Episode 02: “Stores” is a Bad Word

In this episode:

  • What’s going on with Banana Republic
  • Analytics keeping food fresh in grocery stores
  • Apple thinks “stores” is a bad word
  • IKEA goes upscale

Gap Earnings and what’s going on with Banana Republic


  • Gap was king in 80s and 90s, but not anymore. In 2011 they closed 200 stores. Last month, they closed another 175.
  • Store sales taking consistent dips – Gap stores fell 4% in July, with Banana Republic down 14%
  • In desperation, Gap is consistently eating away at profits with consistent aggressive across the board sales at 30-40% off.
  • Now it’s a revolving door of executives and merchandisers. The Creative Director that some say was part of the reason why things went south specifically for Gap brand Banana Republic (style/design), stepped down and wasn’t replaced.

Analytics keeping food fresh in grocery stores


  • Leave it to IBM to make use of what we might think of as stale data, turning it into something useful.
  • They are using machine learning and analytics to review grocery scanner data to better track contamination outbreaks and investigations in known stores – narrowing it down to specific products for further testing.
  • Uses spatio-temporal data. Which essentially means, objects that are close in time or space are similar. 
    • Religion and race are strong predictors of voters’ choices. These are likely to be similar in nearby regions.
    • School quality is a strong predictor of house prices. Nearby houses belong to the same school district.
    • They hope to do the same with food born illnesses – shorten the investigation period, saving lots of people from eating infected food.

Apple thinks “stores” is a bad word


  • According to MacRumors (a popular Apple fan-boy website) – Apple is removing the word “store” from all branding
  • It’s subtle, but they want to move closer to a community & entertainment feel

IKEA goes upscale


  • The Swedish retailer says it’s ready to boost the quality of its inexpensive, notoriously hard-to-assemble furniture. But it runs the risk of alienating its budget-minded fans
  • The company known across the globe for its cheap-chic pressboard furniture now operates some 300 stores in 27 countries, and does some $36 billion in sales each year worldwide
  • Reassembling Ikea’s image will be a challenge, but is understandable if they are trying to grow with their existing customer
  • It is easier to go downstream (less quality/expensive) than upstream (more quality/expensive)

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