Malls, CEOs and My Thoughts

How Malls Work

  • Monetizing foot traffic – people who have high intent of buying something, but usually don’t know exactly what (in which case there’s Amazon). Turning a vague purchase intent into an actual sale.

It’s fair to say that Facebook is doing exactly that – aggregates traffic and algorithmically uses it to draw attention to various sellers.

  • [MK: food retailers told me that the number of people making a decision on what and where to buy before leaving home is growing.]

  • Malls subsidize the liquidity-makers (brands worth a visit on their own) and charge liquidity-takers (not worth the trip but may have occasional passers-by).

  • In the pre-social network world malls were under pressure from brand retailers (who had more power) and TV stations (who converted eyeballs into visitors). The exact balance of who to prioritize (spend more $ on ads and become more attractive to brands and charge them more or charge brands less, but increase the variety and the resulting foot traffic) was an art.

  • Currently TV stations have lost their unique ability to send foot traffic to malls (online shopping, anyone?).

  • In 2020 the semi-convenient cheap location of malls opens up an opportunity for internet retailers to open their distribution centres. In this case price discrimination for brands and non-brands isn’t needed: the value is the location and the logistics.

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When the CEO Can’t Get on a Plane, Deputies Step Up

  • It’s a good idea for CEOs to visit remote offices and “motivate” staff and especially managers. The positional authority of regional managers used to be hanging on the CEO’s authority and proximity (hence the visit).

  • Since flying in 2020 is no longer an option, CEOs have to resort to Zoom/Skype/whatever to manage remote locations. And this gives the regional managers a chance to grab more authority (not necessarily positional, but definitely situational).

  • Local management has to make their own decisions and engage the CEO / top management as partners in analysis, but not as the people who they have to listen to and obey. At the same time, many strategic decisions have to be underwritten by the CEO, so information flow is essential.

  • [MK: I am a firm believer in bottom-up innovation, i.e. the top managers sitting in their ivory tower are hardly the people keeping their ear to the ground.]

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Max’s Thoughts

  • I love it when online services fix their notification algorithms. Usually one registers for a service and receives occasional notifications (emails, pushes, etc), but eventually one funny (and predictable) thing happens: these online services hire a product manager obsessed with customer communications. Now, don’t get me wrong – this is the right thing to do when you’re a product manager. It’s just funny to watch when you are a manager of a manager of a product manager.

  • Let me be clear. This looks like this: you live your life, mind your business and kind of manage your way out of the COVID hysteria. And then – out of the blue – you get a notification on your phone: “Mr Max, you haven’t brushed your teeth with all 4 heads in one week”. Thank you, Philips, you have just given me a reason to remove your app.

  • But this is an easy way out. I keep getting notifications from services I’m no longer using or had a bad luck of signing up for a free trial at some point in my lifetime. And these notifications literally look like the voice from a grave. Service X I used to try in 2006 sends me a notification that I should eat more vegetables. Are you for real? Don’t you know that I don’t eat vegetarian meals? Service Y tells me that my certification of a public speaker is about to expire. Hm... let me think about it. How about I never MEANT to be a public speaker, signed up for your service 5 years ago out of curiosity to join your wait list. It’s 2020 and some processes in your company have clearly accelerated that finally I can get re-certified for something I just expressed my (very modest) interest in.

  • This all stupidity has one thing in common: a hyper-active product manager discovers that her product has a bunch of customer contacts that haven’t been abused yet. Loaded with KPIs and OKRs (oh how I love those), she decides to increase the number of contacts (and drive the Time Decay attribution model crazy) with the unfortunate customers who accidentally clicked “yes” to something they were confused into.