New Zealand Gun Program and Walmart

Grind for December 30th
“To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.” – EB White

Worst Nightmare

The Headline

New Zealand’s firearm buyback program ends with marginal success

The Grind

Starting this July, gun owners in New Zealand had the opportunity to forfeit semi-automatic and military-style firearms that were banned following the terror attack in Christchurch.

The attack, described by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” took place inside two mosques on March 15th, 2019.

The attack was conducted by white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, 28, who singlehandedly killed 51 people and injured 49 others. Parts of the attack were live-streamed on Facebook.

The Details

Since July, authorities have collected more than 56,000 firearms and nearly 200,000 illegal gun parts. But as critics point out, it is impossible to estimate the number of outlawed guns given the fact that New Zealand created its first firearm registry less than a year ago.

According to government estimates, there are still up to 173,000 illegal guns in public hands.

“It’s a failure of massive proportion,” argues Nicole McKee, secretary for New Zealand’s NRA equivalent. “There will be a number of good people who will be made criminals by this government’s arrogance.”

Citizens caught with a banned firearm after December 20th, 2019 will face up to five years in jail.

May The Best Man Win

The Headline

Walmart’s plan to defeat Amazon

The Grind

With 2.2 million employees and a total equity of nearly $80 billion, Walmart is by far the world’s largest retailer.

To compare, Amazon (the world’s largest e-commerce retailer) has roughly 575,000 employees and a total equity of $44 billion.

Walmart’s online store in 2018 became the third-largest online retailer in the United States, but its numbers lag far behind Amazon – which controls nearly 50% of all online purchases in the country.

E-commerce represents roughly 14% of all retail sales in the US and Amazon accounts for 40% of that.

Walmart’s revenue more than doubles Amazon’s, but Amazon’s profit growth is much faster. Amazon’s operating income tripled last year to reach $12.4 billion, while Walmart’s inched up 8% to reach $22 billion.

Most of Amazon’s revenue comes from advertising and cloud computing.

The Details

Speaking this month at a strategy meeting, Walmart CEO Doug McMillion explained his strategy to compete with Amazon.

The main advantage Walmart has over Amazon is physical presence, explained McMillion. Moving forward, the company will redirect its focus to giant stores (called “supercenters”) that offer services Amazon can’t provide.

Walmart Supercenters are sprawling facilities that offer customers the ability to transfer money, get a haircut, fill subscriptions, and browse up to 100,000 products.

Supercenters, most of which stay open 24 hours a day, are utilized by teenagers as a place to hang out and by senior citizens as a place to walk during bad weather. The stores also offer grocery pickup/delivery – a service that accounted for more than half of the growth in US e-commerce sales last year.

Added warehouse capacity could be used to facilitate partnerships with more third-party sellers, allowing more companies to sell their products on Walmart’s website. This would give consumers a larger selection and allow existing stores to help fulfill online orders for Walmart’s groceries.

“The time where people might have been worried that our boxes were too big has long passed,” said McMillion. “The supercenter footprint and positioning gives us a great opportunity to expand services and help the economics of the model.”

Walmart is also planning to build “edge computing” capacity, a system in which data is processed close to the collection point (faster than using the cloud). In the future, this system could be used to rent computing power to passing drones, autonomous cars, and local businesses.

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