Starbucks’ Schultz in emotional address on Charlottesville
Howard Schultz, the politically progressive — and famously outspoken — founder of Starbucks Coffee Corp., weighed in on the rally and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and its aftermath in an emotional speech to company employees.
Speaking at a standing-room only employee forum, Schultz did not specifically blame or criticize the President, saying he would let his (the President’s) actions speak for themselves. But the legendary retailer left little doubt of how he felt.
"What we witnessed this past weekend … is against every sense of what is right," Schultz said. "My fear is not only that this behavior is being given permission and license, but its conduct is being normalized to the point where people are no longer hiding their face. We’ve all seen pictures of the KKK in the South … they were hiding because they were afraid to be outed. People are no longer afraid."
The forum, titled "Hate Has No Home Here" and held at the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle, was designed as a space where employees could share their thoughts on the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. More than 500 associates attended, with an additional 1,000 people in overflow areas.
In his remarks, Schultz invoked the Holocaust, and passed around a rock that he brought back from his visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland some 17 years ago.
"I come to you as an American, as a Jew, as a parent, as a grandparent, as an almost 40-year partner of this company," Schultz said in opening remarks at the event. "I come to you with profound, profound concern about the lack of character, morality, humanity and what this might mean for young children and young generations."
Schultz went on to say that "the moral fiber, the values, and what we as a country have stood for is literally hanging in the abyss. We are at a critical juncture in American history."
Schultz told employees that it was hard to maintain an optimistic view about the future in light of the current storm, but he still is.
"I raise my hand, and I say I am optimistic about our country and the true promise of America," he said.
Employee forums are a tradition at Starbucks. Schultz and Kevin Johnson, Starbucks' new CEO, hold them quarterly at the company’s headquarters and regularly in regions around the world.
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Report looks at what drives holiday sales
Shoppers will do anything to qualify for free shipping — even spend more money if need be.
That's according to a new report by Radial and CFI Group, which surveyed online shoppers to find out what they expect from retailers during the holiday shopping season. Free shipping is seen as such a priority during the holiday selling season that 65% of the respondents said they are willing to purchase additional items to qualify for it.
Other findings regarding what influences online shopping during the holidays, include the following:
• 76% of shoppers will shop at a competitor's website if a retailer runs out of product.
• 95% will wait up to five days for standard shipping.
• 47% will shop with competitors the next time if a retailer's shipment arrives later than expected.
• 14% use in-store pickup as one of their typical delivery choices.
• 36% prefer live chat for customer service during the holiday season.
To meet these varying customer needs, retailers must have the operational flexibility to offer a variety of fulfillment options, according to the report. Inventory control, free shipping levels, standard shipping guarantees, in-store pickup options, and both phone reps and live chat must all be carefully orchestrated to deliver tailored experiences customers. And reps must be given the latitude to listen to and address specific fulfillment needs of each customer.
"It's about flexibility," said CFI Group CEO Sheri Petras. "If a retailer has all those fulfillment options available, the customer is going to be able to stay within that retail family, as opposed to shopping someplace else."
Amazon shortens delivery time again — this time to minutes
Online giant Amazon continues to shorten delivery time with a new service that puts goods in shoppers’ hands within minutes of placing their order.
Amazon on Tuesday introduced Instant Pickup, a free service for Prime and Prime Student members that offers a curated selection of daily essentials available for pickup in two minutes or less. The service launched at five of Amazon’s fully staffed pickup locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkeley, Calif., Columbus, Ohio, and College Park, Md., and will be rolled out to more locations in the coming months. Amazon currently operates a total of 22 staffed pickup locations on or near college campuses across the country.
The merchandise available with Instant Pickup include snacks, beverages, personal care items, phone chargers and other tech essentials. It also features such Amazon’s devices as the Echo and a selection of Fire tablets and Kindle readers.
“As shopping behaviors continue to evolve, customers consistently tell us that they want items even faster," said Ripley MacDonald, director, student programs, Amazon. "While Instant Pickup is available at select pickup locations today, we’re excited about bringing this experience to more customers soon.”
With Instant Pickup, Prime and Prime student members use the Amazon app to shop hundreds of items. Shoppers can browse the selection, place an order, and pick it up from a self-service locker – all within two minutes or less, Amazon said.
Some industry experts commented that with its new pickup program, Amazon is moving into a retail market long dominated by convenience stores.
"As 7-Eleven execs recover from the Amazon-cart that just knocked them off their feet, a close look at the positioning of this new offering shows a bold move into a new shopping space for Amazon,” said Luke Starbuck, VP of marketing, Linc. "While fast delivery has been at their core for a long time, the combination of speed and pickup is a different model than two-hour delivery, or pickup from a locker. Effectively, this new combination places convenience stores squarely in the cross-hairs, although Amazon has a lot of ground to make up before they have the store distribution. It raises the question of whether they are eyeing existing convenience brands as potential acquisitions."