Sustainability, bla bla bla, I know

But…even though I am admittedly not a recycler, hybrid driver or green in pretty much any way, I see that this is the future of business. My favorite approach to sustainability is, as always, Wal-Mart’s.

They aren’t viewing it as tree hugging, hippie-esque efforts to save the Earth, that’s just a secondary benefit. (Of course this isn’t what the press release to the general public says) More efficient uses of materials, means less waste which reduces costs. More efficient designs of packaging and POS means less trucks which means lower distribution costs. (oh yeah and less pollution, isn’t that nice) And while I may appreciate their commitment to the bottom line probably more than most, its raises an interesting point. This is seemingly a way to make Wal-Mart happy.

We rack our brains constantly trying to figure out ways to create programs that will get Wal-Mart jazzed. However, apparently, if we just size a PDQ just right so it holds three more bars of soap and they can use 60 less trucks to get them to market, that’s a win. If we create pallets that stack a little better, little more efficiently into a truck, that’s a win.

Consolidation, both Natural and Not

In an unlikely intermingling of channels/retailers over the past few months there were some strange developments between Wild Oats, Pathmark, A&P and Whole Foods. The quickest way I can break it down is like this:

- December 06: Pathmark announces it will start carrying Wild Oats private label brands in their stores
- March 07: A&P announces buy out of Pathmark
- March 07: Whole Foods to buy out Wild Oats
- March 07: Whole Foods states that it is unlikely that the Pathmark/Wild Oats private label partnership will continue

I only write about this because I found the entire thing very odd, yet captivating. As the world of retail is consolidating, the competition is tremendous. Traditional grocers are partnering to carry “natural private label” to expand their offering; smaller chains are expanding through acquisition to increase their weight in the marketplace; while others are simply eliminating the competition through buyouts. That’s a lot of activity in a short time in the retail world.
Unfortunately for me, the natural channel is not a very retail media friendly environment, so Whole Foods getting bigger isn’t really good news. As for A&P and Pathmark, last time I check neither popped really high on the radar as a top customer for any of my clients. But thought it was interesting none the less.

Retail to Web Made Easy?

Per my last 2 posts, we can see there is obviously a growing amount of retail to web communication going on in-store. And now, as released last week, Catalina and ePrize are taking it to the next level. Through a strategic partnership, they are coming to market with all-in-one solutions for these programs. Catalina has vast data (which I love) on who buys what, how often and where, a treasure trove of shopper nuggets. ePrize has 101 templatized ways to create and online promotion quick and easy. Together they bring rich targeting capabilities at retail on the front end with strong engagement tools and data capture potential on the backend. And while it may not all be done in one phone call, it’ll be pretty turnkey. Check out the current Dole Salad/Yahoo Music/Elliot Yamin (former American Idoler) promo. (and yes, the song sucks, but that's not the point) Another solution this provides is for the constant problem of unique codes on package which take months of planning to execute due to production timelines. Now you can simply have Catalina trigger an ad when a shopper buys your product and they can be given a unique code which can tell what SKU was purchased and at what retailer. Great info to have as soon as they go online and enter it. The executional fixes and promotional opportunities are all still to be fully explored, but its exciting/scary.

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