business news in context, analysis with attitude

In response to our story yesterday about Wegmans’ approach to selling seafood, which in this case meant sending out emails to customers to entice them, we got an email from a member of the MNB community:

“Once again, it's the difference in ‘selling the product’ versus just having it for sale.”


We also suggested yesterday that food retailers ought to looking for ways in which to help time-stressed consumers during the upcoming holiday season. MNB user Norma A. Gilliam responded:

“You are right! Retailers willing to lend a helping hand would be rewarded in many ways. They could have their own ‘Personal Shopper’ lend a hand to details. For an additional fee one could have dinner ordered, with pies and appetizers, get selection of some holiday gifts (along with wrapping) and more.

“All of this would end up with more profit dollars for the food retailer. And for the dry good & discount retailer it could be the same, well all but dinner. And a local delivery service could put a "bow on the package", if needed.”

In yesterday’s edition, we suggested that a terrific service that could be offered by our local Costco warehouse club would be to allow us to order online and then pick up our purchase from a depot on the property. It is, apparently, an idea with some appeal; MNB user Steve Panza wrote:

“Costco doesn't offer this service, but Sam's Club does. It's called ‘Click and Pull,’ much like their fax and pull service. Go to the web site (www., locate the warehouse you want, and go for it.”

Steve is absolutely right; no wonder the Bentonville behemoth gives so many retailers fits. We checked the site, though, and noticed one thing that surprised us: a $250 minimum purchase to use the service. Seems a little steep to us…

Regarding McDonald’s testing a three-in-format that offers fresh sandwiches and ice cream/bakery products in addition to its traditional burger menu, and allowing customers to order using phones on the tables, one MNB user wrote:

“I find it funny that McDonald's calls it innovation to have customers place orders from a telephone at the table. A&W has this in their restaurants here in Oregon (and probably elsewhere) more than 20 years ago. Of course, I don't think there are any A&W's left now....hopefully Mickey D's has better luck with the idea.”

Also about McDonald’s, one MNB user wrote:

“Interesting that Mickey D is trying out a new format in Nebraska. Our nickname is ‘the Beef State.’ Guess who doesn't buy our beef? Granted, they can get some lower quality stuff elsewhere, including imports. We think the least they could do is mix that stuff with the home product, but we know they won't. They've been shipping their meat in from out-of-state for years. And for years a lot of us have been telling friends and neighbors about this - which has led a lot of people to stop going to the arches.

“The biggest turn-off, however, for most of us who don't eat there, is the flavor, or lack of it. Maybe it has something to do with shipping in frozen patties from somewhere else. All we really know is that the competition's fare just plain tastes better. And that would seem to be a great place to start fixing things.”

We wrote yesterday about legislation that would make generic drugs easier to obtain, and that prompted a response from MNB user Dick Lowe:

“If the food retailers would stop selling soooo much bad food - high fat, high sugar, and high sodium food and work on educating the customer towards a healthier lifestyle they would help make healthier customers!!!!!! Get to the root of the cause! Drugs are just a cover up and lead to more drugs.

“The rule would make it more difficult for brand-name drug companies to prevent generic alternatives to their drugs from entering the marketplace by filing frivolous or inappropriate patents. These include patents that simply change the shape of pills or health claims on the packaging.

“Food retailers are deeply concerned by prescription drug costs, which are increasing by as much as 10 percent to 20 percent a year. If this trend continues unabated, it will undermine the ability of retailers to provide health care coverage for the 3.5 million employees in our industry. It may force companies to increase employee premiums, raise co-payments and reduce benefits.

“Recognizing that rising drug costs are adversely affecting all consumers — especially seniors with limited incomes, the under-insured and the uninsured — we must act now to increase the availability of generic drugs.”
KC's View: