retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB reader Andy Casey had a thought about how car companies are teaming up with Amazon to put Alexa-power systems into more cars:

I realize this is inevitable, perhaps useful, but I’m worried about adding distractions for drivers in the short term.  Of course, when we get to the autonomous driving nirvana projected to come the car will just be another place for all manner of marketing promotions and communications. Whether that is progress or not, I suppose will be in the eye of the beholder.

They'll have to pry the manual transmission from my cold dead fingers.

Regarding the move by Sears to sell its DieHards brand to Advanced Auto Parts, MNB reader Mike Bach wrote:

Advanced Auto Parts ... if they depend on retail then beware. (Or, putting their name on a College Bowl game as their primary marketing spend.)  I think the new retail will be ONLINE + instant-delivery; no physical retail assets.  The DieHard brand is nice, but the ROI on that purchase is stronger, if it enables ONLINE + instant delivery.

Consumers, at an increasing rate (according to your technology story) will be armed with the best product intel, product stats, availability projection and product pricing that retail marketing will become of lesser consequence.

On an other subject, from an MNB reader:

I’m a bit dubious when it comes to the development of biometric-based systems.  I love the idea of scanning my thumb print or palm.  Quick, easy, and I never forget my pin number.  But I currently have an iPhone that can’t read my thumb print.  A friend of mine used to work with our local police and was told that taking finger prints of older people was difficult.  It seems our finger prints wear off as we age (which explains why objects slip out of my hand all the time; no finger print ridges to grip with).  If a palm reader requires you to hold your palm flat against the reader, my hands don’t do that anymore.   It’s not just a matter of reading palms, it’s a matter of dealing with the aging population with an ever-changing set of challenges.  Alas, for now, my pin number is the only way to access my iPhone.

On the subject of start up companies being launched to facilitate the many returns going back to retailers, MNB reader Gail Nickel-Kailing wrote:

I was in the midst of the “Dot Com” run-up and bust in the late 1990s and early 2000s and there were indeed companies then trying to develop a returns distribution network. Though I guess you couldn’t really call it a “distribution network,” maybe a “returns facilitation system.” One was located on Mercer Island WA, though for the life of me I can’t remember the name. I do recall meeting the founder and discussing their process. Lordy, that was a long time ago!

The more things change…

Finally, last week we took note of a CNN report that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that if a company makes a diet soda that doesn't make people lose weight, it does not mean that the company has engaged in false advertising … The original complaint argued that "due to the prominent use of the term 'diet' in the product's name, Diet Dr Pepper consumers reasonably believe that the product will assist in weight loss, or at least healthy weight management, for example, by not causing weight gain."

But the Ninth Circuit maintained that "no reasonable consumer would believe that the word 'diet' in a soft drink's brand name promises weight loss or healthy weight management."

I commented:

I feel bad for the plaintiff, only because we all wish there were magic pills or potions that would cure our maladies and conditions. But there aren't … and that can be a hard lesson.

I've said it here before, and I'll say it again.

I’ve always told my kids that life essentially boils down to a simple equation:

Responsibility + Discipline = Autonomy

Not pills and potions.

And autonomy, I’ve always told them, is the Holy Grail when it comes to living your life.

MNB reader Dan Blue wrote:

I really like the simplicity of your equation Responsibility + Discipline = Autonomy. Like all great equations, it’s simple and is easy to understand. I’m going to use it with my 12 year old.

But MNB reader Bill Welch has a different version:

Integrity + Self Reliance = Success

For me, Autonomy is equal to Success … and ultimately more important.

Of course, that could explain my career.
KC's View: