Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 11/30/12: Amazon’s Bezos speaks, Target gears up in Canada, Kroger Q3 Sales Up


“Amazon CEO Bezos: AWS is lean manufacturing, Kindle Fire for IT” by Larry Dignan for Between the Lines.  “Bezosisms”:

Innovation isn’t always fun. “You also have to have a willingness to fail and be misunderstood for a while,” Bezos said. “If you never want to be criticized, for heaven’s sake, don’t do anything that’s new.”

A 10,000-year clock.  Bezos wants a 10,000-year clock developed to symbolize long-term thinking. It should be carved in the side of a mountain and have five anniversary chambers, Bezos said. The fifth one goes off at the 10,000-year mark.

Advice to entrepreneurs.  Never ride the hot thing, Bezos said. “You have to wait for the wave and make sure it’s something you’re passionate about,” he said. “Missionaries create better products, and I’d take a missionary over a mercenary any day.”


“Kroger posts higher 3rd-quarter profit, raises forecast” at Reuters.  “”We still believe that over time, more conventional retailers like Kroger, Safeway and Supervalu will lose share of food sales” to retailers ranging from big-box discounters to dollar stores, J.P. Morgan analyst Ken Goldman said in a client note.”  https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/29/us-kroger-results-idUSBRE8AS0PS20121129 

“Dollar stores spruce up image, add name brands, but value is less clear cut” at Associated Press via Washington Post.  “Since the start of the downturn, major chains such as Dollar General Corp. and Family Dollar Stores Inc. have accelerated their growth by transforming stores with wider aisles, better lighting and more name brands. The result is that they’re shedding their image as depots for misfit merchandise and pulling in a wider range of shoppers.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/dollar-stores-spruce-up-image-add-name-brands-but-value-is-less-clear-cut/2012/11/29/f77cfb44-3a4b-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_story.html

“Amazon More Popular Than Walmart Among Wealthier Americans” by Jack Neff in Advertising Age.  “What separates Walmart America from Amazon America? Apparently, a household income of $75,000.  Walmart may still be shopped by more Americans than any other retailer, but it’s lost the top spot among households with incomes of $75,000 or more to Amazon and even has slipped behind Target among that group, according to a new survey by Shullman Research Center.”  https://adage.com/article/news/amazon-popular-walmart-wealthier-shoppers/238532/

“Joe Biden’s Costco Adventure ” at The Washington Post (Pictures).  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-shops-at-costco/2012/11/29/c5b629e8-3a49-11e2-a263-f0ebffed2f15_gallery.html

“Target Launches Cross-Country Marketing Initiative in Canada” by Christa Meland in Twin Cities Business.  “Target Corporation’s first Canada stores aren’t slated to open until March, but the retailer has already launched a cross-country marketing initiative to gear up for its debut.  Minneapolis-based Target on Tuesday announced plans to launch a road tour across Canada. A Target-themed caravan will make stops in close to two-dozen cities across the country, and the stops coincide with various events that are open to the public. They include performances by Canadian artists, musicians, children’s performers, and comedians.”  https://tcbmag.com/News/Recent-News/2012/November/Target-Launches-Cross-Country-Marketing-Initiative

Home Depot press release — “Tech the Halls:  It’s Christmas Time at The Home Depot.” (with Video).  Editor Warning:  Jingle from first video may be stuck in your head the rest of the day…https://www.multivu.com/mnr/59255-home-depot-tech-the-halls-its-christmas-time-at-the-home-depot 

“What It Looks Like Inside Amazon” at Reddit (Pictures).  https://imgur.com/a/q1WIO

“Apple Store And Costco Are Among Consumer Reports’ Highest-rated Cell-phone Retailers” in Sacramento Bee.  “Costco received high marks in the Consumer Reports survey for service and pricing on the cell phones it sells at special kiosks within its warehouse stores; Walmart matched Costco in offering pleasing prices. Best Buy received the highest score of any retailer for its selection of smart phones, which includes everything from high-profile smart phones to simple prepaid phones from a host of carriers.”  https://www.sacbee.com/2012/11/29/5017910/apple-store-and-costco-are-among.html

Feel Good Story of the Day Featuring Home Depot’s Team Depot in Huntsville, AL…“Disabled veteran gets home makeover (courtesy of Home Depot’s Team Depot)” by Lauren Morrison at 48 News — Huntsville, AL (Video and Text). “Between new appliances, wood flooring, new paint, and fixing up the siding on the house, the total project will run about $3,500, but Haynie said that’s nothing compared to Walls’ service and sacrifice for our country.  “Even though it’s large to Ricky, this is just something small the Home Depot can say thank you for everything he has done for our country,” said Haynie.”  https://www.waff.com/story/20219243/disabled-veteran-gets-home-makeover

“Naughty Or Nice? Consumer Holiday Shopping Trends Revealed in 2.6+ Million Social Conversations.”  Most buzzed about in-store destinations:

Of 84,966 mentions naming shopping destinations:

  • Consumers point to Walmart as their top in-store shopping destination (24%), followed by Target (21%).
  • Best Buy comes in third (14%). Macy’s follows closely in fourth (12%).


Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 11/29/12

Target November Comp Sales Decreased 1%.  “Target Corporation today reported that its net retail sales for the four weeks ended November 24, 2012 were $6,183 million, a decrease of 0.1 percent from $6,191 million for the four weeks ended November 26, 2011. On this same basis, November comparable-store sales decreased 1.0 percent.”  https://investors.target.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=65828&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1762842&highlight= 

“Amazon, Wal-Mart Pull Ahead In Cyber Monday Traffic” by Amy Reeves in Investor’s Business Daily.  “Experian said in a blog post that visits to Amazon’s website increased 36% over last year’s Cyber Monday, to nearly 35 million. It was the top e-tail site by visitor count. No. 2 Wal-Mart’s visits rose 21% to 18.6 million, while Best Buy came in third at 9.4 million, up 10% from last year.”  https://news.investors.com/technology/112812-634910-amazon-wal-mart-best-buy-lead-cyber-monday-traffic.htm

“Wal-Mart exec invites suppliers to partner in digital revolution” by Kim Souza in The City .  “(Stephen Quinn) said Wal-Mart’s huge scale, often seen as sluggish moving forward, would not be left in the dust. Quinn challenged dozens of suppliers to get onboard with the retail giant as they work to integrate multiple retail channels and provide genuine customer satisfaction.  “Take the Scotts lawn business. I can see Wal-Mart partnering with them on a YouTube commercial, as an example,” Quinn said. “Think of Wal-Mart as an experience platform, that you can work with for retail development kit. Seek us out proactively and increase score card performance.” https://thecitywire.com/node/25296#.ULdykofAfzk  

“With Target on the way, Canadian Tire gets busy” by Mark Reilly in St. Paul Business Journal.  “The Toronto-based company, which despite the name is a general merchandise retailer in the vein of Minneapolis-based Target, is shaking up its executive ranks to cut costs and streamline its management structure, The Wall Street Journal reports. Its senior vice president of technology, executive vice president of corporate development and “a small number” of other VP-level execs, are out.”  https://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/morning_roundup/2012/11/with-target-on-the-way-canadian-tire.html

Walgreens Takes Its Fresh Food Offerings on the Road for Mobile Tasting Tour.  ” Walgreens is embarking on a mobile tasting tour providing samples of its innovative fresh food and refreshments to Los Angelenos where they work, live and play. The Walgreens “Up Market: Fresh” experience will be brought to consumers via a custom-made, 40 foot bus and will visit various Los Angeles locations between now and Dec. 5. The “Up Market: Fresh” bus’ daily location and featured sample menu items are shared via Twitter @upmarketfresh.”  https://news.walgreens.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=5680

“Whole Foods engage consumers on Pinterest with non-food related content” by Ben Rogers in Wave Metrix.  “Whole Foods have successfully built a large community size in comparison to other retailers with over 80K followers. Perhaps surprisingly, our analysis shows that some of the most popular boards are the ones which aren’t related to food or cooking. 42% of engagement comes from boards which relate to topics like culture, beauty or ecology. This shows the importance for marketers to understand the interests of a community beyond the brand itself and offer valuable information which isn’t directly linked to their products.”  https://wave.wavemetrix.com/content/whole-foods-engage-consumers-pinterest-non-food-related-content-01020 

“Costco joins firms issuing special dividend payments this year” by Alana Semuels in LA Times.  “Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Hot Topic Inc. and Dillard’s Inc. are among retailers that have said they would pay their dividends this year rather than next year. Retailers usually end their fiscal years in January, so many don’t usually pay dividends until then.”  https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-fiscal-cliff-dividends-20121129,0,4212751.story

“Ballmer:  Microsoft Stores exist to “sell, sell, sell” (and also help)” by John Callaham at Neowin.net.  “Ballmer said, “With 31 stores, we are driving ahead vigorously and we are there to sell, sell, sell! Help, help, help! And through help, sell more!”  https://www.neowin.net/news/ballmer-microsoft-stores-exist-to-sell-sell-sell-and-also-help


Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 11/28/12

Costco Wholesale Corporation Reports November Sales Results.  Costco Wholesale Corporation today reported net sales of $8.15 billion for the month of November, the four weeks ended November 25, 2012, an increase of nine percent from $7.51 billion during the similar four-week period last year.   https://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=83830&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1762306&highlight=

“Walmart comes to India: Can mom and pop stores play with the big boys?” by Mercedes White in Deseret News. “Shopping in India has never been like getting groceries in the United States.  “If we need toiletries, groceries, or even fish, meat or chicken, we just call down to the local kirana,” says Ruksana Hussain, an American from India who returns to her homeland regularly.  Within minutes the groceries are delivered by the shopkeeper, the same shopkeeper who has delivered items to Hassain’s family since she was a girl. Kirana is the Indian version of a corner store and kiranas are where most Indians do their grocery shopping. There are more than 14 million of these stores in India, 96 percent of which are less than 500 square feet.  But the way Indians shop is about to change forever…https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865567634/Walmart-comes-to-India-Can-mom-and-pop-stores-play-with-the-big-boys.html?pg=1

Frank Blake, Chairman and CEO of Home Depot, meets with President Obama today to discuss U.S. fiscal problems.  Chief Executives from others businesses are also represented…but Mr. Blake is the only retail head we see on the attendee list…https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-usa-fiscal-obama-businessbre8ar01t-20121127,0,3860765.story

“WE Interviews — Ann-Marie Campbell (Division President at Home Depot)” by Ellen Kinlin in Women Executives.  “Ann-Marie Campbell’s rise up the ranks of Home Depot, from cashier to Divisional President, is the kind of story that instills confidence in the health of the American Dream… Today she is responsible for over 686 stores and a team of 100,000 employees…Campbell’s mentor played an instrumental role in her career trajectory by encouraging her to take a promotion that she believed was out of her reach.“I thought I needed to be perfect. Women often think they have to know everything before they can step into a role. But my mentor told me, ‘You can do this job.’ Campbell continued. “He taught me to understand and own the value of what I brought to the table.  By switching her focus from what she didn’t know, to what she did, Campbell found much more confidence in her abilities.  https://kinlin.com/blog/2012/11/we-interviews-ann-marie-campbell/

Sneak peak pictures of the Target / Neiman Marcus holiday collection…

“Target plans big splash for Neiman Marcus collection” by Thomas Lee in the Star-Tribune (includes several pictures).  (Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel and Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz) are showing off some of the merchandise Target and Neiman co-created for the holiday season during a preview for the media last month in New York. Both Target and Neiman have high hopes this partnership will boost sales throughout the holiday season.  As I write this, Target executives are on the way to New York for the collection’s debut fashion show Wednesday night. The retailers, which will also promote the merchandise in a pop up store, will officially launch the collection Saturday.”  https://www.startribune.com/blogs/181004591.html

“Dollar General joins Standard & Poor’s 500 index” at CNBC.  “Dollar General Corp. will replace Cooper Industries PLC to join the S&P 500 after the close of trading on Friday.”  https://www.cnbc.com/id/49971950

“Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Practically Confirmed the Kindle Smartphone” in Nasdaq.  “It is not yet known how long consumers will have to wait. Recent rumors suggest that the company may introduce its first smartphone in the spring. Amazon may also choose to save the announcement for its annual Kindle Fire event, which is likely to take place in late August or early September.  https://community.nasdaq.com/News/2012-11/amazons-jeff-bezos-practically-confirmed-the-kindle-smartphone.aspx?storyid=193536#.ULYYm4fAfzk 

Seventy Percent of Consumers Have Made a Purchase as a Result of Being Connected to a Brand Online.  “The study further found that 37 percent of consumers who build these online social connections with brands also terminate them by un-liking, un-following, etc. “Brands need to be mindful that connections can be both powerful and disruptive to the social experience,” said Tiffany Leslie, director of marketing communications for SocialVibe. “They need to carefully determine the balance between driving loyalty and overwhelming their advocates.” One-third of consumers who disconnected from brands did so because they were receiving too many updates.  https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsLang=en&newsId=20121127006610&div=-1245645151

“Kroger, Fresh Market Earnings:  Grocers Seeing Green” by Gillian Rich at Investor’s Business Daily.  “Kroger, the nation’s largest pure-play supermarket chain, is slated to report third-quarter results on Thursday. Analysts see a 30% jump in earnings to 43 cents per share — that would be the biggest gain in years. Sales are seen rising 5% to $21.6 billion.”  https://news.investors.com/business/112712-634720-kroger-fresh-market-united-natural-foods-earnings-preview.htm

Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 11/27/12: Walmart Evolution to E-Commerce; Top Online Shopping Sites


“Online sales jump on Cyber Monday, eBay shines” by Alistair Barr at Reuters.  “Online sales were up 25.6 percent as of 3:00 pm EST on Monday, compared with the same period a year ago, according to International Business Machines Corp which tracks transaction data from 500 U.S. retail websites. In 2011, Cyber Monday year-over-year growth was 15 percent by 3:00 pm, IBM said.  Strong online sales growth on Thanksgiving Day and “Black Friday” sparked concern that shoppers were just buying earlier, threatening revenue later in the season.”  https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/26/net-us-usa-retail-cybermonday-idUSBRE8AM0TL20121126

“Starboard Adds Nardelli and Ex-Staples Exec for Office Depot Fight” in the Wall Street Journal.  “Bob Nardelli, the former chief of companies such as Home Depot and Chrysler, and Joseph Vassalluzzo, a former vice chairman of Staples Inc., are teaming up with Starboard to provide counsel and insight into how Office Depot can improve its operations and strategy, according to the amended 13D filing.”  https://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2012/11/27/starboard-adds-nardelli-and-ex-staples-exec-for-office-depot-fight/

“Walmart’s Evolution From Big Box Giant To E-Commerce Innovator” by Farhad Manjoo in Fast Company.  “Jeremy King was ignoring the largest retailer in the world. For a month, he’d been getting calls from a Walmart recruiter. King was used to being wooed, since he was well known in Silicon Valley as an engineer who built key parts of eBay’s infrastructure. The calls kept coming. Finally, he picked up the phone and let Walmart know exactly what it would take to get him to interview. “I was like, ‘Why don’t you get the CEO on the phone–let him talk to me and then maybe I’ll come in?'” recalls King, who didn’t even know who the CEO of Walmart was. “I was being cocky. The CEO of the world’s largest retailer wasn’t going to meet with me just so I’d do an interview.  The next thing King knew, Walmart arranged for him to join a videoconference with CEO Mike Duke. “It was the strangest thing,” King says. “Mike’s office in Bentonville is the original one that Sam Walton had, complete with 1970s wood paneling. I was looking at this video, thinking, Where is this place?”  https://www.fastcompany.com/3002948/walmarts-evolution-big-box-giant-e-commerce-innovator 

“The bricks-and-mortar albatross” by James Saft in Reuters.  “But underlying the term Black Friday is a business model reality, which, once examined, poses real problems, especially given the impact of the Internet. Physical stores are not simply a combination of assets, labor and merchandise, they are systems, ones with a lot of sunk costs.  Why after all do stores even stay open during slack periods if in fact they only are truly profitable during the holiday rush and other peak periods?   They do so because there are huge upfront costs to setting up a physical retail outlet and once you’ve made those investments in people, facilities and everything else, the economics dictate that you sweat those assets, work them as hard as possible in order to gain as much revenue as you can to recoup fixed costs.”  https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/27/us-column-markets-saft-idUSBRE8AQ06F20121127

“So where will people shop today that isn’t Amazon?” by Shara Tibken at CNET (includes chart ranking top online retailers).  “What it has found is that Amazon, of course, dominates Internet retail. About 14 percent of all Internet users interact with Amazon’s site every day, nearly double eBay in the No. 2 position at 8.8 percent. Deepfield included Amazon’s flagship site and its other smaller Web properties, like MyHabit, in the count.  Zappos and Quidsi, also owned by Amazon, are large enough to be broken out separately. Both fall in the top five in Deepfield’s ranking.  The ranking gets more interesting further down the list with names like Shopify and Shopzilla popping up. Shopify, which ranks third with 5.4 percent share, is an e-commerce hosting site that provides a complete Web storefront offering for more.”  https://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57554048-93/so-where-will-people-shop-today-that-isnt-amazon/  

“Amazon and Pinterest Add Business Pages” by Paul Chaney at Practical Ecommerce.  “Amazon has quietly launched what it refers to as Amazon Marketing Services, which is a suite of self-service tools that merchants can use to promote their products.  The suite contains three components: Amazon Pages, Amazon Posts, and Amazon Analytics.”  https://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/3819-Amazon-and-Pinterest-Add-Business-Pages

Small Business Saturday Spending Exceeded Expectations According to Research from NFIB and American Express.   “According to the second installment of the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released today by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express, consumer awareness of Small Business Saturday jumped to 67 percent from 34 percent just two weeks ago. Of those aware, nearly half (47%) shopped on Small Business Saturday.  The increased awareness translated into higher spending. Those U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday spent a total of $5.5 billion with independent merchants. Pre-holiday surveys estimated that U.S. consumers would spend $5.3 billion.”  https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsLang=en&newsId=20121126006330&div=-1245645151     

Dollar General Launches Mobile Applications with Cyber Monday Deals.  “Many of our shoppers use mobile phones for shopping and to make purchasing decisions,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s executive vice president, division president and chief merchandising officer. “We’re making shopping at Dollar General simpler for our customers by making ads and information available at the touch of a button on their mobile phone.”

The new app allows customers to:

  • Find stores with a store locator.
  • View ads, create shopping lists and share via email or text message.
  • Save money with mobile coupons.
  • Use free Quick Response (QR) scanner to access upcoming sales and unlock additional savings.
  • Connect with Dollar General through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter

“In Two Months, Walgreens Gets 28 Million Loyalty Members” by Patricia Odell from Penton Business Media.  “Eight of the top 10 U.S. retailers have loyalty programs, some for more than a decade like Kroger, and others with just a year under their belt like Lowe’s.  The number of U.S. loyalty program memberships has skyrocketed over the last decade from 97 million in 2000 to 2.09 billion in 2010.  Walgreens debuts Balance Rewards long after many competitors have established loyalty programs, but Holyk sees that as a benefit.  “We thought there was a great opportunity for our late mover advantage and that would really come through in how we designed the program, how we’re able to leverage technology, the data and insights, and really put together a best in class program,” he said.   https://www.equities.com/news/headline-story?dt=2012-11-26&val=755184&cat=hcare 

“Canada’s organic food certification system ‘little more than an extortion racket,’ report says” by Adrian Humphrey’s at The National Post.  “The organic certification industry’s “dirty little secret,” they write, is that “organic crops and livestock are not tested in Canada before they are certified, thus making organic certification essentially meaningless.  The organics industry rejects that notion and defends the integrity of its members and the system.”  https://news.nationalpost.com/2012/11/24/canadas-organic-food-certification-system-little-more-than-an-extortion-racket-report-says/

Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 11/26/12

What’s happening today:  Shoppers showed up in force both in-store and online this Holiday Weekend; Cyber Monday is upon us and a reminder of Amazon’s online retail strength.

Thanksgiving Day Promotions Win Over Millions of Holiday Shoppers, According to National Retail Federation.  Highlights of report:  

According to the survey, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year.

The average person spent $172.42 online over the weekend, or approximately 40.7 percent of their total weekend spending, up from 37.8 percent last year.

Lured by deep discounts and practical spending habits, eight in 10 (79.6%) shoppers took advantage of retailers’ weekend promotions to buy non-gift items.

The average holiday shopper spent $423 this weekend, up from $398 last year. Total spending reached an estimated $59.1 billion.

More people than ever before also shopped online and in stores on Black Friday, as 89 million shoppers braved the crowds, up from 86 million last year.

More than 35 million Americans visited retailers’ stores and websites Thursday – up from 29 million last year.

28.0 percent of weekend shoppers were at the stores by midnight on Black Friday, compared to 24.4 percent last year.


“U.S. holiday shoppers buy early, often, online” from Reuters.  “The more successful retailers, analysts said, were companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Macy’s Inc which did better at combining physical stores with their online and mobile channels into a seamless shopping experience.  “The more you can make a shopper shop multiple channels, they are at least twice as likely to be a loyal shopper and spend tons of money,” Patty Edwards, chief investment officer at investment firm Trutina Financial, said.”  https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/26/uk-usa-retail-idUSLNE8AM00R20121126

…and now onto “Cyber Monday”…

“Cyber Monday likely to be busiest online sales day” by Mae Anderson at the Associated Press.  “It’s estimated that this year’s Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third year in a row: According to research firm comScore, Americans are expected to spend $1.5 billion, up 20 percent from last year on Cyber Monday, as retailers have ramped up their deals to get shoppers to click on their websites.”  https://www.ajc.com/news/ap/top-news/cyber-monday-likely-to-be-busiest-online-sales-day/nTFNL/

“Google Shopping Becomes More Amazon-Like” by Caire Cain Miller in Bits.  “Last week, it introduced wish lists for saving items and sharing them with friends, 360-degree photographs of items, retailer promotions and product reviews.  These updates came after Google made a big change this fall, for the first time including retailers in Google Shopping only if they pay to list their products there. Google said this would make the listings better, because retailers would have an incentive to list up-to-date items.”  https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/google-steps-up-competition-with-amazon-in-shopping/

“A Reminder of Amazon’s Retail Strength” at 24/7 Wall St.  “Its lead over the next few retail sites is so large that it is impossible to imagine that Amazon will ever give up its position. Amazon has crushed the bricks-and-mortar world and continues to do so.  For October, unique visits to Amazon sites came to 108.7 million. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sites were a distant second at 40.7 million. Target Corp. was at the bottom of the list of 50 with 26 million hits, which means no other retailer made the list.”  https://247wallst.com/2012/11/23/a-reminder-of-amazons-retail-strength/

Walmart.com CEO: We Embrace Showrooming” by Marcus Wohlsen in Wired.  ““You’ve got to go where the customer wants you to go. We live in the age of the customer,” Walmart.com President and CEO Joel Anderson told Wired in an interview this week. “We’re embracing showrooming.”  https://www.wired.com/business/2012/11/walmart-embraces-showrooming

“Wal-Mart India suspends CFO and legal team in corruption probe” by Veena Venugopal in Quartz.  “India is ranked 95th out of 175 countries in the corruption perception index, and it is widely held that running a business without bribing government officials is nearly impossible here.”   https://qz.com/30440/wal-mart-india-suspends-cfo-and-legal-team-in-corruption-probe/

“Come fly with Menards:  Retailer seeks 50 workers to commute weekly to Minot, N.D. store” by Eric Lindquist in the Leader-Telegram.  “So when officials from Menard Inc. observed a severe labor shortage in Minot, N.D., and a plentiful supply of workers in Eau Claire, it was only logical for them to decide to fly workers from their headquarters city in Wisconsin to the community on the edge of North Dakota’s booming oil patch….The workers will be getting an immersion experience in a part of the country that has been equated with the Wild West because of the rapid growth, high wages and supply shortages associated with the boom in the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, industry.”  https://www.leadertelegram.com/news/front_page/article_72685882-36c6-11e2-a8af-0019bb2963f4.html 

“Sears President: We’re Making Improvements in Customer Experience” on Fox Business (Video).  Sears President Ronald Boire on the outlook for holiday sales and efforts to turn the store around.  https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1986831091001/sears-president-were-making-improvements-in-customer-experience

Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 11/23/12

Happy Black Friday!!

“To Lure Shoppers, Wal-Mart Tries Same-Day Delivery” by Jeff Brady at NPR News (audio and text).  Walmart testing same day delivery in Northern Virginia, Philly, Minneapolis, San Jose and San Francisco during holidays.  https://www.wbur.org/npr/165592058/to-lure-shoppers-wal-mart-tries-same-day-delivery

“Canadian retailers cast ‘Black Friday’ net to keep shoppers at home — and spending” by Vito Pilieci in the Edmonton Journal.  “According to the Retail Council of Canada, 2012 is marking a bit of a watershed moment for Canadian retailers, who have for years watched as busloads of Canadians headed south to the United States to take advantage of post-Thanksgiving sale prices.  This year, the Canadian retailers have simply had enough.”  https://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Canadian+retailers+cast+Black+Friday+keep+shoppers+home/7590854/story.html 

“Here’s A Holiday-Shopping Chart That Should Terrify Google Investors” by Owen Thomas at Business Insider.  “So far this month, Amazon and eBay’s sales are way up over last year—41.5% and 24.5% respectively. Sales through search and comparison shopping engines are flat or down.  At the same time, sales are strongly shifting off of PCs—an environment where shopping typically starts by typing what you’re looking for into a search engine—and onto tablets and smartphones, where it’s much more common to shop with an app.”  https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-ebay-google-mobile-shopping-2012-11

60 Percent of U.S. Adults Plan to Shop and Buy Gifts Thanksgiving Weekend, According to CEA Survey.  “CEA’s Pre-Black Friday Survey found that 60 percent of U.S. adults plan to shop Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, through Cyber Monday, with Black Friday expected to be the busiest shopping day of the weekend. Overall, 37 percent of U.S. adults plan to shop this Friday, with one-third (33 percent) going to a retail store and 20 percent shopping online. Saturday and Cyber Monday will be the next most popular shopping days of the weekend, with more than a third (34 percent) of adults planning to shop on Saturday and a quarter (25 percent) will go in-store or online on Monday.”  https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsLang=en&newsId=20121120006482&div=-1245645151

“The Secret Place Where Apple Hides Your Shopping Bags” by Buster Heine at Cult of Mac (includes picture).  “When you walk into an Apple Store the only thing Apple wants you to think about are Macs, iPhones, iPads and iPods…Next time you’re in a store, take a gander under the tables to see what kind of stuff Apple is hiding.”https://www.cultofmac.com/202132/the-secret-place-where-apple-hides-your-shopping-bags-image/#B0tGlkl41iXdGDTm.99

“Tablets, discounters top U.S. holiday shopping lists” by Jessica Wohl at Reuters.  “Amazon is the top online retailer shoppers plan to visit more than they did last year, with 42 percent picking it, 38 percent choosing Walmart, 23 percent selecting Target and 14 percent picking EBay.  Physical stores remain the top destination, with 26 percent planning to shop primarily at stores and only 14 percent planning to shop primarily online.”  https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/20/us-usa-retail-holiday-poll-idUSBRE8AJ1BF20121120 

Wal-Mart exec: ‘Great shopping experience’ despite strike’ at NBC News (with video).  “Wal-Mart’s chief marketing officer Duncan Mac Naughton tells TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie that the retail company is “confident” that customers will not be affected by employees strikes.”  https://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/49914793/#49914793

“Target Corp. goes on 50 years of Black Friday’s” by Annie Baxter on Minnesota Public Radio (audio and text).  “They didn’t call it Black Friday at the time, but 50 years ago Target held its first-ever day-after-Thanksgiving sale.  The discount retailer had just begun to operate in May 1962.  By coincidence, Wal-Mart and Kmart also opened their doors that year.”  https://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/11/21/business/target-corp-50-years/

“Get Instragram prints from…Walgreens” by Suzanne Choney at NBC News.  “Now, a new app, Printicular, lets you order up Instagram 4×4 prints from Walgreens, and pick them up in an hour. It makes sense for Walgreens: Instagram now has more than 100 million users.”  https://www.nbcnews.com/technology/gadgetbox/get-instagram-prints-walgreens-1C7181506

Kodak Extends Retail Printing Relationship with CVS/pharmacy.  “Eastman Kodak Company today announced that it will extend its relationship with CVS/pharmacy through 2016. CVS/pharmacy operates 7,400 stores across the U.S. and is the largest customer of Kodak’s Retail Systems Solutions (RSS) business.”  https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20121116006088/en/Kodak-Extends-Retail-Printing-Relationship-CVSpharmacy

Resend: Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 11/21/12

Worker Organization Files Federal Charge against Walmart.  “The planned strikes, which OUR Walmart members announced would be part of 1,000 store protests on and leading up to Black Friday, are in protest of Walmart’s ongoing attempts to silence workers for speaking out for better jobs. Because the planned strikes are in protest to unfair labor practices like silencing workers through scheduling changes, reductions in hours, and even firings, workers are legally protected under federal labor law.”  https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsLang=en&newsId=20121120006518&div=-1245645151 

“Why The Wal-Mart Black Friday Protests Won’t Work” by Rick Newman in US News.  “One question for the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of Wal-Mart workers who are planning to disrupt the retailers’ stores over the Thanksgiving weekend: Have you noticed what just happened to Hostess?”  https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/rick-newman/2012/11/20/why-the-wal-mart-black-friday-protests-wont-work

World’s Largest Shoe Floor Sets Foot On Broadway at Macy’s Herald Square.  “On a street renowned for awe-inspiring productions, the fall 2012 opening of the World’s Largest Shoe Floor at Macy’s Herald Square is one of the most exciting and epic events of the season, with the debut of more than 250,000 pair of women’s shoes in a posh, new, 63,000 square-foot space on the second floor of the iconic flagship.”  https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsLang=en&newsId=20121120006008&div=-1245645151

“Walgreen unveils Bucktown (Chicago) flagship, plans more upscale stores nationwide” by Brigid Sweeney in Crain’s-Chicago Business (includes pictures).  “Walgreen Co. is unveiling a new flagship location in Bucktown, and store executives say about 10 other upscale stores — in locations ranging from Hawaii to inside New York’s Empire State Building — will be complete by early 2014…The space, a historic bank building that dates to 1919, was vacant before Walgreen purchased it in 2010 and began renovations, executives of the drug chain said.”  https://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20121120/BLOGS01/121129985

“Apple Posts Black Friday Sale Teaser Online, Don’t Expect Retail Stores To Open Very Early” by Alex Heath in Cult of Mac.  “If you’re a longtime Apple customer, you know that the company’s Black Friday deals are infamously weak. The biggest kind of discount you’ll typically see is $40-$60 off an iPad or $100 off a Mac.  Still, it’s the only time of the year that Apple discounts anything, so the deals are worth noting. Nothing specific has leaked out yet about the deals that will be happening this Friday, but expect some modest price cuts on all of the new products Apple introduced over the past few months.”  https://www.cultofmac.com/201989/apple-posts-black-friday-sale-teaser-online-dont-expect-retail-stores-to-open-very-early/#edzWvDvEwhqVtiv0.99 

“New body scanner offers virtual tape measure for online shopping” by Chris Wickham from Reuters.  “Shoppers are still nervous about ordering clothes online because they often do not fit and, some say, there will never be a substitute for trying something on – one reason why the boom in online retail has not had the same impact on clothing as on music, books and electronics retailing.  In the United States, for instance, the consultancy ComScore estimated that only 14 percent of online spending went on clothes and accessories in the year to June.” https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/21/science-bodyscan-shopping-idUSL5E8MKCLV20121121 

“Best Buy reports loss” by Spencer Platt at CBS News.  “Best Buy’s third-quarter financial performance was clearly unsatisfactory,” said CEO Hubert Joly, the turnaround expert tapped to lead Best Buy in August.  The electronics chain is trying to reverse a year long decline in its business as competition from online stores and discounters increases, and consumers’ tastes shift from more profitable items like TVs and desktop computers toward less profitable smartphones and tablets.” https://www.cbsnews.com/8301-34227_162-57552614/best-buy-reports-loss/

“Target Turkey Dinner Costs Less Than Wal-Mart” by Leslie Patton in Bloomberg.  “Target has been pretty clear, through their actions, that they want to have a very competitive holiday season so it’s not surprising that it translated over to food,” Bartashus said in an interview. While Target is “clearly trying to bolster sales with promotions,” Wal-Mart promotes everyday low prices and doesn’t do much discounting, she said.”  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-20/target-turkey-dinner-costs-less-than-wal-mart.html

Amazon.com Asks The Made In America Store to Join Their E-Commerce Site.  “The Made In America Store was recently asked to join Amazon.com’s online web-store. The internet store giant, Amazon.com, has been looking for a brick & mortar store that sells US manufactured goods to keep up with the growing demand of American made products. The Made In America Store was the perfect candidate, bringing over 2,000 different US manufactured goods.”  https://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/11/prweb10148157.htm 

“Heinz aims for new growth in dollar, drug stores as profits surge” by Kim Leonard in Trib Live Business.  “Heinz’s management team has “begun to make progress on alternate channels like drug and dollar stores” through improved distribution and products aimed at price-conscious shoppers….  That’s not having much impact yet. “We’re just now getting into dollar stores, and we’ve cracked Dollar General on Ore-Ida,”…adding Heinz is “grossly underdeveloped” in terms of getting products on shelves at the stores that have fared well through tough economic times…. Dollar stores have been growing faster than any other retail format, and they sell many of the products that Heinz would produce,” said John Stanton, a professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “My only question is, why haven’t they done this already?  https://triblive.com/business/headlines/2993196-74/percent-heinz-sales-stores-dollar-products-business-grew-market-share#ixzz2CrbQFwmT

Eye-on-Retail Tipsheet 11/20/12: Lowe’s Q3 call deep dive; Amazon would “love” to open retail stores.

Yesterday’s Lowe’s Q3 Earnings Call Highlights 

Heard on the Call…


In the US, Lowe’s is focused on two large bodies of work this year — value improvement and product differentiation.

Through these efforts, Lowe’s expects to deliver comp transaction growth and better gross margin by localizing assortment (i.e. store clustering), driving excitement in stores through better display techniques, and managing an appropriate balance of product costs and retail pricing.  Lowe’s expects to have this work done by mid-2013.

Accelerated line reviews and resets

Expect to finish line reviews in 90% of categories by end of this fiscal year.

Expect to reset 40-50% of  business by the end of this fiscal year.

Resets are “peaking now” in early fourth quarter

Categories that have gone through reset have stabilized.

About 3-4 dozen categories have reached “normalization” stage now

Less than 20% of categories have “normalized” at this point

Seeking to improve product line designs…to make them more relevant to the markets they serve…reducing duplication among price points.

Tile category held up as an example of the accelerated line review process working well.  Lowe’s started with consumer insights..used analysis to group stores into four clusters…sent firm expectations to vendor partners to bring innovation to line review..result was dropping duplicated skus while adding new wood looks…still reducing inventory by 20%…while investing in more inventory of popular and new styles and sizes.

Paint cited as a category that benefited from reset.  They developed four new color collections one for each season…introduced premixed paint samples…and simplified offering of paint applicators.

Redirecting inventory dollar savings and vendor promotional dollars to higher velocity skus, job lot quantities, etc.


Product differentiation – Lowe’s is in the process of updating endcaps and is working to have better adjacencies with inline inventory.  A cross-functional team is spearheading the process.

Endcaps — What’s working:  Innovation endcaps, videos.

Endcaps — What isn’t working:  “Theme” endcaps with multiple products…Takeaway “keep it simple”.  Adjacencies to inline inventory is a weak spot but they’re working to remedy.

Q3 Comps

Categories that comped above company average:  lumber, tools, lawn and garden, cabinets, paint, storage, cleaning, appliances and hardware.

12 of 14 product categories positive comped in Q3.

Nearly 2/3 of product categories comped above co. average in Q3.

Strength in commercial business..which is 25% of sales.

Lawn and garden cited as a Q3 success story where they were prepared with ample inventory and drove improved attachment rates in live goods, fertilizers, solid rocks and mulch.

Consumer sentiment

Housing market is “on the mend”…but overall consumers remain cautiously optimistic.

Consumer sentiment study conducted by Lowe’s found that  spending is staying the same or declining and the majority of those who delay a project site a lack of income growth as the primary reason.

Consumer sentiment study also found that the overwhelming number of projects planned for the next three months are for tickets under $500.


Lowe’s details storm stages as 1) Prep, 2) Impact, 3) Cleanup and 4) Recovery.  Regarding Sandy, they say they’ve already been through the Prep and Impact stages and some of Cleanup.  Cleanup will continue into Q4 and Recovery will extend into 2013.

Canada — Rona

“We like Canada from a market standpoint…pleased with performance of our 32 stores..continue to make improvement…but we need more scale..will come from opening additional stores…ecommerce site in Canada now open..ships to home or store…will also continue to look at acquisitions.”

Click here for webcast:  https://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=95223&p=irol-EventDetails&EventId=4869856


“Lowe’s efforts to cut costs, spur sales paying off” by Phil Wohba at Reuters.  “Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter, in a research note, called the results “a promising inflection” that signed Lowe’s efforts are “beginning to take hold.  On a call with analysts, Chief Executive Robert Niblock said the company’s current transformation phase would end in mid-2013.”  https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/19/us-lowes-results-idUSBRE8AI0QK20121119

“Jeff Bezos: We would love to open Amazon retail stores” by Dan Farber at CNET (Video with text).  Bezos — “We would love to but only if we can have a truly differentiated idea. We don’t do a me-too product offering very well. When I look at physical retail stores, it’s very well served. The people who operate physical retail stores are very good at it. The question we would always have before we would embark on such an thing is what’s the idea, what would we do that would be different, how would it be better… we don’t want to be redundant.”  https://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57551081-93/jeff-bezos-we-would-love-to-open-amazon-retail-stores/

“Amazon goes Hollywood” by JP Mangalinden in CNN Money/Fortune.  “Can Amazon do to Hollywood what it has done to the publishing and retailing industries? Two years ago Jeff Bezos & Co. launched Amazon Studios, which aims to compete with traditional production companies by developing feature-length films and television series — with a distinctly Amazonian twist: Scripts and pitches are uploaded online, and may be evaluated and commented on by the public.”    https://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/11/16/bezos-amazon-studios/

CareerBliss Announces the Top 10 Happiest Stores for Your Shopping Pleasure. “CareerBliss analyzed more than ten thousand independent company reviews, evaluating which retail employees were happiest. Nordstrom—known for its customer service oriented culture—tops the list in providing a happy work environment for its employees. Following Nordstrom is Macy’s, OfficeMax, Best Buy and GameStop to round out the happiest retailers in America.”  https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsLang=en&newsId=20121119006880&div=-1245645151

“Wal-Mart fights back as Black Friday strike nears” by Jessica Wohl in The Christian Science Monitor.  “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is taking legal measures to sop months of protests at stores nationwide, filing charges against the union it says is behind such actions. The move comes as a group of Wal-Mart workers prepare to strike on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.”  https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2012/1119/Wal-Mart-fights-back-as-Black-Friday-strike-nears  

“Pinterest Releases Business Accounts” by Armando Roggio in Practical Ecommerce.  “Thousands of businesses have become part of our community, giving great ideas, content and inspiration to people on Pinterest. Whether it’s Anthropologie sharing awesome clothes, Whole Foods sharing tasty recipes, the Smithsonian sharing fascinating collections, or Amazon making products easy to pin, many of us have been inspired on Pinterest by businesses. We want to help more businesses provide great content on Pinterest and make it easy to pin from their websites. Today, we’re taking a first step toward that goal with some free tools and resources,” wrote Pinterest Product Manager, Cat Lee on the company’s blog.”  https://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/3812-Pinterest-Releases-Business-Accounts

“Staples CEO Sargent quits Home Depot board” by  Jacques Couret in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.  “The Atlanta-based home improvement giant reported in a U.S. Securities and Exchange filing..Staples Inc. Chairman and CEO Ronald L. Sargent resigned immediately from the Home Depot (NYSE: HD) board of directors.” https://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2012/11/16/staples-ceo-sargent-quits-home-depot.html

“Sears Canada launches new ad campaign for holiday season” (Video with text) by Hollie Shaw at Financial Post.  “The company is trying to focus promoting its core merchandise categories including major appliances and furniture before Target Canada opens in Spring 2013. This week Sears Canada reported a net loss in the third quarter and a 7% drop in revenue.”  https://business.financialpost.com/2012/11/15/sears-canada-launches-new-ad-campaign-for-holiday-season/