TOM User1

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On November 19, 2016, TOM User1 commented on e-Estonia: How Estonia is digitalizing an entire country :

So interesting! Never knew about e-stonia. I agree that security is likely the largest concern with their digitized world. I believe that this model of voting, doctors appointments, taxes, etc, is likely the way of the future, but I do not know if there are enough secure measures in place to make this a viable system for all countries today. I also wonder about the capital investment required to digitize. This may have been possible for Estonia specifically because it is SO small. In a country like the United States the scale of the conversion of regulatory bodies to this type of system would be massive. I hope we get there, but I am not sure how far away it will be!

On November 19, 2016, TOM User1 commented on M-Pesa: when “mobile money” revolutionizes banking in Africa :

It is fascinating that mobile commerce is so much more common in Africa than elsewhere! It seems like M-Pesa is very much like venmo in the US and it can almost function as a standalone bank account. It does seem like it is subject to network effects such as what we saw with Uber during class last week – in order to be successful, it must be widely used throughout the country. I think that given that they’ve achieved scale with their network in Nairobi they were right to move into adjacent products such as loans that are more “sticky.” This will likely help them sustain their success longer term.

On November 19, 2016, TOM User1 commented on Nordstrom: Balancing Bricks with Clicks :

Very interesting post! I wrote about Nordstrom too, but did not focus on their social media presence. They have definitely been a market leader for department stores in their use of social media – no one else has rolled out buyable pins or had such a thorough snap chat campaign. One question my previous company struggled with is how to measure the value social media provides. Given that commerce through these mediums is still in its infancy, it is hard to justify budgeting significant dollars for “likes” and “impressions.” How do you think these channels will evolve in the future? Do you think snap chat and instagram are here to stay, or will it only be a matter of time until consumers move onto the next digital platform?

On November 19, 2016, TOM User1 commented on Stitch Fix – Transforming Retail Through Personalization :

I think Stitch Fix is an extremely interesting model, but I wonder if it targets a very specific customer. I am not convinced that the majority of shoppers desire a passive experience – many traditional shoppers love “the thrill of the hunt.” I think Stitch Fix will need to evolve its offering in the future to incorporate this type of shopper – potentially offering up daily or weekly top selections from which the user can pick. I also found it quite interesting that Stitch Fix uses real stylists to pick the clothing for users. I wonder how thoroughly and consistently the stylists use all of the data they are provided with. I also wonder if given their advanced data collection methodologies they may transition to having an algorithm make these decisions, which would likely lower costs significantly. I agree their data is one of their biggest assets!

On November 19, 2016, TOM User1 commented on Wayfair: Way Far Ahead in Digital Transformation? :

The virtual reality potential for furniture is fascinating! I’ve often struggled to understand the practical application of virtual reality given the gaming context in which demos are generally performed; however, being able to physically understand how furniture fits in your space seems like it would have huge potential in the industry. Do you think in 5-10 years this technology will be the norm?

I was also curious how Wayfair thinks about customer data collection and personalization. Given that they intricately assort each item with 100s of tags, I would think that they could develop a very sophisticated understanding of their repeat customers needs and preferences. Do you know if they “push” product through email, google ads, or geo targeting? Do you think there are opportunities to combine virtual reality and personalziation?

On November 19, 2016, TOM User1 commented on Uber’s Bet on Self-Driving Car :

I am glad to see that the self driving car is right around the corner! I hate to drive and have joked for years that by the time I have to drive regularly I will be able to rely on the driverless car. I thought your point regarding reduction of personal ownership was quite interesting. Previously, I had thought each person would own their own driverless car, but now I see the potential for the combination of ride sharing and driverless cars to result in less of a need to own. I do think it will be a while until we get to this state for a few reasons (1) because of the concerns mentioned in comments above regarding trusting a machine vs. a human and (2) I’m not sure how this scales in non-urban areas given variable demand (3) I think daily car commuters will be reluctant to share any time soon. Do you think this will eventually change all ground transportation or do you think it will remain a niche opportunity for years to come?

I agree with your assessment that Rodney Strong Vineyard’s actions are inadequate to prepare for how climate change will impact their business. It seems as though they are taking more steps to become a good citizen in compliance with sustainability practices, but that they haven’t actually determined how to prepare for how climate change will (and is) impacting their business on a day to day basis. I agree with Anja’s assessment that the actual climate change presents significant variability in their growing season. I think their next steps should include diversifying their growing space in the US, product innovation (i.e. what can they make with the grapes that they do harvest?), and potentially looking into how they could profitably exit the business before it is too late.

On November 5, 2016, TOM User1 commented on Stylish and Sustainable: Can Zara’s Fast-Fashions be Both? :

Great post! Fast fashion has definitely come under a lot of scrutiny over the past several years for its sustainability practices. Two questions came to mind as I read through your post: (1) What else is Zara cutting back on in order to invest in its sustainable initiatives and keep prices so low? I wonder if they have made equal investment into their labor rights management programs. (2) How are they monitoring that many factories and suppliers! I believe that one of the key issues in monitoring factories for compliance is that they often subcontract to other, often non-compliant, factories. Do you think that like IKEA, Zara should consider vertically integrating to maintain the integrity of its sustainability initiatives?

On November 5, 2016, TOM User1 commented on IT’S TIME TO PLAY BY THE RULES :

It seems as though Mattel can learn a few marketing lessons from that Greenpeace video! I like the idea of thinking about Mattel’s opportunities through the circular economy lens. I think that it presents an opportunity for both parents and children to get behind the sustainability movement. Parents want a safe, environmentally stable, world for their children, while children outgrow their toys very quickly when they are young. I believe Mattel is therefore perfectly positioned to be a market leader with a consumer-driven recycling campaign for toys. In addition, if they make this investment in managing a recycled toy program, it would likely pay off in profit as well as they could lower their raw materials cost by essentially asking for them for free (i.e. customers donating toys back to the company). I do wonder if Mattel is too late here though, and if parents have begun to shift their limited dollars to other companies.

On November 5, 2016, TOM User1 commented on So Hot Right Now! The Levi Strauss Climate Change Agenda :

Great post! Retail companies are uniquely impacted by climate change as it impacts every part of their supply chain and beyond. I do think it is a risky tactic to drive sales with a climate change message, but I think a brand like Levis has the opportunity to make sustainability “cool.” I am not sure of the exact positioning of the “wash less” campaign you noted, but I think they could get pretty creative with this. Consumers might not actually want to wash their jeans as it is more work to do so! Levis could design a pair of jeans that is specifically meant to “get better with dirt,” encouraging people to wash less and wear more. It sounds like Levis could also consider new methods of transportation for their goods – I believe companies such as PepsiCo are piloting using hybrid and electric vehicles for distribution.

On November 5, 2016, TOM User1 commented on The Ecological Impact of Feminine Hygiene Products :

An excellent post to get the conversation started! I think the difficulty with finding sustainable sanitary product solutions is linked to the fact that people have a hard time talking about menstruation at all. There is another start up company called Thinx that sells reusable “period proof underwear.” They had a huge social media push last year coupled with advertisements all over the NYC subway system. I am not sure they have had as much success as the sustainable diaper movement as user OEM noted, but I think that’s likely because everyone is comfortable talking about babies and diapers, but not women and tampons! I actually mentioned the concept to both my mom and sister and they couldn’t get over the hurdle of thinking it was “gross.” I wonder if a celebrity endorsement (such as Jessica Alba with Honest Company re:diapers), might normalize the concept and move the conversation forward a bit more.

On November 5, 2016, TOM User1 commented on Nike – Innovating with Sustainability :

This is a great post. I actually reviewed Nike’s efforts as well. After posting we had our class conversation regarding IKEA’s sustainability efforts and learned that they decided to vertically integrate, managing their own foresting processes. I agree that manufacturing control is one of the key issues Nike faces in its sustainability efforts. Do you think they would benefit from vertical integration, if so, what do you think the risks are? I would think that it would provide the opportunity to 100% ensure compliance across their full chain but also expose them to additional risk – risks inherent in operating factories around the globe, along with additional reputational risk should any abuses occur.