Dear friends, yet again our company is ready to share knowledge, interesting facts about companies, observations and impressions of the management tour participants.
Between July 25 and August 7, FastForward went looking for retail innovation in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles together with our friends VkusVill (a Russian retail chain selling organic healthy foods).
The online shoe store, which began as an office in a bedroom 10 years ago and has since transformed into a multi-billion corporation, is believed to have the best corporate culture in the world.
When Western executives and managers want to describe a business style built on a strong corporate culture, they often say "Zappos-like" or "Zappos-style". In just seven years, Zappos managed to become the leader of its market, and the company's corporate culture played a decisive role in this. It's the philosophy that all Zappos employees follow, from Director General to technical support.
Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. is American supermarket chain that specializes in organic products.
The Sprouts team has over 30,000 employees and more than 300 stores located in 20 states from coast to coast. A typical Sprouts Farmers Market store has an area of about 2.5-3 thousand square meters (about 30,000 square feet).
Amazon Go is an American chain of convenience stores controlled by the online retailer Amazon. The shops are partially automated, and customers can buy goods at self-checkout without the purchase being checked by a cashier.
The concept of the store uses several kinds of technology:
The store concept is seen as a revolutionary model based on the prevalence of smartphones and geofence technology to optimize customer service, as well as on supply chain and inventory management. Before purchasing anything at the store, a customer has to download Amazon Go App for iOS and Android and connect it to their Amazon account.
Airbnb developed an online platform for placing ads and looking for short-term lodging all over the world. Airbnb users can rent their apartment or house (or a part of it) to travelers. The site provides a platform for establishing contact between hosts and guests and processes transactions.
Airbnb offers lodging in 65,000 cities in 191 countries. Airbnb charges a certain commission for its services: 3% of rent pay from the owner and between 6% and 12% from the tenant.
To scrape up some rent money, they let strangers sleep on air mattresses in their apartment. This was what gave them the idea to start a new business. To spend the night, lodgers have to pay their landlords. However, at first, the largest investors in Silicon Valley predicted that the project would fail. Still, Chesky and Gebbia managed to get their startup into a business incubator called Y Combinator. Just a year later, in 2009, Airbnb received $7,000,000 and reported 700,000 successful booking transactions.
Thus, Silicon Valley's basic principle of "solving problems for the long term" turned into its opposite for Airbnb. To date, Airbnb service has been used by more than 40 million guests in 34,000 cities around the world.
The lean startup method, or the concept of lean production is a new approach to continuous innovation.
Basically, the purpose of Lean Startup is to help the entrepreneur avoid the risk of spending a lot of money and effort to create a useless product. Over time, lean methods have become very popular, and their application went beyond startups and the IT industry.
This method employs a scientific approach that helps one build a growing business and avoid unnecessary spending.
* Eric Rice's bestseller Business from Scratch. Lean Startup Method is recommended for entrepreneurs and everyone involved in innovation and launch of products.
There is no such thing as too much useful information, real cases or innovative training. Our group realized this on the very first day of the US Foodtech Tour.
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation reorganized on October 2, 2015 into the international conglomerate Alphabet Inc., a company within the Alphabet holding that invests in internet search, cloud computing and advertising technologies.
Google is the most powerful brand in the world, according to BrandZ, and it was the most expensive brand in the world in 2011, according to Brand-Finance. In 2011, Google was recognized as the company with the best reputation in the United States, ahead of Microsoft, Sony and other companies.
What could be cooler than visiting Google itself? Only a lecture on corporate innovation at one of the most prestigious universities in the United States!
The list of famous Berkeley graduates includes Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple), Shantanu Narayen (founder of Adobe Inc.), Eric Schmidt of the Board of Directors of Google and 29 Nobel Prize winners.
Walmart Labs is an American subsidiary of Walmart in San Bruno, California.
The company's website generates profit through advertising based on its categorization mechanism.
The company was founded by a former military officer, Sam Walton in 1962. Currently, the discount supermarket chain is not only the biggest in the US but also the largest company in the world in terms of gross income. The company operates almost 12,000 stores in 28 countries and has a supermarket in almost every city of the United States.
What makes Walmart different from others?
*We recommend that anyone who has anything to do with entrepreneurship read the book by Walmart's founder Sam Walton "Made in America".
Whole Foods Market Inc. specializes in organic food without artificial preservatives, food dyes, flavor enhancers, sweeteners or trans fats that are sold at its 479 stores in North America and the UK.
The company makes an effort to purchase products that meet its quality standards only from local manufacturers and increasingly puts more emphasis on manufacturer-focused programs. In some regions, there is a special employee known as "forager" whose sole responsibility is to look for local products for each store.
ByteFoods manufactures automatic vending machines and refrigerators and offers the most efficient and affordable solutions for fresh food in the workplace.
Fast food with a touch of healthiness: Shake Shack.
FastForward Managing Partner Alesya Glushchuk had this to say about the company and the atmosphere:
This place has a light, weekend kind of vibe. At every company we've been to, they say one thing: the company's strength is in its corporate culture. Our speaker said something that truly resonated: "It is important to choose the right people with the right values. For example, why would you date a guy if he's so-so?"
At the moment, the chain has 200 burger joints that employ 4,400 people. The menu includes burgers with real meat, tasty shakes and excellent ice-cream.
When we came to the restaurant and said we had a meeting with the branch manager, the employee pointed to the man who was frying patties. It was the branch manager. At Shake Shack, it's common practice for new employees to start with working at the restaurant.
Imagine a company that makes clothes
The company's main objective is to generate value. The company generates value for its customers who pay a lot for its products, but what they get for their money is quality. Patagonia also benefits the entire industry by developing new technology and models and helping the environment. To a great extent, sports and tourism are ways to interact with, explore and conquer the outside world. Unlike other companies, Patagonia puts a lot of effort into making sure this happens in harmony with nature.
The company donates 1% of its turnover or 10% of its profit to environment protection funds. Seeing such generous donations makes one understand that it's not just marketing, that the company believes in what it does. In the time since its inception, Patagonia has donated about 50 million dollars to various environmental organisations.
All Patagonia apparel is made of recycled materials, while its cold-protective clothing uses Traceable Down. It means that the down used was collected painlessly.
Nearly all of the company's employees travel around the world and engage in extreme sports. They do it for fun, but also to look for new solutions and test the company's products.
Visiting Amazon Go and meeting the speaker, Digital Products Director at the large pharmacy chain Walgreens (who used to work with Amazon Prime) was what caused a lot of talk, emotions and a lengthy discussion among the tour participants.
One of the participants, Olesya Teplitskaya shared her observations:
"Globally, the company (unlike Google) does not seek to change the abstract future but creates products that people need here and now. Mission: deliver products as quickly and conveniently as possible. To provide its customers with the things they need most, the company has to understand its audience as best it can, which is why it is obsessed with clients and data that give insight into customers".
Whole Foods on Amazon: "They say Jeff Bezos is the world's worst boss, but that doesn't mean that everyone else working for him should be the same."
Core idea for management: each manager should spend a lot of time communicating with subordinates, teaching them and showing them how to think, but at the same time it is important to avoid micromanagement.
Amazon's 14 Leadership Principles help managers in this (the list is taken from https://hr-portal.ru/blog/14-principov-liderstva-amazon):
1. Customer Obsession
3. Invent and Simplify
4. Leaders Are Right, a Lot
5. Learn and Be Curious
6. Hire and Develop the Best
7. Insist on the Highest Standards
8. Think Big
9. Bias for Action
11. Earn Trust
12. Dive Deep (leaders work at all levels, know all the details, audit often and are skeptical about instances where metrics clash with reality). No task is completed without their knowledge. Before, we often confused this principle with micromanagement, but it was explained to us that they are very different: checking and keeping tabs is not the same as telling a person what to do.
13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
14. Deliver Results
All managers are evaluated based on these principles.
Before deciding whether or not to cooperate with someone, Amazon checks the prospective partner against several values it considers important:
*We recommend the book "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon".
In our tours, we combine business meetings with guided tours, which means that every day is filled with new things learned, as well as emotions and impressions. During the tour, the group was able to enjoy the beauty of Sequoia Park in California and Death Valley in Nevada. The first tour day was especially memorable because of our trip to the unforgettable Grand Canyon!
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On our tour of Germany, we visited the most famous food exhibition, the Green Week, as well as numerous retail chains and enterprises operating in various interesting industries. We have a lot to learn. We must take the best and use it. Thank you, FastForward, for your careful approach to creating this tour.
We visited several retail stores in Germany, as well as manufacturing facilities. What we liked the most about the stores we visited was the high quality standards of German retail. Retailers know how to sell high-quality goods at affordable prices, and this is probably the main secret of Germany's retail success. As for production, we were inspired by some of the small family businesses we saw.