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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
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  • Posted on: 09/25/2020

    Can retailers drive climate change action?

    I think ultimately retailers will play a large part in helping "solve" the problem -- to the extent that we solve it -- but that's more in their role as large consumers of energy; as far as being leaders in or highlighting the issue(s), most retailers are simply out of their expertise in dealing with it. There's a lot more to this than simply installing solar panels on your roof or filling up the recycling bins every week. Yesterday we discussed the perils of unintended consequences, imagine trying to attain "carbon neutrality" in your supply chain, THEN balance that against diversity goals, achieving seamless omnichannel selling and being a price leader ... "easy peasy," right?
  • Posted on: 09/24/2020

    A successful diversity initiative led to an unintended consequence at Walmart

    Correlation isn't causation, and I really don't see any explanation why increasing the percentage of women caused a decline in other percentages; maybe there was a reason -- lack of college black females with advanced degrees? But it's not explained here. More generally though, I would say the answer is likely to be "no." A goal simply pulled out of the air to satisfy some interest group is unlikely to be successful ... satisfying several such goals is almost certainly going to fail.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2020

    Will lockers help Lowe’s pick up more sales?

    I see little to dislike here, provided the lockers are easy to find and operate properly. There might be a problem with turnover if people don't claim things promptly, but then that would simply shift the issue from the pickup storage area to the lockers, so it's a wash.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2020

    Will the Travis Scott Meal deal lead to more celebrity collabs?

    I think Mr. Caramanica touched on the issue plainly enough, though I might worry about the logic of the endorsement more than its "intimacy." The further one gets from a natural connection in an endorsement (athletes>shoes, musicians>guitars, etc) the less likely it is to have lasting value.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2020

    COVID-19 may push retailers to use voice assistants instead of touch screens

    Those of us who have doubts about the technology, at least at this stage - background noise, difficulties with ESL speakers or heavy accents -- will certainly see the adoption farther off (if ever). Those who DO have confidence have a tougher time because viability allows for adoption, but doesn't guarantee it. I'm naturally cautious, so I'll caucus with the first camp at this stage: limited adoption in the near future ... then we'll see.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2020

    Will Walmart’s new private clothing line have ‘staying power’?

    I don't doubt that assuming a sustained effort, Walmart can increase both its sales and share, but I think the bigger question is "will it be worth it?" My thought is that WM's biggest obstacles are perceptions about the brand. When your whole purpose for a half century has been to offer (what are essentially commodities) for the lowest price, it's difficult to convince people you've shifted gears, regardless of how true that might be (and of course we'll have to make some jump of faith to assume the shift is real). Combined with the less-than-ideal atmosphere of the stores, which have a bargain basement feel and a mindset in non-customers -- i.e. the potential audience -- of what a "Walmart shopper" is, and it's a tough hill to climb.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2020

    Grocers are primed to compete with Amazon’s free grocery delivery

    What share of grocery does Amazon have? Two percent ... three percent? (I looked it up and the answer was ~30% of online -- and falling -- so that should be applied to the contentious figure we had the other day for online overall.) Most of that presumably through Whole Foods. So perspective is in order here. Yes, retailers should sharpen their game to compete with Amazon ... along with every other competitor, and not necessarily in that order.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2020

    Can Trader Joe’s continue thriving without delivery and curbside pickup?

    You'd might never know it if you don't read RetailWire, but those services cost money. So someone has to pay for them; and given that part of TJ's business model is low cost -- even if implicitly more than explicitly -- it's understandable that management feels that neither they nor their customers should be the ones. I don't know any consideration was given to this earlier, but regardless, I see no point in starting it now.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2020

    Patagonia wants to ‘Vote the a**holes out’

    I see absolutely nothing -- let me emphasize NOTHING -- positive in this. Whether there is or isn't an advantage in retailers (or companies in general) getting involved in politics is open to debate (as we've done here ... repeatedly) but this is certainly the wrong approach. I sure as hell don't need Patagonia to tell me how to vote.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2020

    Are older shoppers wiser amid the pandemic?

    I find the findings remarkable in that they contradict the (all too often portrayed) stereotype of younger persons — under 21-25, sometimes 40 — as "feeling invincible". That having been said, the findings themselves are discouraging. I don't know that older people — and by this I mean middle-aged, as opposed to elderly — are "coping" better, I think they've simply been affected less. Less likely to lose their jobs, less likely to have a need to establish/maintain social networks, less likely to exhaust savings. As far as messaging: I'm sure that's always been age-specific, though the differences between the various generations have likely grown.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2020

    Will Apple’s Express pickup concept drop off post-pandemic?

    What part of the concept: (merely) the pickup window part or the hazmat treatment part of it? I'm guessing the appeal of the latter will fade as the percentage of ... uhm, "safety conscious" people drops, but the EZ pickup part of it I think has a future. They might lose the upselling potential of a full store, but satisfying harried customers should win out.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2020

    Will runners subscribe to a 100 percent recyclable shoe rental plan?

    All those who just don't "get" this concept raise their hand. Thanks. That sudden rush of air tells me I'm not the only one, but let's start at the beginning. Who — or what — is "On" shoes? Admittedly it may be a big name with the target market, but if it isn't, I think they're just combining too much novelty into one package. If it is, we'll just have to see how it works out. Personally, I don't think I'd be interested in this.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2020

    Amazon Fresh grocery store opens touting low prices and cashier-free checkout

    The keys to success will be the same as with any other grocery: having the items people want at the prices they want. (Will they always have bread at 89 cents. Make of that what you will.) Ideally, Amazon will fully report on the operating results of this project — yeah right! — and it won't just disappear into the haze of retail history
  • Posted on: 09/16/2020

    Can IKEA drive a used furniture movement?

    To be blunt, the perception is that most of IKEA's offerings aren't durable enough to make it to the "used-sellable" stage; so unless this is open to all makes, I see very little potential for it. And honestly, I thought one of the main purposes of IKEA was to offer inexpensive NEW furniture, so people wouldn't have to buy used ... sort of a Kia of the living room. So "covering all the bases" or undermining your own business model? I'm not sure.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2020

    Could Authentic Brands be the lynchpin in J.C. Penney’s turnaround?

    Although name brands are certainly a part of department stores, and I believe Selfridges calls itself a "House of Brands" (or something to that effect), simply filling up the store with stuff offered elsewhere is no solution. JCP needs to develop its own brands -- perhaps I should say expand them since it already has some. Successful stores are filled with what people want, but they also have control over the merchandise.
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