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Rich Duprey

Contributor, The Motley Fool
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  • Posted on: 09/13/2021

    Is the government’s vaccination mandate plan good for retail?

    Because anti-vaccine mandate comments are blocked. I have submitted several comments over the months taking an opposing view and every single comment has been deleted. When you only allow the debate to go in one direction, you only get one side of the issue. It's not that the anti-mandate crowd is silent, it's that our voices are silenced.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2021

    Do new Shipt and Walmart programs signal big changes to come in the retail delivery market?

    Walmart needs this to remain competitive with Amazon, which is expected to surpass Walmart as the largest U.S. retailer by 2025. Earlier this year, Walmart executives told its advertisers it was losing market share to its rivals and Instacart was on an almost equal plane as itself for grocery delivery. But delivery for local retailers is part of a larger plan to bring small businesses into its ecosystem. Earlier this year it began offering its e-commerce technology to third parties in a bid to help small (and even national) businesses utilize Walmart's capabilities to establish their own e-commerce presence and offer convenient buy online, pickup in store options. As noted, it's a bit of incremental revenue enhancement that can also marginally help increase its own store traffic and sales, but one which also helps thwart an accelerating slide in retail dominance.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2021

    Home Depot turns off thieves’ power to use or sell stolen tools

    What could go wrong? Technology always fails. I see lots of customer complaints arising out of this as activation fails to activate or somehow reverts the tool to a brick sometime after purchase necessitating a return to the store. The checkout pace will also slow. Maybe instead of having a "no stop" policy with regards to shoplifting -- how many good store employees have been fired for thwarting a theft against company policy? -- retailers aggressively combat the source of the problem: the shoplifter. Stop, arrest, and prosecute every single shoplifter. It's amazing that retailers think there would be any other result from their hands-off policy. Just look at what's happening in California where a no arrest policy has been initiated for shoplifting. Criminals are going into stores and just loading up bags of merchandise and walking merrily out the door with no concern. Swift, sure punishment is always the cure.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2021

    Following full FDA approval, should employees be required to get COVID vaccines?

    I follow Paula's lead and forego a more long winded answer, but I go in the opposite direction: Hell no on mandatory vaccines, for employees or customers.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2021

    Are websites a must-have for all retailers?

    Agreed, they're vital regardless of size. And when you do have one, a contact point is essential. There is nothing more infuriating than a business that offers no way to interact with it. It's probably more common with the tech giants that don't feel they need to be responsive to their users, but I've come across a few retailers too who have at the very least buried their contact info to make it difficult to respond. But yes, with so many people using the internet as their first form of interaction with a company, any retailer that doesn't have a website probably won't be in business very long anyway.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2021

    Has Simone Biles struck marketing gold at the Tokyo Olympics?

    The Olympics are not so important that participation should come at the expense of one's mental health, but let's not go to the opposite extreme and lionize Ms. Biles for what she did. The Olympics are about overcoming adversity, not collapsing under its weight. There were many other athletes who were ready, willing, and able to go and compete on the world stage. Had Ms. Biles stepped aside before making the team, THAT would have been a true profile in courage. Companies partnering with her then for exhibiting strength in the moment would have been a truly remarkable and honorable achievement. As it is, this rush to recast failure as success, weakness as strength is a mistake because it ignores the truly exceptional individuals who lost out on a chance to compete as world-class athletes because of Ms. Biles's choice to accept a spot on the team.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2021

    Pinterest says it’s all about body positivity as it bans weight loss ads

    So obesity is good? Promoting being healthy is bad? There's nothing positive about being overweight. The myriad health problems associated with obesity don't magically disappear because you're now into "body positivity," which is basically the participation trophy of health. And, yes, I say this as someone who is himself overweight. This policy is just idiotic.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2021

    Is self-checkout tech the answer for DSW and other retailers facing associate shortages?

    This is the result of a two-fold issue: employees demanding higher wages for low- and no-skill jobs and the government paying people not to work. We're already seeing it in the fast-food industry with the rise of automation and robotics replacing the need for expensive, but unskilled labor, and now we'll see it more often in more retail settings. Self-checkout and just-walk-out technology need only minimal staffing to generate the same, if not greater return. It also shouldn't surprise anyone that the government providing "unemployment" benefits that are greater than the wage someone would make at their job is going to result in people not looking for work. You reap what you sow and businesses will turn to technology to replace these workers and it is the workers who will be worse off for it in the long run.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2021

    Is fast food going too slow in reopening for dine-in business?

    Because consumers were trained over the past year and a half to expect just drive-thru/walk-up, and because it's more profitable for chains, dine-in fast food may be a thing of the past. You had Shake Shack, Chipotle, and numerous other chains saying they were going to knock holes in the walls of even existing restaurants to install pickup windows while new locations would have them as a priority. No need to go back to the other more labor intensive method. A new Blimpie's sandwich store opened up nearby late last year and though it has a seating area the chairs remain on top of its tables warding off customers who want to sit. Same with Subway. A McDonald's by me just closed for renovations to shrink its dining room and expand drive-thru to two lanes. I don't see fast food going back.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2021

    Will a Target-themed Monopoly game be a winner?

    This is basically a marketing ploy that will have zero impact on anything, neither Target's business nor Monopoly sales. Why would anyone buy a Target-branded Monopoly game? No one likes a retailer so much that they think, yes! I need this. Unlike those people who had Harley-Davidson logos tattooed on their bodies, no one is living the "Target lifestyle." While it probably cost Target a de minimus amount to do this, really, what's the point? Maybe they get a couple of press releases out of the maneuver, but it's ultimately money that could have been better spent elsewhere.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2021

    Should retailers continue to require associates and customers to wear masks?

    If retail employees have been vaccinated, they should not be forced to wear masks. I'm not even sure those who haven't been vaccinated should wear them anymore. States that have completely dropped all mandates like Florida, which hasn't had a mandate in place for well over a month now, are still seeing the number of cases decline. I'd also be hard put to call the CDC's actions "rushed." It has often been wrong about its predictions while Dr. Fauci has been a disaster as a policy advocate. He has sent muddled and sometimes contradictory messages, resorted to lying, and has not followed his own guidelines. He may be smart as heck on the science, but he has failed to offer a coherent policy from the beginning. In short, retailers have been forced to bear the burden of what is largely failed public policy. But then turning that failure into some sort of public shaming exercise for those who choose not to get vaccinated is a horrendously creepy thought.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2021

    Can retailers wait any longer for government to move on climate change?

    Why do retailers need to wait for the government at all? If they believe their carbon footprint is negatively impacting the environment, they're free to move forward on their own right now. The only reason they don't is they don't want to bear the cost. They want the government (i.e., the taxpayers) to bear most of the burden, hence the talk of "incentives." The U.S. was one of the few countries to meet the targets of the Paris Climate Accords and we weren't even party to it. Now President Biden has added the country back in and it will be U.S. countries (again, taxpayers) who will pay for the rest of the world's inability to rein in their own pollution. China is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Real "climate change" would start with addressing their lack of action. The U.S. has made monumental strides over the past few decades, largely without the heavy costs on the economy climate activists would impose. And today, with consumers more environmentally aware, retailers should step up and do the right thing and reduce their own waste and pollution without waiting for the government to tell them to act or demanding taxpayers pick up the bill for their failures.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2021

    Do consumers see brand activism as genuine or simply pandering?

    Except in racing to be politically correct, Quaker Oats steamrolled the accomplishments of a black woman, Nancy Green, who was born a slave and overcame real racism. It's her image that appeared on the syrup and pancake mix and was subsequently erased. not some "Gone With the Wind" trope. Same with the Land o' Lakes Indian woman that was removed from the butter packages. By trying to be woke, the company chose to replace a symbol of Indian heritage and history with an image of a white farmer. Pretty colonialist, no? As for Delta, they were consulted about the law before it was enacted and even issued a statement in support of the law days before it was signed. Now they come out saying they stand against it.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2021

    Do consumers see brand activism as genuine or simply pandering?

    I continue to maintain businesses should just shut up about politics because they're going to disappoint, or more likely anger, half their customers. Delta's activism over Georgia's voter ID law is a case in point. It's railing against having to show an ID, but just try to get on a Delta flight without showing one. Reasonable people can disagree over whether it should be necessary to prove who you are and where you live when you're voting, but a company weighing in on one side or the other divides its customer base. Mostly it's just corporate pandering. Look at all the companies expressing righteous indignation over events here in the U.S., but refusing to say anything about human rights abuses currently underway in China because it would impact their pocketbook (looking at you NBA, Disney, etc.). When it's convenient and easy to do so, with few financial repercussions, businesses will speak out, but when it might affect their lucrative contracts they clam up. That's why they ought to just be silent on political issues, regardless.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2021

    Will hiring a celebrity designer turn Walmart into a fashion destination, à la Target?

    How many times is Walmart going to try this? Back in the aughts it launched fashion lines with Max Azria, Norma Kamali, and others and they failed. Jet.com was an attempt at having a high-end e-commerce presence that it has abandoned, Jetblack was a white glove concierge service that it killed off, and while Lord & Taylor set up a third-party store on walmart.com, I can't imagine many upscale shoppers are turning to the everyday low price leader for their fashion sense. Every time Walmart forgets who its customer is -- the price-sensitive shopper -- it ends in disaster, and will undoubtedly fail this time too. Beefing up quality is one thing, trying to be something different is simply another fashion faux pas.
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