REMAINING COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

Walmart employee app gives physical stores more power – Business Insider

WALMART ADVANTAGE

The ability to sell to cash customer is a slight advantage Walmart has on Amazon, but the ability to leverage store inventory as well as distribution inventory is another.

The only problem with the new strategy is the ability of the Walmart workers to effectively satisfy customers. It is no secret Walmart struggles with in-store customer service. The increased engagements may not improve the perception.

As Amazon continues to consider brick and mortar stores, retailers need to figure out how to improve the in-store experience to keep consumers coming back. Amazon is not perfect in its service by any means, but provides convenience.

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LOCAL PROGRAMMING GIANT

Nexstar Confirms Deal to Buy Tribune Media WSJ https://www.wsj.com/articles/nexstar-confirms-deal-to-buy-tribune-media-for-4-1-billion-1543842177

Tribune Media found a new home after all. Following the failed merger with Sinclair Media, Tribune merged with Nexstar Media. The combined entity will be the largest operator of local TV stations in the United States.

Interesting to see how local TV stations proceed with content, as consumer taste and behaviors continue to evolve. Can these operators evolve and find a path to greater relevancy in changing market space.

BENEFIT OF STUDENT LOANS

Study Cites the Benefits of Taking Student Loans – The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/study-cites-the-benefits-of-taking-student-loans-1542191401

Not surprising that people who invest in themselves and their own future will be more focused and efficient when navigating their way towards a college degree.

While not having the trust fund or full ride can be challenging after the fact, students that pay their way find ways to avoid unnecessary charges, like non-essential classes and bloated meal plans, and focus on the GPAs, which can help their ability to attract higher paying employment to pay down the loans. All while providing them life lessons that will help them in their future.

The push for free college will undoubtedly make colleges perform like high schools, as the personal investment will not be there to motivate student performance. Over time, student drop outs will increase, as many high schools ill-prepare students for completing a college curriculum. Progressives will then push for policies that force colleges to graduate students, even though they lack the needed competencies.

The goal should be to incentivize colleges and universities to operate efficiently and pass savings to students, not passing the cost to the taxpayers. Students should truly only pay for the cost of education and services attained. Other activities and projects should be funded through donations, fundraisers, public grants, and other channels.

DIVERGENT STRATEGIES

AT&T and Verizon Pursue Different Paths Into the Future (WSJ) https://www.wsj.com/articles/at-t-and-verizon-pursue-different-paths-into-the-future-1541999131

One is focusing on acquiring content, while the other seeks to acquire new customer groups. Reminiscent of Coke vs Pepsi, where Coke focuses on being a leader in beverages, while Pepsi aims to diversify in food and beverage.

ATT aims to attract individual consumers, which are content driven and value entertainment. By owning content providers, ATT will not only expand revenue streams, but can create exclusive customer experiences for ATT wireless consumers.

On the other hand, Verizon strives to invest in technology and expanding its industry consumer base, which is more stable than personal consumers. Industry consumers prefer service contracts, which provide cost stability and detailed service guarantees. This could provide Verizon stable revenue streams over longer periods.

ATT will have to manage divergent business unit and balance varying goals and industry norms. Conversely, Verizon will be able to focus on its core competency and strengthen consumer quality in multiple segments.

Both have viable paths forward. Interesting to see how smaller competitors adjust.

MANIPULATING MARKETS

Adidas Executive, Two Others Found Guilty in College-Basketball Corruption Trial – The Wall Street Journal https://www.wsj.com/articles/adidas-executive-two-others-found-guilty-in-college-basketball-corruption-trial-1540408813

Clear example of an organization using its deep pockets to manipulate college athletics. Interesting that Adidas felt it was alright to violate an organization’s rules as long as it was not directly illegal. The ethical standards must be ineffectively low at Adidas.

College athletics is a difficult industry, as every person and entity is able to financially benefit, but the athletes. Sponsors, universities, non-athlethic departments, and more all gain, but a mere free meal may cost an athlete eligibility.

The NCAA will need to decide how to regulate sponsors and boosters just as effectively as players. Integrity is not isolated to simply recruiting, but throughout every daily operation.

SEARS HEADS TOWARD BANKRUPTCY

Sears, a Onetime Retail Giant, Reshaped America – The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/sears-once-americas-biggest-store-collapses-into-bankruptcy-1539595803

At least some of the past or present Sears execs understood the problem. Sears cut costs improperly and diid not invests enough in the stores. Compared to other department stores, the customer experience was lacking at Sears.

Sears does have the potential for a future. But, it will need to consider what that future will look like. In Nearing the End, I give a plausible suggestion.

NEAR THE END?

Sears Prepares for Bankruptcy Filing as Debt Payment Looms – The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/sears-hires-advisers-to-prepare-bankruptcy-filing-1539136189

The iconic once retail giant may be nearing its final stretch. Or maybe it can dwarf into a profitable condense form of itself. If the latter, it will need to find a way to develop and connect with a new target market not already retired.

At one point Sears dominated the retail landscape, largely because it was the first general retailer to market offerings for the entire family and the one willing to stand by its products. As the market change with new players, Sears never effectively captured a new market group.

If Sears does survive, it needs to have a narrower focus. One approach could be deconstruction of their retail concept by creating two distinct chains. One could be a clothing targeting people that may not be served by more trendy stores or a channel for professionals looking for everyday affordable clothes. Another would be an autonomous Sears Auto not tied to a store.

At this point, the Sears leadership team is probably focused on seeing how many tomorrows it has left. If there some, they need to consider what those days will look like.

THAT WAS QUICK

GE Ousts Flannery After Missed Targets https://www.wsj.com/articles/ge-names-new-ceo-replacing-flannery-1538392715

A company that typically values longterm stability in its highest office made a change after a single year. Large shortcomings in GE’s power division negatively impact performance as a whole, leading to John Flannery being out of a job.

GE is an iconic brand, whose once largesse scale made it a global giant, now struggles to provide stable returns for investors. After divestitures and restructuring, issues still remain, although its healthcare and aviation show positive growth.

Now, GE turns to Larry Culp, who now knows he will not have the long tenure afforded to Jack Welch or Jeffrey Immelt. Culp is former CEO of Dannaher and a lecturer of orgazational behavior at Harvard Business School.

Hopefully, Culp can lead the turnaround at GE that evaded his predecessors.

MAKING BAD WORSE

The Pension Hole for U.S. Cities and States Is the Size of Japan’s Economy https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-pension-hole-for-u-s-cities-and-states-is-the-size-of-japans-economy-1532972501

The realization that defined benefit pension plans are unsustainable is not shocking. The continuing issuance of such plans is the shocking part. At some point, change will not be a decision, but a necessity created by crisis.

People already retired or close to retirement should not be penalized. For others with time to adjust, employers must provide a different option for them. Also, people should consider bolstering retirement plans with personal savings plans as well to maximize retirement funds.

Kicking the can down the road only works if there is still road left. Big promises were made for short term gains with long term costs. Lets stop making a bad problem worse.

RATE SUBJECT TO CHANGE?

American Express Gave Clients One Rate, Then Secretly Raised It

SOURCE: WSJ https://www.wsj.com/articles/amex-raised-currency-prices-on-business-clients-without-warning-employees-say-1532943120

There needs to be greater transparency in rate setting. Whether business or personal account, how many people are aware when rates change? Some, but probably not many.

Should a sales manager arbitrarily adjust rates on accounts without any communication to the client? In my opinion, no. Establish rate parameters with sales teams, but do not adjust negotiated rates after the fact.

Bait and switch appears to still be alive and kicking.