business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday MNB had a story about how there is an ongoing and pitched battle taking place in Oregon over the legitimacy of a wine brand that claims to be from the Willamette Valley, but is not - withe battles playing out on store shelves and courtrooms.

You can read the story here.

MNB reader Bob Thomas responded:

Obviously Oregon winemakers have invested time money, technology and hard work in their wine. It is obvious that this Wagner guy wants to steal their intellectual property.  A further shame is that Total Wine and More (whose co-founder was just elected to Congress) is assisting Wagner by carrying the brand.  The stealing of intellectual property is usually done by someone wanting to profit by selling at a lower price without using the same quality processes and inputs and by not following the very important quality standards,  Best of luck to the Oregon winemakers.

And, from another reader:

It seems to me that Total Wine has a huge state in this with a possible big down side.  I do shop Total Wine when I am in the area, I live about 150 away from the nearest one and I notice they are pushing private label brands in their stores.  If it comes out, they are selling 100,000 cases of wine, of questionable origin, it would not be good. If the winery is cutting corners eventually it will come out, think Volkswagen’s diesel engines. People would not get mad with some winery they never heard of but the store that has an exclusive right to sell that wine and talking it up as a great quality and value is another matter. No one wants to pay for something to find out they have been had.

Agreed. I don’t shop much at Total Wine, but this certainly will factor into future buying decisions.

The other day, we took note of a CNN story about how Marc Lore, who runs Walmart’s e-commerce business in the US, remains high on a new in-house business called Jetblack, described as “a chat-based personal shopping service targeted at time-strapped moms in New York City … Members can text Jetblack when they run out of Cheerios or toothpaste, or need a last-minute gift recommendation for a kid's birthday. Jetblack promises same or next-day delivery with free returns.”

One MNB reader wrote:

This may end up being a good idea by Marc Lore, and work out well - but Jetblack? Not liking the name at all, KC, and isn't that a big part of marketing strategy?

Walmart also announced the launch of an “Intelligent Retail Lab” inside one of its stores in Levittown, New York, that will be used to test and improve both consumer and employee experiences.

I commented:

I’m always impressed by companies that experiment far from headquarters - it always strikes me as being a greater investment. Levittown is about 1300 miles from Bentonville … that’s far enough, I think.

MNB reader Carol Schnabel wrote:

I for one certainly hopes this works.  Really getting sick and tired of Walmart’s out of stocks in grocery, both online and in stores.  So much so, that I just might become a “valued and regular” shopper for one of the many competitors in my area.

And MNB reader Mark P. O’Brien wrote:

I have to chuckle when I read that Walmart will use an Intelligent Retail Lab to determine when shopping carts are low when their shopping carts are cheap clunkers. I swear 7 out of 10 carts are not worth the effort of dragging them around the store.
KC's View: