retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB Archive Search

Please Note: Some MNB articles contain special formatting characters, and may cause your search to produce fewer results than expected.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    Content Guy's Note: The goal of "The Innovation Conversation" is to explore some facet of the fast-changing, technology-driven retail landscape and how it affects businesses and consumers. It is, we think, fertile territory ... and one that Tom Furphy - a former Amazon executive, the originator of Amazon Fresh, and currently CEO and Managing Director of Consumer Equity Partners (CEP), a venture capital and venture development firm in Seattle, WA, that works with many top retailers and manufacturers - is uniquely positioned to address.

    This week, Tom Furphy and I decided to do our Innovation Conversation via Skype;  Tom was at the FMI Midwinter Conference in Arizona … and I had a conflict that kept me from attending.  But we had what I think was an engaging conversation about the energy and determination that Tom detected among retailers in attendance, as they face off against new and often harsh competitive realities.

    One note:  A slight glitch in the wifi service caused one small part of Tom's comments to be garbled.  The reference he made was to Karen Short of Barclay's Investment Bank, and a report she wrote that was highly critical of Instacart.  You can learn more about that report here.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    Fast Company writes about Bond - not the fictional spy, but rather "a new urban shipping company that wants to make online shopping both more sustainable and less annoying for customers."

    Some context:  "When someone in the neighborhood places an order in the morning with one of the brands working with the service, they can get a delivery the same afternoon—and schedule the time that the local bike courier will arrive with the package, chatting in real time with the courier, if needed. If someone misses a delivery, the package will go back to the storefront rather than a more distant distribution center. Returns can also be scheduled for pickup."

    The system is enabled by a "growing network of 'nano distribution centers,' serviced by the electric vehicles."  This network "means that delivery inside the neighborhood can be much more efficient. At night, when roads are clear, trucks make larger deliveries to the distribution centers. During the day, when streets are crowded, the small cargo trikes can avoid the pollution of trucks or vans stuck in traffic, and can operate more nimbly, making deliveries faster. The company has calculated that one of the logistics companies that it works with has reduced its use of trucks by 22%."

    Bond, the story says, "grew out of an online grocery service in Tel Aviv called Shookit. At first, the delivery company was struggling with the cost of its delivery … Shookit decided to experiment with storing its inventory directly inside neighborhoods instead of using more traditional warehouses and then use electric trikes, and saw that it worked: deliveries were more efficient, and customers were so much less frustrated with delivery times that customer retention increased 60%. The founders decided to spin off Bond to work with other brands that were struggling with the typical problems of online delivery, like missed packages.

    "Bond can deploy its distribution centers in basements, unused space in office buildings or parking garages, or, somewhat ironically, storefronts that may now be empty because neighborhood stores were pushed out of business by online shopping."

    KC's View:

    This yet another variation on the micro-fulfillment center / ghost kitchen / dark store trend that seems to be getting traction among a lot of retailers, as they seem to understand that local really does matter - in a lot of ways.  These are just variations on the small neighborhood stores that used to dot the landscape and form the backbone of American retailing.

    I will be interested to see how this trend is adapted by and for small retailers that have limited resources.  As long as their brands are front and center, instead of being subsumed into a brand that wants to pre-empt them, there may be interesting ways to slice this particular loaf of bread.

    Though … it also occurs to me that this is a model that could be adapted by packaged goods brands that would like to disintermediate traditional retailers and go directly to consumers.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    BoiseDev reports that Albertsons has "brought its pre-packaged meal kits back to local stores," positioning them as "a reworked brand" that remains "largely the same. A bundle of ingredients along with a recipe to prepare a meal at home. The company did tweak one component: ingredients now come pre-chopped."

    It is just the latest twist in Albertsons' meal kit journey.  It bought meal kit company Plated in 2017 for $200 million, started rolling its products out to stores in several markets, but then pulled them.

