Is Amazon re-creating the Milkman?

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I will show my age a little here, but I actually remember the milkman with a cap, and I think a uniform. It was a Meadow Gold truck that, if I remember correctly was this faded yellow, practically beige with a red Meadow Gold insignia on the side. This is stretching back to my earliest childhood memories. We had this insulated box at the side door where the milkman would leave milk, eggs and once a month (this is why I remember) I would get something special like a quart of chocolate milk or a gallon of Grape juice. This Grape juice was remarkable, we could not find that flavor in the stores. I can remember my Mom wanting to continue and my Dad finally saying that it was silly to continue paying these prices. We could stop at the store more than once a week. Meadow Gold

It has become common place to buy practically on demand and go to the store several times a week. It seems hardly comprehensible how we could even think about a milkman. Well along comes Amazon prime and my local Kroger store reducing their selection of certain items to the most popular flavors. I now find that I can buy certain items and have them delivered to my doorstep, just like the milkman. I can even subscribe for added savings and have them deliver the items on a regular basis. The added benefit is that the Amazon algorithms are so brilliant that they can suggest complementary items that are continually getting added. Not everything is cost effective on Amazon, but surprisingly, I think it is nearing a third of what we buy can be done for less money and more importantly in several circumstances the flavors that I want. Now, I do not think Amazon can supply the bulk of my groceries in the near term. However, I do think that with a few satellite stores (to cover the insulated box items) in strategic locations they could nearly supply all of someone’s groceries.

What is Kroger thinking? We have been shopping at Kroger for years and recently they just build a superstore near us that is woefully short of parking spaces. So, now I have limited flavors, lousy parking and a bigger store to add to the complexity of shopping. The real topper is my Kroger card that I have been forced to use for the last ten years, if you don’t you pay like $500 for a candy bar, knows my shopping habits better than I do. They could stock my refrigerator for me, and I mean that. However, the Kroger card has not done one thing to improve my shopping experience. You would think that they would have done something with that data bank, at least sent me a few personalized coupons over the years.

In my mind, Kroger should have offered to be the milkman. They could have sent me a personalized shopping list with scheduled deliveries. They could have given me specials to try this or that to extend their brand within my household. They could have stopped Amazon’s efforts into the grocery business. Instead, they have let a loyal shopper become highly engaged with a proven vendor.

I compliment Amazon for their success. When I view Kroger, or for that matter Wal-Mart not leveraging their local presence to my benefit, I am surprised. From my point of view the Krogers, Wal-Marts, Meijers and many others, have spent their time maximizing their supply chain from an inside-out approach. Amazon has done the same but maximized those supply-chain improvements for the customer’s benefit. Of course, Kroger may know things I do not know. After all, they have all that data on every shopper’s buying patterns. But, I get this feeling that Amazon wants to be my milkman and Kroger doesn’t.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.

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