business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, MNB took note of a Wall Street Journal report that Kroger CEO Dave Dillon told investors that he believes that most Americans won't turn to the internet to buy their groceries.

“I understand some people like that … but there’s still a large percentage of customers that like to get out and have that interaction with friends and neighbors in their community as they walk through the store,” Dillon said, adding, “I wouldn’t be too quick to assume that the leap to home delivery ends up replacing everything."

Which prompted MNB user Ray Heyob to write:

I've enjoyed your newsletter over the years KC.  I led P&G's re-entry to eCommerce starting eight years ago, and worked extensively on our global capabilities and strategies.  As you know, Tesco UK has presented a strong RTB for grocery eCommerce.  While not as compelling domestically, it's a when and not an if.

I would tell Dave Dillon that grocery eCom won't replace the trip to the store, but will make it a heckuva lot more enjoyable.  If most all my family's shelf-stable items would be ready for pickup (after an exceptionally easy order process), my 90 minute visit would now take 45.  In that less time I'd select my produce and perishables.  More importantly, I would then be able to take that extra time for more "relaxed" shopping.  I would buy more, save time, and feel better about it.

They need to create a compelling cross-channel experience.  To do it now will keep them from playing catchup after Walmart (maybe Target) figure it out.

MNB user Don Skiver wrote:

Had to write, as I have on other occasions to you KC.  I like shopping, as Mr Dillon states, “to get out and have that interaction with friends and neighbors in their community as they walk through the store”.  I don’t want someone picking out my steaks, or my bananas, or how will they come across a new product and know I want to try it out.  I also don’t like ordering something online and then having to wait to have it delivered.  Many nights I decide what I am going to make for dinner by taking a stroll through the market and what might be on sale or catches my eye is the deciding factor.  Don’t get me wrong, I go online all the time, and do buy things online, but I like going to the store and shopping (at the market) strolling through a mall or big box is another story, that becomes a chore to me.

I see everyone (including you) talk about the future is online, yes it may be, but what percent is it now, according to the US Census Bureau News “E-commerce sales in the second quarter of 2013 accounted for 5.3 percent of total sales.”  I think we should still pay attention to the other 95% . . .

From another reader:

I am retired and 70. With that said I am in agreement with Kroger, but not completely. In agreement with Kroger folks on everything produce (we are Vegan) or that needs refrigeration. Living in Boise, we have no opportunity for grocery delivery anyway. On most grocery items that I would buy on line I must report that the prices have never been even close to the grocery store and I have checked these prices out. I do buy special products on line that are not available in grocery stores but they are all shelf stable and unavailable except on line.

And another:

I agree e-commerce is important.  However;  I’m not sure I’d want to buy fresh fruits, veggies and meat on-line tho.   I enjoy picking those things out myself – I’d be afraid that the store would unload a percentage of “not so great” items to on-line customers.   I can see buying other staples on line.  Bread, Milk, canned goods, boxed goods, frozen foods etc…   I don’t think I would  get the best selections of fresh foods unless I picked them out myself.

I personally do not go to the grocery store to socialize.   So, I disagree with Dillon on this comment “large percentage of customers that like to get out and have that interaction with friends and neighbors in their community as they walk through the store.”   I rarely see people I know at the store .   Grocery stores are large and cover a large demographic area these days.  The days of the mom and pop neighborhood grocery experience is dying.  (or dead)  -  I’d take home delivery of my on-line purchase!

To be continued, I'm sure…

Yesterday, in writing about the Red Sox World Series victory, I quoted (as I often do) the great Robert B. Parker, who once said that "Baseball is the most important thing that doesn't matter."

To which one MNB user responded:

Ah, but it does matter. The scores are dutifully posted on regularly. It matters.

The sound of a city hit by tragedy once again living out the spirit of a great win. It matters.

Would it have mattered to the vast majority who won? No, not likely. Yet, it mattered that it was played.

It mattered that George W. Bush walked to the mound and threw out the first pitch after 9/11 at Yankee Stadium. It meant that we could go on. Baseball could be played and it mattered. On that night, there was not a Republican or a Democrat. There was not a liberal or a conservative. There was us. That mattered.

It is woven into America. It matters.

For the son or daughter attending their first game; a memory for a lifetime. It matters. I recall Tiger Stadium in 1968 with my Dad. That matters.

It is the soundtrack in the background on a warm summer day. There would be a vacancy without it. It matters.

It is, yes, just a game. The team that wins or loses fades into time and is recalled again. There are memories and imagination of what was and what might of have been. Its conversation goes on through time. It matters.

In these words, from a movie you will know, state it best, "But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again."

It is part of our past and it is deeply part of our hope for the future. That is proven each spring by the sound of the first hit coming off the bat at little league games all across the land.

Important. It matters.

Until the sun breaks warm and the snow melts from sight, I'll long for that soundtrack to resume in the background once again. Hope.

It matters.

Fair enough. And damned poetic, by the way.

Unfortunately, RPB isn't here to explain his statement, but let me take a crack at it.

I think he'd probably say - and I'd agree - that what really matters is being a good parent. Raising happy, fulfilled, responsible children. Being a good citizen, working hard, contributing to society, trying to leave the world a better place than we found it.

Baseball, of course, matters because it is one of the ways in which we teach our kids about the importance of team play and individual achievement, and because it exists within and because of rules, and it serves as a metaphor for so much in life and work.

But I think RBP was arguing that there is a "matters" scale. On that scale, it ranks below other, far more fundamental things. And therefore, it is important, but doesn't really matter.

But maybe this is a distinction without a difference.
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