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On December 13, 2015, LeeSun commented on Xiabu Xiabu – Unique Hot Pot Chain :

Qing, this is a very interesting blogpost, awesome job!

It is great to see such an interesting company take advantage of the growing fast casual concept. I have never been to a Xiabu Xiabu but the restaurant settings looks wonderful from the pictures you posted. The environment looks lively and fun, but also offers every individual customer a self-tailored experience. I think the DIY pot model almost makes the customer feel they are cooking at home, but sharing this amazing experience with others. I really appreciate the simple and scalable nature of this business model as I can imagine adding more pots to existing restaurants or opening new restaurants is much easier than traditional restaurants due to simplicity in store design and standardization of layout. I was also very impressed by the XBXB’s supply chain management capabilities – especially the flexibility provided to each restaurant manager allowing himself/herself to devise individual ordering and delivery plan on a daily basis. I wonder how XBXB is able to then aggregate the demand and ensure sufficient supply given the stringent demand on quality and freshness of food supplies for hotpot? I also wonder how each individual XBXB restaurant thinks about managing safety stock to insure against high levels of customer flow on days that exceed anticipated levels?

Joe, this is a very interesting blogpost, great job!

I have to admit that this is the first time that I heard of stem and I am intrigued by its business model and operating model. I did not realize that battery storage technology is now adequate to help business customers reduce demand charges, I wonder how much capacity Stem is able to provide to its customer and also how often the batteries need to be replaced? I really appreciate the fact that Stem can provide financing for its customers to better relate the costs to the benefits derived from the energy storage system. I hope many large scale renewable energy projects can learn from this model in the future. I see great potential for Stem to increase its storage capacity and apply its software to help better match energy supply and energy demand for the whole word through its own integrated business and operating models, as well as helping customers better integrate their business and operating models.

Very interesting blogpost, you did a wonderful job!

I saw many parallels between the TTC and Sydney’s railway system. Both experience significant delays arising from poor planning, poor scheduling, emergency repairs and signaling issues. Despite the constant attention from the public and ongoing public scrutiny, I am surprised at the rate of improvement and change overall.

I think the public nature of TTC plays a big role in slowing down the improvement progress as the $1.5B operating budget is a big component of the government’s overall budget, not to mention the additional investment required for technology and equipment upgrades. The vicious cycle of inadequate investment resulting in poor experience resulting in lack of reasons to lift fares to raise more funds for further investment is difficult to break. I wonder how the business model and operating model can be adjusted to break the vicious cycle that TTC is facing?

This is a very interesting blogpost, you did a splendid job!

The “Closing In” chart is very interesting as the revenue gap between Costco and Amazon has been closing at a rate slower than I had anticipated. Costco’s subscription business model is unique in the retail landscape that it operates in, and I think this model is key driver of Costco having the largest membership club among competitors. However, I also think this is a key risk for Costco going forward as the $55 per year membership fee is often a deterrent to new customers, especially younger customers who often prefer instant and free access to shopping opportunities – which is offered by the rapid growth of e-commerce. One could argue that Costco targets customers with large basket sizes and thus would benefit from the bulk purchase discounts, but as the customer segments evolve, the stability and share of Costco’s core customer base may change against its favor.

It is also interesting to think about the future of Costco’s subscription business model from a competitor’s perspective. Walmart and Target have not yet shown any interest in adopting a subscription business model, but their club memberships are also growing strongly. It would be worthwhile to further investigate whether Costco conducts any analysis on the value offered to each individual customer, let’s say measured by discounts received relative to the $55 per year membership fee. If the trend is decreasing for certain customer segments, it would pose the important question of whether Costco should charge different membership price points for different customers.