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On November 20, 2016, ARS commented on CostCo: Creating Membership Value in a Digital World :

Great post, Kent! I agree with your recommendation of pursuing the “buy online, pick up in-store” strategy. Many retailers have seen success with this strategy because it’s also effective in driving incremental sales – that is, customers that come to pick up their online order often pick up additional items as they walk to the pick up section of the store.

I was also interested to learn about Costco’s Collaborative Retail Exchange. Through the exchange, they seem to be leveraging big data to efficiently match supply with demand. It also reminded me of the beer supply chain simulation – allowing suppliers higher up the chain to have the same visibility to customer demand data that the downstream retailer has. I’m curious about the impacts that the exchange has had to both the suppliers’ and Costco’s operating models and bottom lines.

On November 20, 2016, ARS commented on Targeting a New Future :

Thanks for this post! As an avid Target shopper, it was interesting to learn about their digital transformation in the rise of ecommerce. It seems that most big-box retailers are executing the same general strategies: leveraging their stores as an online order distribution network, investing in their mobile app, and utilizing big data to personalize customer experiences.

I would challenge the causal insinuation of the statistic “Guests who shop Target in stores and online generate three times the sales compared to those who shop at physical store locations alone.” I don’t necessarily think that customers spend more simply because they have access to both physical and digital channels. It could also be the case that the customers who love Target the most engage in all of their channels, and therefore being one of Target’s best customers made them an omnichannel shopper – not necessarily that the omnichannel strategy made them one of Target’s best customers.

On November 20, 2016, ARS commented on Euclid Analytics and Rethinking the IoT for Consumer Goods :

Great post, Tom! There’s an interesting paradox within this shopping behavior and location monitoring technology: retailers like Nordstrom will face backlash when they employ this in physical stores, but they are using similar technologies to monitor online shopping and web browsing behavior and not facing nearly the same scrutiny. Having an ecommerce platform offers all of the data that retailers are now looking to acquire within stores: customer pathways within the website, how long they spend on a given category or product page, bottlenecks within the checkout process. I wonder if this is because consumers have just become accustomed to this being the price to pay to shop online, and are not yet willing to fundamentally shift their thinking of what constitutes physical shopping norms. If this is the case, I think retailers will still see low opt-in penetration for this (even with incentives), as it requires a fundamental consumer behavior shift – which, as we’ve learned, is incredibly difficult to accomplish.

On November 20, 2016, ARS commented on Airbnb: Using Technology to Reimagine Travel :

Great post, Sam! I never considered how hosts priced their homes, and found Airbnb’s Smart Pricing feature quite interesting. It essentially helps hosts do what Uber does with surge pricing – effectively matching supply with demand and thus maximizing revenue. This feature allows Airbnb to leverage big data to make strategic pricing decisions. It was also interesting to learn about this tool in the context of the pricing cases we’ve had recently in Marketing, as most companies do not strategically price their products, and usually follow a simple formula of cost plus markup, matching competitors, or adding a certain percentage to last year’s price.

On November 20, 2016, ARS commented on ZALORA: the online revolution of the fast-fashion industry :

Great post, Clara! I found these additional insights about Zalora’s digital business and operating models incredibly interesting as a supplement to the Zalora marketing case. I completely agree with your 3 suggestions for how Zalora can continue in its digital transformation journey. Getting the mobile strategy right, making the marketplace less cumbersome for both suppliers and customers, and widening the net for customer acquisition are all key for Zalora’s continued growth.

I did, however, find the statistic about Bangkok having 100% of its population on Facebook hard to believe, and found it difficult to find data verifying that claim. Do you think this is a case of misleading data? I could see it being the case where all users who have listed Bangkok as either their hometown or current city are counted in the Facebook user population, but that doesn’t necessarily mean every single current resident of Bangkok is on Facebook. Similarly, the statistic about Southeast Asia having 110% mobile penetration also seemed misleading – doesn’t penetration by its very definition mean it can’t exceed 100%?

Thanks for this post! I respect that General Mills is using its size and strength within the food industry to drive sustainability efforts across the entire value chain, but I agree with you that GM could do even more to exert its influence on suppliers’ practices.

In addition to incentivizing and supporting the supply side of their business model, I was intrigued by your idea of impacting the demand side through a consumer education campaign. I wonder if GM has enough brand equity to authentically promote sustainability? I’m worried consumers may see this as an inauthentic attempt by a big corporation to “be good” – I would encourage them to maximize their internal and supply chain sustainability efforts, then actively promote these efforts to consumers, then use the positive brand equity to launch the consumer education campaign you suggest.

On November 7, 2016, ARS commented on UPS – How 3PLs are Confronting Climate Change :

Thanks for this post! As an avid online shopper, I was really interested to read about how climate change is affecting UPS and its efforts to curb the effects. You mentioned that UPS passes on price increases in oil to its consumers – does a government service like USPS do the same? If not, I wonder if UPS’ business suffers when oil prices are high, as consumers choose USPS for the price savings.

Also, you suggested UPS charge consumers for underutilization of the trailer – although this would be profitable for UPS, this may have negative ramifications for the rest of the environment. Essentially, this may incentivize consumers to consume more than they need, further contributing to waste and climate change. UPS should holistically consider the impact of its decisions when pursuing sustainability efforts.

Thanks for this post! I just read about the possible declining supply of wine and now of coffee… certainly two big effects of climate change that we’ll want to curb! I’m impressed by the work that Starbucks is doing to ensure almost all of its coffee is ethically sourced and its efforts to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product.

In regards to your posed potential solution of developing a coffee varietal that grows in warm temperatures, I think a marketing campaign would be required to build consumer demand for this new type of coffee. While this would be another investment required in their sustainability efforts, I think there’s potential for long-term benefits. The demand for instant coffee was actually built entirely through marketing, and I think Starbucks has the potential to change our consumption habits as well.

On November 7, 2016, ARS commented on Will Global Warming Destroy E&J Gallo Winery? :

Thanks for this post! Agreed – wine is good and we should do more. While I agree that getting consumers to want new types of wine will be a challenge for the marketing team, I don’t think it’s a challenge they should shy away from. The entire demand for the wine and beer industry has been heavily created by marketing (think Super Bowl beer commercials), and I think their past success shows that addressing this new challenge is one they can take on. Rather than being reactive and waiting for the market to eventually shift its consumption habits (as Nick Dokoozlian believes), I think E&J should proactively take on the role of shifting these habits via marketing.

On November 7, 2016, ARS commented on “Waste”-ing our Planet Away :

Thanks for this post! I was shocked to find out that the public interest in recycling has actually driven up recycling costs for ADS because consumers often incorrectly recycle items. I’m interested in discussing possible solutions for this – would a big public education campaign or better labeled recycling bins help? If companies like ADS already sort through waste for recyclables, perhaps the solution is reverting back to single-type trash cans and creating a PR campaign to educate consumers about how their waste will be recycled for them.