Friday, January 18, 2019

One Thought On Shipping Today

Recently I have had to ship some things; first to my son and then secondly to my wife, who was traveling for business. In both cases these were items that were small and the cost of shipping using any of the current services, and particularly Overnight, Next Day - this can be costly.

In the case of our son I was going on about the qualities of a new pen I had purchased (see note at the end of this post) and what I could do with it on my Android Phone. I use a swipe keyboard and I like to sketch a lot. I use Autodesk Sketchbook on my phone and my iPad Mini, this pen is wonderful. I am extolling the virtues of the pen when I realized that the product came with two pens in the box. I said I will ship you one - he does a lot of sketching and this could come in handy. When I went to ship one I discovered two things; 1) it was cheaper to purchase the pens at Amazon (where I had made the original purchase) and have Amazon ship it, and 2) he would get it quicker.

I did this and not only saved my time, and cost, of packaging as well as the cost of USPS (which would have been cheaper than UPS or FedEx, but would have still been costly - and he got two pens as well. Great deal all the way around.

In the second case, my wife forgot to take with her the cable to charge her Motorola phone. Of course it is a USB-A to USB-C, not currently the common cable. I did a little research on Amazon and discovered one for under $7.00 with same day delivery at under $6.00. Same Day delivery, not Overnight or 2 day, Same Day. I can't ship anything Same Day. Overnight, per USPS is $24.70 to start with - don’t even mention UPS or FedEx. I ordered that cable from the Cincinnati Area and it was at the hotel in Denver later the same day. Not only do I not have to package and ship, I did it better, while having my morning coffee, and for less cost.

With today's retail competition online this will be a big hurt on the smaller Mom & Pop stores. Perhaps there needs to be an alliance of these small stores that can work with each other to provide this same kind of service. Perhaps Gift Shops should have an association where they can work with each other, for a fee for a friend of course - perhaps split the markup. It could be that or lost the sale. 

NOTE: The pens I mentioned above were Mixoo 2-in-1 Precision Disc & Fiber Stylus with Replaceable Tips for Capacitive Touch Screen Devices (Black/Blue), really unique and a pleasure to use especially if you sketch on your phone. They are available on Amazon.

They also work as a mouse on my Surface Pro, however, they will not work as the drawing pen that sketches on the computer.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Grocery Shopping Brings Back Reading of "The Long Tail" - Or Why Major Retail Grocery Could Be Having a Problem.

Shopping on Saturday recalled the book by Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail" Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More”. 

We were in Kroger late Saturday morning and there were so many items we could not locate, some of which we would have to shop for somewhere else locally, however, other items we could get online and have by Monday. Some items were only available in Private Branding. 
Check Out
What could we have purchased online

I understand Kroger (and others) are in a battle with online retailers like Amazon, Costco and Walmart, just to name those 3. Lettuce was nowhere in sight at Kroger and we would shop this at some other local retailer, but Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese? It can be purchased easily online, as can coffee, and many other products.

Once you can’t find something that should be in stock on a Saturday you start thinking this trip was not a happy one.

Now we do buy from Amazon and more recently from Costco. We have started to price research and coffee was one example. We have a Keurig and have discovered the San Francisco Bay Coffee Company and their products. We love their French Roast. Our first purchase came from a trip to Costco and when we returned we could not find exactly what we wanted. I tried Amazon Prime (2-day delivery) but their price was not right so I tried Costco online. Price at Costco was right and the delivery charge not bad on one case (if we purchased 3 cases the delivery would have been free), delivery was 2-days, we purchased one case. Second time at Costco we purchased other items , paper towels, toilet paper (things we would have normally purchased locally), got the order up to $75 and FREE shipping – oh and 2-day Delivery.

I mentioned “The Long Tail” because we can find those items online which the local Kroger (or wherever) can’t stock because the volume of sales is not there. Where the trouble starts for Kroger is when you begin to realize that it can be as much fun to shop online and not in those small aisles, where you can’t get through easily. I believe that each Kroger is stocked differently so something you cannot find at this Kroger could be in another Kroger. The computer analysis of shopping, to maximize profit, and the attempt to get consumers to buy what you have as well as your privately branded ‘stuff’.

From "The Long Tail" (I believe this makes for a good online strategy): "In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare." 

Let’s look at this scenario:  First: We, my wife and I, have been married for over 56 years, we are technically literate, and we sit at the table with our laptops, drinking coffee, laughing and talking (perhaps over breakfast), while shopping online. Pat says; “What was the price you found at Amazon? I have this price at Costco.” Then Pat says; “Why not try San Francisco Bay Coffee Company direct and see what they are selling it for?” Walter responds; “Actually the price is $1 greater but their FREE shipping is better because we do not have to buy as much.” And while we are there (online that is) my wife can make reservations for dinner tonight and text the others as to when and where. We get our second cup of coffee and then decide what we are going to do with the time.

Oh yes, we can also look at Facebook, catch up on the news, connect with the family – who live very far away. We are in touch with the world as it is today.

