Published on: September 23, 2021
Yesterday MNB reported that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that Kroger-owned "Fred Meyer and QFC stores violated federal labor law last fall when they barred employees from wearing Black Lives Matter buttons at work."
This is criminal. What if I dont want to be involved in politics. What if I don't believe in the merits of the organization of BLM. The government shouldn't be able to tell me what "pins" I can wear and what I cannot wear. What happened to private industry?
Are people OK with this Soviet/Cuban style law? WOW we are rotting from inside out like all great empires have done.
A republic is built on individual freedoms and property rights. A Republic is not meant to be centralized nor heavy handed. It is meant to be a reflection of its constituency. We are upside down and backwards.
I'm not sure this is the "individual freedoms" hill that I'd choose to die on, but different strokes for different folks. (I also think that if there is a disconnect between employee and employer over this issue, it actually may reflect a broader disconnect that needs to be addressed … especially now, at a time when labor is so tight.)
One other thing. I'm guessing that the Soviet and Cuban authorities would be more likely to tell people not to wear such buttons as opposed to saying that people should be allowed to wear them.
MNB took note of a story in Minnesota's Star Tribune in which retiring Target CIO Mike McNamara made the point that one of the most important things that has happened in his six years with the company has been the move away from outsourcing its technology needs.
To be fair, Target has the resources to make that shift. Many retailers do not.
But there also is something attitudinal here - an understanding that as much as possible, a retailer needs to own the customer experience (in-store and online), defining and differentiating it whenever and however possible. It is about thinking strategically, not just tactically.
And, it means not depending on an outside vendor to execute an increasingly important part of the business model, lest one lose that business to an increasingly rapacious vendor.
(Gee, I wonder who I was talking about?)
One MNB reader had a visceral response:
I’d like to know why, when I get an email from Target, featuring an item I’m really interested in, and I click on the email, I can *never* find that product. It’s a complete fail.
So, not impressed, huh?
Also got the following response from MNB reader Robert Hemphill:
Kevin I think Mike has a very valid point for retailers with over 100 stores who can really afford to hire the staff and management to run their IT and internet tech. Thirty years ago a number of chains developed their own point-of-sale systems. The experience I had in managing internally developed POS turned out to be a short term benefit but a long-term challenge.
Independents don’t have the same wherewithal to afford to do the quality of tech needed today to compete. In the last 25 years I’ve seen that Independents need a lot of help with Internet technology, such as e-commerce, digital coupons, fully interactive digital fliers, and etc.. and building this technology is only part of it - you have to maintain it and keep it fresh. In my years running a digital marketing company we’ve provided over 2000 stores (single store operators as well as 200 store chains) with websites, email, and many advanced tech solutions. Independents usually benefit greatly by some of the solutions offered by outsource specialists who have developed very effective solutions that they can afford.
For the record, the company that Robert is referring to is Webstop - and based on my experience with them, one of the things that Webstop does is put the client's brand first. That's different from the increasingly rapacious vendor I referred to in my original commentary.
Also, if I may, a point of personal privilege here…
The folks at Webstop let me know recently that Robert is retiring from the company, and I wanted to say something here about that.
Robert came to me almost 20 years ago, when MorningNewsBeat was in its early days and my online presence was, to be honest, less than optimal. (That’s putting it kindly.). Robert said that he saw enormous value in having an ongoing relationship with MNB, and wondered if I would be interested. I checked him and Webstop out with retailers I knew, and everybody said the same thing - class guy, solid organization, good values, and they’re in this internet thing for the long haul.
Well, these retailers were right on all counts. (Not a lot of companies in this space have survived all these years.) Not only was Webstop instrumental in taking MNB not just to the next level, but to several levels above where we’d been playing, but I was always made smarter by Robert’s wise counsel (even when we occasionally disagreed). And the level of customer service that Webstop offered to me was reflective of the degree to which the company - and the wonderful people who work there - have served not just as a service provider to their retail clients, but as a partner, deeply invested in these companies’ success.
This is, I feel certain, because of Robert’s core values as a person and as a business leader. I feel equally certain that as MNB enjoys its 20th year in business, I never would’ve made it, much less enjoyed the success we’ve had, if not for Robert Hemphill.
And I just wanted to say that about him.