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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
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  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    Aldi shoppers are getting curbside pickup, but do they want it?


    And today's theme seems to be "can low cost providers offer high-cost services?" At least that's my take on companies like Aldi (or H&M) offering costly services (and here it's the labor cost of pulling items) and yet still maintaining their price points -- and to some extent, perhaps even their image as "bargain" venues. My guess is that in the long-run the answer will be no, at least not for free. And I suspect the effect of charging the true cost for this will kill most interest in it. (Of course I could say this about much of the "everything free" online world). But little is lost in trying the idea out.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    Can AR help shoppers get where they need to go?

    I found the video cute, but distracting (and to be honest, I thought it did a remarkably poor job of showing me how this product is supposed to work in a retail setting). So based on Matt's description, this sounds overly complicated -- or perhaps just cluttered. If someone needs special technology to find their way around, you need to simplify your layout.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    Hy-Vee opens fitness-focused grocery store concept

    My thoughts on the prospects for this idea are tempered by the location: Des Moines doesn't strike me as either large or "hip" enough to give this idea its best prospects (though, admittedly, this perception is based on rather shallow and perhaps inaccurate stereotypes). As for the idea itself, it seems like a knock-off of Whole Foods, more-or-less, and while that idea obviously took WF far, it has also become widely imitated ... perhaps to the point of saturation. We'll just have to see how well it does, but if I were Hy-Vee, I'd give the pilot a thorough study before expanding .
  • Posted on: 08/10/2018

    Can on-demand sales stabilize Blue Apron?

    I find the poll question baffling, as it seems to imply subscription vs. "on-demand" is an "either or." That would be true, I guess, if Blue Apron were to partner with retailers who demanded some kind of exclusive relationship, and in that case I would advise against entering into such, but I would like to see this as channel broadening rather than substitution. But regardless of the specifics, however wide the Amazon channel may become, I'm just not overwhelmed by the whole concept. And even if it can work as a niche product, I would be worried that the field has become too crowded.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2018

    Rite Aid and Albertsons call off merger – what’s next?

    Let me first state that I don't think much was lost by calling off this merger: tho merger is an additive rather than multiplicative operation, still nothing plus nothing.... And while I personally don't mind Rite Aid, but could never stand Albertsons, I believe the latter is in a stronger position: for one thing the food field is far more fragmented than the drug, and it's easier, generally speaking, to compete against a number of (relatively) small competitors than two large ones; also, grocery is much more of an "anchor" than drug, and I have to think Albertsons has greater customer loyalty (reluctant though those shoppers probably are). I mean how many people spend any length of time in a drug store?
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Can retail compete for computer science graduates?

    I'm not sure why retail should expect any more -- or fewer -- difficulties than any other industry in attracting such people, except maybe for the perception that retail = selling things (or maybe that perception IS the difficulty). But regardless, I'm confident retailers will be able to address their tech needs, either in house or by outsourcing, presumably to the companies where the coveted techies ended up.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2018

    Fred’s amps up the treasure hunt

    This is, of course, a concept, if not pioneered by, then at least made famous by Filene's, with its "automatic" bargain basement; and they did well with it ... for decades. But that was a long time ago, and nowadays thrifty (and impatient) people can readily find bargains in lots of places ... which probably (partly) explains why Filene's Basement isn't around anymore. I wish Fred's well, but I'm dubious how sustainable this is as a business model ... at least on any extensive basis.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2018

    Kroger takes on Visa

    "$90 billion in credit card processing fees each year" I'm pretty sure that should read $90 Million (Kroger only has $115B in revenue, so if it IS true, I can see why it's a problem!). Personally I'm surprised, since (1) Visa is one of the (if not in fact THE) major cards, and (2) I wasn't aware of their fees being unusual. Apparently though, Kroger feels differently. Many customers either use debit cards or cash (imagine!) or have multiple cards and will use something else: advantage Kroger. OTOH, a significant number may become annoyed and switch grocers. Only time will tell how this turns out, but suffice it to say only a large retailer like this has sufficient leverage for this protest to attract attention.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2018

    Publix takes on service dog tag abuse

    It's hard to imagine a more thankless task than this: enforcing health and safety laws vs. potentially offending -- or worse -- legitimate uses. And I don't really have a suggestion as to how to go about it, since there's no assurance that the most egregious abusers won't also turn out to be the most vocal complainers. Good luck Publix!
  • Posted on: 07/31/2018

    Walmart still trying to figure out home delivery

    No. (I'm tempted to say "of course not" but sometimes miracles happen). The whole premise of Walmart and its ilk is the ruthless stripping out of costs, or externalizing them onto others. Indeed, it can be argued that without the subsidy given to driving, its out-of-town locations might not even work. So WM customers are going to cover the (considerable) costs of delivery? Or, even more unlikely, WM itself will absorb them? I don't think so.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2018

    Does Five Below make sense for 5th Ave?

    Neal is correct, and this very much calls to mind an earlier "incursion," albeit in happier times. Sadly, with the exit of Lord & Taylor, this section of Fifth will lose most of whatever cachet it has left, and should be happy there is still interest there.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2018

    7-Eleven franchisees have to pay up to stay in business


    "Pride goeth before destruction" is an admonition as true today in the business world as it was when first uttered, and franchisors/-ee's who overestimate their importance/underestimate the importance of the partner are, I imagine, common. Ultimately some compromise is reached when the arrogance becomes apparent. As for the specifics here, I really don't know, but my wild guess would be that "corporate" is overestimating the importance of the 7-Eleven brand. Other than the all important Slurpee, there are plenty of look-alike brands disgruntled operators can turn to ... or turn into.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2018

    Study: Online retailers losing billions in sales to out-of-stocks

    "...Sites across the globe could be losing billions in sales every year because products aren’t available online when consumers wish to purchase them..." And other sites are picking up billions because of it. Perhaps I'm missing something here, but unless there's some mass outbreak of incompetence, OOS simply shift buying from one retailer to another. I don't see how it hurts a brand, nor why (therefore) a brand would be interesting in "collaborating" (Of course if EVERY retailer is out of your product(s) that's another issue: you're either wildly popular ... or not popular enough). As for whether or not the issue is fundamentally different at online "stores," intuitively I would think it would be less of an issue, since there's no problem of allocating inventory b/w locations -- tho an e-tailer with multiple distribution points could face that problem -- but I suppose it fits well with our perception of a genius who sets up brilliant business plan ... and then fumbles the implementation.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2018

    Kroger’s 90-day terms have CPG suppliers seeing red

    Ultimately, no. They can of course refuse to do business, and for vendors with particularly strong brands, and who have widespread distribution, the loss of a single customer may be something they find tolerable (whether/not it's a good idea is another matter ... the customer, after all is not refusing to pay, they're paying late). But what happens when, domino-like, every other customer follows suit?
  • Posted on: 07/24/2018

    Chick-fil-A to pilot meal kit market test in ATL

    Not much. Unlike may ideas which have developed because of the growth of the internet and online shopping, "meal kits" seem to have merely developed coincident to it. But why? Why would people suddenly need or even want something which they always could have had, but never particularly asked for? There is the usual excuse offered here that people are "busier than ever," but if that's really the case, then I think they'll opt for take-out (or actually eating out); and if not, then I think too few will be willing to pay the hefty premium for the small time savings afforded by having the ingredient boxed together. As for Chick-fil-A particularly, although they may be helped by what is essentially a cult following, none of the specific dishes being offered are something they normally sell, so I'm not sure how much spillover there will be from traditional customers ... and I'm curious about the logistics of a store noted for not being open on Sundays offering what is traditionally a Sunday dinner.
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