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A Milk Giant Goes Broke as Americans Reject Old Staples
Nov. 13, 2019 | The New York Times | By David Yaffe-Bellany.

Saddled with debt and struggling to adjust to changing consumer habits, Dean Foods filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, signaling another grim chapter in the recent struggles of the dairy industry. The company, whose portfolio of brands includes TruMoo and Lehigh Valley, said it was in talks to sell itself to Dairy Farmers of America, a marketing cooperative that sells milk from thousands of farms.

Across the food and beverage industry, the challenges facing Dean Foods are becoming increasingly familiar. In recent years, consumers have moved away from brands, and even entire categories of food, once seen as household staples. The decline of the milk industry has emerged as a particularly stark example of how these changing tastes are challenging major companies whose products once crowded store shelves.
bankruptcies  Big_Food  CPG  dairy  Danone  Dean_Foods  grocery  Kraft_Heinz  plant-based  private_labels  shifting_tastes  spin-offs  supermarkets  Target  Wal-Mart  yogurt 
november 2019 by jerryking
A ‘Grass Roots’ Campaign to Take Down Amazon Is Funded by Amazon’s Biggest Rivals - WSJ
Sept. 20, 2019 | WSJ | By James V. Grimaldi.

Walmart, Oracle and mall owner Simon Property Group are secret funders behind a nonprofit that has been highly critical of the e-commerce giant

About 18 months ago a new nonprofit group called Free and Fair Markets Initiative launched a national campaign criticizing the business practices of one powerful company: Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -1.50%

Free and Fair Markets accused Amazon of stifling competition and innovation, inhibiting consumer choice, gorging on government subsidies, endangering its warehouse workers and exposing consumer data to privacy breaches. It claimed to have grass-roots support from average citizens across the U.S, citing a labor union, a Boston management professor and a California businessman.

What the group did not say is that it received backing from some of Amazon’s chief corporate rivals. They include shopping mall owner Simon Property Group Inc., SPG 0.27% retailer Walmart Inc. WMT -0.11% and software giant Oracle Corp. ORCL 0.19% , according to people involved with and briefed on the project. Simon Property is fighting to keep shoppers who now prefer to buy what they need on Amazon; Walmart is competing with Amazon over retail sales; and Oracle is battling Amazon over a $10 billion Pentagon cloud-computing contract.

The grass-roots support cited by the group was also not what it appeared to be. The labor union says it was listed as a member of the group without permission and says a document purporting to show that it gave permission has a forged signature. The Boston professor says the group, with his permission, ghost-wrote an op-ed for him about Amazon but that he didn’t know he would be named as a member. The California businessman was dead for months before his name was removed from the group’s website this year.

Free and Fair Markets, or FFMI, declined to reveal its funders or disclose if it has directors or a chief executive.

“The bottom line is that FFMI is focusing on the substantive issues and putting a spotlight on the way companies like Amazon undermine the public good—something that media outlets, activists, and politicians in both parties are also doing with increasing frequency,” it said in a statement in response to questions from The Wall Street Journal. “If Amazon can not take the heat then it should stay out of the kitchen.”

The creation of a group aimed solely at Amazon is an indication of the degree to which competing companies have coalesced to counter the growing and accumulated power of Amazon and how far competitors are increasingly willing to go to counter-strike. Lobbyists that exaggerate the extent of their grass-roots support—a practice known as “AstroTurf lobbying”—are common in Washington, but it is rare for a nonprofit group to be created for the sole purpose of going after a single firm.

Amazon is facing additional opaque opposition as well, with websites and articles popping up portraying the software giant as the Evil Empire. The website Monopolyamazon.com, which does not disclose who is behind it and registered its web address anonymously, includes a handful of articles calling on the Defense Department to reject Amazon’s bid for a $10 billion cloud-computing contract. For months last year, an anti-Amazon dossier circulated in Washington alleging conflicts of interest in the Pentagon procurement process and a chart from the document later reached President Trump before he asked for a review of the Amazon bid.

Free and Fair Markets is run by a strategic communications firm, Marathon Strategies, that works for large corporations, including Amazon rivals. Marathon founder Phil Singer is a veteran political operative who has worked as a top aide to prominent Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and on Hillary Clinton ’s 2008 presidential campaign.

In a statement, Mr. Singer defended the group. “FFMI is not obligated to disclose its donors and it does not,” Mr. Singer said.

Marathon initially asked for a fee of $250,000 per company to fund the anti-Amazon group, according to a person at one of the companies approached. Among those invited to fund the group but declined were a trade association that includes members who compete with Amazon, and International Business Machines Corp. , according to people familiar with the contacts. IBM, which declined to comment, previously was a client of Marathon.

In a statement, Amazon said, “The Free & Fair Markets Initiative appears to be little more than a well-oiled front group run by a high-priced public affairs firm and funded by self-interested parties with the sole objective of spreading misinformation about Amazon.”

Simon Property, the world’s largest mall landlord, declined to comment. Simon does not have any brick-and-mortar Amazon stores in its roughly 200 malls, outlets and open-air centers in the U.S., whereas its peers with smaller portfolios count multiple Amazon stores in theirs. The Indianapolis-based landlord recently launched its own online shopping platform, Shoppremiumoutlets.com.

Walmart funds the organization indirectly by paying an intermediary that pays for Free and Fair Markets, according to sources familiar with the arrangement. Walmart is a client of Marathon.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said, “We are not financial supporters of the FFMI but we share concerns about issues they have raised.” Mr. Hargrove declined to comment further.

The group’s aim is to sully Amazon’s image on competition, data-security and workplace issues, while creating a sense of grass-roots support for increased government regulatory and antitrust enforcement, according to people familiar with the campaign.

Free and Fair Markets has lobbied the government for legislation and investigations of Amazon, sent dozens of letters and reports to Congress and staff, according to congressional staffers, published scores of op-eds in local and online media and tweeted hundreds of social media posts blasting Amazon.

Over the past year, many of the actions advocated by the group have gained traction. Amazon has come under increasing antitrust scrutiny from the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, states attorneys general and the European Union. In New York, Amazon backed out of plans to open a second headquarters in Long Island City after facing political opposition. Free and Fair Markets campaigned against government subsidies to support the site and tweeted more than 300 times on the topic.

Oracle provided financial support as part of an all-out strategy to stop Amazon from getting a $10 billion mega-contract to handle cloud computing for the Defense Department. The Pentagon eliminated Oracle as a bidder in the first round. Kenneth Glueck, who runs Oracle’s office in Washington, confirmed that the computer technology firm has contributed to the effort.

A goal of the organization was achieved in July when President Trump said he wanted to conduct a review of the contract. In August, the secretary of defense said he was investigating conflict-of-interest allegations surrounding the $10 billion contract known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI. At the urging of President Trump, the bid award has been put on hold during the review.

Mr. Trump, a frequent critic of Amazon, cited complaints about the project from several of Amazon’s competitors, which in addition to Oracle included IBM and Microsoft Corp. , saying he had heard the contract “wasn’t competitively bid.” The contract has not been awarded and Microsoft remains one of the two remaining bidders.

Though Free and Fair Markets has contacted members of Congress and the administration, it has not registered as a lobbying organization. Such groups are required to file with Congress if more than 20% of their work involves lobbying. Marathon said it complies with lobby disclosure rules.

None of the articles notes that Mr. Engel’s group is funded by rivals of Amazon.

A spokeswoman for The Hill said the publication was unaware of the funding sources and failure to disclose such payments violates a standard written agreement all op-ed writers are required to sign.

Sandy Shea, managing editor of opinion for the Inquirer’s parent company, the Philadelphia Media Network, said, “We aren’t equipped to investigate the makeup or structure of a nonprofit that submits a piece.”

Bill Zeiser, RealClearPolicy editor, said RealClearMedia publishes “commentary on politics and public policy from a wide array of sources. These submissions are assessed on their editorial merits.”

Representatives of the Post-Gazette and Chronicle did not respond to emails.

In an interview earlier this year, Mr. Engel said the motive of the group was not to promote the views of Amazon’s rivals. He said Amazon has been the only target because its business tactics run counter to the group’s goal of free and fair markets. “The one organization that feels it stands above that is Amazon,” Mr. Engel said.

Marathon did not make Mr. Engel available for comment a second time after the Journal determined that rivals were funding the group.

Mr. Engel and his group have been quoted in publications, including once each in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. None said who funded the group.

One article about Free and Fair Markets was commissioned by Marathon.

Last October, an Iowa writer and consultant, Jeff Patch, published an article on RealClearPolicy.com, a news website known for political coverage, about a report by Free and Fair Markets critical of Amazon’s record of hiring and firing women. “Many [women] were fired after Amazon concocted pretexts for their terminations,” Mr. Patch wrote.

Mr. Patch, who has worked as a journalist and a staffer for a Republican congressman and conservative think tanks, did not disclose in his article at the time that he was a paid contractor for Marathon.

Bank statements and invoices reviewed by the Journal show that Mr. Patch billed Marathon, and was paid thousands of dollars… [more]
Amazon  clandestine  contra-Amazon  countermeasures  counternarratives  dark_side  e-commerce  grass-roots  lobbying  lobbyists  nonprofit  Oracle  Simon_Properties  sophisticated  Wal-Mart 
september 2019 by jerryking
Walmart Hires Global Tech Chief to Compete With Amazon
May 28, 2019 | WSJ | By Sarah Nassauer.

Walmart is working to becoming an increasingly tech-focused company, buying up e-commerce startups and investing heavily to boost online sales. ...... Walmart is working to becoming an increasingly tech-focused company, buying up e-commerce startups, investing heavily to boost online sales, adding more grocery-delivery options and working to ramp up its digital ad revenue. The bulk of Walmart’s revenues and profits came from around 4,600 U.S. stores as of the most recent quarter......Walmart’s current chief information officer, Clay Johson, and all unit CTOs will report to Mr. Kumar. Marc Lore, Walmart’s head of U.S. e-commerce, will continue to report to Mr. McMillon directly,
Amazon  appointments  C-suite  CTOs  digital_strategies  e-commerce  hiring  retailers  start_ups  technology  Wal-Mart 
may 2019 by jerryking
America’s Biggest Supermarket Company Struggles With Online Grocery Upheaval
April 21, 2019 | WSJ | By Heather Haddon.

Kroger adjusts operations and invests in technology to hang on to customers who avoid stores; ‘we’ve got to get our butts in gear
Amazon  bricks-and-mortar  BOPIS  CDO  cultural_clash  delivery_services  digital_strategies  disruption  e-commerce  e-grocery  grocery  IBM  Instacart  Jet  Kroger  Microsoft  millennials  Ocado  Oracle  pilot_programs  post-deal_integration  retailers  same-day  Shipt  start_ups  supermarkets  Vitacost  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods 
april 2019 by jerryking
Every Company Wants to Become a Tech Company–Even if It Kills Them
March 8, 2019 | WSJ | By John D. Stoll.

Wall Street loves a good reinvention story. The tough part is finding a happy ending.

All the plots seem to go something like this: Every company wants to convince us it’s becoming a tech company–even if it kills them..... an increasing number of companies are at least dabbling in new tech ventures to improve operations......The boom in vendors offering affordable ways to crunch data or utilize cloud computing, for instance, unlocks new strategies for companies across a wide variety of industries........Planet Fitness Inc. is one of the interested companies. The gym boasts 12 million members but CEO Chris Rondeau admits the company knows relatively little about them.

“Besides checking in the front door, we don’t know what members do,”.....The company is spending millions to retool certain treadmills and cardio equipment to better collect data as people exercise, commissioning a new smartphone app, and wants to tie into its customers’ wearable technology....many other CEOs aren’t convinced they have the luxury (of time to take things slowly). Even if it is hard to figure out what to do with all the data gathered and tools employed in the course of regular business, paralysis is not an option. Like a shark, they feel they need to keep swimming or die....... Nokia Corp., the Finnish company, started as a pulp mill in the 19th century and then branched off into various industries, including a successful venture into rubber boot making, ditched its failed mobile handset unit in 2013 to focus on a networks business that was thriving under the radar. Today, it’s locked in a high-stakes race to deploy 5G technology......In 2000, Major League Baseball owners committed $120 million to fund MLB Advanced Media. It aimed to infuse technology into the game and resulted in initiatives like online ticket sales and expanded radio coverage. The gem of that initiative, however, was a streaming television network launched in 2002...... it has attracted outside clients, such as ESPN, the WWE Network, Playstation Vue and HBO. The Walt Disney Co. acquired control recently for nearly $3 billion.... Dunnhumby Ltd., the data and analytics consultancy owned by European grocery chain Tesco PLC. Tesco bought Dunnhumby after it created the chain’s loyalty-card program. Dunnhumby ballooned into a storehouse of information and amassed clients and partners...Searching for the next BAMTech or Dunnhumby is now a religion at many companies......Walmart Inc., which has already heavily invested in e-commerce, wants to take its technology, marry it with everything the world’s largest retailer knows about us and use it to get into the advertising business......“Everyone’s thinking ‘we’ve got a ton of this stuff (data), how do we use it,’” Executives are trying to answer that question by hiring outside firms to analyze trends or setting up in-house units for experimentation.

Walmart is dumping digital-marketing agency Triad, a unit of WPP PLC, and will try its hand at selling advertising space. Armed with a trove of shopper data and connected to a chain of suppliers wanting to place ads in stores and on websites, Walmart hopes to challenge Amazon.com Inc. on this new front......At Ford Motor Co. , CEOJim Hackett envisions a day when automobiles roam streets collecting data from the occupants and the cars’ behavior like rolling smartphones. This is part of that “mobility as a service” vision car makers peddle.......“Corporations tend to reward action over thinking,”“But the truth is…you’ll find the companies that didn’t do the deep thinking and acted quickly have to redo things.
BAMTech  digital_savvy  Dunnhumby  experimentation  Ford  in-house  Jim_Hackett  massive_data_sets  MLB  Planet_Fitness  reinvention  Wal-Mart  mobility_as_a_service  technology  under_the_radar 
march 2019 by jerryking
Amazon to Launch New Grocery-Store Business
March 1, 2019 | WSJ | By Esther Fung and Heather Haddon.

Amazon is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities....as the retail giant looks to broaden its reach in the food business and touch more aspects of consumers’ lives......The new stores would be distinct from the company’s upscale Whole Foods Market chain. It isn’t clear whether the new stores would carry the Amazon name......Amazon in recent years has become increasingly focused on physical retail, posing a threat to traditional grocers. The new chain would help Amazon in fulfilling a yearslong initiative to build out a physical grocery presence, which was at one point potentially envisioned to reach more than 2,000 brick-and mortar stores in a variety of sizes and formats......Amazon is also exploring purchasing regional grocery chains with about a dozen stores under operation, one person said, that could bolster the new chain......Amazon’s further push into physical retail is its latest move far beyond its origins selling books and music on the web. Over the years it has become a cloud-computing giant, a major player in Hollywood entertainment and a burgeoning provider of logistics services. More recently it has emerged as a major competitor in digital advertising and launched forays in finance and health care......The new stores aren’t intended to compete directly with the more upscale Whole Foods stores and will offer a different variety of products, at a lower price point, these people said. Whole Foods doesn’t sell products with artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners, among other quality standards.

Suppliers with big brands have hoped to have inroads into Whole Foods since Amazon bought the chain nearly two years ago. While Whole Foods has gradually expanded the big brands it carries—such as Honey-Nut Cheerios and Michelob beer—a conventional grocer can carry a much larger assortment of items. Amazon has had mixed results with its food-delivery business, and it wants to better understand how it can cater to grocery shoppers....Supermarket operators Walmart Inc., Kroger Co. and others are also trying to find ways to offer delivery and pickup to customers in a more cost-efficient manner...Amazon’s new grocery brand also comes as the retailer rolls out its cashierless Amazon Go stores in urban areas. It is testing that checkout technology for bigger retail stores. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is expanding its national footprint....For its new stores, Amazon is targeting new developments and occupied stores with leases ending soon.....Amazon doesn’t want restrictions on the type of goods it may sell at its stores and wants the ability to change the store and sell health and beauty products for instance......It is unclear whether these new stores will be cashierless, but they will be heavily tilted to customer service and pickup capabilities......a strategy where big retailers combine e-commerce with physical stores is the direction the industry is heading.
Amazon  BOPIS  bricks-and-mortar  cashierless  e-commerce  food  grocery  home-delivery  in-store  Kroger  new_businesses  physical_retail  rollouts  supermarkets  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods 
march 2019 by jerryking
Store wars: short sellers expect more pain in US retail
February 26, 2019 | Financial Times | by Alistair Gray in New York.

Short sellers who made big bets against US retailers a couple of years ago had hoped for carnage across the board. No one could compete with the rise and rise of Amazon...which would make life hard for every mall tenant across America.

But after a period in which internet shopping seemed to hit almost every brick-and-mortar retailer, the industry seems to be dividing into winners and losers. Casualties are still piling up: bankruptcies since the turn of the year....Payless Shoes ....Sears, the once dominant department store chain, narrowly avoided outright liquidation.

However, some of the biggest companies e.g. Walmart & Best Buy are reporting their healthiest metrics in years......For short sellers trying to profit from falling share prices, it makes for a perilous environment.

“It’s a slow death by a thousand paper cuts, and not the kind of ‘mall-mageddon’ originally anticipated by that trade,”.....“Retail has been much more volatile than many would have expected. It hasn’t been decidedly one way down.”....an over-reaction in 2017 and that led to pretty nice opportunities [for longs] in 2018,”.....Investors who put money on the demise of retail that summer have lost out in many cases......It was almost as if they [shorts] were acting like no retail real estate space can work,” ....overcapacity doesn’t mean retail real estate is dead.”...Shares in the sector have been volatile in part because investors have had to consider a series of seemingly contradictory data points about the health of both the US consumer and the retail business.....Traditional chains are also trying to take on Amazon by improving their online offerings and making their stores more enticing. Both require hefty investment, although successful examples include Lululemon, which offers yoga lessons in its stores. Shares in the company have tripled since a 2017 low.

“Those who are innovating and investing in ecommerce, marketing and social media tend to be doing well...“The US is still over-stored,” ...Ecommerce meant “more of the store base is not economic. That’s going be a secular pressure for years to come. For those retailers that don’t have a digital strategy, it’s just a matter of time before they fall.”
Amazon  apocalypses  bankruptcies  barbell_effect  bear_markets  bricks-and-mortar  commercial_real_estate  death_by_a_thousand_cuts  department_stores  digital_strategies  e-commerce  innovation  investors  investment_thesis  Lululemon  pain_points  overcapacity  retailers  shopping_malls  short_selling  structural_decline  Wal-Mart 
february 2019 by jerryking
On-Demand Warehouse Space Gains Traction in Tight Real-Estate Market - WSJ
By Jennifer Smith
Dec. 23, 2018

QUOTABLE
You don’t always want to build the church for Easter. —Justin Schuhardt, senior director of operations for Walmart e-commerce, on on-demand warehousing.
Flexe  logistics  on-demand  retailers  Second_Closet  Wal-Mart  warehouses  nimbleness  cold_storage 
december 2018 by jerryking
Every Company Is Now a Tech Company
Dec. 4, 2018 | WSJ | By Christopher Mims.

There was a time when the primary role of leaders at most companies was management. The technology required to do the work of a company could be bought or siloed in an “IT department,” treated more as a cost center than a source of competitive advantage.

But now we’ve entered a period of upheaval, driven by connectivity, artificial intelligence and automation. The changes affect the world of business so profoundly that every company is now a tech company. But now companies born before the first internet bubble also must realize they can no longer function as non-tech businesses......The question is, how does a non-tech company become a tech company quickly? Increasingly, the answer is bringing tech talent into the highest executive ranks, adding deeply knowledgeable and indispensable “technical co-founders” long after the company was founded......To put it another way: When faced with a competitor like Amazon, do you do as Walmart did, and invest heavily in tech firms and technical knowledge? Or do you go the way of Sears…into bankruptcy court?

In August 2016, Walmart announced it would acquire e-commerce startup Jet.com for $3.3 billion, the largest ever deal of an old-line bricks-and-mortar company buying an e-commerce company. The acquisition was about a transfusion of new minds as much as Jet’s technology, which was far ahead of Walmart’s online operation at the time....Mr. Lore is now chief of e-commerce at Walmart......Walmart’s e-commerce business revenue grew 43% in the last quarter alone....Wal-Mart is successfully pursuing a “second-mover strategy” against Amazon....Things don’t always go this smoothly. In fact, when well-established companies acquire tech-savvy startups in order to bring aboard engineers and executives--acqui-hires-- it’s usually a disaster.....Within the first three years after an acquisition, 60% of employees at a startup leave......That rate of turnover is twice that of employees hired the old-fashioned way. What’s worse, the employees who leave tend to be the most aggressive and entrepreneurial—and more likely to launch a competing startup.....For large companies stuck between the rock of disruption and the hard place of acquiring startups that can’t hold on to key employees, what’s to be done?[sounds like a cultural clash] John Chambers, who was chief executive at Cisco for more than 20 years, where he oversaw 180 acquisitions, has some answers. In his new book, “Connecting the Dots,” Mr. Chambers outlines some rules. For one, corporate cultures should align. Also, it helps if the company you’re buying already has significant traction in the market..... it’s essential to promote the leaders of acquired companies into your own ranks. Mr. Chamber’s rule at Cisco was that a third of the company’s leaders should be promoted from within, a third should be recruited from outside, and a third should come from acquisitions. .......As the competitive landscape continues to change and technology becomes ever more essential to how business is done, investments that might have seemed too risky a few years ago now may sometimes turn out to be the best path to survival.
acquihires  artificial_intelligence  automation  Amazon  books  Christopher_Mims  connecting_the_dots  CTOs  Cisco  cultural_clash  digital_savvy  e-commerce  Jet  John_Chambers  large_companies  post-deal_integration  reinvention  silo_mentality  technology  Wal-Mart 
december 2018 by jerryking
Walmart and Amazon in acquisition shopping spree | Financial Times
The move reflects the realities of the grocery business, analysts say. “In no sector is physical footprint more important than food,” says Charlie O’Shea from Moody’s. “Dairy has to be delivered quickly. Just like what Walmart did last year in buying Jet.com, Amazon recognises that it’s more effective to buy it than build it.” 

Amazon may use Whole Foods’ stores to beef up its offerings in ordering, pick-up and delivery, or use its distribution centres to deliver products for AmazonFresh trucks, says Mr Huang. “Building a cold supply chain with refrigerated trucks is not easy or cheap to do,” he says. 
Wal-Mart  Amazon  grocery  supermarkets  cold_storage 
november 2018 by jerryking
Walmart tells investors to expect more risk-taking
October 16, 2018 | Financial Times | Alistair Gray and Pan Kwan Yuk in New York.

Doug McMillon said at an investor meeting on Tuesday that the Arkansas-based company was experimenting with technology ranging from floor-cleaning robots to augmented reality and biometrics as he urged Wall Street to “challenge your thinking about Walmart”.

Walmart superstores have transformed shopping habits and became a dominant force in American retail. The bricks-and-mortar model, however, has been upended in by the rise of ecommerce.

“Looking back, we had a proven model, and we naturally focused on execution. As the numbers grew, we . . . unintentionally became risk averse,” Mr McMillon said at a meeting for investors.

“But today we’re getting to reimagine retail and our business. To do that we take risk — try quite a few things and learn from our failures. That type of behaviour’s in our DNA, and we’re waking up that part of our culture.”.....Online sales, in which Walmart has been investing aggressively as part of its response to Amazon, are expected to increase around 35 per cent for the fiscal 2020 year, compared to the expected 40 per cent for 2019.

Walmart also on Tuesday struck a partnership with Advance Auto Parts, allowing it increase its presence in the car parts business. Under the tie-up the companies will offer home delivery, same-day pick up at each other’s stores and installation of some parts.
Amazon  e-commerce  experimentation  failure  innovation  retailers  risk-taking  Wall_Street  Wal-Mart  augmented_reality  auto_parts  biometrics  bricks-and-mortar  home-delivery  same-day  shopping_habits 
october 2018 by jerryking
The incredible shrinking grocery store
NOVEMBER 8, 2010 | The Globe and Mail | RASHA MOURTADA.

Today's urban shoppers – whether they're 35 or 65 – are generally looking for two things in a grocery store: prepared food that tastes homemade and household staples such as paper towels and dishwashing detergent. They want a shopping experience that's more contained but still meets all their needs....Grocery store guru Paco Underhill on three trends he expects to see in North American supermarkets:

Hybrid stores: Think part traditional shopping, part Internet shopping. He expects customers to shorten trips by submitting shopping lists in advance to stores and selecting only certain items – produce and meat, for instance – themselves when they pick up their order.

Refillable containers: He expects a bulk shopping model – widespread today for dry goods – to take off for household supplies such as laundry soap, where shoppers will bring back large containers for refills.

Private label 'stores': Imagine all of Loblaws' President's Choice products in one spot within the store. "Rather than shelving these products throughout the store, they're concentrated in one area, so the shopper looking for the best price sees it all together," says Mr. Underhill.
big-box  boutiques  grocery  Highland_Farms  retailers  small_spaces  supermarkets  Wal-Mart  Paco_Underhill  trends  downsizing  prepared_meals 
october 2018 by jerryking
Inside FreshDirect’s Big Bet to Win the Home-Delivery Fight - WSJ
By Jennifer Smith
July 18, 2018 5:30 a.m

Designed to keep food fresh longer and move it faster, FreshDirect’s 400,000 square-foot distribution centre is the online grocer’s multimillion-dollar bet on the fastest-growing sector in the grocery business, home-delivery. FreshDirect pioneered the e-commerce home-delivery market, and now with Amazon and big grocery chains like Kroger Co. piling on investments, companies are jockeying for position in a business that some believe is the future of supermarket sales.....FreshDirect's trucks now provide next-day delivery to customers across the New York-New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas, with plans to expand into Boston next. The private company says it generated between $600 million and $700 million in annual revenue in 2017.

It declined to disclose the cost of the new facility, which was financed with the help of a $189 million investment round in 2016 led by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, direct funding and incentives from state and local governments......Amazon, Target Corp. and other large companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to expand food delivery and build out their grocery e-commerce operations. Supermarket chain owner Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV’s Peapod unit, the longest-running online grocery service in the U.S., has expanded to 24 markets and is investing in technology to cut its handling and delivery costs.

Walmart Inc. said this month that Jet.com, the online retailer it bought two years ago, will open a fulfillment center in the Bronx this fall to help roll out same- and next-day grocery deliveries in New York City.

The grocers are trying to solve one of the toughest problems in home delivery: Getting food to doorsteps in the same condition consumers would expect if they went to the store themselves. Delivering perishables is trickier than dropping off paper towels or dogfood. Fruit bruises, meat spoils, eggs break. ........FreshDirect’s logistic hurdles start well before delivery. It must get products from its suppliers to the building, process the food, then pick, pack and ship orders before the quality degrades.

That is why the new distribution centre has 15 different temperature zones. Tomatoes do best at about 55 degrees, but “chicken and meat like it to be just at 32 degrees... it gives more of shelf life to it,"....Software determines the most efficient route for each order, and tells workers which items to pick.....A big part of the facility [distribution centre] is ripping out tons and tons of operating costs out of the business.....The stakes in getting the technology right are high. FreshDirect is competing with grocery chains that often fill online orders through their stores, using a mix of staff and third-party services like Instacart Inc. So-called click-and-collect services, where consumers swing by to pick up their own orders, tend to have better margins because the retailer isn’t paying for last-mile delivery.....Online-only operations with centralized warehouses tend to be more efficient than logistics run out of stores, because they use fewer workers and can position goods for faster fulfillment.
algorithms  Amazon  big_bets  cold_storage  distribution_centres  distribution  e-commerce  food  FreshDirect  grocery  home-delivery  infrastructure  Kroger  logistics  perishables  retailers  software  supermarkets  Target  Wal-Mart  warehouses  fulfillment  same-day  piling_on  last_mile 
july 2018 by jerryking
India’s Biggest Competitors to Walmart and Amazon? Mom and Pop - WSJ
By Eric Bellman and Vibhuti Agarwal | Photographs by Smita Sharma for The Wall Street Journal
May 28, 2018 9:00 a.m. ET
Amazon  bricks-and-mortar  convenience_stores  e-commerce  family_business  India  local  mom-and-pop  retailers  Wal-Mart  small_business 
may 2018 by jerryking
Toys ‘R’ Us Case Is Test of Private Equity in Age of Amazon
MARCH 15, 2018 | The New York Times | By MICHAEL CORKERY.

