Friday Five – This week, 10% off for your data; brick and mortar redux and more

Friday Five Newsletter - M-Brain

Your personal data, now 10% off

Making headlines this week for all the wrong reasons is Zappos, who, (seven years later) has finally reached a settlement with the victims of its 2012 data breach. The 24 million customers who were affected will be eligible to receive a whopping settlement of: 10% off on a single Zappos order, for a limited time only. For customers who now likely have trust issues with Zappos, giving them a coupon which will require them not only to spend money on the site, as well as divulge all of their personal information all over again, might feel like the ultimate snub. Why is this settlement seemingly so terrible? Well, Zappos has not been found guilty of being negligent in their security, and according to lawyers, customers faced “no damages” from the exposure of their data. Many of them simply had to choose a new password (as panic inducing as that can be sometimes) and they were in the realm of security once again.

But are other companies doing any better? Yahoo and Equifax are allowing their customers to have a stake of their data breach payouts. However, the 147 million victims of the Equifax breach are only seeing $31 million of the $700 million settlement, leaving every person affected with only 20 cents. What we can say is that this is a lesson to companies to do their best to keep customer data safe, and when it comes to winning customers back after a data breach? You might want to offer more than a coupon.

From clicks to bricks: DoorDash goes classic

DoorDash, with its freshly announced 34% slice of sizzling U.S. food delivery market (take that, GrubHub and UberEats), has decided to go back to classics by opening a good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar shop. At a Redwood City, CA-based shared kitchen, DoorDash runs its first-ever commissary kitchen, charging rent to its tenant restaurants while handling their infrastructure, maintenance, and delivery.

Ecommerce has pretty much become a run-of-the-mill requirement for anyone playing in the B2C backyard, often morphing into omnichannel, a more holistic strategy calling for capacity to meet the customer anywhere, anytime, physical or virtual, shifting seamlessly between channels. Forget online-only – today it’s all about merging the bricks and clicks. Get ready for a new crop of retailers that may start out online but then dip their toes in brick-and-mortar. From Alibaba that opened 60 pop-up stores for Singles Day 2017, to Casper and its magical Dreamery stores where customers can take a delicious nap for a grand total of 45 minutes, the emerging trend calls for often counterintuitive strategies. All in the name of personalized, experiential, elevated commerce.

UAW strike adds fresh headache to trucking industry

United Auto Workers are into week five of their striking, and it’s finally hitting the trucking industry. After a banner year, North America’s four largest truck makers saw 69% fewer heavy-duty truck orders in September 2019 over the year before. The forecast is not too hot either, with a build of 340,000 heavy-duty trucks this year, and then a plunge to 238,000 units in 2020.

The trucking industry, according to experts, is a tale of two markets. One, spanning North America, Japan, and Europe, is trudging, weighed down by strict environmental regulation and demand for fancy connected, Uberized tech. The other, found in BRIC and emerging markets, grows more dynamically, reliant upon trucks “just good enough” to handle the imperfect infrastructure. OEMS are stuck between a rock and a hard place, trying to innovate effectively enough to compete in mature economies while simultaneously getting their foot in a door to these appetizing high-growth low-cost markets. The UAW strike adds yet another dimension to the challenge, a canary in a coalmine of toughening labor market and other macro headwinds. As the industry turns on the high beams, looks like seatbelts will be fastened as we move into 2020.

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(Don’t) call me or beep me if you want to reach me

Long gone are the days when teens would tie up the home phone lines, when the phone book would be delivered to your door step, and when you could memorize the number of your closest friends and family. Heaven forbid we actually receive a phone call in this day and age that isn’t another telemarketer or scam, and do we really need this function anyway? Today, it’s been found that the ubiquitous cellphone is least used as a phone, rather this device that we keep on us at all times barely serves the original function it was created to do. But with the rise of voice assistants and smart tech, is it possible that talking on the phone will make a comeback even more popular than high rise jeans?

Not just a social phenomenon, changing communication methods have gone so far as to popularizing telemedicine, creating audio platforms on social media and gaming sites, and impacting business communications. It’s been shown that having an in-person phone call makes it easier to resolve conflict, sort out plans or ease worries (just ask anyone who’s read your text with an implied tone). It’s the classic dilemma of being inconvenienced by a phone call, but reading into every message. Voice messaging is also having its moment, which allows you to send a message with the intended tone and not worry about proper punctuation. While phones continue to evolve, it’s safe to say our ways of communicating with them will too, [some sort of ending lol]

Parking has a back-up plan

Parking is an inevitability of car usership – in the US drivers spend an average of 17 hours a year searching for parking spots and parking in LA is so bad it led to a viral hour-long standoff of two cars on the street. For those lucky 1%ers parking can be bought, a single parking spot in Hong Kong was recently sold for $1 million. No one likes parking, but it is big business – this helpful ‘How to start a parking lot business’ guide notes that owners can make $73,000 a year with just 20 spots.

Surface lots in cities seem like they could be better utilized as condos – which is often the long term play of lot owners. While gentrification creeps towards their lot, they wait on their soon to be valuable real estate while also making money in the interim. Automation has been kind to parking lots, many no longer must employ the 16-year-old collecting $20 with frostbitten fingers in a Chicago winter, and instead rely on machine to spit out tickets. Regulation is also on parking lots side – there are no laws governing the amount that parking lots can charge. The future is not entirely rosy though – Uber and Lyft stealing away customers and the ever present loom of autonomous cars may leave tumbleweeds in the parking lots concrete.

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