNB, one reader wrote:I’ve been watching the Instacart rant on here for a while. As a brand manager, I can understand the caution, but Michael Sansolo’s piece highlights something I’ve been thinking about - the average grocery shopper shops at multiple stores and to believe otherwise is just silly. Instacart offers that “average shopper” one convenient location to shop at multiple stores. This is a huge benefit. In our market, our brick and mortar stores that do the best are positioned near other grocery stores because of just this reason. Seems counterintuitive, but it’s not really. It’s about convenience and the understanding you can’t be all things to all people (unless of course you’re Amazon, according to KC).
Geographic proximity is one thing, but would you share employees with your competition? I’m guessing not.
Seems to me that the best retailers are the ones that differentiate themselves, and do their best to drive home competitive advantages, not competitive equivalence.
One other thing. I would never argue that retailers can or should be all things to all people. Not even Amazon. In fact, I’d argue that retailers that try to be all things to all people are the ones most at risk for irrelevance, because they end up being nothing special to anyone.
MNB reader Andy Casey wrote:You are right on with your thinking on this. For example, some people never shop in Aldi because they just do not like the experience but when ordering a few staples (milk, eggs and similar) online does it make sense to pay more for them from Publix than from Aldi?
Got the following email responding to yesterday’s criticisms of Target’s food merchandising acumen, at least as displayed by its downtown store in Portland, Oregon:This rule must apply to So Cal stores as well. Every time I shop in my local Target store (Anaheim, Ca.) I find pallets of water or cereal in the kids clothing department, ½ dead flowers at the door, or other crazy merchandising that just doesn’t make sense.
I just feel like sub-par merchandising gives a black eye to grocers that work hard to create an experience when shopping for groceries. The “stack it high and watch it fly” philosophy, (at least in So Cal) just doesn’t work anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Target. I just feel like they need to stick to what they are good at.
And MNB reader Monte Stowell wrote:It is quite obvious that from day one when Target got into the grocery business, that they did not know what they were doing. I remember seeing their very first Super Targets on the west coast when they introduced groceries and fresh produce. A lot of hype, but there was no “Wow Factor.”
They hired a lot of young people who were never mentored by people who had journeyman or managerial experience in the grocery departments. Too many out of stocks, product was not rotated, nobody around to talk to about perishables, did not teach the young people how to merchandise and display product, among other issues. Bottom line with Target, is they do not have an effective training and mentoring program to execute good merchandising.
Still today, “No Wow Factor.”
On the subject of the Mattress Firm bankruptcy, MNB reader Brian Blank wrote:I don’t know that the whole bed-in-a-box thing is really the issue. Mattress Firm very recently spent heaven knows how much money to buy the Sleepy’s chain and convert those stores to the Mattress Firm banner. Sleepy’s already seemed to have way more locations than were necessary (my small town had 2!) and I’m sure there was even more redundancies in markets where both stores operated. True, adding another form of competition couldn’t have helped, but I suspect they overspent on buying up the competition and that’s the core of the financial woes.
Got the following email fromMNB reader John Rand:I love Costco. I really really do. And yet I let my card expire and never go there.
The nearest Costco to me is about 50 miles. In my part of Massachusetts, that is a variable drive of between 45 and 90 minutes on a good day, two hours on a bad one. It is not a pleasant drive in any case – we are not talking courteous drivers, splendid scenery, and a sense of community here, we are talking competitive driving, traffic weavers, and universal tailgating – and those are the good drivers.
That’s not a complaint. I am one of them, although a recognition that age has slowed my reflexes came over me some time ago and I try to tone it down these days. On the whole we are only really polite to one another on the roads on the morning after a final World Series victory or a game that eliminates the Yankees from contention.
But Costco seems to think 100 miles is somehow reasonable. So I am no longer a Costco member. If Costco did for me what Amazon does, I would still pay for the card and still use it, both locally and when traveling.
I doubt I am the only one who thinks this is amazingly shortsighted of Costco. But then I was fond of a lot of other retailers who are no longer with us.