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On December 1, 2017, Diana commented on The Disruptor: the Costco of the Internet :

I wonder whether Jet.com/Walmart can actually compete with Amazon even if Jet successfully leverages Walmart’s supply chain capabilities. While Walmart has distribution centers throughout the US, most of these assets have been developed to ship goods to Walmart stores and not customers’ homes. The structure, flow, and technology within most of these distribution centers have been designed to ship full cases of goods instead of combining single units of different items for an ecommerce order. A portion of their distribution network would have to be retrofitted for ecommerce orders at a greater scale to compete with Amazon, or greater inventory analysis can allow Jet.com/Walmart to use Walmart stores to fulfull ecommerce orders. While store labor is generally more costly than using a distribution network, this could increase delivery speed and help Walmart compete in the short term as they refresh their supply chain to support the Jet.com ecommerce growth.

DXB has taken the initiative to improve the customer experience for its travelers. My open question here is who owns this problem? The consumer holds the airline most responsible if bags are lost or flights are delayed. Also, technologies are emerging where the consumer can use GPS technology to track their bag in real time. (1) If it’s a joint problem for a common cause, how can everyone complement each other to provide a seamless travel experience? Having comfort in the fact that both you and your bag are both on every flight before take-off, knowing when you can expect your bag to come down the shoot at baggage claim, and easily retrieving your luggage when you’ve missed your connection, are all real-world scenarios that add to the hassle of travel. While the long-term solution could be RFID and an integrated airline smartphone app, in the short-term travel-savvy consumers are likely to take matters into their own hands and have GPS trackers fill the void that airlines and airports haven’t.

1 https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/2016/11/13/lost-luggage-tracking-technology/93607748/

Patagonia and the business of fashion have many overlaps and many differences. Yvon Chouinard, the founder, has built his brand on being environmentally conscience, the quality of his goods, and the ability for those products to last generations. These ideas contrast many forces in the ever changing, “what is in this season”, fashion sector. In many examples, Patagonia has put ideals above profits. Given that most fashion companies, like most capitalist businesses, are charged with comp-ing YOY growth, incentives are required for these companies to follow Patagonia’s footsteps. Privately-held Patagonia has never been directly tied to these market pressures, which regularly at odds with our environment. Several pillars would be required to be in place for fashion companies to follow in Patagonia’s footsteps. Change happens when all parties’ incentives are aligned. An educated public who is willing to penalize eco-foes and reward eco-friendly fashion companies via sales is key to making this a bottom line impact. Governments will also have to put new regulations in place to create financial incentives (both carrots and sticks) for the fashion industry to make investments that will yield environmental results over the course of generations and not fiscal quarters. Without aligning consumers, governments, and the fashion industries incentives, can there be more room for companies like Patagonia?

While it makes perfect sense that Cirque du Soleil would pull talent from across the globe, it never occurred to me that isolationism could have this large of an impact. As noted in a few of the comments above, immigration related issues are a risk that need to be managed using a multi-pronged approach. First is the diversification of the overall business, including more technology examples like partnerships with the NFL as cited in the essay, to lessen the impact to the total business if this portion of Cirque du Soleil is impacted by immigration policies. Second, contingency planning– or making sure the at-risk countries have their spots cross trained and/or that compelling local acts are created with the remaining performers. Lastly, while I think investing in lobbyists would fall on deaf ears as cited from the technology industry, one way the arts have always moved cultures is through their performance to raise awareness on issues. While isolationism drives us inward, everyone benefits from the show when the best product is on display. Performing at key government, political, and culture functions while highlighting the diversity among the performers creates real examples of how sometimes there’s only one person in the world who can achieve this high bar set for performing.

On December 1, 2017, Diana commented on H-E-B vs. Hurricane Harvey: A Case Study in Crisis Response :

Do the profit and moral motivations have to be mutually exclusive? HEB leveraged partnerships and innovation to bring their customers badly needed services during the worst of times. Marketers and brand managers constantly seek for ways to breed loyal customers. By coming to the rescue of neighborhoods impacted by Hurricane Harvey, HEB has develop trust and loyalty in their customers base that should translate into increased YOY sales not for the days and weeks during the crisis, but for the months and years to come. If a regional grocery chain can muster the resources to respond to this disaster, how can national (e.g. Home Depot, Lowe’s) and global (e.g. Amazon) companies configure their supply chains to be equally or more responsive? As climate change impacts more cities, neighborhoods, and homes throughout the world, companies should prepare for these emergency scenarios. The goal shouldn’t be to yield short-term profits from a crisis, but to help those in need and build a bond with their consumer that will impact lifetime value of those customers.

On December 1, 2017, Diana commented on Nike Tries to Outrun Nationalism :

I agree with the risks and concerns of a trade war with China. Promoting US manufacturing while lobbying for free trade policies could garner Nike more favor with the public in today’s nationalistic culture. The rise of automation and technology in manufacturing along with other competing factors also push Nike to develop nearshore / onshore manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. Nike’s projected future growth is coming in the direct to consumer sector (e.g. nike.com, retail stores) of their business and not their traditional wholesale partners (e.g. Footlocker). (1) This Direct to Consumer channel will require Nike to manage inventory better because they will own the consequences of holding too much inventory including markdowns and write-offs. Shorter lead times from production to consumer will increase the flexibility that Nike has to get back into better-selling products and should decrease safety stock inventory levels.

Personalization is another large growth engine for companies like Nike who are using this concept to develop custom sneakers (e.g. Nike ID’s) and T-shirts for their consumer (2). While customization has increased, consumers expectations on delivery speed have also increased. Creating new custom products, while still impressing the customer with service in days/weeks, not months, will require onshore / nearshore capabilities. For certain basic products with stable demand signals, the longer product development and supply chain lead times from China will be sufficient, but for growth sectors of Nike’s business such as personalization, a more flexible, closer to consumer supply chain will be required.

1 https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/10/30/nike-inc-is-totally-rethinking-north-american-reta.aspx, https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/20/in-pursuit-of-growth-nike-is-playing-offense-to-wi.aspx
2 https://www.bcg.com/publications/2017/retail-marketing-sales-profiting-personalization.aspx