    KC's View:

    I've long been of the opinion that meal kit concept was essentially a good idea that got tarnished by the overreach of companies like Blue Apron.  I like that Albertsons is getting back in.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    From Fortune:

    "Who knew that the rise of Amazon would turn out so well for Walmart and Target?

    "It was only a few years ago that both of those titanic big-box retailers were in peril, losing customers in droves to the e-commerce giant. But the past decade’s radical reshaping of how Americans shop, a change fueled by Amazon’s inexorable ascent, has paradoxically resulted in Walmart and Target - along with a few other big U.S. retailers - evolving to become stronger and more successful companies than ever. The massive shock of e-commerce’s encroachment, analysts agree, gave them the jolt they needed to reinvent themselves."

    The story characterizes this as "a stunning return to form for both Walmart and Target," which, perhaps implausibly, are "getting more shoppers to come to their stores."

    You can read the entire story here.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    H-E-B has a Super Bowl commercial this year, featuring "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria, designed to publicize its My H-E-B mobile application.

    The gimmick:  a sweepstakes that will allow one person to win a lifetime of free groceries from H-E-B.  To enter, all people have to do is download the app.

    The ad will run in more than a dozen Texas markets during the second half of this Sunday's Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

    A teaser commercial can be seen above.

    Cory Basso, H-E-B's group vice president of marketing and advertising, said in a statement that "at H-E-B, we’re always looking for ways to go big and show our appreciation for our amazing customers."

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    The BBC reports that Starbucks has closed some 2,000 of its China stores, or roughly half its fleet there, "to protect its staff and support government efforts to contain the coronavirus."

    The coronavirus, which has symptoms that include fever, cough, shortness of breath and sometimes pneumonia, has caused China to close down more than a dozen cities as a way of containing spread of the disease, which reportedly has lead to the deaths of more than 130 people.  There have been some 6,000 reported infections.

    China represents about 10 percent of Starbucks' annual revenue.

    KC's View:

    Starbucks isn't the only one.  A ton of companies are pulling back their Chinese operations or considering it, including Apple and Toyota … which is going to have an impact on their financial results and especially their projections.


    Published on: January 29, 2020

    Bloomberg reports that in "a rare setback" for Beyond  Meat and the faux meat business in general, Canadian doughnut chain Tim Horton's has "stopped selling Beyond Meat products at its coffee and donut shops across two of Canada’s biggest provinces," Ontario and British Columbia.

    In an official statement, the company said that "we introduced Beyond Meat as a limited time offer. We are always listening to our guests and testing new products that align to our core menu offerings. We may offer Beyond Meat again in the future."

    The Bloomberg story notes that "the chain had been serving the Beyond Burger and a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich made with the company’s imitation sausage products. After an initial launch starting in June at nearly 4,000 Canadian locations, the items were scaled back to the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia in September."

    KC's View:

    They say they may bring it back, but the real implication here is that faux meat is too faux for Canadians, and certainly not in synch with the demands of Tim Horton's core consumers.  Which is probably one more reason for McDonald's to be cautious about getting into the plant-based meat business.  (Though, if I'm not mistaken, Canada is where McDonald's has been doing a lot of its plant-based testing.)


    Published on: January 29, 2020

    The Washington Post this morning reports that Gojo Industries, which sells Purell hand sanitizing products, has been ordered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop making "unproven claims that the hand sanitizer can prevent diseases like Ebola, norovirus and MRSA."

    The warning extends to all ways in which Purell is marketed, including "social media materials, blog posts and frequently asked questions on the product and corporate website."

    Purell, the story notes, has been claiming that its use can reduce student absenteeism by 51 percent, and, in "germ-infested athletic environments … could help to reduce MRSA and VRE by 100 percent."

    FDA's response:  Not so much.

    Gojo put out a statement pointing out that the FDA's criticisms were aimed at its marketing efforts, not the safety or quality of its products.

