The Fair Labor Standards Act needs to have its threshold for what constitutes a manager updated. I'd start it closer to $100,000. That would alleviate some of the biggest abuses.
As far as the retailers go in talking to people in California where chains have been sued a lot for this and have converted, in some cases, salaried assistant managers to hourly at say 45 hours (automatic five hours overtime built into schedule) people seem happier. But I'm not sure it has reduced turnover.
And it is not just in retail. In medical and in the professional realm especially legal and finance there is a similar law where due to being considered a "professional" people starting out making salary $65,000 a year in large metros and $50,000 a year in smaller markets are exempt from overtime and very much overworked, often working 50 to 60 hour weeks.
With as poorly as things went under the previous CEO, he really just needs to stop the bleeding.
I still cannot believe how the previous CEO was allowed to let this once very well run company run on fumes into no man's land the way she did. Kept getting passes as they were trying to sell the company it seems.
A lot of fairly basic common sense moves with regards to the product mix and presentation would do wonders.
Given the retailers he has been previously involved with, I wonder if a change in pricing strategy would be appropriate at this point.
Given the timing he still has a small window here to get things right for the next holiday season.
I could say a lot but I'll leave it at this: based on how they run things the past couple years it feels like they are on a shoestring hanging on. Inventory levels, store hours ("temporarily due to staffing"), and maintenance have been cut past the bare minimum. They are running a store that is far inferior to the average CVS or Walgreens now (both poor retailers) due to these cuts. It is like there is very limited money to work with. That gets even more limited when your sales keep falling.
The store base had a strong remodel program going through about 2018 but that stopped. The store base was looking great during the failed merger attempts with Walgreens and Albertsons. Now it has not been continually refreshed and it is in need of serious attention.
One of the first orders of business for the now past CEO was to waste a ton of money on new logo signs. This company did not have the money for such frivolous activities, they needed to spend what little capital expenditures they had (their debt covenants require a certain amount of capex) on remodels and new stores. I knew that was a bad sign right from.the start.
They have closed a number of stores that I am not sure why they closed as they were newer and well positioned and now sit on their surplus real estate list with leases that don't expire for 5+ years.
Albertsons has steadily been running $40 off $75 online pickup and also free delivery with digital coupons for the past year. Their pick up and delivery program gets very little traffic compared to Kroger. Their prices are significantly higher and that pricing has been a big problem trying to build an online business.
Their digital system is not good. They are no Amazon. The website is so cumbersome and slow. I find Walmart to also be rather cumbersome though, at present.
But out in Kroger territory, they are very effective on their pick up service. Many customers are using that website or app and placing orders. I never have.
The private label program is very strong. It is the best in the industry.
An increase from 2021 maybe, but what about from 2018 or 2019? Stores do not have particularly attractive deals this year and many stores are not ready for major crowds of shoppers. The in-store experience continues to decline at many major chains including all of the department store chains and Target. Other chains like Bed Bath and Beyond and Best Buy appear to be having serious problems and won't draw nearly the crowds they once did.
Well, there is intent. The intent is x% will take advantage of the digital offer and y% won't. A low percentage of customers take advantage of the offers; I'd be surprised if it was 20%. If you routed the offer to the shelf and it scanned that way for everyone, 100% of the buyers would take advantage of that offer. So the stores absolutely have the intent here to give the discount to fewer customers by routing it through digital.
What are now "Digital Coupons" were pioneered by dunhumby at the Lucky chain in CA back around 1997-1998. In that version, they had a kiosk in the store like an ATM and you went there and scanned your card and touch screen selected what offers you wanted and it printed you a shopping list. There were usually 30-40 "offers" available plus one offer from their weekly ad for a private label item. No login, just scan your card (that was the only option, no phone number look up back then). If a senior or other customer had problems, a store employee could help them. The kiosk was designed so a wheelchair bound customer could fully access and use it just like anyone else. I think some other chains had those kiosks too, but they weren't out west. Albertsons promptly decommissioned those kiosks when they discontinued the Lucky format and loyalty program in November 1999.
Now the "Digital Coupons" have gone rather haywire. If I log into Kroger on any given week, there are 650+ offers available for me. Kroger only allows me to add up to 150 offers to my card at a time. This is a bit of a problem. Safeway has a similar problem. At these stores the sale prices that were once just standard sale prices everyone got with the loyalty card, now require a digital coupon.
At some retailers where there are digital coupons but fewer available like CVS and Rite Aid I don't even look at the digital coupons, I just add every single one to my account.
The solution I believe is they need to go back to a model where someone without a computer or phone (or without the desire to screw around logging in) can still have access to the digital coupons. The kiosk model seen 25 years ago is an option but nobody wants to maintain those. Providing the cashiers a scan bar list of weekly ad digital offers where if someone asked for one of the digital offers in the ad and didn't have it loaded the cashier could scan the barcode and get the discount to come off, in effect a paper coupon that was not circulated, is something Kroger did for years but stopped a couple years ago.
I'd like to see some consumer friendly legislation that forces retailers to provide these offers to customers upon request at store level. ESPECIALLY if the offer is in a printed ad. Without requiring them to login. But I don't think we will see it.
Those poorly designed checkstands allow them to have more checkstands and more actual humans behind the registers to get the lines moving faster....
Those poorly designed checkstands also make it so you don't have to stand there and unload your cart then re-load your cart at the end, like you do at a standard Safeway or Kroger.
Those poorly designed checkstands also take up significantly less space than standard grocery belted checkstands, so there is more room for merchandise.
I do agree they are a bit closer together than I'd prefer, but there are a lot of reasons.
Also customers are advised to provide feedback regarding discontinued items and store teams are provided with channels to flow that feedback upstream. Many products have been returned after being discontinued, or seasonal products made year around products, due to that process.
They are old school in how they do things. They write orders by hand. They don't have any security cameras in their stores. They definitely could improve various technology. They probably have higher shrink than they should have due to a lack of data to optimize ordering. But why change? Their formula works. The ownership is obviously satisfied with the profits the chain generates and they have constantly expanded and have the highest sales per square foot in the industry and it isn't even close.
Also Trader Joe's are not necessarily a weekly shop or every shopper's primary store. They are not saturated in a market and just because someone doesn't come to Trader Joe's for a few weeks doesn't mean they have moved on due to an item being discontinued. It may just mean they were not the 20-30 minutes from home to get to Trader Joe's for a couple weeks.
Trader Joe's already has a loyalty program. It just doesn't involve databases or data collection (and who knows if they may be doing some data we don't know about on the back end with credit/debit card purchase data):
1. Satisfaction guarantee- you have a problem with an item, you get a refund, no questions asked and no hassle. You don't even have to bring the product back.
2. Quick checkout. Efficient and friendly, every time. Every location.
3. Strong private label mix, very tight quality controls, and many very clean labels.
4. Fun to shop atmosphere.
5. Small store size making it easy to gather what you need quickly and easily.
6. Everyday low pricing. It really is low. Go price them on various categories vs. other grocers (or Walmart) and you will see Trader Joe's comes in 20-30% cheaper on staple grocery items like coffee, milk, olive oil, bottled beverages, pasta, everything basically. And yes I am comparing private label to private label here.
I think Trader Joe's has the best loyalty program in the grocery industry. It does right for the customer and makes it easy for the customer, every time they shop there.
Scanning that Kroger Plus Card or Safeway Club Card to pay high prices, have to deal with an app to get deals, have to argue with someone when the discounts don't apply properly, hope the few good deals are actually in stock, as you check your items out yourself via a self checkout sounds more like a customer hassle program than a customer loyalty program.
Short answer: Absolutely not. There isn't much more to say about Trader Joe's simple, winning formula. Their stores keep getting busier and busier as customers grow tired of the annoying games like loyalty cards, high-low pricing, and unreliable e-commerce services at other grocers.
One of Trader Joe's biggest barriers to drawing in "boomer" customers in the '90s was a lack of name brands. There are two segments of "boomers" -- one segment is (was really) very loyal to national brand groceries, the other is open to private label. What I am noticing as time goes on is everyone including that old "brand loyal" group of boomers is becoming more and more open to private labels. This continues to allow Trader Joe's to attract more and more customers who previously did not go there due to lack of brands.
Grocery e-commerce is not profitable. It has no chance of being profitable until the whole thing is automated down to the delivery process (drones or something).
Are these grocers with e-commerce, loyalty programs, and high-low discount level pricing actually doing well? They seem to keep shrinking to me. Customers grow increasingly frustrated with the pricing and also with out of stocks on online orders. Just this week someone who does online ordering at a large chain grocer that is involved in a large merger, that every time they order vegetables from the pick up, they come in wilted/old and bags that should have air (chips, etc.) are always popped and product is stale.
Let's look at the best grocers, the ones expanding in the current era. HEB, WinCo, Hy-Vee: no mandatory loyalty programs (they have some form for digital coupons at a minimum, maybe some fuel points but not at WinCo, but no loyalty card is needed for pricing).
Now let's look at the grocers who have pushed e-commerce, loyalty programs, and high-low pricing. There used to be quite a few who were publicly traded who did business like this. Winn Dixie, A&P, Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway. What happened to all of them except for Kroger? Hundreds of store closures. Market exits. Mergers. A very bad last 20 years for this group.
This article strikes me as slanted toward building an agenda for CPGs who are upset they cannot get their products into Trader Joes.
Maybe they need to do free returns, but you don't receive the credit back to your credit card, rather, you receive it back in the form of a coupon or store credit (not gift card...) good on a future purchase you make and it has a short expiration window (say 60 days).
Consumers will buy less as these policies tighten. But things have reached a breaking point.