Adrian Loveridge Column – F Grade for Captains of Industry

On reflection, hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, but I ponder just how many individuals and companies are kicking themselves, for not implementing supplemental trading measures while they had the opportunity and available funding?

Take one, if not our largest, food wholesale and retail distribution entities as an example.

If they only had spent a fraction of the millions ploughed into installing new brand signage and  instead created and managed an online website/e-business platform where people could select, order and pay for basic essentials from the safety of their own homes and have those items delivered in controlled circumstances. Such a move certainly would have helped protect employment, both for the company and its suppliers.

I have also been frankly amazed at the lack of response from major utility and service suppliers, well before lockdown, even when addressing repeated personal emails to their senior managers including managing directors. For some reason, the majority of them feel they have no obligation to respond, even when reasonable requests are made.

Equally you can attempt to contact employees at lower levels or follow the instructions on certain online or printed bills, stating ‘to share a compliment or make a query, email us at’, only to discover that address is not functional and has not been for some considerable period.

Like so many businesses, we are faced with the extreme challenge of having no anticipated earned income from which we can pay our monthly obligations.  So the natural and sensible path to take is to reach out early, to our service providers and hopefully offset or mitigate those imminent upcoming charges.

Our banks appear equally indifferent.

Yes, some may have deferred principal payments, but monthly and other charges have remained the same, despite severely reduced or the provision of non-existent services. Well before the crisis, we had given up expecting a local branch manager or employee to return voicemail or email messages, either at all, or in a timely manner.

The only remaining option is to hang-on to the telephone for an indefinite period, hoping to speak to someone that can first understand and then resolve even minor banking queries in less than two hours, usually from a remote ‘customer-care’ location in Jamaica, Latin America or God knows where.

During the prolonged Coronavirus crisis, hopefully the directors of these entities will spend a little of their newly acquired enforced leisure time in self-isolation, reflecting exactly how they intend to do business in the future, so there will be marked improvement, as and when, our economy recovers.

Poor and unacceptable customer service seems to have become rife among many of our commercial organisations and one is only left to assume that this has been accepted as the ‘norm’ by those at the highest level.

The current crisis has left many consumers with the available time to seek out and implement better working alternatives and who will be loathed to return to a sea of trading mediocrity and previous compromise.

Let us use this opportunity to bounce back with an improved way of conducting business.

Clearly, some of our captains of industry can do a great deal better.

105 comments

  • Is Peter Wickham looking for a Mia appointment in France? I do not see another Tony Marshall fiasco ever happening again!

    Like

  • Roland Clarke Problem: Supermarkets not hiring additional staff to fill online orders

    A Solution: Govt should pay the incremental labour costs, and keep supermarkets closed.

    Funds would come from the $1.8 Billion in reserves.

    People should not be made to visit air conditioned spaces such as supermarkets.

    Outdoor fishing markets are okay, but with better supervision for social distancing.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    If there is one commodity that will always be cheap in Barbados it is talk. When this crisis is over , I am going to suggest that MoF tax talk. The higher the ignorance of such talk the higher the tariff. How on earth can one expect to apply normal systems in a crisis? Everybody in the Public and Private sectors are doing their best. Stop the idle hair- brained criticisms.

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @David, I share the point you posted. No one disputes that closing supermarkets was a challenging matter of too many calls going unanswered and too many online orders unfilled but I was flaberghasted that with all the experience and skills in the industry that they (big ones surely) failed to get on top of this or could not see themselves getting on top of it over next few weeks!

    As the blogger notes first thing was too employ a few more part-timers to manage the calls and online input but it also meant tech updates and a complete operational shift.

    *…As buildings were closed it meant that all staff could focus on order prep… some butchers , kiosk, customer service, even some pharmavy and bakery staff could be diverted to assist with order prep.
    *…. consider that it would not be totally necessary to “restock” shelves in this scenario as staff could pick items directly from boxes on the aisle floor
    *…. further consider that a) you could arrange curfew exemptions and have teams starting at 4AM or 5AM to get orders prepped from previous day started and ready by 9AM and b) continue to stagger staff times as needed to facilitate full-on order processing again possibly beyond curfew time.
    *… I saw it as an excellent opportunity for these Bimmers to establish how savvy they were…instead they fell back to the same mundane processes of “shop by name” !

    Undoubtedly, to move so completely to online shopping needed a careful and comprehensive rethink and that more than anything else that is the oroblem here…there was no proper thinking or planning on the process.

    *…. Online sites needed to be updated in recognition of the surge in use and by people some of whom hate online processes and would get easily frustrated
    *… phone processes also needed to be updated: the many calls answered and a call back number requested (this is a rather standard auto process available) and the consumer RETURN CALL made.

    Everyday @David more supermarket workers are dying… I get in that there will be social distancing and folks are masked up but nonetheless there still needs to be continuous cleaning resulting I anticipate in the relatively limited shopping time per group…

    … because of our comparatively small sample size ours was an ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT opportunity to put into practice a workable, technologically strong, full scale online process and we whiffed at it to revert to the old school … how short sighted!

    This virus is with us for a while… we need to get the online process to WORK…it can be done!

    Like

  • “bounce back with an improved way of conducting business.”

    Bad suggestion Adrian, this is Barbados opportunity to get rid of all this DEAD WOOD and start fresh. Most of these old identies are destined to DIE as they do not have the way for all of CHANGE, as the BLOGMASTER says, SAME OLD SAME OLD. This attitude is the nail in their coffin, hopefully this contagious attitudes will be eradicated.

    Like

  • @Dee Word

    You may recall when were discussing the importance of implementing a digital transformation plan a couple years several on this blog expressed reservation that it was not the way to go. The appointment of McConney and Adams which required a change to the Constitution sparked serious debate.

    As you correctly opined what Adrian is discussing is basic BCP planning made worse that several of the online services now required to respond to customers should have been loaded to production years ago. Several of these companies have cheated on consumers by nursing obsolete business models. The BCCI, BPSA, respective government ministries and consumer bodies should be held to account.

    Should it be done now or TBD is the question.

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  • The reality is no supermarket was going to spend money to upgrade an online system that would only be needed for a couple of weeks.