    The contretemps come, the story notes, "as the United States is bracing for one of its worst flu seasons in decades and worldwide concerns grow amid a coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least 100 people in China, where the outbreak originated."

    KC's View:

    Purell has become a verb, it is so popular these days.  Overstatement would not seem to be required.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    •  Forbes has a piece that elaborates on rumors that Amazon plans to launch "a luxury platform," with a dozen "luxury brands" involved, as well as a dedicated warehouse and a $100 million ad campaign … The new elevated fashion platform will reportedly give brands more control of their listings and presentation on Amazon."

    One of the likely results of this program will be that "third-party sellers offering one of those yet unidentified dozen brands can basically close up shop since Amazon’s algorithms will give special preference to those featured brands."  Which is one way of dealing with the counterfeit problems that Amazon continues to have.

    This all happens as Amazon has "continued to expand its third-party marketplace, which in 2018 accounted for about half of its retail sales and currently 87% of its fashion listings. It launched Amazon Fashion, which includes styling-service Prime Wardrobe and Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe, as an answer to Stitch Fix. Amazon also introduced The Drop for curated limited-edition streetwear styles and developed over 100 of its own private-label fashion brands.

    "With its fingers in many fashion pies, Amazon quietly became the nation’s leading apparel retailer, topping $30 billion in sales, according to estimates by Wells Fargo and seconded by Morgan Stanley."

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    •  From Fox Business:

    "Walmart has asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its Jan. 6 decision to uphold a ruling to give California truck drivers $55 million in back pay … A California federal jury in November 2016 ruled the retail giant must pay $55 million for failing to pay about 850 California truck drivers their full compensation including $5.8 million for pre- and post-trip inspections, $3.9 million for mandatory breaks and $44.7 million for layovers, violating state law … Walmart argued in a Jan. 21 filing with the appeals court that the court made inaccurate rulings on several key issues, specifically regarding the issue of whether Walmart is responsible for its drivers during breaks and layovers."

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    •  The Globe Gazette reports that Hy-Vee "will acquire six former Shopko locations in Iowa, which will re-open under its Dollar Fresh brand by late summer.  In the upcoming weeks, the former Shopko locations are set to undergo renovations," including those in Hampton, Cresco, Oelwein, Waukon, Dyersville and Vinton.

    Hy-Vee says that the Dollar Fresh banner is "designed to offer customers in smaller communities a fresh, new product selection at low prices. Customers will find a full selection of grocery items, a bakery section with a full range of fresh-baked items, a dollar sections, a Wall of Value, ready-to-eat meal offerings and other services."

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    We had an Eye-Opener the other day about what happens when consumers' desire for convenience (like same-day delivery) runs headlong into their interest in sustainability initiatives (which would not include same-day delivery).

    MNB reader Charles Davis wrote:

    Regarding your Friday "Eye Opener" and your quote, "Shoppers are calling the shots. And unless we start putting our money where our mouth is, we’ll all be dealing with more boxes, more delivery trucks, and the long-term environmental effects of our decisions today.

    "Ultimately, the Eye Opener from the story is this: "Consumers - indeed, citizens - are pretty much able to rationalize anything.

    "Which is true. And ultimately a little depressing."

    I completely agree and it makes me sad as well. It made me think of the famous Pogo quote, "We have met the enemy and he is us". Unfortunately, fundamentally humans are the problem. Fortunately, we are also the solution. Which gives me some hope to go with my sadness.

    From MNB reader Molly Renaud:

    Great eye-opener today.   To add to our depression did you hear about the Doomsday Clock being set 100 seconds until midnight?

    But as a consumer, I am here to say I am trying to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to sustainability.  I’m focused on source reduction.  I’ve stopped wish-cycling and I am trying to buy less.  Things I’m focusing on this year – reducing my addiction to fast fashion (good bye stitch fix but yes, I am still rationalizing one more in six months). I’m trying to get my husband to stop using paper towels or at least buying recycled ones.  He uses Prime but I do not.  I’m starting to make my own cleaning and beauty care products.  I have time to think about this—let’s be clear.  A lot of people don’t.  But once you start looking at your own habits you start asking how the entire system works.  Maybe just maybe manufacturers/producers should be making things or putting things in things that can actually be recycled? Or maybe packaging should be made from recycled content so we create markets for this stuff and aren’t using virgin resources?  What makes something recyclable isn’t because it has a symbol on it—there needs to be an infrastructure to handle it and a market for it.  Maybe if we get better at recycling it will off-set our addiction to free shipping.  As I am sure source reduction is not for everyone.

    Keep your eye on Maine and California as it relates to Extended Producer Responsibility for Printed Paper and Packaging (PPP).

    California failed to pass EPR for PPP last year, but the Senate in CA just pushed through some EPR elements for their struggling bottle bill this past week and will most likely take on PPP again.

    Maine may be the first state to pass an EPR law for PPP based on what the legislature advanced this week.

    The trade association of producers forming a sustainability coalition last week that you wrote about—hopefully, as you stated, they are looking at ways they can improve recycling in America/lessen the impact of their packaging but they are probably looking to fight or get out ahead of EPR for Printed Paper and Packaging (PPP).

    I am gradually changing my consumption habits but given climate change I should be moving faster.  We all should.   Brands may want to ease gradually into product stewardship, but they could be forced suddenly if states start passing EPR laws. 

    Time will tell… if the clock stays ticking, that is!

    From another reader:

    I think it is really interesting to think about how the younger generation will begin to think about the convenience of fast shipping. I listen to a podcast with my children from NPR called "Wow in the World" that puts an entertaining lens on today's scientific discoveries and realities. Your article brought to mind an episode we listed do a while ago where Mindy, the main character, orders a whole much of stuff she doesn't need because it was a good deal and Guy Raz helps her understand the environmental impact of her purchases. Not only were my children entertained, but it gave me pause. I started to ask myself some critical questions, namely, "Do I need this?" and "What is an alternative solution to this need that is more sustainable?" I have since scaled back on my Amazon purchases and only place orders now once I have a number of different items in my cart that can hopefully ship together. It is worth a listen if you have the time.

    MNB reader Rich Heiland wrote:

    I cannot recall anything I ever ordered from Amazon or anyone else where next day delivery was life or death. I can live without it without batting an eye. I also can live without a lot of the “packaging inside of packaging inside of packaging” that seems to accompany a lot of orders.

    The reality of sacrificing for sustainability is that if each one of saw a five percent drop in “lifestyle” to contribute we all still would have lifestyles the envy of a lot of the planet.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    Digital strategies aren't just about creating alternatives to the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience.  Done effectively, they can actually bring people back to the store, while also eliminating customer anonymity, creating rich and actionable data, and deepen relationships between the store and consumer in a way that transcends the simple transaction.

    Our newest Retail Tomorrow podcast, which brings together a terrific panel of experts from a wide range of disciplines, was recorded at Google’s New York City offices during the recent National Retail Federation (NRF) Show.  Our guests:

    •  Matt Alexander, co-founder of Neighborhood Goods, an unusual and fascinating take on physical retailing with stores in Dallas and New York.

    •  Patrick Flanagan, senior vice president of digital marketing and strategy for Simon,  which has more than 200 properties in 37 states and Puerto Rico.

    •  Tom Furphy, CEO and Managing Director of Consumer Equity Partners, a member of the Retail Tomorrow podcast family and a regular contributor to "The Innovation Conversation" on MNB.

    •  And Jalna Silverstein, a leader in Ernst & Young’s Transaction Advisory Practice and its Real Estate, Consumer Experience and Retail Strategy.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    This Retail Tomorrow podcast is sponsored by the Global Market Development Center (GMDC).

    Pictured below are our panel members, from left:  The Content Guy, Matt Alexander, Tom Furphy, Patrick Flanagan, Jalna Silverstein.


