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.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

3 Years with Alexa and Now Everywhere in Our Home -

For Christmas this year I received an Amazon Echo Spot and it is delightful. This was an
Echo Spot
addition to all our other Echo products that we now have in every room.

We purchased the first Amazon Echo while the system was in Beta, and received it in January of 2015. We had a good time with it and here we are, 3 years later, with the addition of 4 Echo Dots, 1 Tap, 2 Echo Spots, 1 Fire Stick, and 1 Dash. We are a home full of Echo devices - and it has been a learning experience and it has been fun. We try different things and when they don't work we try something else. Sometimes we even read the Help Files - which are informative.

We tend to use these devices as digital assistants and do not play games very much. We do ask questions and have been known to get answers to crossword puzzles (it works) as well as answers to questions of the moment. Perhaps our Google usage is going down.

I am learning to talk to devices which I have not always been ready to do. I see all these people talking to Siri, Google, or Cortana and I was not impressed but Alexa? Yes, I can talk to Alexa. I even say "Alexa, thank you".

We turn on and off the lights by just saying "Alexa turn on the ________ room lights" - or turn them off the same way. So we do this just walking into the room or if we are in the room we do not have to get up and turn on the lights we just talk to Alexa. One example is we use cooking timers a lot while cooking. We have a light over the sink which we turn on right in the middle of doing something and not wanting to dry our hands and go find the light switch - "Alexa turn on the kitchen light".

As of yesterday my wife, who ordered her own Echo Spot, moved the old clock radio away from her side of the bed and there sits her nice new Echo Spot, The Spot now fulfills all the needs of an Alarm Clock with radio. She can wake and see the time, the weather, and hear her favorite radio station in the morning for news and traffic - no buttons to push. The calendar rolls by as well as other notifications - some of which you can control.

If she likes she can keep up the steam of information in the kitchen with Alexa. Actually, with
Echo Dot
the weather the way it has been, this is a great way to move from room to room and not lose touch.

We can play Amazon Prime Music all over the condo with good sound. We have Echo Dot connected; 1) to a ___ speaker in the living room, 2) to a stereo system in the basement, 3) and to a small wired speaker in the office. The original Echo speaker in the kitchen and the two new Echo Spots have good sound all by themselves.

We can make phone calls and for those with the Echo Show or Echo Spot we can see them in a nice clear picture. We also use it at home to Drop In with another room - no more yelling (my hearing is going anyway and this is easier).

Purchasing via any Echo device is easy; however, I do have one recommendation - use a Pin Code to complete the purchase. This will keep mischievous friends and errant youngsters from purchasing items you weren't aware of. I know about that, we've learned a thing or two.

You can set up lighting controls for when you are away and can control with the app on your phone - well actually it is all controlled from your phone or the internet. Yes you do have a connection via Amazon's Personal Echo web page.

Setting up lighting controls, alarms, shopping lists, and getting favorite radio stations and music everywhere - what else could anyone want.

Well maybe an Amazon Show. I'm working on that.