Jennifer Bartashus

Senior Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence

Jennifer Bartashus is a Senior Analyst specializing in food retail, mass merchants and packaged food companies for Bloomberg Intelligence. She has 25 years of financial markets experience with prior roles in global strategic operations.

  • Posted on: 02/15/2022

    Save A Lot decides it wants to grow up to be wholesale grocer

    The company has been down a similar road before, when it focused on being the exclusive distributor to Save-A-Lot stores. And while this was great for corporate margins, it was less compelling for store operators, who pushed back on selection, quality and price. A reboot for wholesaling will require better partnerships with individual store owners, and strategies to help drive volumes. Save-A-Lot stores have long suffered from not achieving the virtuous cycle needed for a limited-assortment hard discount model to be successful - low retail prices drive volumes sold, which in turn helps lower purchasing prices, passing on savings to customers, which drives volumes even higher.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2022

    Why has Kirkland Signature been so successful?

    Kirkland is an extension of the value promise Costco extends to customers. Costco is all about discovery and value. The ability to offer even bigger discounts through the Kirkland brand without sacrificing quality really resonates with customers, and a robust return policy encourages trial with zero risk. Kirkland has always been managed as a full-scale brand in its own right, and not as a "replacement." This attitude makes a difference with how consumers embrace the products.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2022

    Are business buzzwords more annoying than useful?

    There is a fine line between embracing buzzwords to show you are "in tune" with current trends and turning people off. Everyone wants to be relevant but using buzzwords too much can create the opposite impression. It's sort of like when you were a kid and your grandparents used slang to try to be cool. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn't. For retailers and marketers, the key may be to use them sparingly, or as a launching off point for a fresh or new take on a situation, brand or product.
  • Posted on: 02/03/2022

    Meijer is the first to give customers free at-home COVID-19 PCR tests

    Building up goodwill by making expensive or difficult-to-access home tests free to shoppers is a winning move. It will create instant loyalty which could play out for years to come. Grocers played a huge role in getting people vaccinated, it makes sense to play a big role in ongoing testing as well.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2022

    Should retailers ‘tip’ customers to pick up orders?

    It makes sense that in some situations incentivizing customers to pick up online orders can help manage surges in demand and labor costs. There will be a perpetual need for balance between profit and convenience, and incentives can play a role. However this also means retailers have to have an excellent process management for pickup so that it is easy for customers. Saving a few dollars to pick up an order can easily be outweighed if the experience itself is so poor customers never want to do it again.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2022

    Walmart customers can add a handyman to their purchases

    Walmart's association with Angi can't hurt, but it seems unlikely it will be a significant driver of sales of home improvement-related items. Many of Walmart's customers are budget-conscious, which may make hiring professionals for assistance a stretch, unless there are special Walmart customer rates. Incorporating DIY tips/videos/courses might resonate more with Walmart's core customer.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2022

    Why is user generated content missing from physical retail?

    As stores become more experiential, a greater integration of user generated content is inevitable. When shoppers are in discovery mode, things like reviews, styling tips, etc. can play a bigger role, and are likely where the growth in bridging the gap between in-store and online will happen, at least initially. If you're talking about a more transactional type of trip where you want to get in and out -- say a grocery store -- UGC may still be further away.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2022

    Will airbags calm fears about driverless vehicles?

    At the end of the day, home delivery is about convenience, and autonomous vehicles may not yet meet that bar. Right now, delivery brings your items to your doorstep (and for some retailers right into your home or garage). Autonomous vehicle delivery helps solve driver shortages but, for consumers, it translates into having to be available at a very specific time to go outside, use your phone or a code to open up the vehicle, and retrieve your items - at least for now. That's not necessarily aligned with how some consumers define convenience. As the "cool factor" of having an automated vehicle bring your delivery fades and usage becomes more commonplace, we will have to see if consumers continue to embrace it or demand other options.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2022

    Will Microsoft’s Activision deal open the metaverse up to enterprise tech?

    As more people explore metaverse platforms, an entire spectrum of new opportunities is emerging, all of which will be reliant on rapidly evolving technology. The metaverse - which could be argued will be the next generation of gaming - may be powered by the cloud. The deal to acquire Activision Blizzard seems to fit well into Microsoft's growth prospects, including enterprise technology.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2022

    Are retailers getting closer to nailing last-mile delivery?

    Customers don't know how hard it is to create a seamless delivery experience. Expectations are high, which makes any deviation from those expectations harder to manage for retailers. Blending disparate data sets to offer end-to-end transparency from order to delivery is one of the biggest challenges retailers face. Optimizing the last-mile is really only feasible if the ordering and fulfillment process is streamlined. Technology can help find the cheapest cost-to-deliver for retailers but having that order ready and waiting is crucial for a seamless handoff.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2022

    Can the metaverse solve retail’s returns challenges?

    In a virtual world it is hard to envision people using accurate avatars of themselves rather than a version of what they wish they were. Retail stores in metaverse landscapes like The Sandbox, Somnium Space or Nifty Island are still nascent. As for using 3D-rendering technology via phones and apps, there are use cases but the challenge is to make it simple and compelling for consumers. Will some customers see the benefit of doing an accurate body scan to virtually try on clothes? Sure. But until there is a real incentive for the consumer to use it, it is difficult to see the returns landscape changing. Right now the returns issue is more of a retailer problem than a consumer problem. Retailers have focused on making returns easier - which is now a headwind to changing shopping behavior to reduce that burden. To force a change in behavior, retailers may have to do new things - like offer free returns only on items tried on virtually, or extra discounts for using the technology.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2022

    What tech must restaurants put on their menu of services?

    Technology should be a supporting role of a meal, not the main focus. Technology that eases friction and makes the overall dining experience more enjoyable is key. Leave it to the customer to decide where they want to use technology to enhance their experience. It also depends on what type of restaurant it is - technology may be critical at casual dining chains but have little place at fine dining establishments. Digital menus, ordering or payment may appeal to some, but not all, so restaurants need to be able to serve tech-minded individuals as well as those who aren't. After all, it is a service industry. Nothing is more frustrating than needing something (a refill, napkins, the check) and not being able to find your server. Tech can help with that. Put some of that power to control the experience in the hands of customers and everyone benefits.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2022

    What is America eating in 2022?

    Personalized nutrition is an area that could accelerate in 2022 and beyond. Growth in self-administered testing services (genetic, disease risk, sensitivities, etc) lays the groundwork. More people are looking for customized nutrition solutions to optimize their health. Initially products may be in the form of shakes and bars but could branch into more mainstream food products. Plant-based foods is still an area of growth. Though sales softened a bit in late 2021, interest and demand are likely to uptick again as restaurants begin expanding menus and limited time offers again. Beyond Meat nuggets at KFC is one example.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2022

    Has BOPIS lost its pandemic boost?

    Demand for BOPIS is like a pendulum - it has swung back to in-store shopping as there was a lot of pent-up demand to browse in person. Lots of things can swing the pendulum back - COVID-19 variants, weather events, consumer demand, etc. - but overall the use level will remain higher than historic levels. Improving the pickup experience - either by reducing wait time and narrowing or eliminating pickup time slots is important. Retailers need an infrastructure that can flex in response to demand. BOPIS is still more profitable than delivery for most retailers, so it may be worth keeping a steady stream of incentives or advertising to guide customers who don't want to go into a store to the more profitable alternative.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2022

    Will 2022 be the year of text-to-shop?

    Text-to-shop faces similar limitations as voice-driven commerce. It works for some uses, like reordering high-frequency items, but is less useful for discovery or bigger orders. Consumers still like to see images of what they are buying, which could hold back broad adoption. The first experience a shopper has with text-based commerce has to be really good - otherwise people will quickly lose patience. Nobody wants to go back and forth for too long via text to place an order.

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