This is not something from a novel in the future – IT IS HAPPENING NOW! Oh, and we are not the only ones doing this, or living this life. 

Actually this was more fun
Once you start buying online, the major things, then you find the little things and 2-day
shipping is generally enough. Milk we can get at a convenience store like the 7-11, or the fuel stops that have now become more of a convenience store like Thornton’s, or Speedway. Granted they do not carry lettuce, but they do have milk and Pop (or soda depending on where you live). Hmmm…..Whole Foods carries lettuce.

Now the BIG question is; 
"Do we really need large grocery stores?
With online shopping would a store, the size of Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Trader Joe's, be all that we need? Back to Mom & Pop grocery stores. My uncle owned one when I was a kid, a long time ago, and it would work today. It was a friendly place and fun to go to.

I love the Wayfair ad where the individual says “Free Shipping, that’s a game changer.” (or something like that).


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Word Press, Hmmm....Had Thoughts About Using Word Press Until This Morning

Over the years of blogging I have thought about using Word Press and the learning curve was not in my sight. Recently I have had reason to look at Word Press again - that was until today.

In the New York Times this morning. An article "Fighting Conspiracies, Sandy Hook Parent Is Thwarted by Online Policies", held, at least for me, an important piece of information.

Apparently Word Press is run by a company called Automatic and a statement from the company, showing in the article said, " Posting conspiracy theories or untrue content is not banned from, and unfortunately this is one of those situations."

Interestingly Google,  Facebook, and Amazon have worked to help this parent by removing false information.

I won't be moving to Word Press or using their software now. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Cutting The Cable and Surviving Very Well - Actually Enjoying!

It has been about a month now and we are having better TV than before. We have actually found local local TV we were not aware of. I have to admit initially we did not completely cut the cost however as we go along it will reduce our monthly output.

First I should say that we have been members of Amazon Prime for many years so we have had access to movies and other shows. I am a BIG documentary fan and I have watched many as a Prime member over the years.

imageAt some point the cable cost was getting out of hand so one of the first things we did was to evaluate what we watched, and it turns out we only watched a few channels that cable actually provided.  We are big fans of Food Network, HGTV, and DIY. Not sure we could live without Chopped, Triple D (Diners Drive Ins and Dives), or Bobby Flay, and then House Hunters,  Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna,  Drew and Scott of The Property Brothers, and on and on. In looking around we found we could get them all through the Sling app on Amazon Prime (for $20/month – not bad). Admittedly we do not do sports channels but they are available via Sling and others (Hulu for one).

One thing that we found was that we could very easily show up late for a show on Sling and watch from the beginning. We can also watch last night's show as well without much pain – not always easy on cable. With this last ability it was easy to give up the DVR.  In some cases we can watch a number of the same shows in a row if we are inclined. Last night it was Holmes and Holmes until we had to go to bed. 
Image result for ANTOP Digital TV Antenna Amplified Omni-directional 360°
As for ABC, NBC, CBS, we purchased an antenna and it works great. I did overspend on the antenna but in the long run that will be worthy. Since all the local TV stations are now transmitting in HD we are having great results. I know you have to be in an area where you can get the signal, and that is important. We live right outside of Cincinnati – and I mean ‘right outside’ – so we have great access via the antenna - up to 50 or 60 miles away (or so it says :) )

Actually it is so good we are now finding stations we did not know about and are able to watch, in some cases, much better TV. We have access to more PBS channels and programming than we could get on cable. 

Just wish we could get the OLD cooking shows rather than the reality shows of today. We learned from Emeril, Ina Garten, and many others. Perhaps there should be an educational cooking channel and bring back all the old episodes of Emeril, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, and others - even Julia Child's, well, maybe. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Dear ZD-Net and others News sources that use Slideshows to present stories.

I refuse to read, follow, or look at any of your slideshows.

They are nothing but a vehicle for advertising dollars and are a waste of my time. Pages do not load waiting on ad's, material is drawn out to get more pages, and are generally a total waste of time. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A.I. and China Versus the U.S.

In this morning's New York Times, under Technology, there is an article: As China Marches Forward on A.I., the White House Is Silent. I have wondered why there has been nothing from this Whitehouse on A.I., or for that matter, any of our members of congress, on the subject of A.I.

My age old line is: "All of Washington is nothing but artificial intelligence", but that's another issue. I am aware that most in our Government, except the military, are A.I. challenged. It would appear that some in our government think Twitter is the way to go, reminding me of the story that Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

The U.S. is falling behind, as we have in the past, to what is going on in the world in Technology. It took Sputnik in October of 1957 that woke up our Government to what was happening on the Space Front.

This time it could be radically different. China is headed out in front, however, this just might be one race where winner takes all.

But, alas, our people in Washington, it would appear, are more concerned about building a wall than building a future for our country. Hmmm....perhaps we should think about building a dome.

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Amazon's Jeff Bezos: Lessons in Management at I.A. Gala 2017

This is a MUST watch for both learning about Amazon as well as learning about management and planning. GREAT video.