Wayfair is such an innovative company. Really liked the article. The quality, customer service, and buying experience for Wayfair is really what sets the company apart from its peers. They have built this amazing brand and the implementation of VR makes sense given how focused they are on the customer experience. I would be interested to see if the company will introduce any brick-and-mortar stores to capture the “bricks and clicks” strategy like Casper, Warby Parker, or Bonobos have done?
On the digitization initiative, I wonder if Wayfair should also focus on more pressing issues like mobile? While VR is amazing and will be the way of the future, we are still many years (or a decades?) away from VR being as common as your iPhone. Also, given that Wayfair is now publicly traded, there are always issues with pleasing shareholders while also innovating on capital-intensive projects like VR. I hope the company continues to innovate and lead the way in the home-buying sector.
I love this. I had never heard of PillPack before, but this seems like a massive, disruptive opportunity in the pharmacy space.
In terms of competitiveness, I do worry that PillPack is significantly increasing its costs by taking on the cost of carrying inventory from wholesalers. For example, does PillPack carry specialty pills that help patients with rare diseases or ailments? PillPack seems like a fantastic business model for common drugs for issues like hypertension or asthma, but I worry that PillPack will either not have the specialty pills that a CVS / Express Scripts carries, or that it will be a long delay because they need to order the specialty pill from the wholesaler. If the entire value proposition is that PillPack puts all of the drugs you need in a daily pouch, then they need to be able to fill all orders, even rare prescriptions. This would be my main question for the company.
Nice post. I wonder if GS will break out the actual profitability / operating results of GSBank in its 10-Q or 10-K. Also, the move into the Marcus lending platform is a great strategic move for the company, given that peer-to-peer lenders like Lending Club and Prosper have recently been struggling due to higher borrowing costs, defaults, and legal issues. Marcus could be a nice alternative in the peer-lending space.
In terms of digitization, I am slightly confused as to why GSBank has not offered an ATM card or any standard banking products? It seems like if they want to make a real market share gain in retail banking that they need to provide more robust offerings. Online banking competitors like Schwab and Fidelity give you the online banking aspect of an ATM and reimburse you for all ATM fees from 3rd-party banks such as Chase, Citi, etc.
I agree that the existing business model of GameStop is quite outdated, especially as Playstation and Xbox users increasingly just download the games via the app store and don’t even buy the CD/disk on Amazon (or GameStop).
If I am sitting in the management office of GameStop, I would advise them to focus on virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Given the extremely high price points of these products (the Playstation VR bundle is ~$600 and that assumes you already own a PS4), I think GameStop could stage a comeback as a user experience testing center for VR products. From a personal viewpoint, I am hesitant to lay out so much money on the Playstation VR bundle but I am not sure where I can test it out. If GameStop focuses on being a place to experience / test out VR, I think they could sustain some of the revenue loss from digitization / Amazon.
Interesting post. I did not know that Nordstrom was closely monitoring Pinterest and Instagram, but that seems like the way of the future in how to track customers and determine what to stock in inventory. I am pessimistic about the massive brick-and-mortar presence of legacy Nordstrom stores. Recently, the IRS shut down one of the most popular methods of disposing of real estate — spinning off the real estate assets in to a Real Estate Investment Trust a.k.a. a REIT (see http://www.wsj.com/articles/irs-shuts-down-remaining-channels-for-reit-spinoffs-1465325526). I would think that this recent ruling will force Nordstrom to double-down its focus on the digitization efforts and look at ways to continue to monetize “likes” and “pins”.
Great post. It seems clear that Vail Resorts faces some serious headwinds to its business in both the short-term and the long-term in terms of its operations. However, the company’s shares are doing very well: MTN currently trades at 30x forward EPS and the markets cheered the recent Whistler acquisition (http://www.wsj.com/articles/vail-resorts-to-buy-whistler-blackcomb-1470656971).
I would argue that the most pressing issue facing the company — the need to develop more energy-efficient and cost-effective snowmaking technology — would be best suited for a private company. As a publicly traded entity, I see Vail Resorts taking a short-term approach as it will want to meet (or beat) earnings each quarter. As a private company, Vail Resorts could invest substantially in to the technology that will be required for its long-term existence. While this substantial near-term investment could negatively impact earnings in the next few quarters (or years), it is likely necessary for Vail Resorts to exist as a going-concern. While Vail Resorts can do its part to affect climate change, I think it could do the most as a privately-held company.
Great post, I think you made a strong case for how TATA has been leading the way in India. I would argue, however, that the most important focus for TATA going forward should be “making the business case” for the rest of the companies in India, since the government is not doing enough. As a country, India is taking a much more conservative approach than other major polluting countries such as the US, China, and Brazil — last year they agreed in advance of the Paris Accord to slow but not reduce its absolute rate of carbon emissions (see http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/02/world/asia/india-announces-plan-to-lower-rate-of-greenhouse-gas-emissions.html?_r=0). Other countries agreed to reduce the absolute rate of carbon emissions. Therefore, TATA must make the business case for other companies in India, many of whom have an increasingly important role in the globalized economy.
Interesting post. I agree that WFM has done a great job so far, however I think there are some additional areas in which they are also doing fantastic work.
One of the sustainability practices that WFM does really well is sustainable fishing. Per the most recent Greenpeace report on sustainable fishing (http://cato.greenpeaceusa.org/Carting-Away-the-Oceans-9.pdf), WFM placed first for the third year in a row for its sustainable fishing practices. While crop yields are often the most-discussed area for climate change affecting food, there is also concern with warming waters and changing oceans that will destroy or alter existing habitats. WFM ranks #1 for canned tuna sustainability and recently called on government regulators to review Bering Sea Canyons ecosystems to ensure ocean ecology was not being hampered.
Combining the renewable energy / reduced waste initiatives with actually procuring sustainable food makes WFM a leader in the grocery industry. I look forward to them continuing this leadership and convincing other market participants to join in greater sustainability!
Nice post — I particularly agree with your assessment that sports and sporting goods companies can be the key to spreading awareness on climate change. I would like to see Nike do more in terms of partnering with key team sponsorships (i.e. Barcelona FC or Texas Longhorns football) and key individual sponsorships (i.e. LeBron James or Cristiano Ronaldo). While Nike has done an admirable job of incorporating FlyKnit and NikeGrind in to its products, I do not see the company doing this for its marquee sponsors.
Recently, its main competitor, Adidas, announced that Real Madrid — the most popular soccer team in the world — will wear Adidas jerseys made from 100% recycled plastic in the ocean (http://fortune.com/2016/11/04/adidas-ocean-plastic-performance/). This is the sort of front-and-center attention that I hope Nike will do in the future. While FlyKnit and NikeGrind are great, the impact of the world’s most popular soccer team wearing 100% recycled jerseys is much more influential and will generate massive worldwide attention. I would like to see Nike roll out a more tangible sustainable product for its most famous athletes and teams.
Interesting post. I agree that General Mills is making positive headway on its sustainable sourcing practices for its upstream supply chain.
However, it seems to me that General Mills may be overly focused on sustainable sourcing, while ignoring some of the inefficiencies in its downstream supply-chain. Packaging, for example, represents 14% of the total greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain and is not explicitly addressed in General Mills’ sustainability report (https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/oct/23/general-mills-sustainable-supply-chain-un-climate-conference-paris).
Since consumers actually interact with General Mills when they buy a package of cereal in the store, it seems odd to not focus in this area. Per the General Mills website, the company seems to indicate that is has already addressed packaging and there are no specific goals going forward (https://www.generalmills.com/en/Responsibility/Environment/environment-approach/Packaging). I would worry about complacency in this area as downstream supply chain is still a very material percentage of the company’s GHG emissions.