Swan, this is a very interesting article. I had not heard of any retailers that are focused on the “Eco-store” in the way that Zara currently is.
One common criticism of the fast fashion industry is that the product quality is not high, resulting in clothing being thrown away sooner than items purchased from other stores. This has many negative environmental impacts assuming the article of clothing is replaced, including additional raw material usage, increased use of packaging, and additional shipping time. This has made me wonder: could Zara invest in the quality of its products instead of focusing on the supply chain to have a greater positive impact on the environment? This approach could have a more visible impact on consumers, but could help tackle a larger driver of the negative impact to the environment.
Very interesting article. I think you highlighted that labor shortages is the key issue that Foxconn and others will face as they evaluate future expansion opportunities in the US. Going forward, firms considering expansion in the US will need to consider the cost of training new employees and the expenditures required to support STEM focused educational programs in the area to generate the required skilled workers. I do not think that Foxconn can rely on government assistance alone to support the programs because the Company will have no control over the timeline or level of spend. The firms should take advantage of the tax breaks they have received and reinvest some of it in the local education system to which could help address the labor shortage problem.
Nice article Steve. I don’t think that London’s reputation as a financial capital is irreparably harmed yet, but I do think it likely will be in the coming years. If the U.K. does not achieve a “soft Brexit” and keep access to European markets and unrestricted labor movement, many of the financial companies will lose all trust in the government. A soft Brexit seems unlikely given the current political climate. As you mention a “hard Brexit” will not only result in many firms leaving the country, but it will also prevent firms from returning to London anytime in the near future. The process for finalizing Brexit is scheduled to take another 18 months and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I think London will likely see its reputation further damaged when the exit negotiation is finalized.
Nice article JJ. I would be very disappointed to see the world run out of chocolate.
Your question on shareholder pressure to source from suppliers who do not meet the sustainability standards is an interesting one. I am sure many shareholders would be disappointed by the negative short term financial impact that the company would see. However, if Mars has clearly communicated their intent to only source from sustainable suppliers and has a compelling case for the impact to the long term operations of the company, I find it difficult to believe that long term investors would be that upset. Yes, the short term results may not meet expectations, but if shareholders understand the threat to the business and industry I think there would be less pressure than you currently expect to see. It would be very interesting to see how this plays out if we do get to this sad state where I struggle to find chocolate to eat.
ALDI’s positioning in the value segment of the market appears to make the decision to heavily invest in R&D unlikely at the moment. The company is successful because it offers a no thrills in store experience with the lowest price possible. Innovation on the technology front does not appear to be in the company’s DNA. I wonder if it would be easier for ALDI to instead partner with other technology firms to develop this technology and act as a testing ground for it. Nestle and Walmart recently partnered with IBM to test blockchain tracking of produce . This could be a cheaper way for ALDI to help develop and gain access to technological advances without needing to develop the internal resources or spend too much on R&D since a pivot to being a tech focused firm is not likely.
 Rodger Aitken, “IBM Forges Blockchain Collaboration With Nestlé & Walmart In Global Food Safety,” Forbes, August 22 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogeraitken/2017/08/22/ibm-forges-blockchain-collaboration-with-nestle-walmart-for-global-food-safety/#7a9f60333d36, accessed November 2017.
MV – Very interesting article on a difficult problem many retailers are trying to solve. On your 2nd question, I think that many stores are becoming more like showrooms that allow consumers to try a product before actually buying it. This is especially important to Home Depot because they sell many big ticket items that consumers use everyday and will likely need to see in person before deciding to purchase it.
One other question I would pose to you. How does Home Depot ensure that ship from store does not end up hurting the in store experience for customers? Having employees run around the store picking from shelves could not be appealing to many consumers and may result in certain stores running out of high demand SKUs. While ship from store could be great for last mile delivery, I am worried it could impact the customer experience and brand