The reality is that Toys “R” Us, which announced on Thursday that it would shutter or sell all of its stores in the United States, never had much chance at a turnaround.

For over a decade, Toys “R” Us had been drowning in $5 billion of debt, which its private equity backers had saddled it with. With debt payments siphoning off cash every year, Toys “R” Us could not properly invest in its worn-out suburban stores or outdated website. Sales plummeted, as Amazon captured more children’s desires — and their parents’ wallets — for Star Wars Legos and Paw Patrol recycling trucks.

Toys “R” Us is the latest failure of financial engineering, albeit one that could portend a potentially more ominous outlook for private equity in the digital era.....Most buyouts tend to work the same way. A private equity firm takes over a troubled company with the goal of sprucing up the strategy, cutting costs and overhauling the business over three or five years. But they often load up a company with debt to pay for the deal, which can prove problematic if the profits do not perk up.

In the age of Amazon, that formula can be dangerous. Consumer demands are changing so quickly that heavily indebted companies have trouble reordering their business to adapt and compete with better-funded rivals...... the deterioration of Toys “R” Us from a potential turnaround strategy to the end of an iconic brand — in a matter of months — shows just how difficult it can be for private equity to compete in a rapidly evolving industry. In retailing, Amazon is reordering everything on the store shelf. And children’s changing interest in games and toys, which now encompasses high-end electronics, adds to the complexity.....Enter Amazon. In recent years, the company had started to aggressively expand its toy business, creating a comprehensive, online showroom with low prices at the click of a button. Pressed by Amazon, Walmart also pushed hard into toys, dropping its prices to capture more market share.

Walmart could absorb the price cuts on toys because it makes up the profit on other items. But for Toys “R” Us, a price war on toys and games, its only offerings, was devastating.
private_equity  bankruptcies  toys  digital_economy  Amazon  Wal-Mart  KKR  Bain_Capital  Toys_"R"_Us  financial_engineering  LBOs  buyouts  shifting_tastes  category_killers  price_wars 
march 2018 by jerryking
Walmart Expands Online Grocery Delivery to 100 Cities - The New York Times
By TIFFANY HSU and NICK WINGFIELD MARCH 14, 2018

“There is a lot of experimenting going on as everyone tries to figure out that last-mile delivery — it’s a tough economic equation to make work,” said Mike Knemeyer, a professor of logistics at Ohio State University. “But if you can, you’ll have a big head start on the others, and you’ll end up making money not just in groceries but on all of the things that you sell.”

The nexus of e-commerce and grocery sales is increasingly appealing to retailers.
Wal-Mart  home-delivery  e-commerce  grocery  supermarkets  Amazon  Whole_Foods  distribution_channels  logistics  same-day  delivery_networks  last_mile 
march 2018 by jerryking
Produce or Else: Wal-Mart and Kroger Get Tough With Food Suppliers on Delays
Nov. 27, 2017 | WSJ | By Annie Gasparro, Heather Haddon and Sarah Nassauer

Grocers are giving food companies a tougher mandate: Ship on time, or pay the price.
Food retailers want their suppliers to resolve the persistent problem of delayed or incomplete deliveries, which they say costs them millions of dollars a year in lost sales and overtime pay.
Retailers used to give suppliers more leeway, since any number of factors—bad weather, a surge in demand, technology malfunctions—can foil deliveries of cereal, cheese, candy and other packaged goods from warehouses scattered around the country.
But now as traditional grocers battle Amazon.com<http://Amazon.com> Inc. and other online retailers that prioritize delivery speed, as well as price-cutting discounters, more are taking a strict line with suppliers, telling them on-time deliveries will translate directly into more sales and profits.
Delayed deliveries can leave holes on store shelves. Sales of some $75 billion a year are lost because products are out of stock or unsalable for other reasons, according to the Food Marketing Institute, a trade organization. That is about 10% of annual grocery sales industry-wide at a time when sales growth is hard to come by. “It’s a massive opportunity from a financial and customer standpoint,” .....The country’s biggest grocers are leading the charge. Kroger is fining suppliers $500 for every order that is more than two days late to any of its 42 warehouses, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is charging suppliers monthly fines of 3% for deliveries that don’t arrive exactly on time, according to the retailers. They began issuing the fines in August........Wal-Mart has signaled it could do more than levy fines if problems persist. Charles Redfield, executive vice president of food for Wal-Mart U.S., told suppliers they could also lose shelf space if they don’t solve their delivery issues, according to people in attendance at a supplier meeting earlier this year. Retailers can threaten suppliers with loss of promotional space in stores, analysts said.....Packaged-goods companies are straining to keep up with the demands and remain in the good graces of retailers. They need GPS trackers and software to adjust routes in real time. Filling full orders fast is also challenging, since many manufacturers house items all over the country. That is particularly true for refrigerated items needing costly cold storage—which has fueled investments in more fulfillment centers......“Shipping complete orders on time is a completely reasonable request but turns out it’s harder than it sounds.”...
Wal-Mart  Kroger  grocery  supermarkets  supply_chains  retailers  delays  food  shipping  Amazon  cold_storage  penalties  delivery_times  fulfillment  CPG  Kraft_Heinz  P&G  on-time  shelf_space  supply_chain_squeeze 
november 2017 by jerryking
Some Big Retailers Are Still Betting On Brick and Mortar
NOV. 14, 2017 | The New York Times | By MICHAEL CORKERY.

Target’s new store near Herald Square in New York City, down the block from Macy’s flagship store and other national retail chains. It is one of about 130 smaller format stores Target has opened or plans to open by the end of 2019. The new stores are scaled back versions of the big-box Targets that predominate in the suburbs.

The company’s store strategy stands out at a time when just about everyone seems to be questioning the relevance of brick-and-mortar retail. Amazon is seizing an ever-larger share of consumers’ wallets, reducing foot traffic to stores.....The retail industry has been pushing back against the pessimism. This summer, the IHL Group, a retail and hospitality advising firm, produced a report that showed retailers will open more new stores than they will close this year. (Most of the growth, however, came from restaurant openings, not new department stores or big box retailers.)....

“The negative narrative that has been out there about the death of retail is patently false,” Greg Buzek, the group’s president, said in August when the report was published.

Some of the biggest growth in brick-and-mortar stores is coming from discount retailers, like TJX, the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. E-commerce may offer convenience and instant gratification. But shoppers are still willing to go into a store to hunt for a good bargain.“......The big challenge is how do you get customers to come into a store if they don’t have to,” said Melina Cordero, head of retail research for Americas at CBRE, the real estate firm.....Walmart is also trying to generate more buzz around its stores, which had drawn complaints from some customers in recent years for being too cavernous and unpleasant to shop in.

This month, Walmart is holding holiday parties — complete with toy demonstrations and workers in reindeer hats — as it “cranks up the volume on store experiences.”...Retailers like Walmart are hoping they can build a more profitable business that incorporates both brick-and-mortar and online shopping — a strategy known in the industry as “omni-channel.”

Online retailers like Amazon face high transportation costs, particularly as they guarantee free two-day and even same-day delivery. They are also bearing the cost of processing free returns.

Many analysts and retail executives said Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and its more than 460 stores validated the relevance of brick and mortar. Still, e-commerce continues to grow at a blistering rate, far outpacing the increase in overall retail sales. Unless that growth abates, analysts and economists question how so many stores — from suburban malls to hip boutiques — can survive.
retailers  Target  bricks-and-mortar  small_spaces  store_closings  big-box  CBRE  Wal-Mart  omnichannel  e-commerce 
november 2017 by jerryking
Toys ‘R’ Us versus Amazon: No contest
September 17, 2017 | The Globe and Mail | BARRIE MCKENNA.

It's a new era all right...The industry is grappling with the relentless onslaught of Amazon and Alibaba, excess retail space, the retreat of department-store mall anchors and intense price competition. Meanwhile, consumers are shifting their spending from things to experiences, including entertainment and dining-out
The harsh reality for Toys "R" Us and other big-box stores is that they aren't indispensable any more as North Americans discover new and different ways to shop. You don't have to schlep to a suburban shopping strip to find the newest Lego set, video game or electronic gadget. Order it online, and you can have it delivered to your door, often for free the next day, at the best price available anywhere.

....retail experts have warned that a tipping point was coming for the industry as more and more shopping moved online. This looks like the year.....Analysts predict that a record 9,000 retail stores will close across the U.S. in 2017. That would eclipse 2016, when roughly 6,200 stores closed....
Retailers have been filing for protection from creditors at a faster pace this year than at any time since the 2008-09 recession. Toys "R" Us joins a long list of famous retail casualties of 2017 in Canada and the U.S., including Sears Canada, The Limited, Wet Seal, BCBG, Payless Shoes, Sports Authority, Gymboree, Aéropostale and American Apparel. And there are still three-plus months to go.....The rise of Amazon is proof that consumers are embracing new ways of buying. The company's North American sales grew five-fold to $80-billion (U.S.) between 2010 and 2016. Half of U.S. households now subscribe to Amazon Prime, a fee-based service that offers free two-day shipping, music and video streaming plus other perks......What's alarming isn't so much the share of shopping that has moved online, but the speed at which it's moved.

Warren Buffett sold off nearly $1-billion worth of Walmart stock earlier this year, explaining that traditional retailing is "too tough" a business in the age of Amazon. "The world has evolved, and it's going to keep evolving, but the speed is increasing," Mr. Buffett said.

