Smart-Lock Enables Direct-to-Fridge Deliveries

The Wall Street Journal: “In Sweden, groceries and fresh food can be delivered in your absence and directly to where they belong: your kitchen and fridge. A Scandinavian courier company, PostNord AB, and supermarket chain, ICA AB, are testing the new service with about 20 households in the Swedish capital, promising that messengers will remove their shoes and unpack online deliveries, even when customers are away.”

“The pioneering service hinges on a new add-on lock, which customers must install on their doors and which messengers can open with their smartphones … The Swedish experiment is part of a global race aimed at solving one of the main headaches facing retailers and logistics companies … elusive customers … In-home, in-absentia delivery could help the logistics industry meet a continued surge in online commerce … Unlike some more futuristic ideas, such as drone deliveries, the Swedish proposal appears to have the potential of quickly becoming operational on a large scale.”

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Purple Squirrel: Enchanted Talent at Keds

Keds CMO Emily Culp in The Wall Street Journal: “I look for what I call ‘purple squirrels’—people who have a really unique blend of skills. They are agile, adaptable, curious and resourceful just like the animal, and—given the color—unique. They can serve as art director on a shoot for a global brand campaign and three minutes later discuss with me the ROI associated with the imagery in our social-media channels.”

“In addition to the rare blend of quantitative and qualitative skills, purple squirrels have to possess a very high emotional quotient, or EQ, to thrive and drive exponential growth. This is absolutely critical. They tend to think in a nontraditional way, so to deliver with the required speed and level of innovation, they need to collaborate and partner with other people and departments.”

“Finding this mix of skills and ability is a little like looking in an enchanted forest … I look for candidates both inside the shoe business and outside, where you find a whole set of different ideas, processes and training that can be applied in a new way.”

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How Categories Affect Our Perceptions

The New York Times: “What we think we’re looking at can alter what we actually see. More broadly, when we put things into a category, research has found, they actually become more alike in our minds. ‘Similarity serves as a basis for the classification of objects,’ wrote the noted psychologist Amos Tversky, ‘but it is also influenced by the adopted classification.’ The flip side holds: Things we might have viewed as more similar become, when placed into two distinct categories, more different.”

“Categorization affects not just how we perceive things, but how we feel about them. When we like something, we seem to want to break it down into further categories, away from the so-called basic level. Birders do not just see ‘birds,’ gardeners do not just see ‘flowers’; they see specific variations. The more we like something, the more we like to categorize it.”

“When we struggle to categorize something, we like it less … Even if we seem to like easy categorization, we’re not rigid about the categories themselves. A few decades ago, for example, the idea of beer in America meant a pale-colored lager, strongly carbonated, low in alcohol and lacking flavor. Following the craft beer revolution, the very category of beer has expanded enormously, with any number of subcategories … Categories can help us enjoy things for what they are. When existing categories do not suffice, we simply invent new ones … The great peril of this reliance on categorizing is that we could miss something that lies outside our perception.”

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The ‘Perfect’ Ingredient Tells A Story

The Washington Post: “Artisanal beauty products are often built around at least one obscure ingredient, the procurement of which (it’s implied) is really difficult. There’s no distance these brands won’t travel, whether for a body scrub with ‘white sand particles from the shores of Bora Bora,’ or a ‘gel treatment serum’ made from ‘the stem cells of Australian kakadu plums.’ They might need to go back in time to craft skin products made with ‘donkey milk . . . known as a beauty elixir since the ancient ages.’ There’s an emphasis on the rare find from nature, almost but not quite lost to mankind … the fruit from a tree previously known only to peoples of the Amazon.”

“That rare ingredient must be gathered with care, ideally by local villagers, processed in a lab under the most stringent standards, and then placed into a product whose label declares its transparency of its process, its freedom from potentially dangerous chemicals, its fair trade and cruelty-free status, its philanthropic efforts, and the all-around goodness of its intentions.”

“The perfect ingredient doesn’t just moisturize or smell good or look pretty on a label; the perfect ingredient tells a story we all want to hear.”

