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Friday, September 22, 2017

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Friday Morning Eye-Opener: The Last Couple Of Feet

by Kevin Coupe

There is a continuing discussion in the e-commerce business about who is going to dominate “the last mile” leading up to the consumer’s home.

Walmart, as it continues to look for ways to challenge Amazon in this segment, seems to have found one way to dominate not just the last mile, but the last few feet.

According to a story in TechCrunch, Walmart has announced that “it will begin testing a new service that will allow customers with August smart home devices, like the August doorbell and security cameras, to have their packages delivered inside their home instead of left on the doorstep. This test will also include online grocery orders, which won’t just be placed inside the house like the packages, but will be put away in the fridge and freezer, when appropriate … The customers will utilize an August smart lock to allow delivery drivers a one-time entry into their home. By using these smart home devices, the customer can see the entire delivery process from start to end, beginning with a notification sent to their mobile device.”

The test of this new service is scheduled to begin soon, in the Silicon Valley area, where it is believed that shoppers will be more open to the concept.

The story notes that “while August is the first smart home partner that Walmart is working with on this effort, presumably, if the tests were successful, Walmart would add other smart home device makers to the list of supported device in the future.”

Strikes me as an Eye-Opener.

Wegmans Organic Orchard Harvests A Competitive Advantage

The Rochester Business Journal has a story about 168-acre Wegmans Organic Orchard, which overlooks Canandaigua Lake in upstate New York, and that this year “completed its transition from conventional farming to organic practices.”

While “Wegmans has for some time worked with partner farms to develop, grow and supply organic produce to each of its 93 stores,” the story notes that often “ it is produce first planted at Wegmans Organic Orchard that ends up being grown at one or more of the store’s 24 partner farms. Utilizing methods used by farmers hundreds of years ago, Wegmans’ farm staff of nearly three dozen experiments with unique fruit and vegetable varieties in order to offer the most sustainable, healthy and flavorful food possible … Wegmans Organic Orchard is home to dozens of varieties of organic fruits and vegetables including apples, table grapes, peaches, strawberries, leeks and others.”

KC's View: I think this is a perfect example of something we talk about a lot here … that retailers can be most successful, even in the facer of growing and toughening competition, when they offer products that other companies don’t or can’t. Success is found in the differences, and sometimes on the margins, rather than in the commonalities.

It’s just that Wegmans, as it often does, takes the concept to the next level.

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From MyWebGrocer...

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Amazon, Hilton Team Up To Make A Point

TechCrunch reports that Amazon and Hilton have struck a deal that allows Hilton Honors loyalty program members “to shop Amazon using their points. This is the first time a hotel brand has offered such a deal, Amazon says, and will be available to all Hilton Honors members … To use the new benefit, Honors members have to link their account to their Amazon profile. This is a one-time setting, and afterwards they can shop Amazon’s site as usual.”

The companies say that 500 points will equal one dollar, and while millions of items are eligible to be bought this way, there are a number of “ things points can’t yet buy, including Amazon Kindle downloads, digital music, Amazon Video titles, Amazon Appstore apps, AmazonFresh items, Subscribe and Save items, Prime Memberships (unless they’re a gift), pre-order items, textbook rentals, Amazon Allowance or Reload (gift cards).”

TechCrunch says that this is likely just the first of such arrangements that Amazon is pursuing.

KC's View: Just another way to expand the ecosystem.

Worth Reading: Aldi’s Expanding Value Proposition

The Wall Street Journal has a long story this morning about how German discounter Aldi believes “it can win over spoiled American shoppers … By offering them fewer choices—way fewer—than rival retailers.”

Aldi has been successful in 18 countries, and generates $83 billion in sales, and this summer “opened a new chapter in this seemingly unstoppable expansion, announcing a $3.4 billion investment to boost its U.S. presence by nearly 50% to 2,500 stores by the end of 2022. This puts the company on a pace to become America’s third-biggest grocery retailer by locations behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co. The land grab closely followed its decision to invest $1.6 billion in renovating the bulk of its existing 1,700-plus U.S. stores, some of which have been around since the 1970s.”

Aldi’s “idiosyncratic playbook” has a strategy of offering “a deliberately pared-down selection, sometimes a tiny fraction of the number of items sold by rivals, which helps Aldi cut costs to levels U.S. grocers can only dream of. Among other benefits, fewer items means faster turnover, smaller stores, less rent, lower energy costs and fewer staff to stock the shelves … By keeping costs low, the Spartan assortment allowed the founders to sell their inventory for less and turn it over at lightning speed, boosting profit margins, according to former executives.”

You can read the full story here.

KC's View: It is so interesting that Aldi has waited until now to really invest in a major US expansion, a time when there is more and better competition than ever, including Lidl, another German discounter that has begun opening stores here. They must see something about the market that makes them believe that more US consumers than ever will find the Aldi approach to groceries to be attractive and compelling…

To me, one of the major problems with which they have to deal is “nobody seems to give a crap” syndrome. Too many of the Aldi stores that I’ve visited seem like nobody is paying attention, but maybe that’s part of the appeal - they look cheap, so it isn’t hard to make that argument to shoppers.

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From The Path to Purchase Expo...


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E-conomy Beat

Bloomberg reports that Amazon, which already has several offices in New York City, plans to “expand its presence” there “with a 359,000 square-foot office in Manhattan that will employ people in finance, sales, marketing and information technology earning an average of $100,000 annually. Amazon will invest $55 million in the building project on Manhattan’s west side.”

The moves comes as Amazon plans to open a second headquarters, with an invest of at least $5 billion; more than a hundred communities and states have said they will submit proposals - and New York is one of them.


• The Des Moines Register reports that Hy-Vee is increasing its prices for grocery pickup and delivery. “Until last week, the company charged $4.95 for delivery and $2.95 for store pickup for online orders under $100,” the story says. “Orders over $100 did not have the extra fees … as of last week, orders over $100 delivered within a 4-hour time period will get free delivery. Shoppers wanting their orders within a 2-hour window will pay $7.99 and within an hour window, $9.99. Orders less than $100 will pay a $5.99 fee for a 4-hour window, $9.99 for a 2-hour window and $12.99 for an hour window, the company said.”

Hy-Vee said that “because the service was so popular it needed to increase the scheduled times it delivered groceries to be able to better plan delivery routes.” CEO Randy Edeker pronounced himself “stunned” at how successful online shopping as been.

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FastNewsBeat

• The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that Hy-Vee is in the early stages of planning a new one million square foot distribution center in Austin, Minnesota, which would expand “its grocery distribution system closer to its rapidly growing network of stores in the Twin Cities.”

Hy-Vee currently has seven stores in Minnesota, with six more in various stages of planning.

Executive Suite

• Albertsons announced that Guy Burgstahler, who “brings more than 20 years of advertising leadership experience with companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods, PetSmart, and Tractor Supply Company,” has been hired as the company’s new vice president of advertising.


Women’s Wear Daily reports that Walmart has hired Denise Incandela, a former former Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue executive who most recently has been president/CEO of Aerosoles, to be senior vice president of fashion for its online retail sites, including Walmart.com, Jet.com and shoes.com.


• The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) announced that it has hired Steven Markenson, formerly the president of WBA Research, a national market research firm, to oversee all areas of research at FMI.

Your Views

…will return.

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From the National Grocers Association...


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From The MNB Sports Desk

In Thursday Night Football action, the Los Angeles Rams defeated the San Francisco 49ers 41-39.

OffBeat: Funny Stuff

I’ve always been a big Jerry Seinfeld fan, both before his eponymous television series, during, and especially since it went off the air; I thought his 2002 documentary Comedian was terrific in how it got at both the art and science of standup comedy, and I love his “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” series in how it explores the often fractured psyches of his fellow comedians.

Now, he’s out with a new special on Netflix - “Jerry Before Seinfeld.” And I must admit that I laughed for most of the hour run time, which is pretty good since there hasn’t been a hell of a lot of laugh about lately. The special has Seinfeld appearing at a comedy club and telling the audience how he got started, punctuating the story with jokes that he told early in his career. There are also visits to old haunts in New York and Long Island, and the special is an entirely pleasant experience. Check it out.




One of last seasons TV series that I finally caught up with recently was ‘The Good Place,” which stars Kristen Bell as a rather dissolute young woman who is surprised to find herself in heaven after she is killed in an accident; when she discovers that she has been mistaken for someone else, she resolves to perpetuate the lie and keep the angel who is running the place (Ted Danson) in the dark.

That’s the premise … but I can promise you that season one was a lot more complicated, incredibly clever, and extremely funny. Season two started this week, and I’m very excited … though I will also tell you that you have to watch the first season before watching the second.

