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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
  • Posted on: 10/16/2019

    Does Target need to address its associate morale problem?

    But management couldn't do THAT ... right? There's always a struggle between paying good wages, and cutting wage expense -- yeah, Marx was right about that -- so you can take the Costco, et al approach and say "we want the best and we'll pay accordingly," or you can play games. Unfortunately, I don't think Target is really set up for the former approach.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2019

    Is BOPIS a good fit for Dollar General?

    The whole point, or perhaps I should say one of the main M.O.s of a dollar store is ruthless minimizing of staff (though of course they compete with many other firms in this regard). It's hard for me to see how a labor intensive practice like BOPIS can (ever) work in this kind of low cost/margin business ... not that many won't be willing to lose money verifying it.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2019

    Can retail ease automation’s impact on African American workers?

    If the retail industry is going to become concerned about (technological) disruption -- has it ever been before? -- then I think it should be concerned about all people equally. I can't imagine a concern that targets one group more than another ever being successful ... OTC, I think it would exacerbate problems.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2019

    Will part-timers flock to Lidl after grocer offers health insurance for all?

    Well it sounds good, but of course details matter. "Buy into the company’s medical coverage," I think is the key, since if it means a $1000/mo part-time worker is "allowed" to buy a $2000/mo plan, the "benefit" may not mean a whole lot. So how this is administered will count a lot in how significant its value as recruiting tool is.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2019

    Can Forever 21 come back from bankruptcy?

    As is frequently the case, I think we need to define "successfully" here. If it simply means "be around a year from now," then its chances are good. Bankruptcy is quite forgiving ... literally (perhaps too much so); but if we mean staying off the "repeat offender" list, then I'm less optimistic. It sounds like they made every mistake possible -- over expansion, format muddling -- in a very competitive market segment. The usual things one tries to build a turnaround on -- quality, unique products, customer loyalty -- I don't see much of that here. And not to be cruel, since a liquidation (as always) would hurt a lot of different stakeholders, but I don't think the retail landscape would miss them much. We're not talking about some storied retailer where Mary Todd Lincoln bought her trousseau, or even Barneys ... it's just another face in the crowd.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2019

    Do retail metrics need to be reinvented?

    How about this one: how much money are you making? OK, I jest (a bit) but a few observations: 1) Traditional metrics were wanting even before online, since inflation has long made "same (whatever) growth" numbers misleading. 2) There's no one measure that's "best" for all companies or situations: are you a small company trying to grow? A mature one trying to hold onto market share? In each case, different things would be important. Back to the main question: although it's simplistic to use profit, per se, as your main measure -- since it's an "end" rather than a "means" -- it's nonetheless good to still remember it (usually) IS the goal. IMHO, far too many modern metrics have been developed for no other reason than to make performance look good ... true or not.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2019

    “Alexa, help me get a job at McDonald’s”

    No I don't see "voice" merging a major recruiting tool (and, in this example the command shows the speaker was already interested, so I don't really see the point of the promo). Certainly companies should keep up with technology. I can't imagine a company that refuses applications via e-mail going very far, but if we assume a certain amount of motivation in a candidate is a good thing, I question how much value is gained in "dumbing things down" this much. Is asking someone to find and click-on the McDonald's web site really asking too much?
  • Posted on: 09/26/2019

    Will selling online be the start of something big or bad for Marshalls?

    Let's cut to the chase here: one of the main attractions of Marshalls, et al. is that they sell things cheaply; so what are the costs of online going to be? Offer free shipping -- and it's hard to imagine not doing so -- and you're in the bottomless pit of subsidization (but without the benefit of high product prices to offset it). DON'T offer it and ... well, will that "great bargain" @ $5.99 still seem like it when an $8 shipping and handling charge is added? Good luck, guys.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2019

    Can grocery shopping make people less lonely?

    Yes, it's hard not to notice how this contrasts with the obsession for "frictionless," i.e. employee-less checkout. And I see nothing counter-intuitive about it ... we're talking about entirely different segments of the population. Would it work? Probably too well. I picture a small number of people monopolizing the time of the few people who would be allocated for this. OTOH, others might resent what they see as charity. Part of me supports this effort -- it addresses a clear need and does so in what seems like a logical venue. But the other part of me is concerned about "amateurs playing doctor." And what would happen (to the chatterers) if the service were to be ended ... wouldn't they be even worse off?
  • Posted on: 09/24/2019

    Two hot trends, personalization and frictionless retailing, are at odds with each other

    While I agree with Ron, what seems to be missing here is cost. You CAN do both personal and frictionless -- think everyone having their own valet -- but it's enormously costly to do so. At the moment, as we've said here often enough, the cost is being ignored as everyone tries to offer free everything, instantly. But in the long run, retailers will have to concentrate on one or the other ... or do both, but as high-priced niche players.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2019

    Do retailers need better business intelligence tools or a better analytic strategy?

    A tool is just that -- a tool. If the user has no idea what to do with it, nothing much will happen. And of course, as we've said here on RW (at least once a week), execution matters. If I had a choice between a brilliant, even highly competent CEO with Excel and some dullard with the latest analytical software, I'd go with the former.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2019

    What will Apple’s reinvented Fifth Avenue flagship mean for the brand?

    The poll is neck-and-neck on this one. I think it will turn on late returns in Broward.... Apple's flagship was important because 1) it was in NYC, 2) it was very cleverly done, and 3) it was endlessly publicized. Everyone, of course can do #1; everyone COULD do #2, but few really do; and #3 is only possible based on how many -- or few -- do the other two. Simply building a big store at a prominent location, filling it with big TV screens and celebrity visits has become "de rigueur," but I'm not sure I'd say that equates to "important." It certainly won't give much of a competitive advantage.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2019

    Will free same-day delivery boost Macy’s online sales?

    Certainly this is facilitated by the importance of their main stores in Paris and London (respectively). Macy's, with hundreds of stores -- mostly in suburban locations no tourist will see unless their map app goes on the blink -- doesn't offer quite the same locational advantages. Still, their "flagship" stores are promoted as such (and frequently mentioned in investor calls in connection with the flow and ebb of tourists to the U.S.)
  • Posted on: 09/23/2019

    Will free same-day delivery boost Macy’s online sales?

    Last week we had a question about the unprofitability of online selling. Today, as if by magic -- the "magic of Macy's", I guess -- we have a classroom demonstration of it. I won't say I'm disgusted by it, it's not illegal or immoral and I understand the pressures on retailers to show they're "keeping up. "But it's hard to see this ending well. I'd love to hear about a retailer saying they're going to dump free shipping, not just for the novelty but also in knowing that their customers are paying for what they get, and no one will be subsidizing someone's irrational "need" for a pair of size 8s in 2 hrs.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2019

    H.H. Gregg makes its big return with a pint-sized store

    I'm not going to say it's wrong, but I am going to say if it's right, I can't see how; there are different kinds of stores. Some are both sale and distribution points and have to have sufficient inventory on hand, while others are really more showrooms (this would be the case, I'm guessing, with appliances). But 2000 gsf doesn't sound big enough for either of these, and at less than 10% of their former size it's clearly a different concept. Given that the first concept failed that may not be such a bad thing, but it's no guarantee of a good thing either.
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