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Tiffany Bobbles Its Baubles

“Analysts say Tiffany is making one mistake: selling the same old products to consumers who demand constant newness and fresh offerings,” Business Insider reports. “Young consumers have been conditioned to the speed and price of fast fashion. In addition to Pandora, look no further than BaubleBar, the rapidly growing fast-fashion-esque jewelry startup … Tiffany & Co. could be resting ‘on its laurels’ while still raising prices — something that ultimately doesn’t bode well for the company.”

“Tiffany & Co. has tried to rectify this problem with newer, more fashion-driven collections … but the brand then faces another problem: Even older customers aren’t buying it.. consumers are instead spending money on ‘bigger-ticket items’ like houses and cars.”

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Loyalty Card: Will Apple Pay, Pay?

Quartz: “Retailers can tie their own loyalty programs into Apple Pay, so that people using the system can rack up points just as they would if paying by cash or a physical credit card. But as of yet, there’s nothing that allows consumers to earn more or different rewards for using Apple Pay specifically.”

“That could change, though, based on a recent job posting for a product manager sought by Apple Pay to ‘develop loyalty products and launch projects with merchants for those products’ … The job post confirms what many industry experts in the payments space have been saying for years: Apple needs to get into the rewards game to make its mobile wallet more appealing to consumers … Apple declined to comment.”

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‘Millennials’ Are People Too

Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times: “If your management or marketing theories involve collapsing all millennials into a catchall anthropological category — as if you’re dealing with space aliens or some newly discovered aboriginal tribe that’s suddenly invaded modernity — you’re doing it wrong.”

“Sure, the demographic group exists as an amorphous bloc. But you are as likely to come upon an archetypal millennial as you are to run into Joe Sixpack or be invited to a barbecue at the median American household. It’s hard to believe this even needs to be said, yet here we are: Macroscale demographic trends rarely govern most individuals’ life and work decisions. For most practical purposes — hiring and managing, selling to, creating products for — your company may be better off recognizing more discrete and meaningful characteristics in workers and customers than simply the year of their birth.”

“According to Laszlo Bock, who runs human resources at Google, pigeonholing workers into categories is nothing new, and it’s rarely helpful in running a workplace … Google’s human resources department, which the company calls ‘people operations,’ is famous for collecting and analyzing data about its work force to empirically back up its management techniques. Google’s workers range from recent college grads to people in their 80s. And as far as Mr. Bock has been able to tell, millennials, as a broad category, simply aren’t very different from everyone else.”

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The 6-Day Workweek: A Productivity Builder?

The New York Times: “At Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital … the orthopedics unit switched 89 nurses and doctors to a six-hour day. It hired 15 new staff members to make up for the lost time and extend operating room hours. At 1 million kroner (about $123,000) a month, the experiment was expensive … But since then, almost no one calls in sick, and nurses and doctors have been more efficient.”

“The unit is performing 20 percent more operations, generating additional business from treatments like hip replacements that would have gone to other hospitals. Surgery waiting times were cut to weeks from months, allowing patients to return to work faster and reducing sick leave elsewhere in the economy.”

Anders Hyltander, the hospital’s executive director, comments: “For years, we’ve been told that an eight-hour workday is optimal. But I think we should let ourselves challenge that view and say, ‘Yes that’s the way it is now, but if you want to increase productivity, be open to new ideas.’”

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Organic Coup: The Costco of Chicken Sandwiches

Business Insider: “The Organic Coup, which is the first USDA-certified organic fast-food chain in the US, just raised $7 million in an initial round of financing led by Costco founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal … The chain, which specializes in fried-chicken sandwiches and chocolate-drizzled caramel popcorn, has two restaurants — one in San Francisco and another in Pleasanton, California.”

One of the restaurant’s co-founders is Erica Welton, a “food buyer for Costco for 14 years before leaving to launch Organic Coup with Dennis Hoover, a 33-year Costco veteran … Welton and Hoover don’t have any prior restaurant experience” but “are modeling the new chain off of Costco in many ways.”

“Organic Coup is paying starting wages of $16 an hour in San Francisco and $14 an hour in Pleasanton. Fast-food workers in the US make $7.98 an hour on average, according to PayScale. The restaurant’s specialty is its spicy fried chicken made from organic, air-chilled chicken breasts fried in coconut oil … The menu is pretty simple. Customers can get the fried chicken with a range of sauces on a bun, in a multigrain wrap, or in a bowl with shredded vegetables … The chain will be adding tator tots to the menu as well.”

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