And here’s the deal - “The Good Place” is on NBC, an old-fashioned broadcast network, which actually gives me hope.




Sunday. “Star Trek: Discovery.” Can’t wait.




That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Sláinte!!

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"GOOD IS NOT GOOD WHEN BETTER IS EXPECTED"

In this fast-paced, interactive and provocative presentation, MNB's Kevin Coupe challenges audiences to see Main Street through a constantly evolving technological, demographic, competitive and cultural prism.  These issues all combine to create an environment in which traditional thinking, fundamental execution, and just-good-enough strategies and tactics likely will pave a path to irrelevance;  Coupe lays out a road map for the future that focuses on differential advantages and disruptive mindsets, using real-world examples that can be adopted and executed by enterprising and innovative leaders.

"Kevin inspired our management team with his insights about the food industry and his enthusiasm. We've had the best come in to address our group, and Kevin Coupe was rated right up there.  He had our team on the edge of their chairs!" - Stew Leonard, Jr., CEO, Stew Leonard's

Constantly updated to reflect the news stories covered and commented upon daily by MorningNewsBeat, and seasoned with an irreverent sense of humor and disdain for sacred cows honed by Coupe’s 30+ years of writing and reporting about the best in the business, "Good Is Not Good When Better Is Expected" will get your meeting attendees not just thinking, but asking the serious questions about business and consumers that serious times demand.

Want to make your next event unique, engaging, illuminating and entertaining?  Start here: KevinCoupe.com. Or call Kevin at 203-662-0100.

Now back to regularly scheduled editorial...

Editorial continues after a word from our sponsor...

Industry Drumbeat

Good Is Not Good When Better Is Expected

In this fast-paced, interactive and provocative presentation, MNB's Kevin Coupe challenges audiences to see Main Street through a constantly evolving technological, demographic, competitive and cultural prism.  These issues all combine to create an environment in which traditional thinking, fundamental execution, and just-good-enough strategies and tactics likely will pave a path to irrelevance;  Coupe lays out a road map for the future that focuses on differential advantages and disruptive mindsets, using real-world examples that can be adopted and executed by enterprising and innovative leaders.

"Kevin inspired our management team with his insights about the food industry and his enthusiasm. We've had the best come in to address our group, and Kevin Coupe was rated right up there.  He had our team on the edge of their chairs!" - Stew Leonard, Jr., CEO, Stew Leonard's

Constantly updated to reflect the news stories covered and commented upon daily by MorningNewsBeat, and seasoned with an irreverent sense of humor and disdain for sacred cows honed by Coupe’s 30+ years of writing and reporting about the best in the business, "Good Is Not Good When Better Is Expected" will get your meeting attendees not just thinking, but asking the serious questions about business and consumers that serious times demand.

Want to make your next event unique, engaging, illuminating and entertaining?  Start here: KevinCoupe.com. Or call Kevin at 203-662-0100.

Now back to regularly scheduled editorial...

Finally, a word from our sponsor...

Industry Drumbeat

"GOOD IS NOT GOOD WHEN BETTER IS EXPECTED"

In this fast-paced, interactive and provocative presentation, MNB's Kevin Coupe challenges audiences to see Main Street through a constantly evolving technological, demographic, competitive and cultural prism.  These issues all combine to create an environment in which traditional thinking, fundamental execution, and just-good-enough strategies and tactics likely will pave a path to irrelevance;  Coupe lays out a road map for the future that focuses on differential advantages and disruptive mindsets, using real-world examples that can be adopted and executed by enterprising and innovative leaders.

"Kevin inspired our management team with his insights about the food industry and his enthusiasm. We've had the best come in to address our group, and Kevin Coupe was rated right up there.  He had our team on the edge of their chairs!" - Stew Leonard, Jr., CEO, Stew Leonard's

Constantly updated to reflect the news stories covered and commented upon daily by MorningNewsBeat, and seasoned with an irreverent sense of humor and disdain for sacred cows honed by Coupe’s 30+ years of writing and reporting about the best in the business, "Good Is Not Good When Better Is Expected" will get your meeting attendees not just thinking, but asking the serious questions about business and consumers that serious times demand.

Want to make your next event unique, engaging, illuminating and entertaining?  Start here: KevinCoupe.com. Or call Kevin at 203-662-0100.

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