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News Briefs

Staying on top of breaking news in the retail industry is a commitment Retail TouchPoints editors take seriously. Each day, we publish the latest information in this News Briefs section. Up-to-the-minute stories cover retail implementations, new product announcements, financial updates, executive appointments and overall global updates affecting every aspect of the retail industry.

Build-A-Bear Continues Brand Refresh To Boost Financial Results

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Since sales peaked in 2007, Build-A-Bear Workshop has struggled to maintain the same level of financial performance and remain relevant among its customers. In part, sales may have dipped as target consumers aged out of its product line. The 2008 also may have contributed to the dip in business. Whatever the cause, Build-A-Bear has been slow to bounce back.

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EBay Puts The Brakes On PayPal Rival Payment Systems

0524 ebay 630x420EBay will no longer allow its sellers to offer PayPal rival services ProPay, Skrill and Paymate as payment options. Sellers using the services will have at least 30 days to change to accepted payment methods.

The marketplace first announced the change in an email sent to sellers on September 27: “Over the course of this year, eBay has conducted a global review of the use of payment methods on its web sites. Given the very low usage of ProPay and Skrill on eBay’s various sites, from the week of Sept. 27, 2015, these payment methods will no longer be supported. Please revise the payment methods offered on Good ‘Til Cancelled listings to avoid them being taken down 30 days from their initial listing date.”

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Uniqlo Opens Flagship Store In Chicago

Casual fashion retailer Uniqlo will open its first store in the Midwest, a flagship location in Chicago, on October 23. The three-level, 60,000-square-foot store will employ 400 workers and will be Uniqlo’s second largest location, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Although Uniqlo has no immediate plans to add more stores in the Midwest region, potential destinations for expansion include Minneapolis, Detroit, St. Louis and Dallas, according to Larry Meyer, CEO of Uniqlo USA. The retailer has more than 1,600 stores in 16 countries worldwide, and has nearly doubled its number of U.S. stores over the past year.

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Williams-Sonoma Opens Design Center In Atlanta

Williams-Sonoma has opened a new showroom and dedicated design center at Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Ga. This is the retailer’s eighth location to roll out a home showroom.

The design center offers complimentary design services, allowing customers to sift through a selection of custom fabrics, wood finish swatches and rug samples. Every Saturday, guests can attend free technique classes at a 12-seat cooking island in the center of the store. Jon Lagardere, a Williams-Sonoma culinary specialist, hosts each class.

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Former Google Shopping Exec Launches Mobile Tech Startup

Nitin Mangtani, a former Group Product Manager at Google Shopping, has founded mobile technology platform PredictSpring. Recently, the startup raised $2 million in funding from Beanstalk Ventures and Novel TMT Ventures.

The PredictSpring Mobile Platform is designed to enable retailers to build customized native mobile apps that offer a seamless shopping experience. Brands using the platform are better positioned to elevate their mobile brand experiences, reduce drop-off rates and increase mobile conversions.

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Macy’s Adds Personal Stylist Service

Macy’s is expanding its shopping experience with the launch of the My Stylist@Macy’s appointment service at 135 select Macy’s stores nationwide. The free service is dedicated to finding the “perfect fashions” for consumers across the U.S.

As part of the service, consumers can book in-store stylist consultations online, on the phone or via email. The professional stylists at My Stylist@Macy’s are able to customize new item selections as well as update selected wardrobes. My Stylist@Macy’s offers styling services for periodic events, such as weddings, birthdays, graduations and holiday season parties. My Stylists also can fashion shoppers’ homes with a selection of Macy’s furniture and home goods.

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Target Tests New Dining Concepts In 14 Stores

4target cafeTarget will roll out new dining concepts in 14 test stores starting in October 2015, according to a report from USA Today.

The big box retailer will open fast-casual chain Freshii in nine stores, while Pizza Hut will open restaurants in three stores featuring a limited menu of artisan pizzas. Two stores in Minneapolis, Minn., will roll out a local Italian restaurant chain, D’Amico & Sons.

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Sherwin-Williams Launches In-Store Color Selection System

Sherwin-Williams, a specialty retailer of painting supplies, has introduced ColorSnap, a new color system designed to help consumers and professionals select appropriate paint colors. The ColorSnap experience includes an in-store display, enhanced online and offline tools, and a collection of new paint colors.

ColorSnap starts rolling out this month and will be available in all 4,000 Sherwin-Williams stores across the U.S. and Canada by the end of January 2016. To develop the in-store display and simplify the color-selection process, Sherwin-Williams collaborated with IDEO, a design and innovation consultancy.

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The Finish Line Partners With Puma To Offer Unique Brand Experience

Finish LineThe Finish Line is collaborating with PUMA on a new in-store concept, titled the PUMA edge. The concept enhances shopper experiences by featuring expanded product offerings and content that connects PUMA to Finish Line shoppers. The brands are initially launching the PUMA edge in 10 targeted retail locations and online at FinishLine.com.

“We are incredibly thrilled to share this exciting partnership opportunity between Finish Line and PUMA with our customers,” said Jeff Morrell, SVP and General Merchandise Manager at Finish Line. “We believe that the PUMA edge will heighten the customer experience by bringing together the edge of sport and style with unique and distinctive products.”

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JCPenney, Bluemercury Execs To Speak At Texas A&M Retailing Summit in Dallas

1tamuThe Texas A&M University’s Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School will host its 30th annual Retailing Summit Conference on Oct. 8-9, 2015 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas, Texas. Executives from JCPenney, Bluemercury, GameStop, Neiman Marcus and several others will speak during the two-day event.

“I’m looking forward to sharing key insights from this rapid growth period and learning from some of the Industry’s leading executives,” said Barry Beck, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Bluemercury, a luxury beauty and cosmetics chain recently acquired by Macy's for $210 million.

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Ahold Unveils Small Format ‘Bfresh’ Store

bfreshAhold has unveiled a new store in Boston under the brand bfresh, which is expected to open in the near future, according to Supermarket News. Fresh Formats LLC, a division of Ahold that built the Everything Fresh grocery store in Philadelphia in December 2014, developed the store concept.

The bfresh store was initially developed as a solution for neighborhood shoppers — particularly younger shoppers — frustrated by compromises they need to make regarding grocery quality, price and overall shopping convenience.

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B&H Photo Embraces Multivariate Testing To Improve E-Commerce Experiences

B&H Photo is leveraging SiteSpect technology in an effort to strengthen its web site testing capabilities and improve the online customer experience. Specifically, the retailer is utilizing SiteSpect’s Digital Optimization Platform to test and optimize site content, product imagery, navigation, search functionality and layout.

“SiteSpect was the right partner at the right time to help us grow and solidify our online presence,” said Shaya Jacobowitz, Web Optimization Team Lead at B&H Photo. “We needed an optimization solution that allowed us to test everything on our site, including functionality and features. SiteSpect does that and more, while also allowing us to create a great mobile experience for our customers on-the-go — whether they’re in Brooklyn, Brazil or New Zealand.”

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Visa Checkout Expands To 33 New Retail Partners

Visa announced that it recently expanded its Visa Checkout service to include 33 new retail partners, including Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Under Armour and zulily. The Visa Checkout service allows shoppers to pay with their cards online and on any device.

The expanded list brings the number of stores offering Visa Checkout to nearly a quarter million globally, while financial institution partners have grown to more than 330.

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Tyco Retail Solutions Opens New Walmart Retail Experience Center

Tyco Retail Solutions has developed a new Retail Experience Center for Walmart. The showroom and simulated retail environment is designed to offer Walmart executives access to resources and capabilities aligned with the retailer’s global footprint. Located in Bentonville, Ark., the Retail Experience Center is the first facility Tyco has built exclusively for one client.

At the Experience Center, Walmart business leaders have the opportunity to engage with Tyco subject matter experts and explore technology related to store operations, omnichannel retailing and the customer experience.

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Strongest Retailers Hang On During Stock Market Drop

5stock-market-crashBusiness executives are nervous right now, following the most severe daily stock market decrease in four years. Upon closing on August 24, the Dow Jones index dropped more than 586 points, down more than 3.56%. Within the first six minutes of trading, the Dow dipped more than 1,000 points before rebounding within the hour, as fears of slowing economic growth in China left global markets panicking. The drop was the worst daily point decline since Aug. 8, 2011.

The loss comes on the heels of the previous trading day, August 21, when the Dow lost about 530 points — down 3.1% upon closing in New York.

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