Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Online Shipping; The Pain it Shouldn’t Be!

April 26, 2010 1 comment

Last Saturday I was trying to print a simple postage label for a package I wanted to ship.  All I wanted was a shipping label.  I thought it would take me five minutes at, but it turns out a pot-roast cooks in less time that it takes to print a shipping label!  After using their sites, I have come to the conclusion that the United States Postal Service (USPS) and United Parcel Service (UPS) go through very little, if any, user acceptance testing.  FedEx isn’t much better; I did get a label in 10 minutes, but their rates are significantly higher than I was willing to pay.  Here are the pains I felt while navigating though the websites of the three major United States shippers.

Read more…

The Power of Every Day Low Prices

February 25, 2010 5 comments

Many of my friends and colleagues know I am a huge proponent of Wal-Mart’s and their Every Day Low Prices.  I frequently have lively discussions about my love for Wal-Mart and their low prices.  In mid December, I came across an article that discussed Chicagoland’s grocery chains and their battle for shoppers.  The article got me thinking about how powerful Wal-Mart’s “Every Day Low Price” strategy is.  Two lessons can be learned from the Every Day Low Price strategy: consumers don’t shop where they are unhappy, and innovative companies are profitable.

Pricing Strategies

Grocery stores primarily use one of two different pricing strategies: High-Low, or Every Day Low Prices (EDLPs).

Stores with “high-low” pricing strategies price some products at low prices, while having other products at higher prices.   These stores use promotional sales to lure shoppers into the store in order to persuade them to buy other high priced high margin items by utilizing other marketing techniques.

The competing grocery pricing strategy is “Every Day Low Prices”, or what I like to call, EDLPs.  Wal-Mart popularized this strategy and uses it to this day.  Prices are set low, and stay low.  The only time a price changes is when supply or demand changes, or when the retailer forces the supplier to innovate.  Furthermore, if prices do change, they usually go down.  Remember Wal-Mart’s “falling prices” marketing campaign? EDLPs have helped Wal-Mart become the world’s largest retailer.

Read more…

Minyanville’s Absurd Privacy Policy

February 23, 2010 3 comments

I was doing some research for an upcoming article about Every Day Low Prices, and ran across some information on  At first I was disgusted with their obtrusive and ridiculous ads.  But then a video featuring Josh Lipton started, automatically.  Even though I was annoyed at the auto-starting video, I thought the content was not only informative, it was astonishingly entertaining!

I proceed to sign up for a Minyanville account so that I could comment on the video.  Knowing their ads were out of control, I thought it would be best to read their privacy policy before I decided which E-mail address to divulge. I am glad I made that decision! Minyanville’s privacy policy is absolutely absurd! Check out these three segments:

Personal Information

We will not sell or rent your personal information.

We may share your personal information with third parties solely for the purpose of providing services to you.

As we develop our business, we may buy or sell assets or business offerings. Customer, email, and visitor information is generally one of the transferred business assets in these types of transactions.

Their privacy policy starts out stating they wont share your personal information what-so-ever.  Then it states they may share it.  Finally it says, they may actually end up selling it. Unbelievable.

In case they decide to change it at a later date, here is a PDF of their privacy policy.

The Cost of Promotional Sales

February 4, 2010 1 comment

Grocery retailers frequently use promotional sales to lure customers into stores.  Retailers hope customers will purchase higher margin products while they shop for the promoted items.  Chicago grocers Jewel-Osco, subsidiary of SUPERVALU, and Dominick’s, subsidiary of Safeway, both follow use this marketing strategy, changing promotions twice a week.  The promotional sales may increase customer traffic, but they may also lead to the demise of the store.  I suspect, retailers that use promotional sales, on every day products sold year round, increase the cost of doing business and decrease supply chain efficiency.

Used by many grocers, promotional sales are the activities, materials, devices, and techniques used in the advertising and marketing of products.  I separated their cost into two different categories; direct costs and indirect costs.  I see the money spent on the processes and material to implement the promotional sale as direct costs, and the money lost due of the effects of the promotional sales are considered indirect costs.  From my point of view, both of these costs are significantly high, high enough to possibly outweigh any benefit of the promotional sales.  If I were managing a retail grocery operation, these are the items I would consider when deciding whether or not to continue utilizing promotional sales.

Read more…

Norton’s $140 Free Support

January 8, 2010 5 comments

One of my client’s computers recently got infected by several viruses.  She attempted to solve the problem by installing Norton Antivirus 2010.  After the instillation, her computer would not allow her to logon, so she gave me a call.  After doing some research, being unable to solve the problem, which was likely caused by the instillation of Norton Antivirus, I called Norton to receive the “Free Support” that came with the software.   The phone support reminded me of my recent post on foreign call centers; Norton’s support was unbelievable and unacceptable.  Explaining my interactions with Norton’s support team will illustrate how Norton’s “low cost” foreign call centers destroy consumer trust, damage Norton’s brand, and ultimately reduced the company’s profitability.

Before I elaborate on Norton’s phone support, I want to point you to how I solved the problem.  You can see the solution on how to fix a logon logoff loop on a previous post of mine.

Read more…

Formatting: Crain’s E-mail Alerts

January 5, 2010 2 comments

I follow local business news very closely and Crain’s Chicago Business is an incredible source for Chicago business news.  They have excellent reporting, a broad range of stories,  and even a well produced daily video podcast (iTunes).   However, Crain’s E-mail alerts have some opportunity for improvement.  And as many of my friends and colleague know, I am a “Formatting Nazi”.

Here is a quick “1-minute” formatting improvement.



The improved segment is easier to read; looking cleaner, better structured, and more professional.  I made five improvements, each of which made a dramatic difference.

  • Move the date below the “Top Headlines” title -> cleaner look.
  • Used an Un-ordered list instead of inline, text bullets -> cleaner look.
  • Decreased quantity of words in each headline -> no wrapping text.
  • Standardized text sizes -> all headlines match, cleaner look.
  • Used Blagojevich’s real last name, not slang -> improved professionalism.