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Hi Eric — great post! One thing that comes to mind is the capability to retain customers through both “good times” and down cycles – if indeed customer throughput does go down after the purchase of a new car, it is possible that Autozone could have a delayed loyalty effect with customers returning to Autozone after the warranty period of a new purchase due to the positive customer service experience they had in a previous period. Excellent service is a positive for customers in any fiscal scenario, and one wonders how this may contribute to their customer retention in a more significant way than the other aspects of their business model. Really interesting topic.

On December 14, 2015, SFuertes commented on M.O.M – A Star in Retail :

Great post, Sabrina! Building upon the premise that more data will lead to better customer service, the point that seems to be the most valuable to Macy’s strengths is the ability to track customers across channels and measure engagement. If indeed the key to winning in this space is the successful multi-channel engagement, it is critical to be able to measure and perhaps A-B test initiatives and innovations. It would be interesting to follow the customer response to the “smart dressing room,” to name just one example, and whether there are ways to leverage mobile browsing with the in-store experience in a way that customers respond positively to. Fascinating!

Iron Mountain seems to be a fascinating case of capitalizing on the preference for lower immediate costs in favor of lower lifetime costs. It seems counter-intuitive that sophisticated organizations still favor physical copies, but once Iron Mountain has the customer acquired its vertical integration serves them very well. A customer might possibly engage in document pickup, storage for several years, possibly digitization and paper disposal, all key facets of the operating model. As long as the preference for physical storage exists, this seems like an excellent method of matching operational capabilities with business opportunity. Thanks Ashley!