    Published on: January 29, 2020


    Content Guy's Note: The goal of "The Innovation Conversation" is to explore some facet of the fast-changing, technology-driven retail landscape and how it affects businesses and consumers. It is, we think, fertile territory ... and one that Tom Furphy - a former Amazon executive, the originator of Amazon Fresh, and currently CEO and Managing Director of Consumer Equity Partners (CEP), a venture capital and venture development firm in Seattle, WA, that works with many top retailers and manufacturers - is uniquely positioned to address.

    This week, Tom Furphy and I decided to do our Innovation Conversation via Skype; Tom was at the FMI Midwinter Conference in Arizona … and I had a conflict that kept me from attending. But we had what I think was an engaging conversation about the energy and determination that Tom detected among retailers in attendance, as they face off against new and often harsh competitive realities.

    One note: A slight glitch in the wifi service caused one small part of Tom's comments to be garbled. The reference he made was to Karen Short of Barclay's Investment Bank, and a report she wrote that was highly critical of Instacart. You can learn more about that report here.


    KC's View:

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    Fast Company writes about Bond - not the fictional spy, but rather "a new urban shipping company that wants to make online shopping both more sustainable and less annoying for customers."

    Some context: "When someone in the neighborhood places an order in the morning with one of the brands working with the service, they can get a delivery the same afternoon—and schedule the time that the local bike courier will arrive with the package, chatting in real time with the courier, if needed. If someone misses a delivery, the package will go back to the storefront rather than a more distant distribution center. Returns can also be scheduled for pickup."

    The system is enabled by a "growing network of 'nano distribution centers,' serviced by the electric vehicles." This network "means that delivery inside the neighborhood can be much more efficient. At night, when roads are clear, trucks make larger deliveries to the distribution centers. During the day, when streets are crowded, the small cargo trikes can avoid the pollution of trucks or vans stuck in traffic, and can operate more nimbly, making deliveries faster. The company has calculated that one of the logistics companies that it works with has reduced its use of trucks by 22%."

    Bond, the story says, "grew out of an online grocery service in Tel Aviv called Shookit. At first, the delivery company was struggling with the cost of its delivery … Shookit decided to experiment with storing its inventory directly inside neighborhoods instead of using more traditional warehouses and then use electric trikes, and saw that it worked: deliveries were more efficient, and customers were so much less frustrated with delivery times that customer retention increased 60%. The founders decided to spin off Bond to work with other brands that were struggling with the typical problems of online delivery, like missed packages.

    "Bond can deploy its distribution centers in basements, unused space in office buildings or parking garages, or, somewhat ironically, storefronts that may now be empty because neighborhood stores were pushed out of business by online shopping."
    KC's View:
    This yet another variation on the micro-fulfillment center / ghost kitchen / dark store trend that seems to be getting traction among a lot of retailers, as they seem to understand that local really does matter - in a lot of ways. These are just variations on the small neighborhood stores that used to dot the landscape and form the backbone of American retailing.

    I will be interested to see how this trend is adapted by and for small retailers that have limited resources. As long as their brands are front and center, instead of being subsumed into a brand that wants to pre-empt them, there may be interesting ways to slice this particular loaf of bread.

    Though … it also occurs to me that this is a model that could be adapted by packaged goods brands that would like to disintermediate traditional retailers and go directly to consumers.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    BoiseDev reports that Albertsons has "brought its pre-packaged meal kits back to local stores," positioning them as "a reworked brand" that remains "largely the same. A bundle of ingredients along with a recipe to prepare a meal at home. The company did tweak one component: ingredients now come pre-chopped."

    It is just the latest twist in Albertsons' meal kit journey. It bought meal kit company Plated in 2017 for $200 million, started rolling its products out to stores in several markets, but then pulled them.
    KC's View:
    I've long been of the opinion that meal kit concept was essentially a good idea that got tarnished by the overreach of companies like Blue Apron. I like that Albertsons is getting back in.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    From Fortune:

    "Who knew that the rise of Amazon would turn out so well for Walmart and Target?

