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This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

So, I think I have a great idea for a business … so good, in fact, that I think I’m going to shut down MNB and do this full-time. I’m pretty sure it has legs, could be an enormously powerful and revenue-generating idea, and could make me millions, if not billions.

The name of the company will be Front End Systems Global, and here’s how it will work. I’m going to be in the business of hiring front end store personnel - I’m going to hire all the people, pay their wages, and provide them with as little health care and benefits as I can get away with. Then, retail stores can come to me and outsource all their front end needs - they’ll never have to hire a checkout person again, and can take all those expenses right off their books. I’ll handle all the scheduling, all the HR. Retailers will see me as a godsend.

Even better, I will be able to build efficiencies because when I go into a market, I’ll hopefully be able to get three, four five companies as clients, so I can move people around as needed. The people who work in store A on Mondays and Wednesdays might work at store B on Tuesdays and Fridays, and store C on Saturdays - it’ll all depend on how I schedule them, and who is available.

The retailers get ride of all the expenses and responsibilities, and I think I’ll be able to go into enough markets that in a few years, I’ll be able to either sell it to someone or go through an IPO and make a lot of money. I’m talking billions here, because I’ll be seen as controlling all the front end services in a wide variety of markets.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The only problem is, because I’m moving front end personnel from store to store and chain to chain, I’ve essentially managed to level the playing field for all these companies, eliminating any differential advantage they might be able to achieve in the one place in the store where employees actually interact with shoppers.

When I put it that way, I actually think it doesn’t sound like such a great idea. I actually think it sounds an awful lot like what a lot of retailers have done by outsourcing their e-commerce delivery operations to Instacart and Shipt and other companies. They’re outsourcing a critical part of store-shopper interaction and the customer experience to companies that have only their own best interests at heart, not the retailer’s.

Now, I’m sure that some retailers heard my idea for Front End Systems Global and said to themselves, how soon can I start to do business with them? And I’m sure that somebody out there wondered if they could beat me to the punch.

But any retailer that wants to achieve a differentiated position in the marketplace, establish a unique brand identity and maintain a highly targeted and even intimate relationship with its shoppers, ought to be appalled by my proposal.

They ought to say, “Why would I do that?”

Exactly. Why?

That’s what’s on my mind this morning and, as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: