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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
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  • Posted on: 04/24/2019

    Should retailers promote brand backstories?

    I think the issue is relevance. Yes, even (many) big brands were once "upstarts," but finding out it was "started in the kitchen" of someone dead and buried for 150 years is probably less compelling than having a founder who was interviewed just last week. And as for the many brands whose "backstory" is that they were created by a marketing team....
  • Posted on: 04/23/2019

    Are secondhand sales the right branding move for Neiman Marcus?

    The problem with secondhand, of course, is the lack of control/inconsistency of quality. Sure, one can set up minimum standards -- thoroughly laundered (of course), no tears or fades, etc. -- but you're still dealing with products of an infinite number of manufactures, of whom you often know little (or nothing). And if you find something that sells, well too bad, 'cuz you don't have 500 or even 50 in stock, you likely have one (or maybe two). So while I won't say "don't," I'm wondering how well thought out this is.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2019

    Giant Food to fill prescriptions for fruits and veggies

    I suspect this will be applauded by everyone but the shareholders -- unless Giant is reimbursed by someone, I'm confused as to how this can be viable in the long-run.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2019

    The North Face starts petition to make Earth Day a national holiday

    Should a day ostensibly dedicated to respecting the Earth -- and implicitly limiting consumption -- be "turn(ed) ... into a bigger marketing event"? Please. No.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2019

    Is AI’s impact on demand forecasting more hype than reality?

    Dues this sound familiar? Someone invents a new technology -- maybe it's the wheel, the steam engine, AI -- makes modest claims about it. Someone else comes along, makes all kinds of outlandish claims about it, attracts intention from the (generally uninformed) media, and all sense of proportion is lost. Will AI improve forecasting? Certainly, particularly if it's used by people who know what they're doing. But will it "transform" forecasting? No: we won't be able to know tomorrow today (and I'm not sure we should want to).
  • Posted on: 04/19/2019

    Sears Holdings sues Eddie Lampert for illegally stripping retailer of its assets

    This is that essay question at the end of an otherwise grueling test that everyone is eager to come to because it's so easy: yes Mr. Lampert has been a self-serving (insert pejorative of choice) from day one; anyone who thought some other outcome was likely was either so uninformed or so disingenuous that they probably shouldn't have even been consulted. Sears was a mess when he took over, and probably would have been one regardless of who did. Yes, it could have been worse: a self-serving person with even fewer resources available to him/her could have come in. So that's the story: Captain EL took the helm of the Titanic ... and steered it back into the iceberg.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2019

    Will America’s love for paper coupons ever die?

    "Ever" is a long time, so I would hesitate to use that word. But so rapidly has the digital world descended upon us that it's easy to forget that only during the last decade would this discussion even be possible. Translation: most of the world grew up with paper, and old habits die hard. And, of course, regardless of what you grew up with, a piece of paper in your (hand, pocket, etc) provides a ready reminder that a stored image does not.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2019

    Why didn’t BJ’s wellness program produce healthier results?

    I looked at the JAMA article -- something I hope everyone will do for a reason I'm about to go into -- and this seems to one of those cases where the headlines aren't accurate. There WERE changes, they just (1) weren't in all areas, and (2) didn't seem to lead to "bottom line" changes (absenteeism, etc.). At the risk of moving the goalposts, or even sounding like an apologist, maybe the problem here was unrealistic expectations. Of course that may be no small problem if the programs have been set up under a cost/benefit analysis and they just made it (under those optimistic assumptions), but at this point it seems like a problem of both small and big: too small a sample to make conclusions about as big a topic as wellness programs.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Is Bed Bath & Beyond smart to draw the line on coupons?

    While I don't question the advisability of cutting back (OTOH was that a good move for JCP?) doing so by maintaining the coupons but larding them down with restrictions and other fine print seems like the wrong approach: it's one thing to not give someone candy anymore, quite another to dangle it in their face and say "nee, nee you can't have this!"
  • Posted on: 04/11/2019

    Will more consumers listen now that Macy’s has a new STORY to tell?

    Same story -- literally -- same response: yes, nice, but.... By all means Macy's should experiment, but even taking this as only a test, I'm curious how counter sized shops in about 5% of their stores are going to do much for the other ~100M gsf they operate. And of course they need to get people into the stores first ... an ongoing challenge.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2019

    Trump’s China tariff dispute leaves retail and consumer brands in limbo

    Some may think it's good that tariffs now have a question mark rather than an exclamation mark after them, but it's like finding out a relative is still in critical condition: sometimes uncertainty is the worst possible outcome. How does one print a catalog or sign a contract when you don't know (within 15%) what your prices are going to be only a few weeks or months from now? The advice, of course, is to be as flexible as possible, which in the case of things like catalogs means moving to digital (where prices can be updated quickly); and train your sales associates to learn the phrase "sorry, but we have no control over that" in as many languages as possible.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2019

    Will rebranding deliver the results that Staples needs?

    Let me get this straight: they replacing (well, sort of) a well known brand with five -- no, make that six -- new brands? Why? I think we might have rephrased the Daily Poll as "are rebranding efforts EVER successful?" Unfortunately I think this will be an example of the answer being "no." Staples is facing the problem that much of what they sell -- paper, pens, pencils -- really aren't staples anymore ... or at least not to the extent that they once were. This is a long-term shift that no amount of wordplay is going to change.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2019

    McDonald’s reverses positions, won’t actively oppose minimum wage hikes

    "...phased-in approach to raising the minimum wage..." might be translated as "opposing it while seeming not to," so just as some diet foods promise all the same great taste without all those calories, this is the same opposition without all that negative publicity.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2019

    Will IKEA become the world’s largest furniture rental outlet?

    "...Experiment with longer-lasting furniture..." This was my thought, as IKEA is of course known more for affordability than durability, which would seem to be a requirement for this type of business. It's also not known for delivery, which would seem to be another key part. So while I think the demand may be there, I believe they need to make some adjustments for it to work.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2019

    Harris Teeter tests self-checkout store

    In California and I imagine soon in other states (if not already), alcoholic beverage sales require a clerk; so if the store is going to offer that category, then a completely self-checked store isn't possible. Beyond that little or maybe not so little detail, I guess whatever works. As for mobile checkout: I remain unconvinced it's the development the world is waiting for.
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