    If you check the volume of sales of any supermarket that were done online prior to Covid, I doubt it would come to even 1% of their total sales. The idea was flawed from day one as I said then, based solely on a lack of logistics. We are a small island with supermarkets within a couple of minutes drive from most of us, ours is not an environment that would support a sizeable online retail market for food items. Also people like to see what they are buying especially when it comes to vegetables and meats etc.

    What the PM has laid out along with incorporating the vegetable vendors in a controlled manner will work until May 3rd. While there will be a need by older folks or those without transport for an online service going forward, it will not be enough to make a large capital outlay by any business viable at this stage.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @John A

    Your view is myopic. It is why we’ll run companies have BCP plans. Although the BCP plans are not used during normal times they have to be configured to respond to abnormal times and tested!

    All major supermarkets should have had an ebusiness component established, all that would have been required is to increase resources to improve distribution. They could have worked with the BPSA to establish a shared contact Centre arrangement. This is not rocket science.

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @David, you teeed it up…any TBD is complete and continued malfeasance (and corporate money grabbing from less capital expenditure)… our world has changed…that line is almost cliched already… yes, it will be our ‘mark of the beast’ but online and technology aggressively used are yet where we have to go!

    @Vincent, if MoF had taxed that from years ago maybe the impact might have saved our nation from all the hot air MoFs and other elected officials spewed that got us often into trouble.

    A crisis is a time to see how really sharp and shrewd one is in executing all the skills and knowledge gained over time… you are entirely right that one can’t apply “normalcy” during a crisis when not many normative functions are working… and yes the teams are doing their best.

    But you really want less critical analysis that should jolt them to rethink and continue rethinking …you want “their trying the best” to become the crisis normative… as many were trying their best and led us boldly to despair in the past… do we have the luxury now, sir.

    In the middle of a grave crisis, despair will become rioting and or death … that’s not a desirable option.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Dee Word

    Indeed, management 101.

    Some will fail to survive a crisis. What we know however is that good leaders usually are successful in driving their companies out of a crisis and are stronger for it. The business ethos in Barbados is weak.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Unfortunately, these situations/problems outlined by this gentleman are simple existential in nature. For if the vast majority of Bajans continue to act and behave like dummies and Ram sheep what the hell do they expect. The powers that be and establishments will treat them as such. I’ve heard on many occasions from Barbadians working in the tourist industry complaining about what they perceived to be a difficult guest, matter of fact, sometimes they go as far as to say they don’t like having black Barbadians from America as guest at their establishments; why, they are too demanding, a pain in the ass. What am I talking about in relations to the writer’s presentation, if you knuckleheads get down here and sit on your ass after so much of the GDP has been spent on education, so many have traveled to the developed countries, then you behave like beggars when spending your hard earned money, the same when receiving a service that your tax dollars entitled you to, then what the hell do you expect. There is a quote, first heard some time in the early ’80s not sure again, but it goes ” when you determined what the people will accept, then you rule.” Can someone set me right on this please.

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  • John A,

    ‘that would only be needed for a couple of weeks’ –
    You seem to have forgetting the estimated 700,000 long stay visitors which came to Barbados in 2019. They all need to eat and the vast majority do not eat out every night in restaurants, especially those who stay in villas, apartments and the shared accommodation sector.

    What does it cost to build a website?

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ John A at 9:26 AM

    May God continue to bless you with wisdom. What a breath of fresh air!
    We constantly get these ideas that are not practical,especially in a crisis. The systems that some are proposing are not practical and need time to develop and install. We do not have that time. We are into CRISIS MANAGEMENT.

    I also think the food distribution system is being worked on let us see if there is less crowding tomorrow. People have to get access to food. The alternative is disaster.

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    It’s not rocket science, correct @David…thus when you hear a business person like @John A continually defend what is really absurdly short sighted business practices in Bim it gives one pause.

    The Bim I knew should have been ready to handle this online thing BETTER (with propa planning)… but your point is Waterford Crystal clear : “Although the BCP plans are not used during normal times they have to be configured to respond to abnormal times and tested! […] All major supermarkets should have had an ebusiness component established, all that would have been required is to increase resources to improve distribution. They could have worked with the BPSA to establish a shared contact Centre arrangemen”

    Thus it is very clear.. our business leadership really do NOT have solid contingency plans in place…

    Take that globally… businesses using big profits to pump up balance sheets and Wall Street glee by buying back stock to boost key financial metrics so that Executives can get millions more in compensation… what is their contingency plan: get govt welfare in a major crisis!

    What are our executives doing with their big profits or should that be what are the Trinis and other expat buyers of OUR companies doing with it?

    @John A… The matter of seeing and touching vegs etc is more anecdote that reality. Simply stated if you go into let’s say a Trader Joe or Wholefoods you can close your eyes and select your produce… any online grocer HAS to reach that STANDARD… and those serious do exactly that… Bad or defected produce are not despatched… that said even when we select our own stuff we get some bad ones… tempest point in small teapot, bro.

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  • @Vincent

    The point being made is that the modern business model is to integrate online channel for distribution primarily to satisfy customer convenience during normal times. In abnormal times like now all that should have been required is to flex the supply chain by activating contingency plans. All agree we need to grow more food, what we are discussing is being able to distribute food whether imported or produced domestically. In fact what is being discussed has nothing to do with the crisis facing us today, we have just been exposed by it.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ David

    It has nothing to do with myopic but everything to do with economic viability and demand.

    To operate a proper functioning online business as Amazon has demonstrated, requires a large volume of steady business to exist. Look for instance at where Amazon has their service warehouses placed country wise. Let’s look at Barbados now with 275,000 people and ask yourself if the capital outlay to capture a small percentage of this population would be viable. It is ok to talk about all these grand ideas by politicians and others, but without economic viability that is as far as it will go in any meaningful way. Remember Amazon lost money initially for years before it started to generate the business to break even. In our economic reality prior to Covid after 10 years of a stagnant economy, most businesses are in too weak a position to risk ventures with a poor chance of return.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Vincent
    The point being made is that the modern business model is to integrate online channel for distribution primarily to satisfy customer convenience during normal times…..(Quote)

    Is this the latest from Harvard Business School? Plse explain this modern business model in understandable language, seems interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @David, I’ll make this last remark and den I gone…. Years ago when Besos and his Amazon group were so gung-ho on drone deliveries I thought they were absolutely crazy… as I saw the concept working only in the vast expanse of somewhat remote areas of most nations.

