Spirit Airlines: Operations = The Experience

The New York Times: “Spirit Airlines is ready to shake off its bad-boy streak and grow up a little … the new chief executive, Robert Fornaro, six months into his job, says he is ready to put a new face on Spirit and a new emphasis on customer service. The makeover also includes toning down the frat-boy image, cleaning up the cabins and maybe even getting more of the planes to arrive on time.”

He comments: “There is a big change in terms of focusing on our operations. This is how we want to be viewed: on time, friendly, clean and efficient.”

“Mr. Fornaro … argues that he can improve on-time and complaint ratings without incurring higher costs … By paying to improve operations, he said, the airline would cut down on expenses in other areas, like fees it incurs when it has to reimburse passengers for canceled flights. It would also cut down on overtime needed to pay staff who work longer hours because of delays. ‘If we run a better operation, we’ll have lower recovery costs,’ he said.”

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Project Sync: Home Depot Streamlines Shelves

The Wall Street Journal: “Instead of filling its warehouse-style racks to the ceiling with Makita drills, rolls of Owens Corning insulation and cans of Rust-Oleum paint, Home Depot wants fewer items on its shelves and it wants them to be within customers’ reach … It is a shift happening across the retail sector as companies try to figure out ways to profitably serve the growing needs of online shoppers while making their network of stores less of a financial burden.”

Home Depot has “instituted ‘Project Sync,’ a series of changes that include developing a steadier flow of deliveries from suppliers into its network of 18 sorting centers … When the shipments get to stores, workers move them right to the lower shelves, eliminating the need to store and retrieve products from upper shelves using ladders and forklifts … Savings can be used to have more workers on the floor or finding orders for shoppers who are picking them up.”

“This also keeps stock from collecting dust out of reach. ‘You would stack it high,’ says Jessica Thibodeaux, manager of a Home Depot just outside Houston, ‘but it wouldn’t fly’.”

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Indie Bookstores: Something Better Than Amazon

The New York Times: “The pronounced stock shortage inside the Librairie des Puf … is not the result of an ordering mistake, but the heart of the shop’s business model. There are books, but they are not delivered in advance from wholesalers. They are printed on request, before the customer’s very eyes, on an Espresso Book Machine … It is a radical reinvention of a store that first opened its doors in 1921.”

“Independent bookstores … are beginning to carve a path out of their business’s decade of decline. ‘It’s an industry which is very much starting to rebound,’ said Nick Brackenbury, one of the founders of NearSt,” which “aims to help local shops adapt to the needs of the modern customers by making local shop inventories ‘shoppable’ from a smartphone, allowing customers to search for titles, find local stores that sell them and see routes there.”

“We just want local stores to be able to offer customers something which is just better than Amazon,” Mr. Brackenbury said.

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The ‘Cheese Pull’ & Other Chemical Reactions

Quartz: “In advertising, the cheese pull is more than just a tantalizing glimpse of melted goodness. It’s an idea, and an enduring one at that. Advertisers use it to communicate with the part of our brain that’s not verbal, with the primal core of our being that doesn’t understand words but responds with hunger, thirst, arousal, desire.”

“Pizza chains aren’t the only ones that use such evocative visual cues to tap into our baser urges. The hair flip in shampoo commercials, the car cruising down a windy road in auto ads, and the closeup on condensation on an ice-cold bottle are each metaphorical ‘cheese pulls,’ designed to provoke an involuntary response—one that advertisers hope will lead to a purchase.”

“In food advertising, the cheese pull can ‘trigger deep-seated memories of food experiences’ to ‘signal an enjoyable experience in you,’ said Uma Karmarkar, an assistant professor of marketing at the Harvard Business School … Those memories can actually set off a release of chemicals in the brain akin to those involved in drug addiction.”

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Have a Beer at Barnes & Noble?

The Washington Post: Barnes & Noble “will market test four redesigned stores later this year that feature larger café areas offering wine, beer and an expanded food menu, as well as table service. The goal is to boost traffic to the stores and to grow food and beverage sales from just under 10 percent of the retailer’s total sales to a larger pillar of the business.”

“The new design is aimed at making Barnes & Noble a competitor for your dinnertime dollars, not just your morning or afternoon pick-me-up … The café changes aren’t the only ones Barnes & Noble is implementing to try to make its stores into more of a gathering place. It is moving to add more seating throughout the store so you’ll be enticed to curl up with your book, and it is doubling down on events such as hands-on play sessions in its toy and game department.”

“And it is trying to reorganize the stores with better navigation. In some cases, that will mean simplifying signage, such as changing a section called ‘entrepreneurship’ to just ‘business.’ In others, that will mean putting items close together that are likely to appeal to a single shopper. So a new section of infant and toddler sleep books will be nearby those about baby food and baby sign language.”

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Airlines Opt for a ‘Two-Cabin’ Experience

Quartz: “Airlines are getting rid of the most coveted seats on their aircrafts, favoring souped-up versions of business class in the hope that high-paying customers won’t be able to tell the difference.” For Example: “United Airlines earlier this month unveiled its new business-class service, United Polaris, which will include rows of sleeping pods instead of seats. The company says it is ‘phasing out’ the first-class cabin in favor of a ‘a two-cabin experience for international travel’ … The trend is part of airlines’ battle for revenue, particularly high-paying customers.”

Analyst Jonathan Kletzel comments: “Once you’re lying flat and you’ve got your own personal screen and you’re getting a nice dinner, the distinction comes down to nicer wines, plusher pillow … That’s where you’re at.”

“For the rest of us, there’s premium economy, airlines’ latest pitch to entice coach travelers to pay a premium for a little bit extra legroom, early boarding, and other perks.”

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Made By Cow: Introducing Cold-Pressure Milk

Gizmag: “Made by Cow (MBC) says its alternative cold-pressure approach is a world first, with the milk going from cow to bottle within a matter of hours. The company explains that it is then put under intense ‘isostatic cold water pressure.’ Here, cold water is used to compress both the bottle, which is plastic so as to flex, and the milk inside … MBC reports that ‘bacteria can’t withstand the pressure we subject them to’ and so are eliminated, while the cold temperature of the water reportedly ensures that the process is gentler on the milk’s nutritional profile.”

“MBC claims that the resulting produce is creamier and more vitamin-rich than conventionally processed milk and that it will actually last slightly longer, too, though specifics are not yet available.”

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