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    Published on: October 22, 2019

    Movista Inc., provider of the leading advanced, mobile-first retail execution and workforce management platform, has announced the acquisition of Natural Insight, a retail technology provider and its largest competitor.

    It is a deal for which the reasoning and implications are explained in a new podcast that features Stan Zylowski, co-founder/CEO of Movista … April Seggebruch, co-founder/COO of Movista … and Stefan Midford, president/CEO of Natural Insight and newly appointed chief customer officer at Movista. This isn't just a deep dive into the deal, but an in-depth discussion - moderated by MNB "Content Guy" Kevin Coupe - of the competitive constructs that continue to put enormous pressure on retailers to provide superior in-store experiences in order to remain competitive. And you can listen to it by clicking the image at left, or by clicking here.

    The rationale behind the deal is simple: The continued rise of e-commerce giants has placed brick-and-mortar retailers under tremendous pressure to provide superior in-store experiences in order to remain competitive. This includes ensuring that shelves are fully stocked and displays are uniform across multiple locations. As retailers navigate a market experiencing seismic shifts that many market watchers say threaten the very existence of the brick-and-mortar experience, the costs tied to underperformance are steep. Movista and Natural Insight have facilitated the successful completion of more than 63 million work assignments around the world by more than 100,000 workers combined.

    “In today’s rapidly evolving retail environment, customer experience is critical. Physical stores have to look great, and products have to be where expected,” says Stan Zylowski, co-founder and CEO of Movista. “Our technologies ensure the shopper finds what they want, when they want, where they want. Together, we will lead the way to a more mobile, agile and collaborative retail environment that delivers tangible, measurable returns for our customers.”

    To find out more, click here.

    KC's View:

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    by Michael Sansolo

    It’s a common theme I hear or read whenever athletes or motivational speakers talk of teamwork. Simply put, if you want to go fast, go alone. However, if you want to go far, go together as a team.

    In other words, teams can be challenging, and can lead to questions and dissent. But when a team is functioning properly, great things can happen by involving people with different strengths, points of view and maybe a willingness to ask the questions that need be asked.

    So yes, a team may slow you down a little, but in the long run you’ll get a whole lot further and maybe even faster than you can believe.

    My son, Corey, the classical musician I talk about regularly, is always schooling me on teamwork; he is a trombone player who reminds me that I know nothing about the world of classical music. But I have noticed that somehow an orchestra manages to combine an incredible range of instruments and sounds into wonderful music. I don't understand how it happens, but I know it is magical.

    As a parent, it always sort of bothers me that my son the trombonist always has to sit behind all those violin players at the front of the stage. Yet I have learned that while those brass instruments can easily drown out the violins and they only make the beautiful music by blending together.

    But now, teamwork goes a step further. One of the groups my son plays with performs ragtime music in a very interesting format. The ensemble presents classic and really old movies (think Charlie Chaplin) accompanied by the original music that a ragtime ensemble would have played in theaters back in 1910.

    Now I have no illusions that ragtime is about to replace rap, but this ragtime ensemble is suddenly getting momentum, playing concerts in small towns across the country.

    Corey says there are some simple reasons for this - starting with improved musicianship from the group. But the bigger change takes us back to the importance of teamwork.

    The ragtime ensemble was created by one of Corey’s former classmates, who did his doctoral work studying ragtime and its roots in American history. At first, this young man did everything the group needed from finding the music and films to setting the performances to conducting the ensemble.

    Of late, though, he’s learned to delegate and that, in turn, is leading to more concerts, better paying gigs, and better musicianship. Put another way, the group is running more like a team and thanks to that is producing better results financially and musically.

    All of us who have managed teams know too well the frustrations of doing that. I can remember times when I wasn't too fond of many aspects of team management because it felt like every day was slowed down by talking with and listening to my team, hearing their problems, suggestions and ideas, when I knew I could move so much quicker if I just went off on my own.

    But I also learned that I was endlessly smarter thanks to my team. I was always awed by how much they knew that I didn’t and I saw how much better we performed when I simply enabled them to perform. Thanks to them, my limitations no longer limited us as a group.

    I’d argue that team strength is more important than ever thanks to the increased diversity of the workforce and the myriad issues every business faces. Managers at all levels need remember they’ll never move faster than when they go it alone. But they need also remember that only a team can take you further than ever before.

    And with beautiful music!

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.

    KC's View:

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    by Kevin Coupe

    I like people and companies that look for the odd angle, the offbeat approach to traditional business models. They just make things more interesting and, when things go well and they do things right, manage to achieve advances that might otherwise be missed.

    I thought about this the other day when I was reading a piece in Forbes about Luke Bonner, a retired professional basketball player (in Europe and the D-League), who has just debuted a new YouTube web series called “Shooting the Sh*t."

    The premise is simple: Bonner is inviting candidates who are campaigning for the New Hampshire primary to join him at an old brick gym near his home in Concord and shoot baskets while chatting - often, but not always, about politics.

