Addison Phillips

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On November 20, 2016, Addison Phillips commented on Bricks and Clicks: How Walmart is Winning with Digital Technology :

I am shocked that 85% of Walmart customers pay with cash! They clearly are being very innovative with technology, particularly with ways to improve the in-store experience, but I think one thing that could help insulate them from competition from Amazon is to find a way to get these cash-paying customers to set up some sort of debit card with Walmart similar to what we saw with Alipay in the Alibaba case. I fear overtime Amazon Fresh will become more affordable (they have already lowered membership 40%) and with Amazon’s distribution centers, they eventually could reach delivery within an hour. However, if Walmart is able to establish a payment system for these cash customers they will become much stickier customers and rely on Walmart to be able to shop online.

On November 20, 2016, Addison Phillips commented on Hi. Meet Alexa. :

This is a very interesting article! As the number of apps begin to overwhelm the consumer, there is clearly a race between the tech giants to capture the interface from which the consumer can interact with all the other services. While many have focused on messenger being that interface (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Apple’s iMessage), Amazon is really the only one focusing on audio. My biggest concern for Amazon is as you said this requires a network effect, but there is a barrier to purchasing the product. While it is making efforts to make it more affordable with the Echo Dot, $50 is still a meaningful purchase. I wonder how Amazon can compete with its hardware when Facebook is free and Slack has a freemium model and is just a download away on any device. I wonder if it is feasible for Echo to become part of the smartphone or perhaps for Amazon to give the hardware for free and set up a freemium model for the services you can use it for. It will be very interesting to see who wins this race to be the main interface!

On November 20, 2016, Addison Phillips commented on Kroger: Sensors, Coming to Aisle Near You :

Very interesting article! They are clearly making a lot of great investments to improve the customer experience in-store and out of the store (with less spoiled food). My fear for Kroger is that their issue is not solved by improving the in-store experience, but rather competing with the rapid emergence of companies delivering groceries / meals. Amazon Fresh recently slashed its membership fee and is rapidly expanding into cities and at the same time you have companies such has BlueApron that deliver ingredients for meals. I read Kroger has launched online ordering with curbside pickup, but I wonder if that will be enough. A lot of restaurants are facing similar problems, with the demand for delivery driven by the millennials, these companies will have to face the reality of whether they will spend the money to build out the infrastructure and delivery capabilities or perhaps suffer market share loss. Hopefully some of the technology that could make delivery more feasible (autonomous cars and drones) comes soon enough for these companies to survive!

Great article! I think this technology has a lot of potential. I think the next step for Humanyze will be to go from diagnostic to predictive analytics. What I mean by this, is take the current state of the team and recommend actions they should take to improve future performance. This could be particularly interesting if they could partner with a company like Slack that is starting to manage the communication and scheduling of teams. Humanyze may be able to identify two people on a team should chat and schedule the meeting through Slack or realize a team needs to make a decision and launch a poll on Slack. I think a lot of times managers or teams see this data, but do not really know how to make it actionable (I wonder if you came across this pushback in your analysis?) and this could be a great opportunity for Humanyze to leverage their data and make teams more effective.

On November 20, 2016, Addison Phillips commented on Using digital technology to enable impulse shopping :

This is a great article! It is actually very interesting, because I follow some blog influencers and I always see them reference, though I am embarrassed to say I never figured out if you liked it they would send you an e-mail. I wonder if I am alone in that, or if maybe they have not captured a lot of customers because they are unaware of the technology!

Regardless, I am shocked that Facebook has seen their success and has not decided to take on this market directly, especially since you can buy products advertised on Facebook. Do you know why Instagram has been slow to allow external links so they can benefit from the commission and traffic they are clearly driving? It will be interesting to see what happens if Instagram does do this. I wonder if can leverage their existing relationship with retailers and offer a lower commission or free access to the data it has accumulated to make themselves stick around.

On November 7, 2016, Addison Phillips commented on The Climate Change Challenge for Institutional Investors :

This was very interesting to read. I have heard of many early-stage investment firms focusing on green technology, but was surprised to see such an established company that invests in the public market pursuing a similar strategy. One pushback I have is on your argument that it should divest these stocks due to its commitment for high returns for its beneficiaries given the negative impact policies could have on these companies. Given my experience as a public market investor, one lesson I learned is timing is everything. As simple as it sounds, you want to buy low and sell high. While I agree such policies could be detrimental to the firm’s investments, is it really a near-term threat? As we have seen regulation takes time and unless there is reason to believe legislation will be passed in the next year, I would agree with the investment firm, they are better off staying invested, leveraging their influence on the company and maximizing returns for the investor.

On November 7, 2016, Addison Phillips commented on Blame the Auto Dealers: Why Electric Cars Aren’t Getting Traction :

This is a really interesting conflict of interest. You highlighted two possible calls to action. I would like to pushback on the idea that overriding franchise laws to open up the auto sales channels would make a meaningful difference. Under the assumption Tesla and other PEV makers are able to go direct-to-consumer, it will require an intent by the consumer to buy that electric car which does not really solve the problem since I believe consumers that want an electric car are finding ways to get it. But rather, I think they should focus on your second proposal of pursuing some sort of subsidy program to reorient dealers’ incentives since their is an educational part to the sale of PEVs since they are so new and such a small part of the market. In other words, I think in order to gain market share it is necessary to capture the consumer in the traditional channel where there will naturally be foot traffic, and then educate and convert them.

On November 7, 2016, Addison Phillips commented on The Iconic Red Coke Bottle Tries Green On for Size :

I found this very interesting, in particular, the parallels it has to the Ikea case. Both are industry leaders that are focused on what they can do within their own organization and with their supply chain to reduce their harmful effects and their threatened raw materials. One lesson we learned from Ikea is it is very hard to force your supply chain to adhere to certain environmental standards. We saw Ikea focus on vertically integrated their supply chain and buy forests. My question for you would be has Coca-Cola considered making this investment in its supply chain? Unlike furniture that can be made from different materials other than wood, I think it is safe to say Coca-Cola will not be changing its recipe for its classic drinks so there would be less threat to investing in the supplies. In addition, I imagine the yields for sugar crops are much faster than the 50 years Ikea was facing.

One push-back on this could be that in Ikea’s case, despite Ikea being a market leader, it was a very fragmented industry. Coca-Cola operates in a much more consolidated industry so perhaps it has more bargaining power and control over its suppliers, particularly if others in the industry are focused on similar initiatives which I know Pepsi and General Mills are.

On November 7, 2016, Addison Phillips commented on A Melting World: Ben & Jerry’s in the Age of Climate Change :

This is a great post! One pushback I have on this is that a lot of their initiatives are focused on their supply chain and are not very inward looking. Ellen touched upon this in her comment when she wanted to know more about the sustainability of the products they use in the production process, but I would like to push this a step forward and ask if they have taken any measures on their manufacturing plant? I presume the manufacturing process relies on large energy usage. Have they made any moves to make their plants eco-friendly such as relying on solar panels? It is great to make their suppliers green, but it would be the pot calling the kettle black if they did not do their part to not contribute to the problem with their production plants!

On November 7, 2016, Addison Phillips commented on Hyatt: Environmental Sustainability in Hospitality Industry :

Great post! I did my analysis on another hotel, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and in the process, discovered most of the major hotel chains are taking big strides toward being environmentally friendly. Interestingly, IHG is almost entirely franchised and their initiative set targets on the franchised hotel to reduce water use and energy use per room by 10% by 2017. They rolled out a similar tool to Eco-Track to their franchised hotels and also include a list of 200 “green” initiatives they could pursue. In addition, they did the most intensive risk-assessment of water management to develop a catered plan for each franchisee. I bring this up for two reasons: 1) I certainly think Hyatt should and can roll this out to their franchisee, there is a huge financial incentive for franchisees to pursue these initiatives (energy is the third largest cost for these hotels and water usage makes up 10% of the operating expenses of a hotel) but they may lack the know-how which Hyatt can provide and 2) I do not think there is a competitive disadvantage by rolling out these initiatives because all the big players are doing this, in fact, I would go as far as to say it is a disadvantage to not be doing this at the franchisee level.

I do agree with you that there is a lot more innovation they can be pursuing. New technology on laundry and dish washing has come out that can significantly reduce water consumption. Many hotels are installing electric car chargers at their hotels to encourage eco-friendly transportation to and from their facility. I think it is important not to just check the boxes to get LEED certification, but to think outside the box. Every hotel can learn a lot by studying their competitors, because while there is a lot of innovation, it is very fragmented across the industry.