    As one sits here weeks in lockdown the concept looks fresh, doable, practical and almost needed. That thought is crazy isn’t it. .. I don’t know if we will really ever see that Jetson style delivery program but it sounds less crazy to me now!

    @Vincent, I’ll have to presume its a generational thing driving your remark “We constantly get these ideas that are not practical,especially in a crisis. The systems that some are proposing are not practical and need time to develop and install”

    As David alluded to when he invoked the names of those senators… high end technology surrounds us and yet you see this as a heavy lift… seriously!

    … they are in the midst of pushing out an electronic money program regionally; companies externally have been delivering food for years now and have fine tuned glitches; regionally we have been doing ecommerce of things like phone top up for many, many years and at scale… it has even stretched across island and into US… all in all, a process that is technically slightly more involved and power needy than a basic online grocery order!

    … just a few examples and YET we want to assert “The systems that some are proposing are not practical and need time to develop and install”.

    Well alright den!

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David Bu

    You have absolutely no idea what is a modern business model.. The customer decides what is convenient for him. Business models are driven by customer satisfaction not technology. A well designed market research study discloses this. The profitability of the on line system is a major consideration. No profit no adoption. The Entrepreneur and the customer must be satisfied.

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  • @John A

    You need to factor that the challenge is with expanding fulfillment during abnormal times. There is the opportunity for outlets to share resources. We live in times where one has to be innovative. Redundant business models will continue to shore change Bajans.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ dpD

    I think it is time for you to go and have a cup or two of cinnamon coffee. You are not making contact with the issues in this submission.

    Like

  • @Vincent

    Technology and customer convenience have converged in recent years. It is not the discrete dynamic you seem to think it is. At the top of any wishlist of today’s CEO is how to deliver their goods and services at electronic touch points.

    Again we can agree to disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    Ok @Vincent…very cute phrasing to say “think it is time for you to go and have a cup or two of cinnamon coffee. You are not making contact with the issues in this submission.”

    I will…but from an abundance of desire to understand please – in a few bullets even – explain to me…why I am “not making contact with the issues in this submission.”

    I explained to YOU why I thought your assertion was not grounded …so respectfully tell me where I fell off the issues.

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David BU

    Of course technology and customer convenience will or will not converge at some point in time and in diverse places. I do not think that delivering “at electronic touch points” is the driver. It is what is profitable and consumer satisficing.

    Like

  • @ Adrian

    The problem is once again demand. When here in winter the tourist support the supermarkets heavily and they do so for 2 reasons. One obviously is to buy food but the other is to browse the local seasonings etc. In other words they go in the supermarkets to see what’s different in terms of product offering. Also where do the bulk of visitors stay? South and West coast where they are an abundance of supermarkets.

    Don’t get me wrong I am not saying there is not room for a better online service from the supermarkets, what I am saying though is we do not have a viable market now to support any large capital outlay to form a Barmazon bds ltd.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Vincent

    I like this master class in business theory. I think BU can monetise this by running an online business school. I think the ideas expressed here are far in advance of Charles Handy or John Kay. Wow! Barbados can teach the world. Save your US$100000 Harvard Business School fee.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Vincent.

    Thank you and may you be blessed as well.

    The problem here is that we are all basing our arguments based on a crisis situation as opposed to a sustainable business model.

    It’s like me saying that based on the volume of business the Friday before the supermarkets closed, they should all of been twice the size. You can not base a business plan on a crisis period at unusually high loads. That would be like Cave Shepherds say doubling the size of their store so they could deal with the rush of the 14 days Xmas period. What would they do with the building after the Christmas rush?

    Yes we can all sit here now and say the supermarkets failed but government threw them a state of chaos which no amount of online service could of handled. The logistics required would have taken millions and at least 12 months to have been implemented first. It’s just not a viable financial argument that any bank would even entertain to finance either.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ John A at 10 :51 AM

    I now fully understand what my parents meant when they uttered the Bajan aphorism of ” spinning top in mud”. I have run out of twine and my old arms got “anaritus?.

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  • @John A

    You are being too linear, remember that word ? LOL

    What is one of the biggest expense items on the P&L for a supermarket among others?

    You know the answer, wages right?

    We know supermarkets operate with narrow margins right?

    The question supermarket leaders have to ask is how an ebusiness platform can add value to the business. This is where good management comes into play. How can cost savings be had by reallocating from traditional model to online channel. There is already a demand for this type of service, there is an explosion of online shopping by Barbadians.

    John A this is where the fun stuff starts for the creative CEO and team.

    Will end there for now.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Vincent

    I have to tell you I know not everybody understands that the failure or success of any plan can be predetermined if the logistics are done properly. I have to tell you though, the load that the decision to close in less than 24 hours notice placed on the supermarkets was unmanageable.

    Stop and think of the traffic in supermarkets in December with Xmas on the 25th. Now imagine if you didn’t know when Xmas was and i told everyone it’s in 24 hours time so wunna go and shop!

    From there my friend it was all down hill.

    Liked by 1 person

  • The bounce back must also include policies to encourage the expansion of and maintain a vibrant small village shop culture. Maybe we’ll also now understand the importance of promoting walkability, even cyclability, when creating new housing developments.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ David.

    As I said above I am not saying there is not a market for an online service as an auxiliary service offered by the said supermarkets.

    You also can not say plenty bajans shop online already with places like Amazon as a bench rule. People shop Amazon because there is a considerable saving to them, or because they can get access to products not available locally. That will not be the case locally as the inhouse supermarket price and their online price will be the same.

    What ever we do we must not judge any entity on its inability to supply the load on Covid Friday. This load came from poor government decisions.

    Having said that i think what the PM has introduced from this week is workable and while there may be some crowd initially, it will settle down after a few days.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @John A

    We have a class of Barbadian who want to shop online if only for the convenience. The appetite is latent, needs to be targeted.

