Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pneumatic Tubes, Seashells, Surfing

As I close the array of browser tabs with articles I've recently read, I've decided to try document each, two or three at a time, with a quick two sentence impression of the article and link.

Chicago’s Strange History With Pneumatic Tubes - From one of my, maybe my top, favorite writers of Chicago interest, Robert Loerzel, a Chicago Magazine article from 2013 describing the nine-mile network of pneumatic tubes that were originally installed in downtown Chicago. Like abandoned subway tunnels and stations, these tubes remind me of the aspirations behind infrastructure and our collective, inevitable pull toward faster and easier communication — like Moore's Law but not for processor speed or transistor density. As technology shortens the distance in lines of communication will we take the time to compile our thoughts before hitting 'send' or just let the conversation devolve into a series of knee-jerk impressions? Complete article here.

Google Search on 'Fahrenheit 451 Seashells' - Like Apple Airpods, Ray Bradbury predicted a similar 'thimble radio' that would take us away from the written word, simply speaking ideas directly into your ear. At a stoplight last week, a younger gentleman, dressed for success, walked in front of my car, across the crosswalk, lost in a world of music made possible by his headphones while missing out on the sounds of the city in the summer.

Guardian Interview with Laird Hamilton, the Surfer - The most important thing to me about Laird Hamilton, about whom I knew very little, was the American Express commercial that featured the Los Lobos song 'Mas y Mas' as the soundtrack. I read this article to learn more. While I've already forgotten about nine points of his ten-point plan to 'supercharge your body,' I did lock in on and appreciate his candid discussion of quitting alcohol. He also credits his top physical shape to, among other things, alternating ice baths and saunas and 'the ability to suffer consistently.' Full article here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Sinkhole

Amazon Wants You to Build Another Store

I've read enough Medium and Vox articles recently to know I should get right to the point.

Prediction: Regional grocers will lose the battle against Walmart, Amazon, Target, Peapod, and specialty meal providers (Blue Apron, etc.) as they try to stem losses with physical store expansion rather than developing technology conveniences to re-engage and cement consumer loyalty. They will stumble into resource-heavy projects — home delivery, in particular — and burn cash trying to match the logistics game of retailers who have mastered delivery years ago.

Bonus Prediction: There are a million ways for regional grocers to defer this fate, but Amazon, in particular, wants to draw them into this losing battle. Just watch.

Additional reporting on the from WSJ here.

– Jon Roketenetz

Jon is the CEO of GimmeAnother and founder of 3VERB.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Against the Tide

On WSJ's “Big Brands Risk Losing Their Voice” - Original Article

When we started GimmeAnother about 5 years ago, we posited that there was a large and kinda obvious efficiency that was being left on the table by online retailers. In a nutshell, online shopping was still defined by a standard checkout routine, a process that was the same for both new orders and orders that should be recurring. Or, to put it plainly: the checkout process was exactly the same for the purchase of an expensive durable good, like refrigerator, as it was for consumers who regularly returned for refills of vitamins, diapers, or contact lenses. To a great extent, many major retailers retain this complexity in their checkout and re-order processes to this day – even for recurring orders from their most loyal customers – as they try to beat (or simply compete with) Amazon at a game that the book-store turned everything-store monolith has largely perfected. The race to be present in voice re-order by Amazon's Alexa is the latest in their set of hurdles.

It always struck me, though, that beyond the traditional brick and mortar retailers, regional grocers, and pharmacy chains that would inevitably be hit hard by Amazon – and indeed they were, are, and will be still – the largest long-term overall loss of core value might, in fact, be among by established household brands that can no longer found an easy home on the end-caps at Target and Walmart. Simply put, as Amazon drove prices down, and made home-delivery a snap, large box retailers like Target and Walmart would prioritize in-house brands (like 'Up and Up') over well-known staples like Tide or Cascade. The goodwill and name recognition that had taken decades to build would start to erode. Amazon's success with the Alexa voice assistant, of course, has made it all an even more difficult equation as Amazon is now set to control the distinction between actual product type and the priority of brand that ends up in your cart via Alexa. You can count on receiving Amazon-brand batteries before Duracell unless you specify.

While it's hard to know exactly where CPGs (Consumer Packed Good) behind these “big brands” might choose start a relationship with the end consumer, it does boggle the mind a bit to think that in the first 20 years of the internet, they've not found a way to give it an earnest try. As per the attached WSJ article, CPGs that continue to rely on retailers – and now retailers voice assistants like Alexa – as their sole channel for communication with the end consumer are sure to lose additional cachet with consumers and presence in the digital end-caps and aisles of the future.

– Jon Roketenetz

Jon is the CEO of GimmeAnother and founder of 3VERB.