retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we posted an email from MNB reader Steve Burbridge in which he expressed a certain dissatisfaction with the Walmart online experience, prompting another MNB reader to write:

I read with interest Steve Burbridge’s experience with  . . . all I can say is “Welcome to Walmart”.  The app definitely has some challenges they need to get worked out sooner than later.  They definitely have not figured out the customer experience aspect as of yet.  One of the senior executives of old always said, “taking the money should be a fast and pleasurable experience as that is the last thing the customer is going to remember.”  Seems like the philosophy is struggling with .com.   One other thing I saw is Walmart is hoping to get to 1 hour delivery.  I just don’t see it happening as today, I was the only person waiting for an online grocery order at a store here in Rogers, AR and it took 20 minutes to get to me. 

It is going to be interesting to see how they develop the app and improve the customer experience. 

And Steve Burbridge also got back to me:

I wanted to close the loop on the email I sent you yesterday about my order from  The item arrived yesterday in the packaging in the picture below.  I was stunned.  A item is being fulfilled by Amazon?  I can't get my head around this, but someone at Walmart needs to do some due diligence on how their 3rd party market vendors are shipping goods from a order.

Yesterday, MNB took note of a Bloomberg report that Walmart "has demoted the chief operating officer of its core U.S. business and installed a finance expert in the role, shuffling its senior leadership team just before the key holiday period.

"Dacona Smith, one of the retailer’s highest-ranking Black executives, will shift to become executive vice president and chief operations officer of Walmart’s U.S. stores … Chris Nicholas, previously finance chief of the U.S. unit, will take over the COO role."

Prompting one MNB reader to write:

So it is ok to highlight Dacona’s ethnicity???  Why?  Does this have any barring on why this occurred?  Why not just report on the change?  Black, White, Asian, Native American, etc.   Who cares.  If we want to have everyone equal, then stop the ethnic tag remark. 

I think this is a fair observation.

As an explanation - not an excuse - I'd point out that the reference was by Bloomberg, not me … though I'll own it, since I quoted it.

I think that Bloomberg would argue that because diversity is such a prized and much-talked-about priority in many companies, that made the reference appropriate.

But in retrospect, I think I agree with you, and I should've edited out the specific language.

MNB reader Gregory Gheen expressed some skepticism about the smart fridge that Amazon is said to be developing:

If I only buy 1 item (not 5 and when I am down to 1 it notifies me), that lasts for 3 weeks, how does it know when the item is getting low or about to be finished? And what about expiring items? Will you have to scan the item into the fridge for it to read the expiration date? And how does the Smart Fridge see through products that do not have clear containers? Will it be scanning them via StarTrek technology to see if the container is half full (or half empty)?

This sounds like its getting down to the lowest form of laziness to me. First its "I cant get off the couch to go shopping, order online and please deliver to my house". Now it's "I cant get off the couch to see what's in my fridge?"

That's one way to characterize it.

Then again, there are a lot of conveniences I have in my life right now that I never thought I'd need or want, and now I cannot imagine life without them.

Regarding the Home Depot online experience, one MNB reader wrote:

I think if you start ordering hardware needs online, you give up man points.  Part of the joy of hands-on building and repair is looking in person.  Which BTW, is a much more pleasant experience at Lowes.

Y'know, it is possible to be a man and have no interest in or talent for hands-on building and repair.  Right?  And so, "man-points" gathered that way are meaningless.

Just sayin.

Finally, yesterday we posted an email from an MNB reader who was responding to all the stated plans by retailers to hire tens of thousands of people at a time when there is a labor shortage, saying that "baby boomers retiring by the thousands daily isn't helping this situation either."

I commented:

Wait a minute.  Baby boomers are retiring?  How come I didn't get the memo?

MNB reader Deborah Faragher responded:

Kevin—You buried the memo on retiring!  You love what you do too much to hang it up.  That is, until Mrs. Content Guy retires and you two go off into the Northwest sunset!!  

FYI … Mrs. Content Guy is retired.