business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from MNB reader Duane Kolsrud regarding Starbucks' decision to make freebies harder to earn in a revised rewards program:

Doubling what it takes to get a reward while inflation is already hurting people is a terrible idea.  This is a time when Starbucks could step up and show their loyalty to their best customers(heck, lower the thresholds) but instead some accountant got involved and will ruin this program.  Good luck getting new customers to play while you may see a fall off from your best customers.  It's about retaining your best customers, you know, the one's that have been loyal throughout the past years during lockdowns. Loyalty programs always suffer when economy is struggling when in reality it should be the tool that helps keep customers returning. Dumb!!!

Good point.  I hadn't thought of it within the context of inflation.

Regarding the plethora of Amazon Fresh stores reportedly scheduled to be opened in Michigan, one MNB reader wrote:

I can tell you there is one location already built and ready to load in the Rochester area (it's been there for a while too.)

Also - we see ads for Amazon Fresh during Thursday night football (I live in Oakland County) and have to assume they are targeted to this region (or regions that have locations.)

Having locations chosen and "ready to load" is one thing … but there seem to be more than a few of these locations where Amazon, at least for the moment, is delaying actual openings.

And, responding to our piece about Dollar General charging all its vendors basically 10 percent of expected/projected  2023 purchases by a new warehouse that it is opening, and then deduct that amount from whatever invoices the vendors submit, one MNB reader wrote:

I had to smile at this article, as this practice is neither the most unusual or the most egregious between grocers and vendors.  The big guys, e.g., Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons/Safeway, Amazon, and international players to a lesser degree, have been perpetuating similar practices for years…just add this one to the long list which includes promotional monies, slotting allowances, spoilage charges, etc.  What does surprise me is that DG made this so public…usually this stuff is deeply buried in individual contracts so it never sees the light of day.  Talk about a lack of transparency!

In fact, think back on ECR (Efficient Consumer Response...for your younger audience).  You can ask Michael Sansolo as he was in the thick of it, but what parts of ECR never made any headway?  Of course, it was anything like promotions, invoicing, and special fees that could reduce the grocer’s leverage over the vendor.  Now, to be fair, this is a two-way street as the vendors do some of this as well.  It is just that the grocer has the downhill lane.