Published on: January 14, 2021
I really enjoyed this email from Thomas Parkinson, reacting to yesterday's piece about how Walmart is teaming with a company called Home Valet to pilot a temperature-controlled smart box designed to facilitate home deliveries of groceries. Parkinson, for those of you who may not know this, is the co-founder and longtime CTO at Peapod.
I saw the Walmart unattended delivery box in MNB. Thought I would attach the PodBag which Peapod launched 3 years ago for unattended delivery. It is a low cost, temperature controlled box/bag that can be easily stored at home after delivery. It can store a $200+ order no problem. We rolled it out in Chicago (RIP) and Giant/MD. I think it is now available in CT. We were always thinking outside the box :).
Another MNB reader wrote:
Wow, what a step back to the past to get to the future…sort of. When I was a kid we had a metal insulated box that sat on our front porch. The Prairie Farms Milk Delivery man would put in that box our milk and our cottage cheese. My mom had ordered it by phone. The box would keep the items cool until someone got home or went out and got them out of the box. This was back in the 1970’s in small towns in Missouri.
MNB reader Tim Callahan had a thought about Michael Sansolo's column about Tommy Lasorda:
When to talk.... when to listen... when to say nothing. Vin Scully introduced the situation...framed each pitch as the count evolved and then said NOTHING after the home run.
I will try to remember Vin Scully as the best teacher when I approach impossible situations.
Thanks for sharing history!
MNB reader Lisa Malmarowski wrote in about our piece about how growing trust in the business community means that business leaders have the opportunity to actually lead:
Consumers expect this because we’re a capitalistic society and corporation funding keeps the greasy wheels of our political system rolling. To say this is okay, is frankly horrifying. Look, I work in marketing for the grocery industry and I can see both sides of this tarnished coin. Businesses absolutely have to step in and be the “government” that we’ve paid for collectively. Just because this is the way things are doesn’t necessarily means it’s right, just or human-needs focused.
I don’t think we can trust corporations to do the right thing for most people when their existence is based on sales. The folly that is the Covid-19 vaccine is a prime example. Multi-national pharmaceutical companies own the patents for decades on these vaccines so you can bet that the wealthy nations will get their populations vaccinated while the less wealthy continue to wait and hope for several years. This isn’t okay.
We’ve lost our humanity. (And in case you wonder how I, someone in marketing, make peace with this - I work for a cooperative where the owners in our business share in the risk and profit and one of our international principles is concern for community).
We had a story the other day about how dunnhumby's fourth annual Retailer Preference Index (RPI) concluded that Amazon is most preferred by US consumers - a leap seen as driven by safety concerns created by the pandemic. I suggested that retailers should not think that this necessarily will change when the pandemic subsides.
MNB reader Glenn Cantor then sent us an email that I posted yesterday about how, during the pandemic, "the traditional grocery chains in my area have not appreciably changed their retail shopping experiences as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic … In fact, other than the increase in store-employed shoppers, the wearing of masks, and offering one or two hours a week for seniors, I cannot think of any notable changes or improvements made to improve the shopping experience."
I respect the fact that your shopping experience isn't much changed. I'm not sure that invalidates the dunnhumby findings … and I think that retailers ignoring the shift could find themselves disadvantaged in the long term.
Prompting another MNB reader to write:
The fact that Glenn cannot think of notable changes or improvements validates the dunnhumby findings. He does seem to be trying to invalidate the findings.
I don’t understand your comment on respecting an unchanged shopping that Glenn is not praising but just reporting.. Perhaps there was a part of the letter that you did not print or perhaps you wrote before your morning coffee. In any case keep on as a champion of change and keister kicker.
Actually, what I meant to write was:
I respect the fact that you like the idea that your shopping experience isn't much changed ….
The point that I wanted to make, and apparently garbled, was that not changing because of evolving circumstances and shifting consumer demands is a recipe for disaster.
Thanks for helping me to clarify.
The note that CNN is closing down its travel channel that serves dozens of airports prompted the following response:
It’s about time someone pulled the plug on Wolf Blitzer at airports. Maybe the departure “lounges” will be quiet again when we all return to traveling? Here’s hoping.
Finally … yesterday we posted an email from MNB reader Charles Bartell in which he wrote:
Amazon is going to pay a price for removing Parler from the AWS platform. Jeff Bezos will be seen as having too much power. Freedom of speech is sacred in the United States. This move was a step too far.
I'm not sure about that. I wonder how many people will give up their Prime memberships and "free" two-day delivery because Parler is harder to access.
And, for the record, Amazon argues that by refusing to police violent content on its site, Parler was in violation of its rules of service.
“This case is not about suppressing speech or stifling viewpoints,” Amazon’s attorneys write. “Instead, this case is about Parler’s demonstrated unwillingness and inability to remove from the servers of Amazon Web Services ('AWS') content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens.”
And you think it was Amazon that went too far?
Charles Bartell got back to me with another email:
Jeff Bezos now has the power to decide what is free speech and from which Amazon shall protect us? We should not entrust big tech to protect us from awful words. It is only education that allows a free people to determine speech that is worthy of action. Too many lives have been sacrificed to allow us to decide which speech is worthy of action. Allowing oligarchs to determine that which is palatable speech is no different than Xi and Putin suppressing freedom of speech (and in more advanced states thought) in their nations.
Sorry, but I will never be convinced that I need Bezos to determine what I should be able to hear. I for one, will no longer use Amazon. I doubt, that I will be the only person to do so.
For the record I do not condone the awful things hosted on Parler - but I will determine what is actionable speech and not actionable. Where was Amazon in determining what horrible lyrics we should hear in music that they offer in their stores? Oh, they didn’t. The consumer decided.
I'm not nuts about anyone deciding what I can see and hear … but I think there is a vast difference between records with vulgar lyrics and a website that incites "the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens."
I think that any person who incites or advocates for such things ought to be tossed in the hoosegow. And if Amazon chooses not to be part of such incitement, that's okay with me. I don't think it should be forced to be an accomplice in what could be a criminal act.
From another reader on the same subject:
I agree with Parler's removal, but can see both sides on this. One side people are calling for corporate responsibility, which I believe this is. On the other, people scream if we stifle free speech. I want free speech, but not the junk that Parlor puts out. So there is the dilemma, who is the gatekeeper on this information? Give the control to the corps, then you set up a system where you have many different opinions governing the information you receive. If you fall back to the common thought of free speech, then you open the door for deviant practices. Can’t have it both ways as it stands today.
I guess I look at it this way, if it goes against the moral compass of society, then it should be censored. It if promotes good, healthy principles and practices, then let it through. I vote for both ways.
Moral compasses ain't what they used to be.
I think censorship is when a government says what you can and cannot say, though, to be clear, there are times when it can and should. (You can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater.)
I'm not sure it is censorship when a private company decides what it is going to post or publish.
If so, then put me down as guilty, because I decide which emails to run and which ones not to.