PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 09/15/2021

    Will the Kroger/Instacart deal redefine grocery shopping convenience in America?

    On-demand grocery, with delivery in very short timeframes is great for specific customer need states. Cooking dinner and forgot an ingredient? Perfect. Looking to do a big stock up on all your household essentials? Not so perfect. The danger is in offering a promise that appears to meet all needs and sets customers up for disappointment when it doesn't pan out. So a limited number of items available for 30 minutes or less is a great strategic decision, though customers may need to be educated on the "why" so that expectations can be managed. There are also others out there doing this sort of on-demand grocery, like Yummy.com in Los Angeles (30-minute delivery) and Gorillas in NYC which delivers in under 10 minutes. Kroger has the national footprint to bring this type of offering to areas outside of major urban areas, which is a win for customers.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2021

    Walmart says crypto press release is a fake

    The Walmart crypto fake press release should prompt all retailers to make sure they have a process in place to quickly respond to fake news or misinformation. Those issues aren't going away, and it is easier than ever for them to spread. Part of what made this example effective is that cryptocurrencies are gaining traction, so it is not too much of a stretch to imagine that retailers - especially those striving to be at the forefront of change - will venture into accepting them. Mainstream customers may not yet be comfortable with understanding cryptocurrencies or how to transact with them, so any retailers that do accept them likely won't see serious use of that payment method for a while. Even digital wallets are still under-utilized and the average consumer understands those much better than crypto.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2021

    Can Kroger offset its margin headwinds?

    Kroger has a lot of tools to help offset margin erosion but those take a little time to take effect, which may translate to gross margin pressure in the short term. All grocers are facing increased cost pressure and supply chain issues. However this also creates opportunity to retain or gain more market share. So it may be in the interest of some grocers to take a short-term gross margin hit to invest in keeping low prices and defending or gaining share. That long-term loyalty could be worth it in the long term.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2021

    Restaurant chains roll out virtual brands to reach new customer groups

    Ensuring quality, taste and a good delivery or pickup experience will be pivotal for the success of virtual restaurant brands, since there is no service element to immediately offset any potential issues a customer may have (say for example a missing dipping sauce). Virtual brands can be successful, with low costs if they are operating out of existing or combination kitchens, and can potentially help brands appeal to different customers. A different focus on marketing and driving brand awareness will be needed to capture interest, skills that many restaurant chains will need to develop.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2021

    Will Just Walk Out tech work for Whole Foods?

    It has taken a long time for Amazon to roll this technology out to a larger store format where much bigger baskets are in play, so it may mean the scalability of the application, cameras, etc. is improving. However with only two stores it is hardly a massive transformation effort. It will take time for this tech to continue to come down in price so that it becomes a realistic option for retail. As for customers, there is a balance to strike between losing sight of the shopper vs. the benefits of technology or cost savings. Take self-checkout. For some, it is a breeze and reduces checkout friction. For others, it is a source of annoyance and anxiety. The key is having a range of solutions.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2021

    Can Amazon create the Prime Video of audio services?

    Existing habits can be hard to break, especially for music lovers who may already have libraries, playlists and favorites saved on competing platforms. Adding live music events, while interesting for users, may not lead to increased use of what Amazon ultimately wants, which is orders. Granted, it may make Amazon "stickier" with customers, but this service will compete with a lot of others out there. When it comes to voice-activated orders, however, there is still a lot of hesitancy on the part of consumers to use it heavily for e-commerce. The perceived risk of getting the wrong product or size is still high for many shoppers.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2021

    Best Buy builds a virtual store to assist customers remotely

    A virtual store for support could be a potentially great offering for customers, but putting it in a distribution center seems an expensive route given typical square footage costs. Why not convert an under-performing location for example into a dark store as some grocers have done to fill e-commerce orders?
  • Posted on: 08/30/2021

    Amazon finally catches the ‘buy now, pay later’ wave

    This is a rare instance where Amazon is following other retailers rather than leading. It is interesting that Amazon has opted to partner for buy now, pay later rather than develop its own program. This seems to indicate a bit of a wait and see approach that limits risk initially while giving time to observe consumer adoption.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2021

    FMI research finds normalcy is not in the cards, not yet

    The perception and appreciation of convenience really changed during the pandemic. Shopping habits now embrace technologies, services or products that deliver on that promise to a greater degree, whether it is home delivery, curbside pickup, breadth of assortment in stores, meal kits etc. - the list goes on. The challenge for retailers will be to be able to provide the goods or services in a consistent and meaningful manner regardless of the operating conditions. Transparency is also important, so that customers feel they can make good decisions about products or services and follow the status of orders.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2021

    Do retailers need a chief data officer?

    Having a chief data officer is rapidly becoming an imperative since data is the king of all commodities that can drive long-term retailer success. The role can help set strategy and pull together disparate parts of the organization to help implement data-driven decision making that creates value for the entire organization. Analytics and insights based on consumer and other data sets should be a specialized focus that is separate from a CIT or CTO role. More and more organizations are also looking to monetize data they have through retail media subsidiaries or by selling consumer data as well.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2021

    Should grocery stores retire the ethnic aisle?

    It comes down to making the customer experience easier, and may have less to do with specific ethnicities than grouping products that frequently get used together. This happens across the store - parmesan cheese is typically in the pasta aisle, as well as sometimes in the cheese department, and salsa can be found in the snack aisle as well as a Hispanic section. Having products located together that might be needed to prepare a specific dish may be more efficient for customers than having to traverse the entire store to find needed ingredients.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2021

    Are four drive-thru lanes better than two?

    Taco Bell is often at the forefront of trying new formats, and this is no exception. The design is not only consumer friendly, it makes practical use of smaller lots, which could give the company the ability to add units in new locations that previously didn't make sense.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2021

    Canadian Tire buys part of a shipping port in move to upgrade its supply chain

    A proactive move to help manage the higher transportation costs facing today's companies makes sense, especially if you believe there are long-term structural challenges facing the industry. Truck, rail and ocean cargo capacity all remain under pressure, with driver and labor issues being key challenges. Canadian Tire's move could pay off if it can truly lower costs and improve the efficiency of the company's supply chain. Whether those benefits will persist once transportation capacity and cost issues normalize remains to be seen.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2021

    Will four designers prove just as good as one in Target’s new exclusive collection?

    Target has been successful with designer partnerships in the past because it is very good at understanding and listening to its customers and offering the right balance of function and design. This strategy has helped drive the success of so many of the company's own brands, and is clearly influencing which designer partnerships it is currently pursuing. These four designers clearly have elements that Target is confident will appeal to various shoppers, and it is a smart strategy to have a broad reach to drive engagement and sales.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2021

    Will voice shopping ever take off without screens?

    The use of voice-activated speakers to find answers to questions, queuing up music, etc. is well established, but it could be difficult to expand use to greater purchasing behavior. Expecting consumers to give up visual confirmation of a product they are ordering seems like a step backwards when people live their lives on smartphones and tablets. The exception - and likely current biggest use of voice only speakers for purchases - may be reordering the same product you've had in the past where there is a high confidence level you will get what you want, but this could offer only limited growth potential.

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