    This exchange has nothing to do with COVID 19 demand. This is about existing businesses seeing the opportunity to revamp business models. Delivering products via online can be made cheaper if the operationalizing is precise. It will happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ David

    It will happen only if or when the stable demand for it exist on a daily basis. No business will see opportunity and not take it. Remember though the golden rule it is all about ” The Risk To Reward Ratio.” Anyhow don’t want to get too technical here on Easter Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @John A

    We live in a word where demand is manufactured.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Vincent
    @John A

    We have had this discussion before regarding the death of the UK high street by online shopping. Some Googler said that online had grabbed 50 per cent of sales from the high street. Of course, the other 50 per cent dropped off the edge.
    I won’t go over that again, but firms like Ocado, etc are not doing as well as they ought to because people like to select their own produce, not allow someone in a warehouse to do it for them.
    Every major British company, and many of the small ones, have online facilities, all the supermarkets, the retail stores, etc. So quite clearly it is not online vs bricks and mortar. Quite often people go in to shops, examine and try on clothes, then buy online. Why?Because they are cheaper. Why are they cheaper? Lower overheads and a fight for market share.
    In my trade, the loud voices talked about ebooks versus print. Every year more hard copies of books are published in the UK than the previous year. ebook sales are not improving. The FT tells the world it is an electronic paper, ask them why they do not stop the print version?
    Why did Amazon buy the Washington Post? Why is Apple opening a growing number of bricks and mortar shops? Is it because they donot understand digital?
    My paper had, and has, a print and online version, how do they perform? Answers are not that simple, if they were so every investor would be setting up an online business.
    Ignore easy answers. That is like talking rubbish about modern business models.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David Bu at 11:31

    After this crisis is over the Barbados economy will need demand growth, will you contact the MoF and give her your secret sauce recipe for manufacturing demand?

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  • @ Hal

    You are correct with your points. The online service by companies are not offered as a replacement for their actual stores, but as an option so as to maintain their market share. Lowe’s Hardware for instance uses their online stores on the larger items for people to come in and see the actual items, especially the larger ones. The same client then goes home and purchases it online so they don’t have to fight up with the delivery etc.

    In other words it is not in many cases an ” either or” but a combination of both services being used to close the sale.

    Liked by 1 person

  • The article is correct about the complete failure of businesses, banks and utilities in Barbados to respond to e-mails. I have lost count of the number of calls and e-mails I have sent over to First Caribbean Bank to solve issues with my account. They want you to line up for 2 hours in a branch at their convenience and then still not resolve your problem. And they act defensively and with anger if you point out you have e-mailed or called several times. In essence they simply falsely say they never received an e-mail. My first online order for food was not processed, my calls went unanswered for hour after hour. And then I tried another supermarket, finally got through – collected at kerbside and it was not evenly remotely accurate.This is no way to go on. They need to get into the 21st century but of course will not…

    Liked by 1 person

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Vincent, I opted for greentea with a twist of ginger and a piece of garlic flavoring…no coffee today…. Anyhow you have begged off to address your comment…so be it!

    @John A, neither @David or I have been “basing our arguments […] on a crisis situation as opposed to a sustainable business model.”… It is futile having a discussion and deliberately or accidentally talking past each other.

    This is about what can and essentially must be done…. in sum, on one hand you see it as an unprofitable solution to develop a robust online order process and on the other its noted that a robust online presence is mandatory in any business growth model and it should be scaleable in times of crisis!

    Those two points are incompatible in a similar way that the economics of this crisis were: initial pushback to shut down business all operations feared the resulting recession although the flip side delays merely exacerbated the conditions that would lead to the same recession!…

    … in short, to hold unto the former model is is crazy, the dramatic result WILL surely arrive regardless.

    *… No one is suggesting a Barmazon bds… never did….. to the Blogmaster’s point….most 30 year olds and under (gen Zers) only know online processes…if local supermakets do not improve their online services then other vendors will and possibly take their sales … the best tangential example of that in US was how the maguffy Wal-Mart badly mismanaging their online business and finally bought the nascent online company Jet which had developed their operations so well.

    *… No one is suggesting either having a 3X warehouse (analogy for heavy online presence) for 1X demand needs… never did.

    Local volumes are obviously a function of habits which will be hard to break..that’s clear …and yes how you surcharge online delivery is crucial … but based on all those Harvard style business studies on the Walmart/Jet, Freshdirects, Aldi etc it seems incomprehensible that local businesses adopt a “this can’t be done attitude”.

    I would have to imagine that if Mr Propa Pork can turn a major sewerage problem into one of the most substantial business marketing programs in Bim (ever) that helped him rebound strongly that he has the nous to recognize that his online process now needs to be more robust… I would further expect the folk like Hall at Popular will modify accordingly .

    These gentlemen have grown by being nimble and looking ahead so they will go where it’s practical… and online surely can be.

    @Vincent, BTW I received my Supercenter (as it was then) loyalty card branded on a dark and light blue mag stripe card about 15 years ago… after inception the programs contracted restaurants, the popular ‘pubs and a host of other retailers. So since back 10 years ago the SC execs via that loyalty vendor had extensive market research and consumer one-to-one analytics..

    … thus bro it is absolutely hilarious to read your remark that in 2020 our best and brightest are only now becoming aware that “business models are driven by customer satisfaction not technology. A well designed market research study discloses this.”

    But not being at one with the current local issues (which I certainly am not) can do that to me i suppose 🤣!

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ Hal Austin at 11 :35 AM

    On point. Your hands on experience with and knowledge of online shopping coincide with mine. Some of us like to flirt with the idea of new technology but have no experience of how they are developed,how they are installed and the unplanned for real consequences they create?
    How much of the short fall in government revenue is a function of online accounting and filing?

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  • @ Jvialli

    Let me say I agree with you the banks are pathetic when it comes to following up on emails, but let me give you a positive experience from an insurance company.

    This week I realised my car insurance was due and said oh crap what now? Anyhow they were advertising a number to call so I did. Call was answered quickly and the lady brought up my account info. I paid her by credit card and gave her my email address. She said I would get the insurance certificate and receipt in a minute. I went to the fridge and from there to my home office and turned on the computer. To my surprise as promised both the receipt and certificate were in my inbox!I printed them off and put a copy in my car.

    So my friend there is some hope still. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ dpD

    I do not know what issue you are addressing with your more recent intervention. Forgive me if I do not respond.

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    Are we REALLY going to rehash the endless debate of the fluidity of evading taxes and so on re online vrs brick and mortar! Seriously.

    Anyhow, I missed several posts as I wrote and indirectly already touched on several but I want to dabble on a few.

    *… We ALL understand that online is a mandatory compliment to a brick and mortal business….but to step away from the reality that online businesses WITHOUT physical presence has grown massively and often to the detriment of the mom n pops in the neighborhood is just amazing.

    Where is the physical retail presence of billion $ Alibaba outside their China HQ…just one example?

    I also would like to know “Why did Amazon buy the Washington Post?”…. according to the buyer himself, it was a decision premissed (in a word) on his technolgy strength.

    Putting aside all the complex issues in selling a major media property and just focus on the issue of online… he also stressed how over time he changed the subscription model of the business and expanded the paper’s reach globally to a level much higher than previously. I have no idea what their financials are but generally the paper appears to have benefited much from their stronger online presence.

    The problem with printed media is that lots of online pretenders gobble up their readers and then as a result their ad revenue drops, some precipitously.

    This is an old fight so rehasing here is useless… the simple fact is that a review of 2010 printed media vrs 2020 would reflect lots of mergers n takeovers, several, closures and a mobeton of new online press.

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  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Vincent no prob bro. There are 2 basic ways really to avoid a robust discussion.. pretend ignorance and lack of comprehension or simply cuss the other … well, 3 actually, to think of it, you can also just pretend the other said nothing.

    You opted for the former… I appreciate you were respectful enough not to do #3. ..so all good.!

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Dee Word

    The blogmaster avoids discussing BU stats. However to address your point in a roundabout way – BU was launched in April 2007, this month must be some kind of milestone. The first month BU of April 2007 attracted 10, 000 visits. In 2020 BU has attracted millions of visits since launch, not bad for a rumshop heh?

    The blogmaster remembered the early comments – you will be shut down by The PM, lawyers will sue, there was already Barbados Free Press, the traditional media was hostile, who will want to read an opinion blog, there is the Nation and Advocate on and on the reasons flowed why Barbados Underground would not have survived.

    There is a story the blogmaster will not spell out for those anchored in an anachronistic way of thinking. Businesses in Barbados have been reluctant to revamp business models. It has made Barbados a place low on the index on the way we do business. This has been thankfully exposed by COVID 19.

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  • William Skinner

    @ David
    Irrespective of differences and the occasional flare ups ; BU is an outstanding success. I have always said it is the most successful blog in Barbados and perhaps the region
    No buts ;no ifs . Congrats.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks William, and the flare ups often times are manufactured LOL.

    Like

  • One last comment.

    Chris Sinckler will certainly get a diplomatic passport now. With it he can travel safely to Canada, UK and the USA again and is safe from prosecution. The black establishment is thus correcting its “mistake” of having let Pornville Inniss down.

    We will see many more new so-called advisors in the future. For example, “King Kong” Lashley, “Mr 10 %” Lowe and “Mr Audi” Eastwitch. They all need diplomatic protection so that they can once again enjoy their possessions in North America and Europe.

    Remember Animal Farm.

    Tron *** End of communication ***

    Like

  • peterlawrencethompson

    The problem that the supermarkets faced last week did not require a huge investment in ecommerce. A supermarket the size of Emerald City could have solved the problem with two dozen cheap mobile phones and another two dozen entry level staff.

    Supermarkets took over from older grocery stores based on one dominant factor… the innovation of allowing people to wander around the store and pick their own groceries. It was revolutionary; it allowed supermarkets to achieve a scale undreamed of by grocery stores because the customers were doing the labour of selection. This was their competitive advantage… the free labour donated by their customers allowed them to run far larger establishments.

    This era is now over. COVID-19 means that supermarkets will be called upon more and more to pay employees to do all the work that their customers used to do for free. They will have to find another competitive advantage or they will die. The smart supermarkets will use technology to find new competitive advantages, the others will die.

    The supermarkets seem to have put no effort into thinking through their problem. They tried to handle the influx of calls using the same 4 line PBX that served them in pre COVID times rather than simply buying two dozen cheap mobiles to expand their capacity by 500%. They made no effort at all to hire people to do the work of picking groceries from the shelves… the work their customers used to do for them for free. They failed miserably.

    How long should it take to get two dozen mobiles from Flow, publish the numbers on social media, and hire a couple of dozen order pickers who need no higher skill level than to be able to shop? 24 to 48 hours? Lord knows they would have zero trouble recruiting Bajans who need the work.

    Like

  • So High Streets are characterised and anchored by retail. The BU household should search the Guardian newspaper or the former senior editor’s employer Dail Mail, not Google, and see how many High Street stores have gone into administration or shut down over the last 2 years. Then look for one of the key reasons for their failure. A supermarket is a different scenario to a clothes store. Anyhow, research Ocado’s performance (look for a warehouse fire) and compare and contrast with supermarkets with brick and mortar stores. Then visit Spoke’s website, for example, and see how people are ‘trying on’ clothes virtually. For one, online clothing stores tend to have more sizes, colours etc than in store. Like I said when I first made the comment about online shopping v brick and mortar, I know people who live in the UK that do research on these issues. In fact, with the advent of COVID, discussions have started about further reviewing high streets and town centres uses. Only few years ago, changing offices to homes was made easier to do and hotels are becoming popular. I may use Google (Google scholar included) but I don’t depend on it. I also prefer evidence-based info over desktop expertise driven by ego. BU can choose to listen to the Centre for Retail Research who madecthe 50% statement or a desktop know-it-all.

    Like

  • LOL…..CLAP BARBADOS……. how do the people who think this stuff up be so stupid when they try and market it

    Like

  • Back in the early 60’s before I started secondary school two of my elder sisters had entry level jobs working at two different early supermarkets . One of those supermarkets is now a Jordan’s and the other is a Massy. Supermarkets took phone orders even back then, and delivered the groceries to customers homes and to hotels, guest houses and institutions True most customers did not have phones and so could not use the service but at those supermarkets the “rich white ladies” and the housewives of the emerging middle class professional men rarely went to the supermarket. They called in their orders, the groceries were packed and delivered right to their kitchen doors.

    Even now my little Susie who lives in the great white north sometimes works as a packer for a major department retailer. The job pays a bit above minimum wage But hey it is a student part job, no great expectations except tp pack fast and accurately and to see the wages show up in your bank account on Friday. Got an award for fast accurate work during the few months she worked there.

    In addition even now most supermarkets in Barbados unlike those in the great white north have packers who sit or stand behind the cashiers and pack the groceries for the customers, If payments are being made online those same packers can do the packing. But yes unless the customer is doing curbside pickup the supermarkets will need more drivers, but taxi people are out of work right now and i am sure would be happy to get work delivering groceries. The store need not even charge the customer for the delivery. let the taxi be paid directly by the customers. The customers can also pay the taxi online. Some of us without cars are accustomed to paying a tax ito bring us home once a month with the big grocery order anyhow. Some supermarkets have “free” shuttles but my supermarket has contracted out that service for years now. The customers board the shuttle and pay the driver $3 to be brought to their doors. Now the shuttle driver can do the same task, but instead of having to carry 5 or 5 passengers he or she can stack more groceries in the vehicles.

    I pay my gardener and hairdresser on line, why can’t i also pay the taxi driver online?

    How is it impossible in the 21st century to scale up from where we were in the early 60’s when many of us were at elementary school?

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  • Some people seem to worry about the quality of groceries delivered to my door. But as a customer i know that i have the power. If you deliver crappy groceries to me I will not buy from you again.

    One night bought a liter of millk from a certain supermarket. I came directly home.Next morning one of my children drank a 1/4 liter cold. The other child shortly afterwards attempted to warm up 1/4 liter. One child liked cereal with cold milk the other liked cereal with warm milk, Once the heat hit the milk the milk “turned-up”/curdled. The first child had severe diarrhea, needed 2 doctors visits and a week home from school. I complained and the store implied that I had mishandled the milk. I had not. I grew up in a family with cows, chickens etc. and I know how to handle perishables [studied domestic science too] . At that time i was spending about $7,000 per year with that store. Twenty-one years have passed and I’ve never shopped there since. But in truth I don’t think that the store that from then until now cared that they lost nearly $150,000 in sales.

    Yet if i now shoplifted a $1.95 BDS can of sardines they and the judicial system would waste thousands of dollars having me charged and perhaps imprisoned.

    Stupssseee!!!

    People including business people MUST use good sense.

    So “yes” if the quality of delivered goods is poor, the stores will either have to shape up or the customers will ship out.

    Like

  • @ PLT

    The answer is not that simple if you follow your suggestion through based on logistics.

    So 24 phones in the hands of 24 staff members take say 3 minutes a customer to take 24 orders. each order for purpose of example has 40 items in it. So then what happens? Do the 24 order of 40 items each get handed now to 24 guys with trolleys? Ok so the 24 trolleys now assuming the orders can be filled in I minute, must now get to 24 cash registers who can complete the transactions in another minute, leaving the trolley guys 1 minute to get back to the said order takers who would have 24 more orders waiting to repeat the above logistical path all over again. Do you see that being doable? Even if it could be done the slightest delay in any part of the chain will cause the whole plan to fail. Trust me it’s ok to say blame the supermarkets but if no supermarket on the island even those with 12 stations open and customers delivering their trolly loads, could handle the load you think 24 people on phones each taking 3 minutes to take an order could do it? Remember too is not just taking the order, they also have to take the clients name, addresses, maybe ID number and credit card info as well.

    Em ain’t as easy as buying 24 cheap phones from Flow trust me!

    Now

    Liked by 1 person

  • peterlawrencethompson

    Every crisis is an opportunity. I’m going to use this opportunity to emancipate myself from supermarkets entirely… fresh fish I can buy at the fishmarket, fresh vegetables and fruit from the farm gate (or failing that at farmers’ markets or cheapside, get chicken & eggs direct from the poultry producers, and packaged stuff directly from wholesalers.

    Massy can go suck eggs.

    Like

  • I often tell my son that he loves to make easy tasks difficult. PLT is correct. I could have made it work. I bet Silly Woman could have got it done.

    Steupse!

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Peter

    #COVID19 #disruptor

    >

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  • Silly woman
    Yes but Amazon Go is for small purchases, an average of $10 per shop. Online food orders require a maximum spend of at least 4 times Amazon Go. The number of stores opened so far is also way below what was planned. This is more about convenience and novelty than anything else. In terms of Whole Foods, as an established niche brand this was a no-brainer for Amazon and their superior logistics and supply chain infrastructure. Even with some cities implementing low emission zones to tackle vehicular air pollution, online retail continues unabated with train stations and other 3rd parties becoming optional delivery points for customers. Meaning multi-customer deliveries to one address rather than individual addresses, and convenient options for customers. Returns are usually pre-paid and easier to do than in store purchases. Online purchases can be returned by mail or in store but not vice versa.

    Like

  • peterlawrencethompson

    @ John A
    “Do the 24 order of 40 items each get handed now to 24 guys with trolleys?”
    +++++++++++++++++
    No, No, No.
    The 24 people on mobiles ARE the 24 people picking groceries off the shelf, putting them in trolleys, and checking them out through the cashiers at the register. They are simply paid replacement shoppers.

    If you were in Massy with only 23 other shoppers would you feel crowded? No. The shopping process takes longer than the checkout process so of course you need fewre cash registers than shoppers. Did massy ever put on 100 cash registers to deal with 100 people in their stores? No. The ration will be best worked out in practice but I think that 6 cash registers will serve the 24 paid shoppers quite adequately.

    Make all the aisles one way for efficiency… give the shoppers a chart which shows where everything in the store is.. If we give the paid shoppers 20 minutes to fill each order on average, and the cashiers 5 minutes to put it through the till then the supermarket can process 72 orders per hour, about 550 orders per workday. If that is not enough then more cashiers, paid shoppers, mobile phones and double shifts. It is NOT rocket science. It’s basic logistics that any 1st year engineering or management student should be able to figure out.

    Like

  • @ PLT

    That’s a good idea I think even after things return I will continue going in the market for my vegetables etc. Plus it will give me something to do on Saturday. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  • I was not referring to Amazon Go.

    At the time Susie worked there she was packing Christmas orders for clothing, books, toys etc.

    And we know how we grandmas go mad and bust our budgets when buying Christmas goodies for the little ones. So think hundreds of dollars for individual family orders.

    And then before Christmas was done the Valentines orders came rolling in. I mean does anybody really need a fancy new red nightie? But people will buy if it is marketed to them. And birthday’s etc. graduations, wedding gifts etc. Enough to keep a large warehouse staff very busy.

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  • John A
    Your position is premised on same day delivery/receipt. That is a flawed starting point. An appropriate lead time must first be established. Does Courts deliver same day?🤣🤣

    Like

  • @ PLT

    On Covid Friday one major supermarket I can tell you was processing roughly 400 transactions an hour or 4800 transactions in an 8 hour day and that included the credit card transaction and closing the sale. So you would need to step that 550 transactions up a bit to handle the load I outlined above.

    Like

  • Sorry 3200 transactions in an 8 hour day not 4800 my mistake.

    Like

  • peterlawrencethompson

    @John A
    “…roughly 400 transactions an hour…”
    +++++++++++++++
    With about how many cash registers?

    Like

  • @ PLT

    You want me talk out the people business now lol. Let me say over 10 and leave it there.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @Johan A

    There is opportunity, if an approved vaccine takes more there is a significant segment of the population who will want non contact shopping. This will form new habits and behaviors. Once there is a core support marketing will takeover to make it a routine behaviour.

    Like

  • Yes they are swamped with orders to process. It will take them days to clear the backlog. Many outlets said they had the single biggest retail day since they were opened. The load made Xmas look like a slow day.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ DAVID.

    The thing is a large part of supermarket trade comes from what is referred to as ” impulse purchases.” All those items we don’t leave home planning to buy but see them and say ” let me try this.” That spin off trade they don’t get online, as the client orders only what he needs. For that reason the supermarkets want you to come in.

    Liked by 1 person

  • peterlawrencethompson

    @John A
    Putting two and two together…

    So I see that Massy was able to process 400 transactions per hour, they simply were not able to fulfil those orders. In other words they simply did not have a plan in place to replace the labour that their customers usually did for themselves, so now they have to put their order taking on hold to catch up with order fulfilment.

    Now if they would hire some extra hands to fulfil those orders…

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    John A

    Crowd dynamics. The crowd response although expected to increase was beyond their imagination. How could a 24hour notice be adequate for management to plan for this surge.?

    Like

  • @ David April 13, 2020 5:50 PM

    You are forecasting a world of retailing in which ‘Cash’ will no longer exist as a method of payment and all shoppers will be in possession of an e-account held at some e-financial entity.

    This would mean that all adult persons must be guaranteed a minimum living ‘wage’ electronically paid and earned through the sale of their labour or by State funded welfare contributions to keep their account active.

    But before your brave new e-world of commerce can come on stream Barbados must first introduce self-service at petrol stations and self-checkout at supermarkets to prepare Bajans for the future of full AI.

    Liked by 1 person

  • PLT
    We on the same page. More staff, I said it on another blog. Even Amazon hiring 75,000 new workers to deal with the surge.

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    So @JohnA, if we take you as a spokesman of sorts here of the supt industry should we interpret your remarks that this is seen as an opportunity for business growth and a big sale day – like the Christmas season – rather than a major crisis requiring a focued change in operational best practices. SMH.

    How else should one interpret your comment *”The thing is a large part of supermarket trade comes from what is referred to as ” impulse purchases.” […] That spin off trade they don’t get online, as the client orders only what he needs.*** For that reason the supermarkets want you to come in.***”

    I shake my head at your remark as I realize it was said off hand without consideration that this is once in a 100 year plague like event that is killing people in shocking numbers and CANNOT be seen as a Shylock moment by anyone.

    But then again a US fund manager Bill Ackman is reported as coining over $2B on the COVID market declines via his high risk options trading…so what’s a little extra coin for our local supt market execs, right…with those impulse buys over next month or two.

    SMH, bro.

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Miller, not so fast….introducing “self-service at petrol stations and self-checkout at supermarkets” is a function of a employment and capital expenditure balance more than it is a slow ecommerce ramp up.

    I suggest to you senor that either of those could have been done at least 10 years ago – particularly the petrol pump thing. I would equate in a general way to the intro of EMV chip cards in US. … there , it is little incentive to do it although the tech and know-how were there, simply because there was no awesome business case for it…that eventually changed and now it’s a US standard as it was in Europe for years.

    But why send home that petrol assistant to seek unemployment and replace him with a card reader pump… on that I would say govt should ban them actually.

    Self checkout are also quite straightforward (generally) but again in our small environments do we really need them that significantly… I doubt we do.

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  • At present it is unreasonable to expect same day delivery. Companies should use all means to let customers know this. My sibling in the U.K has told me that it is taking about a week to receive her food order. It is up to the stores to manage the customer’s expectations.

    A friend here in Barbados who ordered last week Wednesday at about 1 p.m. from one of the big box grocery stores, was called and asked to pick up the order on Thursday morning. So some stores have got it.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Silly Woman

    “I pay my gardener and hairdresser on line, why can’t i also pay the taxi driver online?”

    Have you been faking it ?

    Like

  • @John A April 13, 2020 6:23 PM “Yes they are swamped with orders to process. It will take them days to clear the backlog. Many outlets said they had the single biggest retail day since they were opened. The load made Xmas look like a slow day.”

    So as I said last week, at present the supermarkets ‘corning” the money.

    Why not spend some for extra staff, even if only short timers. At present a lot of people are out of work and would be glad to earn some money even if only in the short term.

    Like

  • @John A *”The thing is a large part of supermarket trade comes from what is referred to as ” impulse purchases.”

    But marketing to entice shoppers can also be done on line. Certainly when i go to Amazon to buy books they promt me to buy books I may not have thought of,

    I don’t know how much it costs but certainly other online stores do the same. Buy one pair of shoes or a dress and prompts appear to buy more, more, more. A friend who likes to read “complained” that the Amazon prompts are like “crack cocaine” or for the company “impulse buyer heaven”

    But maybe our merchants don’t have the money/technology/technicians yet to “seduce” the online shoppers.

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  • John A
    Real online grocery shopping facilitates and promotes impulse buying more than in store. You can see from the time you log on what are the specials, deals, discounts. What to pair with what, substitutes, what you bought last time, suggestions, replacements. You don’t get tired walking, or can’t bother to bend down or reach for an item. Not to mention the lay out of the virtual shelves and the ability to checkout at a later time/date and even amend your order after placing it.

    Like

  • Just received on WhataApp a notice from Mass which says in part “due to the enormous response, regrettably, effective April 13th, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. we are TEMPORARILY suspending further access to our curbside pickup and home delvery service as we process the orders currently in our system”

    Like

  • @John A April 13, 2020 4:22 PM @ PLT The answer is not that simple if you follow your suggestion through based on logistics. So 24 phones in the hands of 24 staff members take say 3 minutes a customer to take 24 orders.”

    Customers should be “seduced” into emailing their orders. For example I have a Massy and one from Mr. Proppa. Those merchants already know my name, address, phone numbers and email address [one even sends me a birthday card right on time every year] They ought to know my payment history, and even the things I buy every month, including my favourite brands. Otherwise why have they been issuing these cards if they are not mining the data?

    For the time being why can’t i just email in my order. I’ve already written down what i want to buy. . The store already knows via my unique customer number, my name address etc, The picker grabs the shopping list out of the printer and picks up my order, No need to write down anything or “waste” time asking me for information which the store already has.

    I transfer money from my checking account to my credit card account and pay the store with my credit card. Or if the store already know I am a good customer i can pay cash on delivery, or with a crossed check. Or the delivery people can have a mobile device and I can swipe my card while standing 9 feet from the delivery person.

    Like

  • peterlawrencethompson

    I’ve been ordering from A1 Emerald city exclusively by email since the beginning of March. They were quite efficient with same day service before the 24 hr lockdown then things went offtrack. I am expecting my order from last Thursday to be delivered tomorrow or Wednesday. I think they are doing an OK job given the circumstances and Easter weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Good.

    Liked by 1 person

  • The stores should be able to look at my shopping history over the past year or the past twenty years, and generate a list of the items I buy most frequently, for example I like carrots, sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes. I have NEVER bought eddoes in my adult life [maybe I ate too many as a child] I rarely buy cabbage or beets, don’t like them much [although I grew some beets last year] I buy equal amounts of 2% milk and lactose reduced milk based on my family’s needs. I rarely buy okras because I grow my own. If the grocers are not mining the data either their technology/technicians are not good enough; or they have paid for technology and technicians and are not using them to the optimum.

    Liked by 1 person

  • The supermarkets prior to the Covid virus did not offer a bad online service. The volume was low and manageable. Then you throw at them in a 24 hour period a volume that they could not conceive ever having to handle. Remember the Wednesday night all was well and supermarkets were to be open, then by Thursday the game changed to shut them down for 2 weeks.

    What exactly did you expect was going to happen? As I said picture Xmas eve with only 18 hours notice to shop!

    Liked by 1 person

  • We are conflating two issues. The inability of the supermarkets to respond to online demand for food as a result of the curfew and the neglect of supermarket business model to integrate a scalable/robust e-business solution by local captains of industry.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Vincent.

    No company globally could in 18 hours notice convert a business to handle several times it’s daily volume. Especially when more than half of those hours were in fact spent sleeping. As I said before the chaos was a direct result of a bad decision by government made out of panic. When you move a supermarket from handling say 20 online orders a day to 600 with less than 24 hours notice, how do you expect them to prepare for it? The notice Massy sent out tonight clearly shows the results of such a knee jerk approach. It will now take them days just to clear the backlog of phone and online orders.

    Total madness.

    Liked by 1 person

  • NorthernObserver

    “I transfer money from my checking account to my credit card account and pay the store with my credit card”
    why bother to have a CREDIT card, just use debit, if you are not utilizing the credit facility. BTW I loved the crossed cheque. Haven’t had a chequebook in eons, and even then, haven’t seen a crossed cheque since I left Bim.

    Like

  • @Northern Observer

    They are probably accessing a loyalty program. How does the blogmaster know? We do the same.

    Like

  • David
    Do you know if protective glass shields are being installed between cashiers and customers in supermarkets for the reopening on Wednesday?

    Liked by 1 person

  • I don’t understand all this fuss about food deliveries. Just call Sandy Lane, special services. Or the admin of your gated community. That’s all.They’ll do it. Relax. If the credit card is right.

    Why should our government worry about ridiculous details?

    Liked by 1 person

  • @enuff

    They were installed at Emerald City Carlton in response to strike action a couple weeks ago. One can reasonably assume this is something that will be in place soon for all supermarkets and financial institutions

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David BU at 10 :23 PM

    Where was the neglect on the part of the supermarkets? Do you think these( ?)”e” systems can be designed and installed in 24 hours or even three months? You need to take a good dose of reality? Which planet are you living on?

    Like

  • peterlawrencethompson

    Vincent CodringtonApril 14, 2020 9:09 AM
    “Where was the neglect on the part of the supermarkets?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++
    The neglect on the part of the supermarkets was in not expanding both their staffing levels and their communications infrastructure to deal with the changing conditions of trade. They failed their customers miserably. Adapting to changing market conditions is the fundamental responsibility of every business corporation for three pivotal reasons: for the protection of the capital invested by its shareholders, for the security of employment of its workers, and for the quality of services to its customers.

    Like

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ PLT at 10 :17 A M

    The two supermarket chains at which I shop weekly and for several years, have been expanding their quantity and quality of staff and do adapt to local marketing conditions. But it is a matter of perception.

    Like

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