Jennifer Bartashus

Senior Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence

Jennifer Bartashus is a Senior Analyst specializing in food retail, mass merchants and packaged food companies for Bloomberg Intelligence. She has 25 years of financial markets experience with prior roles in global strategic operations.

  • Posted on: 06/18/2021

    Retailers must centralize their data to thrive

    In an era of big data the importance of accessible and integrated data sets is critical. Centralization of data is absolutely necessary to remain competitive, and the need for data transparency through the entire supply chain was one of the takeaways from the pandemic. From sourcing to stocking shelves, all parts of an organization need to have access to relevant data, which leads to efficiency and ultimately lower cost to serve.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2021

    Will Target hit the bullseye or miss with its store remodeling plan?

    Target has demonstrated over the past several years it can anticipate what customers are looking for, and this is the latest iteration of that. Store remodels are key to driving that fun, engaging experience that shoppers crave and helps keep them loyal to Target. By differentiating the in-store experience, Target can help ensure its physical store footprint remains meaningful, especially since stores are at the center of its e-commerce fulfillment model as well.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    Amazon scales its Just Walk Out tech for a full-size grocery store

    Amazon will use its stores to showcase the capabilities of the technology, but the big difference from other retailers is that Amazon has the deep pockets to do so. It is easy to forget that Amazon isn't the only player in this space. Other companies like Grabango are also running pilots with full sized grocery stores like Giant Eagle. In general, until costs for the technology come down significantly, wider adoption may be challenging. It is also hard to tell how well and consistently the technology works on full shopping carts versus grab-and-go style stores. But if consumers demand it, the industry will eventually adapt as costs allow.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How can retailers best navigate supply chain turbulence?

    Supply chain resiliency has never been more important for retailers, especially because it looks like challenges will persist into 2022. Some challenges look more structural - like truck driver shortages - versus working through a backlog of inventory replenishment-type orders. Structural issues will take much longer to resolve, and may mean elevated costs will persist for a while. Holiday merchandise plans were completed already, there may be limited flexibility to change those plans to account for supply chain issues. Once again retailers with scale may have the flexibility to be able to accelerate shipments of holiday inventory (and have storage capacity) to ensure product availability.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2021

    Will grocery basket sizes be cut down to their former size?

    It seems unlikely baskets will drop all the way back to pre-pandemic levels. Food inflation is on the rise, which will bolster basket size across the board. In-store trips, at least initially, may also benefit from impulse buys as shoppers discover or rediscover products on the shelves. For a lot of consumers, online grocery shopping -- especially for pantry restocking and for bigger/bulkier items -- is likely a new permanent behavior, which will also help keep the average basket size higher.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2021

    Is now a good time for retailers to open new stores?

    What we are seeing is that it really comes down to the retail business model. Dollar stores are small, accessible stores and given their low price point are somewhat insulated from the e-commerce threat. That said, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Five Below aren't neglecting e-commerce either, but are focused on finding the right model. So the continued expansion of physical stores is no surprise. If you look at grocery, the bulk of new stores are coming from smaller-format stores and many are also in the discount space (Aldi, Lidl).
  • Posted on: 06/07/2021

    Walmart gives associates free phones and a mobile work app

    Happier employees are more productive employees, both of which translate to better customer service and a nicer shopping experience that then drives shopper loyalty and spending. Leveraging technology to help people feel good about their job and develop new skills to grow in that job is critical to long-term success for retailers. Walmart's move to take it a step further and also provide the hardware is an added bonus.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Does every online retailer need to have a third-party marketplace?

    We will see more retailers try third-party marketplaces, though not all will be successful long term. It comes down to execution. Marketplaces can take the management of long-tail assortment off of retailers while still giving customers a breadth of product choice. This is appealing from an inventory/cost perspective, and if done well can be a benefit for the retailer. But having a marketplace also requires a different type of expertise to ensure vendors are a good match for the retailer's brand identity, that pricing is reasonable and fulfillment is within customer expectations. Otherwise customers can be disappointed, which could be worse than not having a specific product.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2021

    Will Amazon become the Amazon of weed if Congress legalizes it?

    We need approval at a federal level for retailers to commit to sales of cannabis. Without that, things will more likely remain at a local level. Federal legalization unlocks interstate transportation capabilities and brings scale opportunities which are critical for larger retailers to jump into this business. Convenience store and grocery operators largely already have processes in place for age-restricted product sales, so they seem the most likely candidates to initially sell cannabis products. This also includes food and beverage infused products which will likely proliferate upon federal legalization.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2021

    Albertsons takes first baby step towards an electric truck fleet

    Electric vehicles are one way that companies can work to achieve longer-term environmental goals. This means it seems likely we'll see more and more retailers like Albertsons looking at trucks as a solution - especially as costs come down and availability of the vehicles improves. Walmart, for example, has committed to 100 percent zero-emission trucks by 2040. The move to electric won't solve for truck driver shortages and other issues impacting transportation however, so whether the cost to operate will actually be lower remains to be seen. And the use of smaller electric or driverless vehicles will likely continue to proliferate for home delivery. Amazon has also been vocal about expanding its fleet of electric delivery vans.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2021

    Will other retailers follow Costco and bring back food sampling?

    All eyes will be on Costco for how they manage the process of bringing back samples, since this is an effective way to connect with shoppers and drive sales. My Costco is always packed, so success may hinge on the ability to offer reasonable safety precautions while not causing long lines that can impede movement through the store. It will be a balancing act to get sampling right post-COVID-19.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Should Amazon or rivals be more wary if it opens brick and mortar pharmacies?

    Amazon is clearly interested in the healthcare space but, like in grocery, is finding it will likely need some sort of physical locations. Whole Foods may not be the answer, given that there could be a disconnect for its brand mission of a natural/healthy foods focus and the dispensation of prescription medicines. If Amazon truly wants to get into pharmacies, an acquisition or stake in an existing operator may be one path. Building a new brick-and-mortar enterprise from scratch is not Amazon's strength. Just look at Amazon Go - originally projected to open 2000-3000 stores and there is still only a handful. Amazon Fresh grocery stores are still nascent. It takes significant time and expertise to build successful brick-and-mortar concepts, especially in as heavily regulated an industry as pharmacy.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2021

    Retailers and brands are using the wrong KPIs to make digital and social media buys

    The rise of retail media groups is closing the gap on KPIs. Many retailers now have internal advertising groups to work directly with brands and to tie outcomes more to the KPIs that matter versus the ones that are most common. Direct access to shopper data and the systems to track actual product uptake give them an advantage over traditional media shops. This trend is unlikely to end anytime soon.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2021

    What are the greatest pain points for mobile checkout?

    If the checkout process isn't clean and simple, it isn't effective. On a mobile device, small screen sizes should mean entering only absolutely necessary information. This is where loyalty programs or saved profiles can help - though customers should ideally be logged in before the checkout process starts. Checkout should also be the same across the omnichannel framework regardless of device used so customers have a consistent experience. Other friction points include too many "did you forget" or "other customers also bought" prompts, too many payment methods listed, and choosing fulfillment options during the checkout process instead of while building the cart.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2021

    Are student loan repayments the next big perk in retailer loyalty programs?

    Creativity with loyalty programs is fine, as long as the administration of those perks don't start to outweigh the benefits. The more options that are offered, the more difficult that becomes. Is the ROI there in terms of driving enough incremental spending by shoppers to offset the cost is a key question that needs to be answered.

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