In December of 2014 we highlighted driverless delivery as one of our trends for 2015 – well, it took longer than I thought but Marble and Yelp Eat24's test in San Francisco is bringing the concept a big step closer to reality. The story in SFGate is worth a read, and the photo of the device is interesting, but unlike my lousy drawing on the right, their appears to only be able to make one delivery at a time – which I feel is a major drawback to using robotic deliveries especially for supermarkets. Our concept shows a series of lockers with keypad access, each locker contains a frozen, refrigerated and dry area and a text is sent to let you know when "Hal" will be arriving; or just like Uber or Lyft you can log on and see where your food is in real-time.
What I'm watching this week, and what you should too:
Zagat has issued its annual list of the hottest restaurants in the US and the best eats in Palm Springs California including one of our favorites – the new Counter wine bar at The Parker Hotel that has a great tapas style menu including halloumi and avocado tartine with Iberico ham, Santa Barbara sea urchin escabèche and foie gras macarons. Enjoy!
Jeff Bezos'annual shareholder letter is receiving a lot of attention as he continues his "Day 1 Mantra" which clearly has set the stage for this one-of-a-kind leader and company. Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.
Worth the read (and it includes a copy of the first one he wrote in 1997.
Walmart wants to be Amazon starting April 19th (ironic is the day after Tax Day). According to Business Insider the retailer will offer a "pick up discount" – examples: $50 discount on a $1,698 flat screen, $2.55 off a $23.99 Lego toy or $4.46 off a $111 Coleman cooler – offered to customers who order online and agree to ship purchases to one of Walmart's more than 4,100 US stores instead of to a home or elsewhere. Report says it will apply initially to 10,000 items this week and millions more to come; but it only applies to items that are not in the stores. This could be a BIG opportunity – to get people (a lot of non-Walmart shoppers) into their stores to buy! How about thinking about the impulse displays of products in the pick up area?
I love the Sweets & Snacks Expo (who doesn't?). This trade show continuously ranks in the top ten of all trade shows (not just food!) – and they have added a new award to their Most Innovative New Product Awards, which I proudly host each year. The Small Business Innovator Award joins the other categories. Enter now here. All submissions receive direct feedback from the taste panel judges following Expo which is a huge benefit and adds value to the brand. Hope to see you at the Awards presentation in Chicago at 11:30am Tuesday May 23rd. Champagne will be served to all!
CSPI reports that in light of the upcoming May 5th deadline, the National Grocers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores, have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to stay the effective date and rewrite the menu labeling rule to weaken it and exempt chain convenience stores and supermarkets. Why? Restaurants have already complied. One step forward and now we are taking two steps backward. With the technologies available today this labeling is not as difficult as we are making it and the bottom line is that consumers want (and need!) it.
The fervor over Whole Foods continuous with John Mackey fighting back and digging in his heels in the Wall Street Journal. Might be a little too late and time to bring back Walter Robb and have Mackey retire.
Last week's Pepsi Ad controversy is forgotten as Burger Kings takes the spotlight with their new ad that triggers OK Google to bring up the Whopper's Wikipedia page. Brilliant! Of course Google has blocked the device from doing it already, but the tie in with our smart devices is a natural evolution and brings new depth to television ads as they become more interactive. Folks like Vanity Fair have changed the magazine experience through their iPad version, so why not television? A good interview and review was done on KCBW.