The idea of focusing on a “home-grown” supply chain sounds like a great initiative for Walmart–in theory. But Walmart is Walmart because it consistently strives to offer the lowest prices to consumers, day-in and day-out. My biggest concern about focusing on products that are “Made in America” is the impact that it will have on the retail price to consumers. If American supply chains are less efficient or more costly, then Walmart will be forced to pass those costs on to consumers. Assuming that other retailers continue to offer non-American made products, then Walmart will lose no longer be the low cost leader. And, if Walmart loses it’s reputation as a low-cost leader, then it will lose it’s place among American retail giants.
To your point, it seems like an initiative to recapture $250M of annual products sales relative to the ~$480B in domestic sales is more of a way for the company to play nice with President Trump, rather than anything that will lead to meaningful change.
Based on my (limited) understanding of fast-fashion retailers like Zara and H&M, these retailers are constantly changing their product line-up every 4-6 weeks. As a result, not only are their supply chains more nimble, but their consumers are excited to constantly find new products in stores. But retailers like Zara and H&M produce relatively cheap products. If one product design turns out to be a total flop, it’s a relatively inexpensive mistake. With Canada Goose, $1,000 jackets that don’t sell–even in limited batches–can add up to pricey mistakes for the company. Will increased customization and SKU proliferation actually create more complexity and risk within the supply chain?
I agree that it is critical for GM to invest in talent to ensure a continuous supply of skilled laborers. But what are some of the ways in which GM can effectively do that? Moreover, can GM invest in generating domestic talent (versus outsourced talent)? To Chris’ point, above, isolationist trade policies may only bring low-skilled jobs back to the US in the short-term. Then, those jobs will be eliminated by developments in automation. I have often heard that many companies, like GM, are desperately trying to fill highly-skilled positions. Yet, these positions simply remain empty since the talent pool is so limited. How can GM work to increase the supply to these talent pools?
When I see that Nike has set “bold” goals like “zero waste from contract footwear manufacturing going to landfill” I can’t help but wonder if this is more of a marketing ploy than a mission to drive sustainability. Similarly, when Nike proclaims to use less “weather-prone crops like cotton” and instead incorporate more “recycled polyester” in it’s apparel, I wonder if this is simply because recycled polyester is more on trend and perhaps a better fabric to use? To me, I think that many sustainability efforts from companies such as Nike are more of a reaction to consumer awareness (and an opportunity to differentiate their products) than an initiative to do good in the world. In the end, however, I’m glad that–regardless of the rationale–companies are at least making an effort to develop sustainable operating models.
When it comes to climate change, I think that energy companies do have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the environment. Yet, why is it that energy companies rarely take initiative to combat climate change or develop sustainable business models? I think that one reason is because energy companies are fairly well-insulated from consumers who have limited purchasing power/options when it comes to buying the products of energy companies. Contrast this scenario to that of a consumer in a grocery store (or a consumer shopping for furniture…hi IKEA!). Consumers can quite easily choose not to support these companies/retailers/manufacturers if they do not take a strong stance on mitigating climate change or any other social justice issue since there are plenty of other options. Not so with energy companies.
As we discuss the significance of converting in-store customers to online users, I think it is important to consider the potential impact of losing “impulse buys” from in-store traffic. As a consumer, I am definitely guilty of walking into shopping malls, grocery stores, and other retail outlets set on purchasing only what is on my shopping list. Yet, all too often, I walk out of the store with five different items that I bought impulsively because they looked interesting. While this habit is bad for my wallet, it is critical for retailers. How can the retailers make up for lost “impulse buys” by consumers who are no longer wandering the aisles? Is there a way to integrate both online shopping and e-commerce? I’d be curious to know the average “basket size” of an online consumer vs. an in-store consumer.