Interesting question around how Inditex might use digitization to make their supply chain more sustainable. One suggestion is to look into ways to use technology to automate their manufacturing process, which to my knowledge, still depends heavily on lower-cost labor in developing countries. Could Inditex use 3D printing or robots to manufacture some items or certain elements of a product? This could not only reduce the amount of labor required, but might also enable Inditex to set up manufacturing facilities that are less reliant on labor closer to some of their stores in parts of Europe and the US which would reduce overall transportation costs within their supply chain.
Why is AirBnB willing to “push the envelope” for humanitarian and diplomatic gains? Is it because the company believes that travelers should be allowed to go anywhere in the world that they like, even if they disagree with the political tensions that may be at play between their home country and their destination? I think it is probably more for capitalist reasons – to monetize on a large, previously untapped, willingness of travelers to pay for a local experience in Cuba. But how far can they “push the envelope” and when will they run into trouble? If a US traveler is kidnapped or murdered at an AirBnB in Cuba, who is responsible for that? Would AirBnB be willing to list homes in Iran? While the two-sided asset-light platform has enabled AirBnB to rapidly expand its global reach, there are significant risks that it needs to consider.
I agree with the discussion above that while Blue Apron is helping reduce food waste through individual size meal kits, its packaging, cold storage and transportation is increasing waste. On the packaging front, I think there is more that Blue Apron can do to reduce waste and one-time use packaging options while not compromising on the customer experience – given that consumers need to opt for 2-3 meals / week that at the moment are delivered on 2-3 separate nights of the week, Blue Apron could use an Amazon Fresh type of cold storage reusable bag that has all the ingredients for the week in one bag, thereby reducing the total number of plastic and cardboard storage containers. Furthermore, consumers can return this bag to Blue Apron the same way that consumers currently return Amazon Fresh bags. Another option is to reward consumers for recycling (e.g., can deduct $ from overall cost of the meal kit if they send back the plastic and cardboard containers) so that Blue Apron can directly manage the recycling process.
I completely agree that B&N does need to be Amazon (and trying to be will put them out of business). While I don’t know whether they will ultimately survive, I agree that their best option is to leverage their massive store base and focus on providing customers with the best in-store experience, which is something that Amazon or any other e-tailer cannot provide online. What B&N and other physical book stores can provide is the ability to discover new titles and authors in store without having to buy a book first; this is an experience that Amazon has not yet mastered across any of its categories (a buyer largely needs to know what they are looking for in order to purchase on Amazon). As B&N, I would invest in ways to focus on the discovery element through events such as book signings, author readings, etc. Part of the challenge that B&N and traditional retail is facing is that their strategy has been reactive and in the process, they have lost grasp of what their value proposition truly is. B&N needs to figure out why consumers come to B&N and then how they can use digital to improve their customer promise, rather than investing in digital just for the sake of investing.
This is a very real and increasingly salient issue that every global company needs to start thinking about. Lotte’s example makes it clear that the Chinese government believes that they can punish foreign companies (i.e., Lotte) in order to force their government (Korea) to cooperate with China in the geopolitical arena, given the sheer size and deep pockets of the Chinese consumer economy. I think this strategy has been successful in the past and will likely continue to be successful while the Chinese economy continues to grow, but if the Chinese economy hits a snag and spending power sees a meaningful decline, this approach will not be as effective because foreign companies will have less to lose (although realistically, given the population of China, I don’t envision a world in the foreseeable future in which companies would be willing to forgo the Chinese consumer). I think as nationalism continues to rise around the world, the lesson for companies is to diversify their business so that they are not disproportionately dependent on a single country (outside of their home) for their survival.
While I think that there is a case to make that driverless technology could help reduce the carbon footprint of consumer vehicles by providing the most efficient route which would hypothetically reduce the total amount of time that vehicles spend on the road, it doesn’t seem as clear cut to me that (1) investing in driverless tech is the best way to reduce carbon emissions and (2) that it actually reduces emissions at all. On (1), driverless tech still means that there are vehicles on the road which may be running on less efficient power sources, so it doesn’t address the root cause of the carbon emissions. On (2), driverless cars would enable people that cannot currently drive (e.g., old people that have poor eyesight) to “ride” and be on the road, thereby increasing the total number of vehicles on the road, which would result in more congestion and all cars spending more time on the road. It seems like driverless tech is one piece of a bigger solution to reducing emissions, but until the rootc cause is addressed, I am skeptical that it will work.