    "“It doesn’t matter if the candidate doesn’t know anything about basketball or has any experience with basketball,” Bonner tells Forbes. “That’s almost enriching. Being bad at basketball is extraordinarily relatable to most people. It brings a realness to whoever the guest is, humanizes who they are.”

    First up was Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur who is hanging in around the edges of the Democratic primaries, raising enough money and getting just enough support in the polls to remain a possibility, if not yet a truly viable candidate. Forbes writes that the show results in "an engaging look at a candidate who is still little-known in mainstream politics," and one who is educated about basketball, even if he can't dribble to save his life.

    I agree with Forbes. At a time when there is a lot of sameness in the rhetoric, this actually is something different - well-executed by a local production company, smart, and both informative and informed.

    Bonner already has shot another segment with candidate Joe Sestak, and apparently there are several other folks campaigning for the nomination who would like a shot at the gym. (I for one want to know who has a better three-point shot, Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar.)

    My observation here has less to do with politics and more to do with innovative thinking. “Shooting the Sh*t," I think, is a good example of what every business needs to do. Look for the odd angle, the offbeat approach. And then, take the shot, and see what happens.

    Could be an Eye-Opener.

    KC's View:

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    Just days after Google-owned Wing said that it has started conducting drone deliveries in Virginia in conjunction with Walgreen and FedEx, UPS "announced plans to work with CVS Health to develop a prescription drug delivery service using UPS drones," CNBC reports.

    The story notes that "UPS Flight Forward and its partner Matternet this month became the first drone delivery service to receive full certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate a drone airline."

    “UPS Flight Forward is rapidly building a robust customer base and a network of technology partners to galvanize our leadership in drone delivery,” said Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, tells CNBC. “Previous thinking had been limited to only ground transportation technology. Now we’re thinking in three dimensions."

    CNBC points out that "Amazon’s Prime Air is also testing commercial drone delivery as major shippers ramp up their capabilities to address the rapidly growing e-commerce market. Drones could be a key part of that strategy."
    KC's View:

    This is the problem with trying to figure out what the future might look like … it seems like more and more, faster and faster, the future becomes the present.

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "Safeway will pay $12 million and provide seats for as many as 30,000 checkout clerks at its stores in California for at least two years under a legal settlement approved by a judge in Santa Clara County."

    The settlement ends a suit that goes back to 2011, filed by a Safeway checkout person who accused Safeway of "violating a wage order from the state Industrial Welfare Commission that says all employees of retail businesses 'shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats'."

    According to the story, "The case was put on hold while the California Supreme Court considered similar disputes with other employers. In a 2016 case involving CVS Pharmacy, JP Morgan Chase Bank and Walmart, the state court said unanimously that employees were entitled to seats when they could do any substantial portion of their work sitting down, and also during any 'lulls' in standing-up tasks.

    :Safeway denied violating the law, but entered into settlement negotiations after trying unsuccessfully to dismiss the suit."
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    Bloomberg has a story about the dramatic changes affecting the Manhattan retail landscape, as "gone are the gargantuan Lord & Taylor, the Henri Bendel flagship and the Saks Fifth Avenue women’s store downtown." But at the same time, Nordstrom is coming to town as it inaugurates its much-hyped mega-store in a skyscraper overlooking Central Park … the biggest new retail space the city has seen in over half a century."

    The piece surveys many of the changes that have affected the city's retail scene, and notes that "for Nordstrom, Manhattan represents a 'long-term quest' that’s been in the works for more than 25 years, said Jamie Nordstrom. He said he scoped out space on the island with his father as far back as the mid-90s. The 118-year-old company landed on a plot near Columbus Circle and owns the building, a sign that it expects to stay for some time. 'We’re not looking to do business in New York over the next four quarters,' he said. 'We’re looking to do business there for the next 50 to 100 years.'."

    You can read the Bloomberg story here.

    At the same time, Bloomberg has another piece pointing out that the "store’s most noteworthy new feature is headset-enabled salespeople who will deliver food to customers throughout the 32,000-square-foot, seven-floor space, the biggest-ever store in the Seattle-based retailer’s 118-year history.

    "Hungry shoppers losing focus while trying on an Isabel Marant dress (floor 3) can snack on pear, kale, and blue cheese salad. Customers wavering over a Brunello Cucinelli Alpaca blend coat (floor 4)  can chew on it over a double-beef cheeseburger or stop at the Shoe Bar for a martini. Cocktails, wine, and coffee can also be ordered on floors with a liquor license (specifically, floors numbered 5, 3, and 2, plus lower level 1 and, of course, the restaurants at lower level 2)."

    The story says that "chefs overseeing several of the projects - James Beard winner Tom Douglas and Ethan Stowell - are Seattle icons. And the food prices are shockingly reasonable, given the Midtown West address. At Bistro Verde, where the deliveries originate, those chicken tacos cost $7 for two, and they’re not small. A big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs comes to $17.50, and the BV Burger with white cheddar and peppercorn aioli and sea salt fries costs $16.50. 'The Nordstrom family aren’t looking at these restaurants as profit centers,' says chef Stowell, who oversees the store’s major restaurant, Wolf. 'They see them as amenities, to draw customers in'."

    You can read this story here.

    Also, to see some pictures of the store, see this Seattle Times piece.
    KC's View:
    As far as I'm concerned, food from Douglas and Stowell is plenty to get me in the door … they're two of my favorites. I wonder if they'd deliver to the Nordstrom men's store across the street?

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    Crain's New York Business reports that the private equity world, concerned about a public image that suggests that its main driver is greed, is hoping for a makeover.

    These days "the industry wants to be seen as a force for useful change and today released a study that illustrates what a significant force it has become. The study by the American Investment Council, private equity’s chief trade group, shows that PE firms and the companies they own generated $174 billion in federal and state taxes last year, paid out $600 billion in wages and benefits, and so forth."

    This could be lipstick on a pig, however. CNYB also writes that "a study published earlier this month by researchers at Harvard and the University of Chicago showed that PE takeovers of U.S. public companies lead to significant layoffs – a 13% decline over two years, according to an analysis of 3,600 deals struck between 1980 and 2013. Workers who keep their jobs see average pay decline by 1.7% after a deal."
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    Content Guy’s Note: Stories in this section are, in my estimation, important and relevant to business. However, they are relegated to this slot because some MNB readers have made clear that they prefer a politics-free MNB; I can't do that because sometimes the news calls out for coverage and commentary, but at least I can make it easy for folks to skip it if they so desire.

    • The Seattle Times has a story about how senior management at Amazon - 11 members of the company's "S Team" who all report directly to founder/CEO Jeff Bezos - decided for the first time to get involved in local politics, writing big checks to a ground of candidates for the Seattle City Council who they view as being friendly to the company's interests.

    "The local political spending of Amazon’s top executives, along with a record-setting $1 million contribution to a pro-business political-action committee last week, underscore the company’s desire for a more accommodating council in the city where it occupies nearly 50 buildings and has more than 50,000 employees," the Times writes.

    "It’s also another signal of the evolving relationship between Amazon and its hometown."

    The Times points out that Amazon and its executives have largely remained disengaged from local politics until recently; a proposed "head tax" on companies based on employee counts got Amazon more involved, as it fought the proposal to the point of threatening to slow down its expansion in Seattle if the tax were enacted.

    However, the new focus on local politics has created its own backlash, as some local politicians and activist groups have accused the company of trying to buy influence with campaign donations. Even Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has gotten into the act; she now is supplementing her calls for big tech companies like Amazon to be broken up with support for “Seattle council members and activists who continue standing up to Amazon. Corporations aren’t people, and I have a plan to get big money out of politics.”
    KC's View:
    While I think that money in politics can be corrosive to democracy, I'm not sure we're ever going to get it out … and, quite frankly, these Amazon execs are citizens who have a right to their opinions and the right to support sympathetic candidates. I tend to focus more on total transparency when it comes to money in politics - there ought to be no such thing as dark money or groups that can hide who their donors are.

    Plus, these folks are local … you want locals to be engaged, and it isn't fair to suggest that just because people have money, they can't be politically active. (The Times also points out, by the way, that with Amazon's greater political engagement has come greater local philanthropy … which I think we can agree is a good thing.)

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    …will return.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    In Monday Night Football, the New England Patriots completely skunked the New York Jets 33-0.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    There is a health, beauty and wellness revolution taking place, driven by enlightened consumer thinking about selfcare and startup companies that are innovating in the space. In this new Retail Tomorrow podcast, recorded in front of a live audience at the recent GMDC Selfcare Summit in Indianapolis, two such startup companies - in very different spaces - talk about how their strategies and tactics are helping retailers perform more effectively and efficiently.

    One important shift that has to take place: Retailers need to say "help me," rather than "show me." Which is more than a semantic difference.

    Our guests:

    • Monte Ahlemeyer, chief revenue officer at Accelerate, which is on the front lines of the CBD marketing revolution.

    • Dan Bourgault, VP, Sales & Business Development at Replenium, which provides consumer-level replenishment services to retailers.

    The host: Kevin Coupe, MorningNewsBeat’s “Content Guy.”

    You can listen to the podcast here, as well as on iTunes and GooglePlay.

    This edition of the Retail Tomorrow podcast is brought to you by GMDC, the Global Market Development Center.

    Pictured, below, from left: Kevin Coupe, Dan Bourgault, Monte Ahlemeyer

    KC's View:

    Published on: October 22, 2019

    Registration includes accommodations, food & beverage events and opportunities for pre-scheduled business meetings and Vendor only Q&A sessions.

    Do not miss presentations from keynote speakers and the winning Capstone teams from the USC Food Industry Management Class of 2020!

    KC's View: