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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
  • Posted on: 06/23/2017

    How can retailers make employee recognition resonate?

    No offense to Bryan -- I hope -- but it seems odd to claim "pre-formatted emails ... ring hollow" and then lay out a pre-formatted program ... with phrases like "slather on company culture," no less.But back on topic: the biggest shortcoming, sadly, is not providing "recognition" on a daily basis. No amount of anniversary congrats or birthdays cakes -- even chocolate! -- are going to make up for low pay, inconsistent/absent evaluations, and lack of opportunities.As for receiving (only) token recognition for milestones, I think people are fine with that, at least insofar as they come from some central office: no one is going to expect the CEO of a 50,000 employee company to drop by for a 5 year mark ... smaller firms and immediate managers, of course, should be expected to be more personal.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2017

    Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices?

    Here we are again seemingly questioning the decisions of a superbly-run retailer. Costsco has a huge and loyal customer base and can set its prices as it feels is optimal, certainly keeping competitors -- like Amazon -- in mind, but not in simple-minded reaction to them.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Why did McDonald’s end its Olympic sponsorship?

    It's a pretty simple math problem: the more sponsors, the less value there is (at the individual level) in being a sponsor. How many us can really name even a single "official sponsor" of some major event when we're asked?I'm sure claims could be made that this has broad implications, either for McDonald's, or the Olympics, or even the world itself, but at this point it just seems to be a marketing decision.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Will UPS’s Black Friday delivery surcharge have retailers seeing red?

    There is, of course, no set rule ... and in light of (all of) our recent conversations regarding the prevalence of "free shipping," it almost seems like a trick question.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Can humanizing self-checkouts reduce theft?

    "(A)dding more staff to monitor self-checkouts" strikes me as the only consistently reliable strategy, though of course the cost involved tends to defeat the purpose of having them in the first place.And somewhat of a side note, perhaps, but I'd really like to see some documentation for the assertion that "people that steal just a little bit" are the main problem ... that just sounds like one of those "don't throw pebbles in the Grand Canyon" claims.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Did Amazon just patent tech that could end showrooming in its stores?

    Certainly Amazon will deploy if it thinks it works, but I'm not sure how much it really will. To me "showrooming" is about viewing and then buying elsewhere ... actually having an internet connection during the process isn't necessary (though I'm sure it often happens).But the irony of this makes the story worthwhile, regardless!
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Why are so many associates being deprived of tech by their employers?

    Disregarding for a moment the remarkably self-serving nature of the "survey," the article is distinctly vague on what "tools" are being denied, so it's difficult to answer exactly the "why."Assuming, though, that something along the lines of "give everyone a smart phone" is what is intended, I think "trust" is the problem (both in terms of misuse and shrinkage.) Of course -- for the "misuse" segment -- it's harder to explain why such a retailer wouldn't seek out smartphone with more controlled apps; presumably they don't think it's necessary ... whether or not that's correct, is, of course, hard to know.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    Hard to say what will happen ... will Amazon influence Whole Foods, or will it be the other way around Presumably this will intensify both Amazon's movement into food, and WFM's movement into online sales -- actually this transaction by itself means the first has already happened -- but only time will tell how much the latter remains a "stand alone" business. With two formidable egos involved, the potential for conflict seems large.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Can fitness centers save malls?

    "...opened in 1956..." This is, of course, THE original enclosed mall ... the ancestor of all that have come since; and Victor Gruen, who developed it as a new "town square" for suburbs that lack them, would probably smile at the mention of "connected community epicenter."All that having been said, I'm dubious of the one being a "replacement" for another. The whole point of the clustering of shops in a shopping center is the synergy that develops (go from Dayton's to Donaldson's and pass all the shops in between). I just don't see that relationship between a Macy's and a gym (even a big one with cabanas).
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    Ultimately this is a pricing issue: just as retailers who are unable to either (a) match a lower price, or (b) sell on something other than price and ultimately head for the scrap heap -- so too will it be with shipping.That there are likely many people who would chose a $15/free s&h price over, say, $10+$2 /s&h of course makes no sense, but that is the reality retailers face ... and the real enemy of course is the "profits-don't-matter" startup that offers both the $10 price AND $0/s&h.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Has Rainbow Shops created a compensation model aligned with omnichannel realities?

    I admire effort, but ... I'm not overly confident this approach is the correct one. The 10 mile limit seems arbitrary, and if they're going to have an "e-commerce" category, I'm not sure why anything should be adjusted from it (certainly dinging a store for an online return makes no sense).Omnichannel requires new modes of thinking, and this seems like a rehash of old thinking rather than that something new.Of course commission-based compensation was never perfect. How do you separate a sale that was truly "earned" from one that just happened to walk thru the door?
  • Posted on: 06/12/2017

    Would Nordstrom be better off private?

    The advantages are much the same as any business. Greater control and keeping all the profits. Then there are the disadvantages -- less access to capital, more debt, and the danger of an insular culture developing. Of course retail is more stressed right now than many businesses, so perhaps the stakes seem higher.Generally I'm not a fan of "going private" as (all too) often the move is engineered by outsiders for short-term motives. Obviously the motivation is different here -- at least I'm hoping/assuming it is -- so that eases some concerns I normally have, but it would of course nevertheless be a loss for investors in that they could no longer be a part of the company (at least an equity part).I wish them well in reaching the right decision.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Will ‘Project Gigaton’ give Walmart a sustainable competitive edge?

    Businesses, by definition, are about consuming something (resources, time, etc.) so it's always problematic how much "conservation" they should endorse: would the world be better off without cars? Perhaps, but car companies wouldn't.Suffice it to say if a given result can be accomplished using fewer resources, then that's good; but the problem is making sure it's the same result -- cut the lighting in your store or parking lot? OK, but not if the diminished light level makes labels hard to read or increases tripping hazards.Will businesses be rewarded for their efforts? Probably not, and at any rate if they are "rewarded" it will be for what people perceive they are doing more than what they actually are.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Is it time for stores to ditch the free Wi-Fi?

    Pennies saved, customers lost? Like anything else, this service should be subject to cost/benefit analysis -- at least as best as one can given the vagueness associated with measuring the latter -- but I suspect any business that thinks the small costs savings will make a difference is so close to unprofitability that its days are numbered anyway. Giving customers even more reasons NOT to come in seems like an odd idea.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2017

    Can a failed department store find a second life as an off-price retail chain?

    Yesterday, we discussed the value of a brand, and this seems to be a demonstration of that. Stage operates a large number of stores in the region, and presumably they saw value in purchasing the Gorman's nameplate rather than expanding one of their own. We also discussed whether this makes really sense if you keep the name but change the format (and everything else that the brand stood for). I'm not familiar with the store, but the World Herald article suggests it was (already) a discounter, so maybe it's not such a stretch.I wish them well, though I'm not sure the world needs another TJX ... we already have one.