    "It was only a few years ago that both of those titanic big-box retailers were in peril, losing customers in droves to the e-commerce giant. But the past decade’s radical reshaping of how Americans shop, a change fueled by Amazon’s inexorable ascent, has paradoxically resulted in Walmart and Target - along with a few other big U.S. retailers - evolving to become stronger and more successful companies than ever. The massive shock of e-commerce’s encroachment, analysts agree, gave them the jolt they needed to reinvent themselves."

    The story characterizes this as "a stunning return to form for both Walmart and Target," which, perhaps implausibly, are "getting more shoppers to come to their stores."

    You can read the entire story here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 29, 2020


    H-E-B has got a Super Bowl commercial this year, featuring "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria, designed to publicize its My H-E-B mobile application.

    The gimmick: a sweepstakes that will allow one person to win a lifetime of free groceries from H-E-B. To enter, all people have to do is download the app.

    The ad will run in more than a dozen Texas markets during the second half of this Sunday's Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

    A teaser commercial can be seen above.

    Cory Basso, H-E-B's group vice president of marketing and advertising, said in a statement that "at H-E-B, we’re always looking for ways to go big and show our appreciation for our amazing customers."


    KC's View:

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    The BBC reports that Starbucks has closed some 2,000 of its China stores, or roughly half its fleet there, "to protect its staff and support government efforts to contain the coronavirus."

    The coronavirus, which has symptoms that include fever, cough, shortness of breath and sometimes pneumonia, has caused China to close down more than a dozen cities as a way of containing spread of the disease, which reportedly has lead to the deaths of more than 130 people. There have been some 6,000 reported infections.

    China represents about 10 percent of Starbucks' annual revenue.
    KC's View:
    Starbucks isn't the only one. A ton of companies are pulling back their Chinese operations or considering it, including Apple and Toyota … which is going to have an impact on their financial results and especially their projections.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    Bloomberg reports that in "a rare setback" for Beyond Meat and the faux meat business in general, Canadian doughnut chain Tim Horton's has "stopped selling Beyond Meat products at its coffee and donut shops across two of Canada’s biggest provinces," Ontario and British Columbia.

    In an official statement, the company said that "we introduced Beyond Meat as a limited time offer. We are always listening to our guests and testing new products that align to our core menu offerings. We may offer Beyond Meat again in the future."

    The Bloomberg story notes that "the chain had been serving the Beyond Burger and a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich made with the company’s imitation sausage products. After an initial launch starting in June at nearly 4,000 Canadian locations, the items were scaled back to the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia in September."
    KC's View:
    They say they may bring it back, but the real implication here is that faux meat is too faux for Canadians, and certainly not in synch with the demands of Tim Horton's core consumers. Which is probably one more reason for McDonald's to be cautious about getting into the plant-based meat business. (Though, if I'm not mistaken, Canada is where McDonald's has been doing a lot of its plant-based testing.)

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    The Washington Post this morning reports that Gojo Industries, which sells Purell hand sanitizing products, has been ordered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop making "unproven claims that the hand sanitizer can prevent diseases like Ebola, norovirus and MRSA."

    The warning extends to all ways in which Purell is marketed, including "social media materials, blog posts and frequently asked questions on the product and corporate website."

    Purell, the story notes, has been claiming that its use can reduce student absenteeism by 51 percent, and, in "germ-infested athletic environments … could help to reduce MRSA and VRE by 100 percent."

    FDA's response: Not so much.

    Gojo put out a statement pointing out that the FDA's criticisms were aimed at its marketing efforts, not the safety or quality of its products.

    The contretemps come, the story notes, "as the United States is bracing for one of its worst flu seasons in decades and worldwide concerns grow amid a coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least 100 people in China, where the outbreak originated."
    KC's View:
    Purell has become a verb, it is so popular these days. Overstatement would not seem to be required.

