Creating things that don’t exist

Walmart and Google are entering the voice-shopping market – alongside the other big online players, Amazon and Apple.

Walmart’s goal is to “create customer experiences that don’t currently exist“. Is that a good thing?

It is almost certain that Walmart will have conducted extensive market research to see whether people actually want it and how . . . → Read More: Creating things that don’t exist

Supplier abuse

Tesco has been roundly criticised by the Grocery Code Adjudicator over its treatment of suppliers. The adjudicator investigated “the length of time taken to pay money due to suppliers, unilateral deductions from suppliers and an intentional delay in paying suppliers”. The findings leave no doubt that Tesco was engaged in substantial supplier abuse. In fairness . . . → Read More: Supplier abuse

Can you audit your way out of slavery, or do you have to pay the price?

Channel 4’s report on conditions for fruit packers reveals regular, awful treatment of the workers supplying the supermarkets.

No doubt all the supermarkets’ suppliers are regularly audited to guard against just this sort of exploitation. So what has gone wrong? The immediate answer is that the ‘unannounced, random audits’ were not nearly random or unannounced . . . → Read More: Can you audit your way out of slavery, or do you have to pay the price?

Asda: discounting women?

It may not be quite two women for the price of one man, but Asda appears to have a problem with equal pay. The wider Walmart group, of which Asda is the UK arm has a long history of troubled labour relations – but you might expect a better outcome in the UK, since it . . . → Read More: Asda: discounting women?

Tesco: capitalism at the end of the road?

Tesco seems to have been cannibalizing not only its own supply chain but also itself – or at least its own accounting practices. Its accounting was designed to push up profits. And that relentless push for profits has also lead to ever-increasing pressure on supermarkets’ supply chains. As a result suppliers pay in every sense . . . → Read More: Tesco: capitalism at the end of the road?

Time for in-sourcing?

The new accord between retailers and unions on worker safety clearly represents progress. Particularly because it involves unions directly. But it also raises big questions on how far there is to go.

Firstly, of course, how many retailers will actually sign up to it? That has been the media focus so far. But then, what . . . → Read More: Time for in-sourcing?

Horse-riding lessons

How can you supply horsemeat responsibly?

The UK has a long history of food scares and scandals – think mad cow disease, salmonella and listeria. But the horsemeat affair is on a different scale and appears to involve a significant part of the European meat supply chain. It also goes beyond health, raising . . . → Read More: Horse-riding lessons

Making corporate responsibility personal responsibility

Taking personal reponsibility for bank failure is one way the size of banks could be limited. And according to the director of financial stability at the Bank of England, there might be a need to do so.

One way to limit both company size and appetite for risk is to tie the fortunes of directors . . . → Read More: Making corporate responsibility personal responsibility

Every little bit of transparency helps

If you want shoppers to use fewer plastic bags, is it a good idea to give them away free? Manchester University, with a little bit of help from Tesco, thinks so.

Manchester University has produced a report on the effectiveness of different policies for plastic bags. It concludes that giving them away is a good . . . → Read More: Every little bit of transparency helps

The Supply of IF's

Now we have a new code for companies to pay (small) suppliers properly – that is according to the terms they agreed to in the first place. This will be good news, if there is anything like a fixed contract between them. And especially:

– if the big supermarkets sign up to it

– if . . . → Read More: The Supply of IF's