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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
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  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    How well did Target handle its no good, very bad weekend?

    I'm going to be I think, somewhat contrarian here. We're asking the wrong question with "how did they react?" The real question is "why is there always something to react to?" Now of course it may be true that Target has no greater/more tech problems than other retailers, but having been the subject of highly publicized one a few years ago, I don't think that's the perception (it's not mine ... or at least I'm skeptical). A retailer in such a situation needs to be "better than good" in not having problems in the first place, and unfortunately I don't think Target is making the grade.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2019

    What is Jet.com’s future after its reorg within Walmart?

    I'd question the use of the phrasing ("good or bad") to describe Jet's future, unless of course you wish to view it solely in terms of autonomy; but whatever the semantics, I doubt many -- if any -- will be surprised: except maybe for Bloomingdales (under Macy's Inc.) the fate of an aquiree is always to disappear into the mass of the acquirer ... a worker ant sacrificing itself for the greater good.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2019

    Can GameStop reboot itself?

    One might argue GS is in an even WORSE spot than BB, since its name is so closely tied to its product: change the name, lose the brand equity, keep the name, risk losing any relevance. I think a closer analogy might be RadioShack ... uh oh!
  • Posted on: 06/12/2019

    Has Barnes & Noble found its savior(s)?

    "What are they thinking?" is probably what most people are thinking about this. Suffice it to say Elliott is known for many things, but none of them particularly pointed toward this acquisition. But whatever ... I don't think any of B&N's problems were related to their management -- indeed, that they're still around while most of their competitors are not suggests management was good -- and the challenges of operating in not one but two struggling environments (physical retail and books) will only grow.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2019

    Kroger is high on the CBD sales opportunity

    "The government has not substantiated any claims made by CBD proponents." With backtracking on claims about products that were already declared "safe" -- hydrogenization, anyone? -- I find it difficult to get too excited about the long-term future of any of these products ... not that there won't continue to be enthusiasts, of course.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2019

    Who still thinks one-size-fits-all mannequins make sense?

    Mannequins are meant to display the clothing sold, so it makes sense to make them in a size that fits the widest possible -- no pun intended -- assortment of clothing. So it wasn't some kind of "statement" ... at least until now.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2019

    Macy’s balances plusses and minuses of free shipping to loyal customers

    Ultimately, of course, it's not whether shipping is free or not, but the overall profitability of the sale that matters (i.e. selling a $5 item for $15 with free shipping is better for the seller and worse for the buyer than selling it for $10 and recovering the $3 shipping and handling cost directly). The real problem is Macy's, et al, have been competing with startups (and we all know who the #1 is) whose investors have been willing to subsidize years of losses in order to grow volume. Until that changes, it will continue to be an albatross. So what can be done? My own personal experience tells me a threshold can be effective -- even beneficial if a buyer fills out a basket to meet it -- but I would think a Rewards member might resent it ... what's the point, then, of the membership?
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Ace Hardware and True Value satisfy customers, Home Depot not so much

    My reaction is quite different than the headline. Given the (often considerable) price difference between full-service/traditional and DIY/big-box stores, the seemingly trivial difference in scores -- as little as 6 points? -- should be of great concern to the former.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Are Wegmans, Giant Eagle and Tops wise to drop in-store childcare?

    "B...but think of the children!" Without having sat in on the meetings where the decision were made, it's difficult to know exactly what the reasons were: liability issues, supervision issues, or maybe exactly what the press release said (i.e. they just weren't being used enough). As noted, this will disappoint some, but I don't think it was ever much more than an experiment ... and a limited one at that.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    Will the price of avocados make Americans say enough to Trump’s tariffs?

    Clearly they should react by moving winter produce production domestically: Minnesota for strawberries, Iowa for melons ... It's all so simple...right?
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    Experience is overrated, hire talent

    Yes, but isn't "talent" often demonstrated by having shown it on a job? There are different types of jobs in retail -- compare a cashier to a sales associate -- and each has different requirements, but all of them require honesty and discipline for which "experience" often serves as a proxy.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2019

    What if unwanted online purchases didn’t have to be returned?

    "Policy had to be abandoned because of rampant abuse" is an obituary I might expect to see for one of these practices shortly, but let's not dwell on it. The danger for fraud is so obvious that even the most naïve e-tailer is taking steps to prevent it ... right? To me, the idea -- which has both plusses and minuses (obviously related to the cost of the product) -- points up that we still have a fundamental problem in how we account for transactions costs in online selling. Free returns and free shipping and free this, that and the other just exacerbate the problem.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2019

    Abercrombie & Fitch CEO says ‘stores matter’ – particularly the smaller ones

    A&F's problems, if that's the right word for their current state, are curious because far earlier than for most retailers, a visit to one of their stores seemed to embrace "experiential" retail (even if that experience was akin to an underaged strip club). So what went wrong? What went wrong was their customers grew up and the next cohort seems not to embrace them as did the last one. Of course this as always a problem for retailers who are youth-focused. The changes -- closing and downsizing stores in response to online growth -- certainly make sense, but just as certainly they're not something that's going to "wow!" anyone ... the search for the next big thing goes on.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2019

    What’s the secret to driving emotional connections with customers?

    I'm very dubious that many people really "love" or "adore" brands. Anyone who has ever participated in a consumer survey knows the process is often akin to a POW interrogation: ask obtuse questions enough times -- "does your mustard make you feel empowered?" -- and eventually someone will confess to the answer you want. That having been said, many people will identify a brand as "mine," so the analogy to family or at least kinship makes some sense. But it's a natural outgrowth of the product satisfying consumer wants. Trying to capitalize on this is like "trying too hard" on a first date ... it spoils the relationship.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2019

    Can department stores shake themselves out of the doldrums?

    Department stores have been losing market share for my entire lifetime. Literally. (Actually more than literally, since the decline precedes me.) And while I would like to say I'm only eight years old, that's not the case. Of the players mentioned, two are already "reinventions": Kohl's which is smaller and neighborhood based, and Nordstrom, which doesn't even call itself a department store (the former might be considered a reincarnation of Mervyn's from the '60s/'70s while the latter is a rebirth of the old "carriage trade store"). I don't see any more "reinventions" in the offering, so if the current players can't make it, then I think that's it for the format.
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