Amazon and China's Alibaba won't be the only winners in this new era. A vast array of other businesses feed off the online industry, including shippers and logistics companies, plus a vast network of technology companies, including store platforms (Shopify), analytics companies and app makers.
Amazon  Alibaba  e-commerce  store_closings  Barrie_McKenna  retailers  bricks-and-mortar  toys  Toys_"R"_Us  bankruptcies  brands  Amazon_Prime  home-delivery  accelerated_lifecycles  Warren_Buffett  Wal-Mart  big-box 
september 2017 by jerryking
Best Buy’s Secrets for Thriving in the Amazon Age
SEPT. 18, 2017 | The New York Times | By KEVIN ROOSE.

Here are the keys to Best Buy’s turnaround, according to Mr. Joly:

1. Price, price, price

The most worrisome trend in big-box retail was “showrooming” .....To combat showrooming and persuade customers to complete their purchases at Best Buy, Mr. Joly announced a price-matching guarantee....Price-matching costs Best Buy real money, but it also gives customers a reason to stay in the store, and avoids handing business to competitors.

2. Focus on humans

Mr. Joly also realized that if Best Buy was going to compete with Amazon, which has spent billions building a speedy delivery system and plans to use drones to become even more efficient, it needed to get better at things that robots can’t do well — namely, customer service & customer experience....Best Buy fixed its internal product search engine. It also restored a much-loved employee discount that had been suspended and embarked on an ambitious program to retrain its employees so they could answer questions about entirely new categories of electronics, such as virtual reality headsets and smart home appliances.....Customers had always loved Best Buy’s Geek Squad.....sometimes, people needed help before they bought big and expensive gadgets. So it started an adviser program that allows customers to get free in-home consultations about what product they should buy, and how it should be installed....a pilot program last year, the service is now being rolled out nationwide.

3. Turn brick-and-mortar into showcase-and-ship

Best Buy’s online ordering system was completely divorced from its stores. If a customer placed an order on the website, it would ship from a central warehouse. If that warehouse didn’t have the item in stock, the customer was out of luck.....Mr. Joly realized that with some minor changes, each of Best Buy’s 1,000-plus big-box stores could ship packages to customers, serving as a mini warehouse for its surrounding area. Now, when a customer orders a product on Best Buy’s website, the item is sent from the location that can deliver it the fastest — a store down the street, perhaps, or a warehouse five states away. It was a small, subtle change, but it allowed Best Buy to improve its shipping times, and made immediate gratification possible for customers. Now, roughly 40 % of Best Buy’s online orders are either shipped or picked up from a store.

Best Buy also struck deals with large electronics companies like Samsung, Apple and Microsoft to feature their products in branded areas within the store. Now, rather than jamming these companies’ products next to one another on shelves, Best Buy allows them to set up their own dedicated kiosks. (Apple’s area inside a Best Buy, for example, has the same sleek wooden tables and minimalist design as an Apple Store.) It’s a concept borrowed from department stores, and it’s created a lucrative new revenue stream. Even Amazon has set up kiosks in Best Buy stores to show off its voice-activated Alexa gadgets.

4. Cut costs quietly

Almost every business turnaround plan includes cutting costs. Best Buy has used the scalpel as quietly as possible, gradually letting leases expire for unprofitable stores and consolidating its overseas divisions, trimming a layer of middle managers in 2014, and reassigned roughly 400 Geek Squad employees within the company. No public rounds of layoffs, which can crater employee morale and create a sinking-ship vibe.

Best Buy has also found more creative penny-pinching methods. Once, the company noticed that an unusually high number of flat-screen TVs were being dropped in its warehouses. It revamped the handling process, reducing the number of times TVs were picked up by a clamp lift and adding new carts to prevent TV boxes from falling over. The changes resulted in less broken inventory and bigger profits.

5. Get lucky, stay humble and don’t tempt fate

It’s lucky that the products it specializes in selling, like big-screen TVs and high-end audio equipment, are big-ticket items that many customers still feel uncomfortable buying sight unseen from a website. It’s lucky that several large competitors have gone out of business, shrinking its list of rivals. And it’s lucky that the vendors who make the products it sells, like Apple and Samsung, have kept churning out expensive blockbuster gadgets.

“They’re at the mercy of the product cycles,” said Stephen Baker, a tech industry analyst at NPD Group. “If people stop buying PCs or they don’t care about big-screen TVs anymore, they have a challenge.”

Mr. Joly knows that despite Best Buy’s recent momentum, it’s not out of the woods yet. To succeed over the long term, it will need to do more than cut costs and match prices. Walmart, another big-box behemoth, is investing billions of dollars in a digital expansion with the acquisition of e-commerce companies like Jet and Bonobos, and could prove to be a fierce rival. Amazon has been expanding into brick-and-mortar retail with its acquisition of Whole Foods, and is moving into Best Buy’s home installation and services market....
“Once you’ve had a near-death experience,” he said, “arrogance, if you had it in your bones, has disappeared forever.”
Amazon  Best_Buy  big-box  CEOs  turnarounds  pilot_programs  nationwide  contra-Amazon  brands  kiosks  cost-cutting  luck  Wal-Mart  Jet  Bonobos  pricing  showrooming  price-matching  customer_service  search_engines  in-home  BOPIS  Samsung  Apple  Microsoft  store_within_a_store  consumer_electronics  product_cycles  customer_experience 
september 2017 by jerryking
The Amazon-Walmart Showdown That Explains the Modern Economy - The New York Times
Neil Irwin @Neil_Irwin JUNE 16, 2017

The decision by Amazon and Walmart to compete for my grocery business — as well as for space in my closet — is a tiny battle in a war to dominate a changing global economy.

And for companies that can’t compete on price and technology, it could cost them the shirt off their backs.....[Amazon's purchase of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods places it] on a collision course with Walmart to try to be the predominant seller of pretty much everything you buy.

Each one is trying to become more like the other — Walmart by investing heavily in its technology, Amazon by opening physical bookstores and now buying physical supermarkets. But this is more than a battle between two business titans. Their rivalry sheds light on the shifting economics of nearly every major industry, replete with winner-take-all effects and huge advantages that accrue to the biggest and best-run organizations, to the detriment of upstarts and second-fiddle players.....in turn...this has more worrying implications for jobs, wages and inequality.

Amazon vs. Walmart

Both want to sell everything!!!!

Walmart is buying Bonobos, an omnichannel innovator. Its website and online customer service are excellent, and it operates stores in major cities where you can try on garments and order items to be shipped directly. Because all the actual inventory is centralized, the stores themselves can occupy minimal square footage. The acquisition helps Walmart build expertise in the very areas where it is trying to gain on Amazon.

Walmart and Amazon have had their sights on each other for years, each aiming to be the dominant seller of goods via omnichannel.

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods helps it to understand the grocery business which has a whole different set of challenges from the types of goods that Amazon has specialized in heretofore.

A Positive Returns-to-Scale World
The apparel business has long been a highly competitive industry in which countless players could find a niche.....any shirt-maker that tried to get too big rapidly faced diminishing returns.It would have to pay more and more to lease the real estate for far-flung stores, and would have to outbid competitors to hire all the experienced shirt-makers. The expansion wouldn’t offer any meaningful cost savings and would entail a lot more headaches trying to manage it all....in the digital economy, rather than reflecting those diminishing returns to scale, show positive returns to scale: The biggest companies have a huge advantage over smaller players. That tends to tilt markets toward a handful of players or even a monopoly....The apparel industry...is moving in the direction of being like the software business (high fixed costs, zero variable costs, enormous returns to scale)..... the reason why Walmart and Amazon are so eager get into the shirt business is because retailers know that they need to figure out how to manage sophisticated supply chains connecting Southeast Asia with stores in big American cities so that they rarely run out of product. They need mobile apps and websites that offer a seamless user experience so that nothing stands between a would-be purchaser and an order....Larger companies that are good at supply chain management and technology can spread those more-or-less fixed costs around more total sales, enabling them to keep prices lower than a niche player and entrench their advantage....large companies will invest in automation/robotics...the future of clothing/apparel might be a handful of companies with the very expensive shirt-making robots---and everyone else shut out in the cold.

What It Means for the Economy

A relative few winners are taking a disproportionate share of business in a wide range of industries....in turn may help explain why the income gap has widened in recent years. How much on income inequality is driven by shifting technology — as opposed to changing corporate behavior, or loose antitrust policy — is an open debate.
increasing_returns_to_scale  winner-take-all  fixed_costs  variable_costs  Amazon  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods  retailers  economics  Bonobos  shirts  mens'_clothing  omnichannel  apparel  digital_economy  automation  robotics  competitive_landscape  market_concentration  barbell_effect  income_inequality  antitrust  market_power  corporate_concentration  grocery  fresh_produce  supermarkets  large_companies  UX  inventory-free  global_economy 
june 2017 by jerryking
Wall Street to CEOs: Disrupt Your Industry, or Else
May 26, 2017 | WSJ | By Christopher Mims

Investors and boards are hunting for corporate leaders who can move quickly to fend off upstarts and place big bets on disruptive tech.......For pretty much any industry you can name—not just autos but manufacturing, logistics, finance, media and of course retail—there are tech startups purporting to have better ideas, ones they say they don’t need decades to make into realities. It isn’t as if all these industries will see massive CEO turnover, but it does mean established companies need to consider drastic measures. They must be willing to tell their stakeholders they may have to lose money and cannibalize existing products and services, while scaling up new technologies and methods.

“Ten years ago, innovation was based on features and functions,”. “Now it’s about your business model and transforming your industry.”

Before, companies could innovate by acquiring tech startups. But the top disrupters now grow so quickly and capture so much market share, they become too valuable to buy or are unwilling to sell.....Act faster to satisfy shareholders.....Mickey Drexler, CEO of beleaguered J. Crew, admitted that if he could go back 10 years, he might have done things differently, to cope with the rapid transformation of retail by e-commerce. Who then would have predicted that in 2017, the No. 1 online retailer of clothing to millennials would be Amazon?....CEO turnover isn’t necessarily the only solution on the table....Companies also have to incubate potentially disruptive startups within their own corporate structures. This means protecting them as they develop, and being willing to absorb their losses for as long as their competitors do. Consider, for example, that Amazon made almost no profit for its first 20 years..... Wal-Mart’s e-commerce division increased sales 29% from a year earlier. Many analysts thought the company overpaid for Jet.com, which cost it $3.3 billion in August 2016. But the acquisition brought e-commerce veteran Marc Lore, who became chief executive of Wal-Mart’s online operations and quickly replaced existing executives with members of his own team.
analog  business_models  CEOs  Christopher_Mims  disruption  e-commerce  leaders  LVMH  operational_tempo  risk-taking  transformational  turnover  Jet  Wal-Mart  Wall_Street 
may 2017 by jerryking
From Diaper to Soda Makers, Big Brands Feel the Pinch of a Consumer Pullback - WSJ
By Sharon Terlep, Jennifer Maloney and Annie Gasparro
April 26, 2017

Some blamed the weak start of the year on higher gas prices, bad weather and other external factors, while other executives pointed to shifting consumer tastes. Analysts say some big brands, such as Gillette and Yoplait, are losing ground to upstarts. Overall purchases of consumer packaged goods in the U.S. declined 2.5% in unit terms in the first quarter, according to Nielsen.....consumers are cutting back purchases, aggressively seeking deals and drawing down supplies at home. At the same time, he said, a growing affinity for beards has played a big part in driving down razor sales, which contributed to a 6% organic sales decline for P&G’s grooming unit....PepsiCo, like big food rivals Kraft Heinz Co. and Nestlé, is struggling as consumers shift away from diet sodas and processed foods to fresher and healthier options. It has launched new products, such as a premium bottled water brand, to adjust to the shift.....For food and nonfood staples, big brands are struggling more than the overall industry. The 20 largest consumer packaged goods companies last year had flat sales while smaller ones posted sales growth of 2.4%, according to Nielsen.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., meantime, has been reducing inventories and slashing prices as it fights to compete with Amazon.com Inc. and European discounters moving into the U.S. Those cuts are eating into its own profit and, in turn, leading the world’s biggest retailer to put pressure on its vendors.........The dynamics are driving tough choices for companies as they are forced to decide between reducing prices and ceding market share. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. have been shrinking packages and raising prices.
brands  hard_choices  large_companies  volatility  P&G  Gillette  Yoplait  CPG  PepsiCo  healthy_lifestyles  Kraft_Heinz  Nestlé  Wal-Mart  Coca-Cola  price-cutting  price_hikes  Fortune_500  upstarts  supply_chain_squeeze  shifting_tastes  Amazon  Big_Food 
april 2017 by jerryking
The High-Speed Trading Behind Your Amazon Purchase - WSJ
By CHRISTOPHER MIMS
Updated March 27, 2017

Beneath the placid surface of product pages lies an unseen world of bots, algorithms, flash crashes and fierce competition......Just beneath the placid surface of a typical product page on Amazon lies an unseen world, a system where third-party vendors can sell products alongside Amazon’s own goods. It’s like a stock market, complete with day traders, code-slinging quants, artificial-intelligence algorithms and, yes, flash crashes.

Amazon gave people and companies the ability to sell on Amazon.com in 2000, and it has since grown into a juggernaut, representing 49% of the goods Amazon ships. Amazon doesn’t break out numbers for the portion of its business driven by independent sellers, but that translates to tens of billions in revenue a year. Out of more than 2 million registered sellers, 100,000 each sold more than $100,000 in goods in the past year....It’s clear, after talking to sellers and the software companies that empower them, that the biggest of these vendors are growing into sophisticated retailers in their own right. The top few hundred use pricing algorithms to battle with one another for the coveted “Buy Box,” which designates the default seller of an item. It’s the Amazon equivalent of a No. 1 ranking on Google search, and a tremendous driver of sales.
fulfillment  Amazon  pricing  back-office  third-party  bots  algorithms  flash_crashes  competition  retailers  e-commerce  product_category  private_labels  stockmarkets  eBay  Wal-Mart  Jet  Christopher_Mims 
march 2017 by jerryking
Why It’s Not Enough Just to Be Disruptive - The New York Times
By JEREMY G. PHILIPS AUG. 10, 2016

Short-term success may be driven by exceptional execution; long-term value creation requires building a defensible model.

Any microeconomics textbook will tell you there are limited sources of competitive advantage. The most valuable companies combine several reinforcing strands, like scale and customer loyalty.....

While it is hard to stay ahead solely through superior execution over an extended period, it is sometimes enough in the short term to draw a deep-pocketed buyer where there are strong, immediate synergies. Creating enormous value over the long term requires turning a tactical edge into some form of durable advantage....Superior tactical execution can still create real value, particularly where it provides ammunition for a bigger war (like Walmart’s battle with Amazon). And in the long term, value is created not by disruption, but by weaving together advantages (as both Amazon and Walmart have done in different ways) that together create a barrier that is hard to storm.
disruption  value_creation  Gillette  competitive_advantage  execution  books  slight_edge  Amazon  Wal-Mart  microeconomics  short-term  long-term  barriers_to_entry  compounded  kaleidoscopic  unfair_advantages  endurance  synergies  M&A  mergers_&_acquisitions 
august 2016 by jerryking
Little metrics can make a big difference (and here’s how to use them) - The Globe and Mail
BRIAN SCUDAMORE
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Jun. 09, 2016

small businesses can concentrate on collecting different metrics that have an impressive impact on the bottom line. I call it little data. It’s easier to collect and it’s a great way to take the pulse of your company on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s how to find the little data that matters, so you can make impactful changes to your business without spending a fortune.

Sweat the small stuff

Looking at traditional metrics – sales revenue, cost of customer acquisition and overhead – is important, but it’s also worth tracking intangible elements that don’t make it onto a spreadsheet.

I like to look around the office and focus on the energy – is there a buzz or are people bored? – or I’ll look at notes from exit interviews to see who is leaving the company and why. Keeping this little data in mind has enabled us to make important changes to our culture when we need to.

External feedback is powerful, too. Whenever I’m in a new city, the first thing I ask my taxi driver is, “Who would you call if you needed your junk removed?” I’m not just making conversation or trying to name-drop one of our brands – I’m doing my own survey to see if our marketing efforts are sticking....you can’t run your business on anecdotes, focus on key numbers that provide meaningful insight and measure them consistently.... communicating these benchmarks, everyone in the company can understand and can react quickly to fluctuations.

Our key metrics are call volume, website traffic, and jobs completed. We also work on our “customer wow factor” by looking at our Net Promoter Score (NPS), asking every customer how likely they are to recommend our services to a friend.[aka delighting customers]
anecdotal  Brian_Scudamore  consistency  delighting_customers  feedback  Got_Junk?  Haier  insights  massive_data_sets  measurements  metrics  NPS  small_business  small_data  Wal-Mart  UPS 
june 2016 by jerryking
Wal-Mart Canada profit falls despite boost in grocery sales - The Globe and Mail
MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Feb. 19 201
Wal-Mart  grocery 
february 2015 by jerryking
The incredible shrinking retail sector - The Globe and Mail
BARRIE McKENNA
The incredible shrinking retail sector
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Feb. 12 2015

Entire categories of products are moving online, making many bricks-and-mortar stores redundant. Video and book stores are all but gone. Office supply, electronics and department stores are in retreat. A future without auto showrooms and movie theatres may be coming.

The era of the big-box store has peaked as city dwellers move back downtown, where space is at a premium.
Barrie_McKenna  retailers  size  mergers_&_acquisitions  downsizing  small_spaces  grocery  supermarkets  pharmacies  proximity  convenience_stores  store_footprints  post-deal_integration  bricks-and-mortar  consolidation  distribution_channels  Target  Wal-Mart  Loblaws  competitive_landscape  e-commerce  fresh_produce  perishables  big-box  supply_chains 
february 2015 by jerryking
Can Wal-Mart Clerks Ship as Fast as Amazon Robots? - WSJ
Dec. 18, 2014 | WSJ | By SHELLY BANJO, SUZANNE KAPNER and PAUL ZIOBRO.

The fast rise of rivals like Amazon.com Inc. and a far reaching change in shoppers’ habits has made it obvious that traditional retailers need to compete online. The trickier question is how to pull it off. Retailers’ answer is something called “omnichannel”—an attempt to use one set of inventory and assets to fill all orders.

The plan is driven by economic reality. Companies that already spend heavily maintaining thousands of stores aren’t able or willing to shell out the billions of dollars necessary to replicate Amazon’s 135-plus network of warehouses and fill them with inventory. While they are building distribution centers, they also hope some sweater sets can be shipped to online customers from a local Macy’s , or that Internet shoppers will pick up the television they ordered at a nearby Target.

Retailers are relying on the approach more heavily than ever this holiday season. It makes perfect sense in theory. In practice, though, the efficiencies possible in tightly packed, highly automated warehouse are hard to reproduce with inventory spread across stores built for live customers. Workarounds run up against space constraints, and items aren’t always where computer algorithms predict them to be.

“This is the first year,” said Jason Goldberger, head of Target.com, which is shipping orders from 136 of the company’s 1,800 U.S. stores. “We’ll learn.”

Big retailers have thousands of often sizable stores built near where their customers live. But the chains were built decades ago on a hub-and-spoke model. Pallets of goods were trucked to centralized warehouses. From there, boxes were sorted and transported to thousands of stores. Now with e-commerce, retailers are faced with delivering millions of items to millions of customer homes.
Wal-Mart  Amazon  omnichannel  distribution_channels  hub-and-spoke  retailers  supply_chains  e-commerce  automation  distribution_centres 
december 2014 by jerryking
Who Needs Amazon or Wal-Mart? China Cuts Out the Middleman - WSJ
Dec. 18, 2014 | WSJ | By DENNIS K. BERMAN.

LightInTheBox , a Beijing company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Run by Chinese with deep experience in America, the site can shapeshift into 27 different languages, from Arabic to Bahasa to Swedish, and ship goods piecemeal all over the world.... the Chinese are selling it directly to consumers now—no Western middleman required..."we are using a lot of data. We are trying to use data to predict product trends and channel it back to the supply chain,"..The company employs customer representatives in each of the 27 languages. There aren’t a lot of Danish speakers in China, of course. So instead it employs part-time workers from all over the world, training them over the Web, and then getting them to use the Web to make calls and do email.
Wal-Mart  Amazon  China  LightInTheBox  retailers  Chinese  e-commerce  Dennis_K._Berman  disintermediation  languages  multilingual 
december 2014 by jerryking
Is this the death of the grocery store? - The Globe and Mail
SYLVAIN CHARLEBOIS
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Oct. 13 2014
grocery  supermarkets  Loblaws  Wal-Mart  Sylvain_Charlebois 
october 2014 by jerryking
It’s time to be honest: Netflix is parasitic - The Globe and Mail
SIMON HOUPT
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Oct. 03 2014,

Most industrialized countries subsidize domestic television and film production, partly because of scale: It costs a lot of money to make shows look even half as glossy as the stuff coming out of Hollywood, and if there’s a limited audience (say, because you’ve set your miniseries in the shipyards of Gdansk because you think it’s important that your fellow Poles know about their history), you’re probably not going to make your money back. American film and TV studios have global marketing machines to get their shows in front of consumers.

As it happens, Canadians do watch plenty of homemade TV, and not just hockey: Last month’s season finale of The Amazing Race Canada on CTV was the most-watched show of that week, with more than three million viewers. (Necessary disclosure: CTV’s parent company BCE Inc. owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail. Unnecessary disclosure: I’ve never watched The Amazing Race Canada.) Scripted dramas and comedies are popular, too – though they certainly don’t pull in the numbers here that Big Bang Theory does. Millions still tune in to domestic news and current affairs shows. And just try telling Mike Holmes, Sarah Richardson, Debbie Travis and, frankly, Ben Mulroney that Canadians don’t watch Canadian-made TV.

If you’re fine with all that disappearing because hey, Netflix is awesome and a sexy disruptor, so be it: That’s your choice, and you’re free to make it. Plenty of people love their weekly pilgrimage to Walmart and Costco, too.

But please, at least be honest with yourself and recognize that Netflix, like the retail disruptor Walmart before it, is a parasitic enterprise. Netflix is currently pocketing an estimated $300-million a year from Canadian consumers. Its total investment in original Canadian programming so far? One season of Trailer Park Boys: 10 half-hour episodes of cheaply made TV.
Netflix  CRTC  Simon_Houpt  television  disruption  Wal-Mart  parasitic 
october 2014 by jerryking
Look to Hong Kong data for a glimpse into global retail troubles - The Globe and Mail
CARL MORTISHED
Look to Hong Kong data for a glimpse into global retail troubles Add to ...
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Aug. 21 2014,

The feng shui from Hong Kong is distinctly bearish. Li & Fung Ltd. is a logistics and supply management firm, in simple terms a middle-man that bridges the gap between big fashion and apparel retailers, such as Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Marks & Spencer Group PLC and their largely Asian suppliers. Owning no sewing machines and employing no seamstresses, it nonetheless is at the cutting edge of global retailing, making $8.7-billion (U.S.) in revenues over six months. It is no more nor less than the back office for some very big brands, organizing the supply of raw materials, the manufacturing, the distribution and warehousing of the frocks you see in the shops.
Carl_Mortished  Hong_Kong  Li_&_Fung  fashion  Marks_&_Spencer  asset-light  logistics  supply_chains  data  apparel  Target  Wal-Mart  retailers  middlemen 
august 2014 by jerryking
Wal-Mart targets rivals with price cuts - The Globe and Mail
MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Aug. 14 2014
Marina_Strauss  retailers  Wal-Mart  pricing  price-cutting 
august 2014 by jerryking
Citizen Walmart | Harper's Magazine
July 2012 issue
Citizen Walmart
The retail giant’s unlikely romance with small farmers
By Dan Halpern
agriculture  farming  smallholders  sustainability  Wal-Mart 
august 2014 by jerryking
Tame big data and you'll reap the rewards - The Globe and Mail
HARVEY SCHACHTER
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Apr. 15 2014

“It’s a catchall term for data that doesn’t fit the usual containers. Big data refers to data that is too big to fit on a single server, too unstructured to fit into a row-and-column database, or too continuously flowing to fit into a static data warehouse. While its size receives all the attention, the most difficult aspect of big data really involves its lack of structure,”....He cites some industries that have big data but aren’t making proper use of it. Banks have massive amounts of information about their customers but have been underachievers in helping them make sense of it all and presenting targeted marketing offers. Retailers have purchase behaviour information from their point-of-sales systems but, with the exception of Wal-Mart and Britain’s Tesco, haven’t done a lot until recently.
Harvey_Schachter  Thomas_Davenport  banks  retailers  massive_data_sets  behavioural_data  books  book_reviews  unstructured_data  analytics  competingonanalytics  sense-making  point-of-sale  Wal-Mart  Tesco 
june 2014 by jerryking
Wal-Mart makes gains in cutthroat grocery sector - The Globe and Mail
MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, May. 15 2014

Wal-Mart executives “will use their deep pockets and low-cost structure to outlast the competition until somebody else blinks,” said Jim Danahy, program director of the centre of excellence in retail leadership at York University’s Schulich School of Business and CEO of consultancy CustomerLAB.

At the same time, Loblaw and Sobeys, the country’s largest and second largest grocers, respectively, are aggressively seeking savings from their recent mergers, he said. Loblaw acquired Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. and Sobeys’ parent Empire Co. bought Safeway Canada.
retailers  Marina_Strauss  Wal-Mart  e-commerce  grocery  supermarkets  Loblaws  competitive_landscape 
may 2014 by jerryking
Loblaw plans to battle Amazon and Wal-Mart with online food operation - The Globe and Mail
MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER
TORONTO — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, May. 01 2014,

Food e-commerce is one of the last frontiers of online retailing in Canada – a tough sector to penetrate because of the added costs of keeping food fresh and handling a lot of low-cost bulky items, from canned pop to soup.
Loblaws  e-commerce  Marina_Strauss  AmazonFresh  fresh_produce  retailers  Wal-Mart  Amazon  contra-Amazon 
may 2014 by jerryking
HARNESSING THE GIANT
BRIAN PETERSON

Brian Peterson runs Wal-Mart's perishables, but he knows how to squeeze a tomato and argue in Sicilian when it comes to the products he buys. "Even though I work for the largest reta...
fresh_produce  Wal-Mart  perishables  OPMA  merchandising 
march 2014 by jerryking
Wal-Mart not a big, bad food buyer after all
12/17/2005|Western Farm Press Vol. 27 Issue 25, p22-22. 3/4p |Harry Cline.

The article presents information on competition between Wal-Mart store Inc. and other companies in the food business market. According to a food business expert, Roberta Cook the traditional supermarkets have cut their food prices quality and service in order to compete with Wal-Mart store. She says that even after the merger between traditional supermarkets their stock market prices has still continued declined as compare to the prices of the Wal-Mart store. Cook told the National American Agri-Women's convention that supermarket merger mania and traditional grocery store price cutting have failed to dethrone Wal-Mart's supermarkets.
Wal-Mart  fresh_produce  supermarkets  grocery  price-cutting  consolidation  competition  Roberta_Cook 
march 2014 by jerryking
The high cost of low food prices - The Globe and Mail
Sylvain Charlebois

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Jan. 06 2014
food  pricing  retailers  consolidation  Loblaws  Wal-Mart  Sylvain_Charlebois  high-cost 
january 2014 by jerryking
globeadvisor.com: Labour costs in spotlight as grocery wars shift to front lines
October 1, 2013 | Report on Business |MARINA STRAUSS.

Grocers are grappling with consolidation, as well as essentially zero inflation this year, forcing them to try to reduce costs, said Sylvain Charlebois, a food policy professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario. "Margins are very tight," he said.
Marina_Strauss  retailers  grocery  supermarkets  unions  Loblaws  Metro  Wal-Mart  Target  Sobeys  Safeway  UFCW  Sylvain_Charlebois 
october 2013 by jerryking
Retailers warn of spreading ‘bloodbath’ - The Globe and Mail
Sep. 17 2013| The Globe and Mail | MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER.

The added stress is felt acutely in Canada’s grocery industry, which is the victim of an essentially “zero-sum game,” Perry Caicco, retail analyst at CIBC World Markets, said in a recent report. He projects that sales will pick up by about $1.6-billion this year – with little or no inflation – but that sales tied to the expansion of retail floor space “will eat up most of the sales growth.” As a result, grocers can expect almost no real sales increases this year or next at stores open a year or more, a critical retail measure, he warned.

“The market is not easy,” said Vicente Trius, president of Loblaw Cos. Ltd., which this summer unveiled its massive $12.4-billion deal to acquire Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. to help take on rivals.

“This generates pressure in the market because you have a consumer who spends less,” Mr. Trius said.....Retailers are also teaming up with others to gain economies of scale and round out their businesses. About a month before Loblaw announced its deal for Shoppers, Sobeys said it would buy Safeway Canada for $5.8-billion to help bolster its foothold in Western Canada.
competitive_landscape  retailers  Marina_Strauss  Loblaws  Wal-Mart  Costco  Target  Rona  slow_growth  economies_of_scale  zero-sum_game  mergers_&_acquisitions  M&A 
september 2013 by jerryking
Loblaw’s timely acquisition amid rivalries
Jul. 24 2013 | The Globe and Mail |MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER




Published
Wednesday, ,
Loblaws  Shoppers  Marina_Strauss  Target  Wal-Mart  supermarkets  grocery  competitive_landscape  retailers 
august 2013 by jerryking
As consumers fret over prices, big grocers take fight Down East
Jul. 26 2013 | The Globe and Mail | by MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER.
Fresh Intelligence Research Corp.

Marc Poulin, chief executive officer of Sobeys, told analysts consumers are unpredictable and will check prices at different stores, keeping grocers on their toes.

“As retailers, we have to be especially sharp to entice the customer to spend the extra dollar,” he said. “I think the market is getting very competitive, that’s for sure, and it’s the result of the fact that we have a fickle consumer and a lot of square footage being added to the marketplace.”
Atlantic_Canada  Marina_Strauss  grocery  supermarkets  Loblaws  Shoppers  Wal-Mart  retailers 
july 2013 by jerryking
What sent Shoppers and Loblaw down the aisle? Wal-Mart - The Globe and Mail
Jul. 19 2013 | The Globe and Mail | Sylvain Charlebois.

Wal-Mart’s purchase of Woolco in 1994 remains the most transformational transaction in Canada’s food retailing industry. Everything happening in food distribution today continues to be affected by it. Most Canadians didn’t realize it then, but Wal-Mart’s entrance into the Canadian market would change everything: the way we shop; what we buy; and, most importantly, how we buy and value food.

Ever since Wal-Mart entered the Canadian market, it never hid its ambition of becoming Canada’s top food retailer, as it has in the United States.
Shoppers  Loblaws  mergers_&_acquisitions  Sylvain_Charlebois  M&A  food  distribution_channels  Wal-Mart  grocery  supermarkets  retailers  Quebec  Sobeys  Target 
july 2013 by jerryking
Wal-Mart expansion eggs on Canadian food fight
Apr. 24 2013 |The Globe and Mail | MARINA STRAUSS.

the most immediate threat isn’t so much the newest player, discounter Target Corp., which is getting a lot of attention as it opens its first stores here, but rather low-cost titan Wal-Mart Canada Corp. It has launched an aggressive $450-million expansion this year after snapping up former Zellers stores from Target, building up full food offerings in Wal-Mart supercentres while Target offers only a limited fresh food selection.....Ontario is ground zero for the fiercest food fight in years after Wal-Mart rushed last fall to open its new supercentres before Target rolled out its first 24 outlets in that province last month, with 100 more opening across the country in 2013.

An uncertain economy has put pressure on supermarkets such as Metro and industry leader Loblaw Cos. Ltd. to find new avenues of growth, including the burgeoning ethnic market.
...The grocers are also focused on improving their fresh offerings to serve as a key differentiator, investing in its distribution to ensure that products get to stores faster and stay fresh longer.

And they’re betting more on loyalty programs, trying to sway customers by offering them deals that are personalized for them, and in the process collect more data to monitor customer demands more precisely.
Marina_Strauss  food  retailers  ethnic_communities  Loblaws  supermarkets  Wal-Mart  Metro  grocery  Target  big-box 
may 2013 by jerryking
Walmart Strains to Keep Grocery Aisles Stocked - NYTimes.com
By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD
Published: April 3, 2013

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and grocer, has cut so many employees that it no longer has enough workers to stock its shelves properly, according to some employees and industry analysts. Internal notes from a March meeting of top Walmart managers show the company grappling with low customer confidence in its produce and poor quality. “Lose Trust,” reads one note, “Don’t have items they are looking for — can’t find it.”...The retailer’s customers have complained about the quality and freshness in the produce aisle....Walmart charged into the grocery market about two decades ago, realizing that frequent trips by grocery shoppers could help improve traffic. Grocery made up 55 percent of Walmart United States sales in 2012, which was flat from the previous year. The company’s grocery prices are usually about 15 percent below competitors’, according to Supermarket News. ... Safeway customers are 71 percent confident in its fresh produce, the notes said, while Walmart customers are 48 percent confident in Walmart’s produce. In the interview, Mr. Sinclair of Walmart said he did not know where that data came from, but that “we believe that we can improve the perception of quality of produce for Walmart customers.”

The notes highlighted some stocking problems: “1 hour out of Refrigeration = 1 day less product life,” they read, adding that Walmart will change shift responsibilities so fresh food is not stocked overnight and goes out at 10 a.m., not 7 a.m. ...The company just introduced an inventory management system for produce departments nationwide that will track how many days an item has been in transit, how much shelf life remains, and what orders the company should place to meet demand. With delicate items like raspberries, “you almost need to know by the hour how long the product has been through our system,” which was hard to track when 42 distribution centers buying from hundreds of different vendors were sending around products,
cold_storage  Wal-Mart  fresh_produce  customer_experience  grocery  supermarkets  staffing  inventories  consumer_confidence  perishables  quality  tracking  shelf_life  merchandising  distribution_centres  refrigeration 
april 2013 by jerryking
Amazon.ca: Books, bath and beyond
Mar. 28 2013| The Globe and Mail | MARINA STRAUSS

The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday,
e-commerce  Amazon  personal_care_products  Wal-Mart  Loblaws  Shoppers  Marina_Strauss  retailers 
march 2013 by jerryking
Big Retailers Fill More Aisles With Groceries
111.
Nick Metrowsky
Longmont Colorado
January 17th, 2011
11:29 am
Watch, as grocery stores abandon poorer areas and the drug stores become the new corner store; driving out "Joe's Corner Store"...
letters_to_the_editor  grocery  supermarkets  pharmacies  Wal-Mart  Target  Walgreens  CVS  fresh_produce  low-income 
march 2013 by jerryking
Wal Mart Supercenter Conversion
1 November 2012 | SSRN | Minha Hwang McGill University minha.hwang@mcgill.ca and Sungho Park Arizona State University spark104@asu.edu

1 November 2012
big-box  Wal-Mart  grocery  supermarkets  Nielsen  consumer_behavior 
march 2013 by jerryking
Africa calling
March 10, 2013 | FT.com | By William Wallis.

African entrepreneurs pre-empted this interest. One of the first deals that Mr Karim pulled off, acquiring the west African franchise for Costain, a UK construction group, speaks volumes about the changing times. Like other European contractors, the company was facing intense competition from Chinese rivals. When Mr Karim placed his offer, Costain was also wrestling with increasingly stringent western transparency regulations, a predatory governing elite and threats from insurgents and kidnappers in the oil-producing Niger delta.

After buying the company’s assets, Mr Karim replaced costly expatriate managers and freed up colonial-era villas in Ikoyi – the perks of expatriate office – which he rented out. In a flash he had cash flow to refloat the business and leverage other ambitions. These have seen him launch a power generating company and in November acquire an oilfield – a totem for any successful Nigerian businessman – in a joint venture with UK wildcat explorer Heritage, from another European company under pressure to adapt: Royal Dutch Shell, the oil major.
Africa  entrepreneur  China  Wal-Mart  L’Oréal  P&G  Nigeria  Nigerians  cash_flows  Royal_Dutch_Shell 
march 2013 by jerryking
The Financial Bonanza of Big Data
March 7, 2013 | WSJ | By KENNETH CUKIER AND VIKTOR MAYER-SCHÖNBERGER:
Vast troves of information are manipulated and monetized, yet companies have a hard time assigning value to it...The value of information captured today is increasingly in the myriad secondary uses to which it is put—not just the primary purpose for which it was collected.[True, but this secondary or exhaust data has to be placed in the right context in order to maximize value]. In the past, shopkeepers kept a record of all transactions so that they could tally the sums at the end of the day. The sales data were used to understand sales. Only more recently have retailers parsed those records to look for business trends...With big data, information is more potent, and it can be applied to areas unconnected with what it initially represented. Health officials could use Google's history of search queries—for things like cough syrup or sneezes—to track the spread of the seasonal flu in the United States. The Bank of England has used Google searches as a leading indicator for housing prices in the United Kingdom. Other central banks have studied search queries as a gauge for changes in unemployment.

Companies world-wide are starting to understand that no matter what industry they are in, data is among their most precious assets. Harnessed cleverly, the data can unleash new forms of economic value.
massive_data_sets  Amazon  books  Google  branding  Facebook  Wal-Mart  Bank_of_England  data  data_driven  value_creation  JCK  exhaust_data  commercialization  monetization  valuations  windfalls  alternative_data  economic_data  tacit_data  interpretation  contextual  sense-making  tacit_knowledge 
march 2013 by jerryking
Delish Magazine, Sold Only at Walmart, Performs Remarkably Well - NYTimes.com
By STUART ELLIOTT
Published: February 24, 2013

The food category is doing better than many others in publishing as marketers of packaged foods seek to reach budget-conscious consumers who are eating at home rather than dining out. Examples include Food Network Magazine, recently introduced by Hearst as a joint venture with Scripps Networks Interactive, and Dash, a newspaper-distributed magazine and Web site in the Parade Publications division of Advance Publications.

The Meredith Corporation, which competes in the food category with magazines like Family Circle and Ladies’ Home Journal, has started a food Web site, Recipe.com; acquired a second, Allrecipes.com; and bought two food magazines, EatingWell and Every Day With Rachael Ray.
Wal-Mart  magazines  food  value-conscious  Hearst  budget-conscious  free  advertising  consumer_goods 
february 2013 by jerryking
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