Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 5/22/15

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Some of the best learning happens when you read stories about real people and real companies. Read them for ideas, for lessons, and inspiration. This week’s stories and strategies from real life are about McDonald’s, Kijiji, Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, Ascena Retail Group, and Zappos.

From Matt Vella: Here’s How McDonald’s Became the King of Burgers

“It is in no way surprising that McDonald’s recent troubles have drawn so much media attention. It’s not just because it’s a huge company, it’s because it is one of a small handful of corporations that are closely associated with the idea America itself, part of our national identity. And that has been the case for most of McDonald’s 75-year history.”

From Ian Austen: Kijiji, a Flop in the U.S., Rules Online Classifieds in Canada

“The eBay-owned website, whose name means ‘village’ in Swahili, attracts three times as many users in Canada as Craigslist, which dominates in the United States.”

From Emily Parkhurst: Why Walmart’s new $50 shipping service, combined with Alibaba’s expansion, threaten Amazon’s future

“Amazon Prime is generally considered the Seattle company’s secret weapon in the battle for online buyers. The company’s $99-per-year service provides members free two-day shipping, video and music streaming, and in some areas of the country, one-hour delivery. The service has been a major windfall for the company, as Prime customers return more frequently than non-Prime members and buy more when they’re there. Now, though, Prime has some competition.”

From Suzanne Kapner: Building an Apparel Empire for ‘Real’ Women

“Retailers always talk about their female customer as an idealized ‘her.’ But Ascena Retail Group Inc. has built an empire selling clothing to real American women—those on a budget, and who might not wear size eight.”

From Rachel Emma Silverman: At Zappos, Banishing the Bosses Brings Confusion

“The shake-up has been jarring even for a company famous for doing things differently. Earlier this month, Zappos said about 14%, or 210, of its roughly 1,500 employees had decided Holacracy wasn’t for them, and they will leave the retailer. They were offered at least three months of severance pay by Zappos Chief Executive Tony Hsieh, who wrote in a 4,700-word memo in March that the company hadn’t ‘made fast enough progress towards self-management.’ Buyouts are part of an accelerating effort to ‘rip the bandaid,’ he wrote.”

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