business news in context, analysis with attitude

One MNB reader wrote about yesterday's "Innovation Conversation:"

Your conversation with Mr. Furphy reminded me of a book I read about 10 years proposing a business shift to mass customization.  It is the concept that businesses, including retailing, are being forced to update their business models so they offer individual, custom solutions to a multitude of customers.  That is the case with on-line grocery retailing.  It is not a case of either bricks and mortar OR on-line shopping, but rather providing each shopper with the mix of both that they want.  For example, my wife may want to buy fruits and vegetables in the store, so she can visibly selection from the assortment being presented, while she welcomes automatic, electronic replenish for our household staples- coffee, paper towels, etc.  Another shopper knows she wants apples and she has developed a trust that the grocery provider will send her only “good” selections.  Each shopper is different.  Therefore, it is necessary to measure the incremental changes in shopper purchase behavior in order to determine the success of on-line grocery retailing.  Retailers will also need to make iterative changes in their business models in order to add, remove, or update based on specific shopper needs.


And MNB fave Glen Terbeek wrote:

Why online grocery isn't working?  A very good question!  Here is the answer.  The real breakthrough will occur only when the industry re-aligns the industry’s “economics" with the marketplace realities of the shopper driven real and virtual shopping experience. This should start by examining the current  redundancies, inefficiencies, and barriers built into 80% of the retail price above the manufactured cost that just frustrate the shoppers in a virtual world.

A good place to start is the “buy for resale, price competition” economic model of today’s practices that just don’t make sense virtually for either the manufacturer, the retailer, and for sure the shoppers.   Really, is one retailer’s Tide better than another’s, virtually?  We need economics that enable the retailers to compete as shopper’s agents through true value added real and virtual shopping experiences.  In my mind the transition is easy, once the current mind sets changes.  By the way, the local, real stores will exist and be much better as a result.  

“Outsiders” such as Amazon have figured this opportunity out!

Look what is happening to nonfood retailers and shopping malls.  It will happen to the food industry as well, if it doesn’t change.

I also got the following email from an MNB reader:

I thought I’d share my experience of Amazon Prime and their Automotive section.

I first signed up for Amazon Prime to get a new battery for one of my cars. The local O’Rielly had what I wanted but Amazon had it $50 cheaper and delivered free to my door in 2 days, a 50 pound battery! Half the cost of Amazon Prime covered in my first order! OEM quality parts often same day or next day at prices lower than the knock off brands that the local O’Rielly carried. O’Rielly was always out of stock on the oil I used for oil changes. Now I order it from Amazon, delivered within 1-2 days. I can probably get it same day now since I’m in the SF Bay Area.

That was 4 years ago. Since then, I’ve ordered all my car parts from Amazon from complete A/C systems to brakes, shocks, LED lights, a complete soft top for my Jeep, plus all of the specialty tools needed to complete those jobs. Amazon’s database has been extremely accurate in verifying if a certain part will fit the car I am working on at the time.

I still pick up the occasional items at O’Rielly. The clerks are often less than helpful. O’Rielly mails me a physical $5 coupon every month or so as part of their loyalty program and I always forget to use it.

Amazon has quietly entered so many markets, perfected the experience and then rolled out in that market as a leader. I’ve been saying they are a competitor of ours (grocery) for years. Most people have been in a state of denial, but slowly people are starting to see the truth. It is truly amazing how fast they are able to spool up into completely new market segments.

Got the following emails regarding our piece about how Air India is offering female-only aisles so that women fliers can avoid being groped by male fliers.

MNB reader Anne Evanoff wrote:

My son is traveling many non-touristy towns in India right now with two American women friends. He shared his shock and dismay at how his companions are treated, and groped, when they are not accompanied by a man.

It seems generally accepted that Indian males have the right to do what they want to unaccompanied women. (I appreciate that it shocks and dismays my son – a sign he was raised to respect women.)

I completely understand why Air India is offering the women’s section option – it would definitely reassure women that they can fly in peace and safety, and seems like a necessary measure.

MNB reader Bob Thomas wrote:

In 2016, ActionAid conducted a survey on street harassment in a number of countries. They found that 79% of women living in cities in India, 86% in Thailand, and 89% in Brazil have been subjected to harassment or violence in public, as had 75% of women in London, UK.
Some other airlines might want to watch Air India.

And MNB reader Tom Berghammer wrote:

I read the Friendlier Skies article today. It reminded me of my wife and I in Tokyo last summer visiting my oldest son. He was in Japan on a college studies program for the past year. The train and subway system in Tokyo is truly amazing. Hundreds of thousands of people use public transportation daily to commute. Trains run every couple of minutes to virtually everywhere in the city and surrounding suburbs. The first two cars of most trains are female only. Same rationale for use. Rush hour trains are completely packed. Human sardines in a can. Personal space is gone and unintentionally bumping into someone you don’t know is nearly impossible to avoid.

Michael Sansolo got this email from an MNB reader, about his column this week that talked about a customer service experience he had at Wegmans that went above and beyond:

Mr. Sansolo. I just read your soul crunching article "Breaking Through the Din",  a horrible outlook on the desire to have any human connection and trying to find meaning in a joyless life of going to eat routinely countless times and suddenly, to break through the monotony of existence without any direction or purpose, to all of a sudden feeling special, as if you weren't constantly being reminded that this torrential downpour of emotions and suffering isn't constantly raining down on you and the unhappiness that so many feel in many places daily, has been forgotten due to a privileged treatment and let's not forget why the exchange happened in the first place and that's the capitalist economic system we've created and the business of customer service to incentivize the vomit people spew out of their dirty rat holes to say mindless, inauthentic phrases like "thanks" and "have a nice day" and using that to distract ourselves from what's really going on deep inside of all of us, and that's this feeling that every one of us is at the center of the universe  and we constantly want to be reminded of that by people in the horrible profession of food industry, the people that serve us for money like a medieval, feudalistic era to treat royalty (money bearers) as some sort of divinity that was touched by god's sweet, sweet lavender smelling nipples that for some reason taste peach flavored and expecting it as a right every time we sit down to eat, we want to feel special and elite. The truth is none of us are deserving of that title and if you expect it and not have any empathy for what's being given up when a person provides 'good customer service' which is a part of your soul, then that person is sacrificing something, dignity. " Hey! That Vicky, boy. I really like that one. She was able to relinquish her dignity and lie to herself to provide good customer service for a business that she has no ownership of ." How much money did you tip her?

I'd suggest that this reader switch to decaf. And maybe try some therapy.

Just sayin'...
KC's View: