I think you’re on the right track about Sears needing to become the “go to” repair servicer across all the brands that it sells as limiting their focus to their owned brands only limits their own access to data. In addition to the changes strategy shifts that you mentioned, Sears is experimenting with smaller-format stores that focus on just their best SKUs . For that strategy to work, they’ll need to ensure that they’ve created an online/mobile experience that resonates with customers. Unfortunately, to-date it seems they’ve struggled to do that. Sears’ revenue dropped by 9% in Q2 2016 and the company’s decision not to release specific digital sales results suggests that those figures aren’t much more promising .
 Laura Heller, “Sears Rethinks Strategy,” Fierce Retail, May 12, 2016, http://www.fierceretail.com/operations/sears-rethinks-strategy, accessed November 20, 2016.
 “Sears Tanked Because the Company Failed to Shift to Digital,” Business Insider, August 26, 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/sears-tanked-because-the-company-failed-to-shift-to-digital-2016-8, accessed November 20, 2016.
It will be very interesting to see how the data that Under Armour allows them to target their marketing in an extremely customizable manner based on the data they’re receiving for each athlete. As UA competes with Nike on these new digital platforms, I think it will be critical for UA to differentiate its products from that of Nike and stays true to its brand image of the underdog. In a sense, the fact that they’re going up against the Nike/Apple superteam validates that underdog position in the market. So perhaps they can play that message up to the younger demographics who might view Nike as being overly established and thus more of their father’s (or at least their older brother’s) athletic apparel company.
It sounds like Norstrom’s is taking many steps to improve their customers’ omni-channel experience. I think allowing in-store returns regardless of which channel the purchase was made is a huge win; customers view a retailer’s physical and online presence as one entity so it’s important to avoid friction as customers navigate between the two.
Tomcat makes a good point that the rise of store pickup and the concept of showrooming seem to be at odds in the sense that one requires significant inventory and one is seemingly predicated on a lack of inventory. However, it is possible that the two can co-exist if Nordstrom adopts a ship-to-store model. There are two primary reasons for a customer to choose store pickup instead of home delivery: speed (usually available same day) and security (depending on where a customer lives and what they’re ordering, they may find it risky to have packages left at their home). A ship-to-store model (in which items which aren’t currently present in the store are shipped there for the customer to pick up at a later date) doesn’t provide the speed benefit of traditional store pickup, but it does still provide the security benefit.
My initial concern upon reading this post was that Walmart seemed to be consolidating all their Walmart.com work under their new Silicon Valley-based team. I worried that as the online and in-store experiences were developed by separate teams in different locations, the customer experiences delivered by those two channels might lack cohesion. However, it appears Walmart has already anticipated and addressed that concern. Early this year, Walmart integrated the tech team at their Arkansas headquarters with the Silicon Valley-based tech team (1). That move increases my confidence that Walmart will be able to deliver an increasingly relevant online/mobile experience that remains true to the company’s overall brand.
(1) Phil Wahba, “Walmart Merging Arkansas, Silicon Valley Teams to Speed Up New Tech,” Fortune, January 16, 2016, http://fortune.com/2016/01/16/walmart-tech-siliconvalley/, accessed November 20, 2016.
I agree that acquiring more e-commerce companies like Jet.com can help Walmart to rapidly improve their digital expertise. One other major strategy that Walmart is employing to address the disparity between their e-commerce fulfillment centers and those of Amazon is fulfilling online orders out of their stores. From 2012 to 2014, utilization of the ship-from-store program improved Walmart’s shipping speeds by 15% (1). So while Amazon’s traditional e-commerce fulfillment warehouse network dwarfs that of Walmart’s, Walmart has thousands of potential mini-fulfillment centers throughout the country in the form of stores. By enabling ship-from-store, Walmart can ship goods to customers from the store across town rather than from a fulfillment center half-way across the country.
(1) Shelly Banjo, Suzanne Kapner, and Paul Ziobro. “Can Wal-Mart Clerks Ships as Fast as Amazon Robots?” The Wall Street Journal. December 18, 2014. http://www.wsj.com/articles/can-wal-mart-clerks-ship-as-fast-as-amazon-robots-1418930087, accessed November 20, 2016.
It will be interesting to see if/when other ski resorts follow the lead of Whistler Blackcomb resort and invest in providing recreational activities which aren’t snow-dependent. It seems like it will depend at least in part on how willing the resorts are to define their company’s purpose/industry more broadly than they have in the past. If a resort views itself as a provider of “active vacation experiences” they might be more willing to mimic Whistler Blackcomb than a resort that views itself more narrowly as being in the skiing industry.
The almond growers seem to have done a commendable job improving the efficiency of their process. It seems a bit crazy that the almond got such a bad reputation for water usage to begin with given that it actually appears to have under-indexed in water consumption compared to the rest of California’s crops (just 9.5% of agricultural irrigated water on 14% of the state’s irrigated farmland). Unfortunately, once consumers hear an initial story that tells them “almonds use an absurd amount of water”, it’s hard to get that idea out of their minds even if 1) it wasn’t really true to begin with or 2) a ton of work has been done to improve the crop’s efficiency. Hopefully, almonds will continue to thrive and other farmers can learn from the great example set by these efficiency-driven almond growers.
I like the idea of investing in partnerships with organizations like the Red Cross to help communities prepare for potential climate change related disasters. As you point out this type of work could lead to reduced claims when those disasters do hit. I think there could be an additional PR benefit too – showing consumers that AXA is actively working with respected organizations to make their communities safer could earn them some goodwill they could parlay into additional customers.
Very insightful post – I thought it was particularly interesting that Mizuno has struggled to match the same level of emissions reductions in the U.S. that they achieved in Japan. I agree with your point that the company likely could apply many of the same changes that they made to reduce emissions in Japan to their U.S. factories. The question then is, why hasn’t that happened yet? Perhaps it has to do with American consumers caring less about waste than Japanese consumers and thus Mizuno hasn’t been as incentivized to improve that aspect of its U.S. operations?
Great post – it’s awesome to see that Nike has been able to simultaneously increase revenues while also reducing emissions (particularly emissions/unit). You make a great point that Nike needs to tread carefully when it comes to marketing its products as “sustainable” as it could potentially lead quality concerns for customers. In some ways they’ve already achieved the best of both worlds: they’re receiving “earned media” in the form of articles highlighting their sustainable practices which could engender brand loyalty from the segment of consumers for whom sustainability is an important issue yet they haven’t had to risk alienating consumers who don’t care about sustainability by explicitly marketing their products as such. It’s a difficult balance to achieve but they seem to be managing it very well thus far.