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    Forbes has a piece that elaborates on rumors that Amazon plans to launch "a luxury platform," with a dozen "luxury brands" involved, as well as a dedicated warehouse and a $100 million ad campaign … The new elevated fashion platform will reportedly give brands more control of their listings and presentation on Amazon."

    One of the likely results of this program will be that "third-party sellers offering one of those yet unidentified dozen brands can basically close up shop since Amazon’s algorithms will give special preference to those featured brands." Which is one way of dealing with the counterfeit problems that Amazon continues to have.

    This all happens as Amazon has "continued to expand its third-party marketplace, which in 2018 accounted for about half of its retail sales and currently 87% of its fashion listings. It launched Amazon Fashion, which includes styling-service Prime Wardrobe and Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe, as an answer to Stitch Fix. Amazon also introduced The Drop for curated limited-edition streetwear styles and developed over 100 of its own private-label fashion brands.

    "With its fingers in many fashion pies, Amazon quietly became the nation’s leading apparel retailer, topping $30 billion in sales, according to estimates by Wells Fargo and seconded by Morgan Stanley."
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    • From Fox Business:

    "Walmart has asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its Jan. 6 decision to uphold a ruling to give California truck drivers $55 million in back pay … A California federal jury in November 2016 ruled the retail giant must pay $55 million for failing to pay about 850 California truck drivers their full compensation including $5.8 million for pre- and post-trip inspections, $3.9 million for mandatory breaks and $44.7 million for layovers, violating state law … Walmart argued in a Jan. 21 filing with the appeals court that the court made inaccurate rulings on several key issues, specifically regarding the issue of whether Walmart is responsible for its drivers during breaks and layovers."
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    • The Globe Gazette reports that Hy-Vee "will acquire six former Shopko locations in Iowa, which will re-open under its Dollar Fresh brand by late summer. In the upcoming weeks, the former Shopko locations are set to undergo renovations," including those in Hampton, Cresco, Oelwein, Waukon, Dyersville and Vinton.

    Hy-Vee says that the Dollar Fresh banner is "designed to offer customers in smaller communities a fresh, new product selection at low prices. Customers will find a full selection of grocery items, a bakery section with a full range of fresh-baked items, a dollar sections, a Wall of Value, ready-to-eat meal offerings and other services."
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    We had an Eye-Opener the other day about what happens when consumers' desire for convenience (like same-day delivery) runs headlong into their interest in sustainability initiatives (which would not include same-day delivery).

    MNB reader Charles Davis wrote:

    Regarding your Friday "Eye Opener" and your quote, "Shoppers are calling the shots. And unless we start putting our money where our mouth is, we’ll all be dealing with more boxes, more delivery trucks, and the long-term environmental effects of our decisions today.

    "Ultimately, the Eye Opener from the story is this: "Consumers - indeed, citizens - are pretty much able to rationalize anything.

    "Which is true. And ultimately a little depressing."

    I completely agree and it makes me sad as well. It made me think of the famous Pogo quote, "We have met the enemy and he is us". Unfortunately, fundamentally humans are the problem. Fortunately, we are also the solution. Which gives me some hope to go with my sadness.


    From MNB reader Molly Renaud:

    Great eye-opener today.   To add to our depression did you hear about the Doomsday Clock being set 100 seconds until midnight?
     
    But as a consumer, I am here to say I am trying to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to sustainability.  I’m focused on source reduction.  I’ve stopped wish-cycling and I am trying to buy less.  Things I’m focusing on this year – reducing my addiction to fast fashion (good bye stitch fix but yes, I am still rationalizing one more in six months). I’m trying to get my husband to stop using paper towels or at least buying recycled ones.  He uses Prime but I do not.  I’m starting to make my own cleaning and beauty care products.  I have time to think about this—let’s be clear.  A lot of people don’t.  But once you start looking at your own habits you start asking how the entire system works.  Maybe just maybe manufacturers/producers should be making things or putting things in things that can actually be recycled? Or maybe packaging should be made from recycled content so we create markets for this stuff and aren’t using virgin resources?  What makes something recyclable isn’t because it has a symbol on it—there needs to be an infrastructure to handle it and a market for it.  Maybe if we get better at recycling it will off-set our addiction to free shipping.  As I am sure source reduction is not for everyone.

    Keep your eye on Maine and California as it relates to Extended Producer Responsibility for Printed Paper and Packaging (PPP).

    California failed to pass EPR for PPP last year, but the Senate in CA just pushed through some EPR elements for their struggling bottle bill this past week and will most likely take on PPP again.

    Maine may be the first state to pass an EPR law for PPP based on what the legislature advanced this week.
     
    The trade association of producers forming a sustainability coalition last week that you wrote about—hopefully, as you stated, they are looking at ways they can improve recycling in America/lessen the impact of their packaging but they are probably looking to fight or get out ahead of EPR for Printed Paper and Packaging (PPP).

    I am gradually changing my consumption habits but given climate change I should be moving faster.  We all should.   Brands may want to ease gradually into product stewardship, but they could be forced suddenly if states start passing EPR laws. 
     
    Time will tell… if the clock stays ticking, that is!


    From another reader:

    I think it is really interesting to think about how the younger generation will begin to think about the convenience of fast shipping. I listen to a podcast with my children from NPR called "Wow in the World" that puts an entertaining lens on today's scientific discoveries and realities. Your article brought to mind an episode we listed do a while ago where Mindy, the main character, orders a whole much of stuff she doesn't need because it was a good deal and Guy Raz helps her understand the environmental impact of her purchases. Not only were my children entertained, but it gave me pause. I started to ask myself some critical questions, namely, "Do I need this?" and "What is an alternative solution to this need that is more sustainable?" I have since scaled back on my Amazon purchases and only place orders now once I have a number of different items in my cart that can hopefully ship together. It is worth a listen if you have the time.

    MNB reader Rich Heiland wrote:

    I cannot recall anything I ever ordered from Amazon or anyone else where next day delivery was life or death. I can live without it without batting an eye. I also can live without a lot of the “packaging inside of packaging inside of packaging” that seems to accompany a lot of orders.

    The reality of sacrificing for sustainability is that if each one of saw a five percent drop in “lifestyle” to contribute we all still would have lifestyles the envy of a lot of the planet.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 29, 2020

    Digital strategies aren't just about creating alternatives to the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience. Done effectively, they can actually bring people back to the store, while also eliminating customer anonymity, creating rich and actionable data, and deepen relationships between the store and consumer in a way that transcends the simple transaction.

    Our newest Retail Tomorrow podcast, which brings together a terrific panel of experts from a wide range of disciplines, was recorded at Google’s New York City offices during the recent National Retail Federation (NRF) Show. Our guests:

    • Matt Alexander, co-founder of Neighborhood Goods, an unusual and fascinating take on physical retailing with stores in Dallas and New York.

    • Patrick Flanagan, senior vice president of digital marketing and strategy for Simon, which has more than 200 properties in 37 states and Puerto Rico.

    • Tom Furphy, CEO and Managing Director of Consumer Equity Partners, a member of the Retail Tomorrow podcast family and a regular contributor to "The Innovation Conversation" on MNB.

    • And Jalna Silverstein, a leader in Ernst & Young’s Transaction Advisory Practice and its Real Estate, Consumer Experience and Retail Strategy.

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    This Retail Tomorrow podcast is sponsored by the Global Market Development Center (GMDC).

    Pictured below are our panel members, from left: The Content Guy, Matt Alexander, Tom Furphy, Patrick Flanagan, Jalna Silverstein.

    Enjoy!






    KC's View: