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On November 30, 2017, Briana commented on Whole Foods Market: Feeling a Bit… Under the Weather? :

I absolutely love your point that Whole Foods Market (WFM) is focusing on its impact on global changes, but is neglecting to consider the effects on its operational model – so many companies are falling into this trap! It makes me wonder what could be the root cause that is driving so many companies to miss such an obvious problem. It could be that the only reason companies are focusing on the environmental issues is more for positive public optics rather than genuine concerns. But that’s a discussion for a different day.

I agree that WFM should look to diversify its suppliers in order to decrease the likelihood and impact of supply challenges due to environmental climate changes. However, I disagree that they should make investments into producing products itself. My concern is that moving down the supply chain requires high capital investments and greatly increases WFM’s exposure to the market risk that farmers are facing. For this reason, I would suggest that WFM limit their use of on-site sourcing.

One opportunity for WFM is to investment in partnerships with their farmers to use technology that increases their yield. WFM can promote the adoption of technologies and products that decrease environmental effects on yields. Ultimately, WFM wants its farmers to maintain or improve yield levels. So instead of trying to displace them as part of the value gain, it should be partnering with these farmers to improve their performance. This approach allows them to have less capital investments while driving what could be larger percentages of improvement.

Super interesting article, Melissa and great comments, Lisa and Leigh! I have to say I can definitely see both sides of the argument, but I’m siding with Leigh on this one. Amazon is known for its acceptance to using a ‘loss leader’ strategy to grow its business. For this reason, I think we can be more cautious with assuming that Amazon will look to immediately revamp the core principles of Whole Foods in order to be more profitable. This to me just doesn’t quite feeling like an Amazon type move.

Personally, I believe Amazon has its sight on much larger corporate goals and this is just another piece in the puzzle that allows them to push towards its ultimate larger goals. Amazon wants to continue to bring in new customers and to grow its network of offerings and coverage. Whole Foods supplies them with both. Amazon can make a volume play. It has the potential to push the Whole Food brand and its products far far beyond its current reach and probably even the goals of the previous management team. This volume actually allows Amazon to be less critical on the margins. I’m excited to see how the partnership expands the way we experience grocery delivery. I only hope that Amazon will take me up on my request that students need a discount on Amazon Fresh 🙂

On November 30, 2017, Briana commented on Would your favorite wine still be around in 2050? :

Not my wine! I’m on the same team as Alison – no one warned me that we might not have any wine to drink while we watch this world fall to pieces. I’m extremely impressed by the actions that Jackson Family Wines has already taken. We can all agree that they are trying to tackle the issues before their business is ruined by the effects of temperature changes. What I wonder is are they doing enough? And how much is enough? Climate effects will continue worsen so solutions being deployed in today’s world will not be enough to prevent the damages in the future.

Outside of the ever increasing temperatures, my concern for this industry is the increased frequency of extreme weather patterns (e.g. droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes). The battle against increasing temperatures could take decades after decades to really hurt the market, but the increased frequency of natural disasters and the extremity of their violence could destroyed it way faster. We are seeing increased wild fires in California which are not only impacting wine production within a season but causing permanent damage to vines for future years.

On November 30, 2017, Briana commented on Berry Risky Business, Driscoll’s… :

Ironically yesterday, I watched Boston Dynamic’s Atlas robot complete a backflip at the quality level of a human – so I definitely believe in the ability for robots to complete labor activities in the berry industry. Like Kevin, my biggest concern is Driscoll’s exposure to a potential tariff risk. Although, I believe the solution would be to just pass along the increased cost to consumers. In my opinion, consumers are already accustom to paying a higher price to obtain berries in winter months since they are aware that they are not grown in the US during those months.

I strongly believe that Driscoll can use robot to reduce some of the intensive labor aspects, but this isn’t the only solution that they can use to mitigate potential labor force reductions. Driscoll could launch job campaigns to attract new employees. I think there are still individuals in the US that would be willing to work in a labor heavy industry – it is just on Driscoll to find those individuals through marketing and WOM.

One statement that you made is really sticking with me – “As the industry leader, I believe Uber has to set the standard”. I completely agree that Uber should be focused on being a leader in the industry to drive changes that would be beneficially to all parties involved, but I highly doubt that they will. To this date, Uber has shown limited compassionate for its end customers and drivers. This leads me to believe that Uber would not be concerned with taking on the role that you described because they would rather focus on other top priorities such as continue customer expansion and autonomous vehicles.

With that said, Uber needs positive momentum badly! I can’t agree that working with national governments and regulators to establish a new system for on-demand gig workers is the best priority for them currently, but it would generate a much-needed boost in PR reporting. Outside of the approach that you suggested, I believe there are other ways for them to create positive publicly. A suggestion might be creating woman’s appreciation day where rides are significantly reduced in price.

Scandal after scandal is slowing crushing the amazing progress that Uber has made in the last few years. It needs to remember there is more than just financial gain targets and that they need to have equality seen throughout their organization and business operations. With the access to data that Uber has, the sky is the limit for how they can digitally improve the experiences of riders and drivers. The question for me is when will this actually be important enough to Uber to out weigh their focus on chasing the next financial hurdle. Have they ever stopped to think how does our treatment of existing customers prevent the success of our future offerings?

On November 30, 2017, Briana commented on I Thought we were Teammates! :

I really appreciated your optimistic view on how DSG can preserve a position in the market by targeting families through private label offerings, but sadly I think DSG’s time may be over! The sports retail industry has been facing financial pressures in the last couple of years where we’ve seen the fail of giants like Sports Authority and Golfsmith. Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, it is unclear to me how DSG can avoid the same faint since their value proportion directly aligns to the giants that we’ve seen fail recently.

If DSG is to survive, I think it begins with a revitalization of its brand which it can do by improving its digital presence and embracing digitization as a means for customer growth. With Nike and other top brands taking the best products to isolate within its stores and marketplace, DSG has three areas it can target: sporting products that require in-person testing (e.g. golf clubs), smaller brands that cannot have their own store fronts, and private label offerings as you mentioned. The challenge for DSG isn’t getting these products in their store, but it is getting us (millennials) to step in their stores again or to use their website for product searches. This is where the needed for digitization comes into play. DSG needs to create a platform that draw users in and capture our desires to be able to refine their products offerings in stores and online.