business news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story last week about how PCC Community Markets in Seattle is getting rid of all its self-checkout, preferring to depend on old-fashioned human interaction as a differentiator. It prompted MNB reader Bob Vereen to write:

As a consumer, I think self checkouts in big-box stores like Walmart and Meijer need to be maintained.

They are a great convenience for shoppers, especially if a customer has purchased just a few items and those items did not need any help from an employee.

Last week we reported on how Ahold Delhaize-owned Peapod Digital Labs said that it has made a deal with logistics company Deliv to provide same-day delivery services to customers of its Giant and Martin’s chains in select zip codes … The Deliv option is in addition to delivery services already being offered by the retailers through Peapod’s own fleet of vehicles.

I commented, in part:

I hope this is a short-term solution, that outsourcing to Deliv is a way of meeting a specific need while the company figures out a way to do it long-term on its own. That would, I think, be the smartest way to go.

MNB reader Jim Huey replied:

I couldn’t agree with you more about outsourcing delivery. I find it comparable, however, to snack and soda vendors. I work for a small independent in the Midwest where we take out of stocks and display conditions very seriously. With few exceptions our snack and soda vendors do not have the same standards (even in a busy store like ours they are here twice a day only). In a world where even the major players (Kroger, Walmart, etc.) seem unable, or unwilling, to implement change, we should hardly be surprised that so many supermarkets are willing to farm delivery out.

We had a piece last week about how the Kraft Devour frozen food brand, which has been describing itself as “food porn,” decided to actually advertise on a real porn site … which I suggested was “a bridge too far.”

Illustrating why I love the MNB community, Stephen Avola wrote:

Being a student of history, specifically WW2 in Europe, I had to write when I saw the title of your Friday Eye-opener: "A Bridge To Far."  I thought this would be a good opportunity for a quick history lesson for your readers on were the phrase, "A Bridge Too Far" comes from.

Yes, it is the title of the 1977 film based on the book of the same name with a cast that included: James Cann, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O'Neal, Robert, Redford, and others, but it refers to the failure of Operation Market Garden during WW2.  Operation Marketing Garden took place in Sept 1944 (3 mos. after D-Day) and was intended to end the war in Europe before Christmas.

Its objective was to capture a series of nine bridges in the Netherlands that would give the Allies a quick invasion route into Germany.  The Allies captured all but the last bridge in Arnhem and the battle at Arnhem was lost by the Allies and Operation Market Garden was a disaster and the war in Europe raged on until May 1945. It's been said that a British officer told British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (the architect of the operation) that it appears they went "A Bridge Too Far," referring to their defeat in trying to capture the last bridge in Arnhem. 

It's never a bad time for a quick history lesson and now all of your readers will know the story behind the phrase, "A Bridge Too Far.”

Thanks. I’m a sucker for an educational moment.
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