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Store Operations

Store Operations examines the issues and challenges facing today’s store operators. From workforce management to merchandising and new store openings, this section is designed to help retailers improve the bottom line while holding the line on costs. Subscribe to the feed and stay in touch with the latest retail happenings.

Asia’s Shift From Production To Consumption

VP site only Chainalytics head shotIf you’re younger than 40, you might have a hard time comprehending that it wasn’t very long ago when a “Made In Japan” label on an item was indicative of merchandise that was manufactured inexpensively. However, you might have noticed a trend throughout your life where these items have shifted from manufacturing in Asian countries like Hong Kong or Taiwan to countries such as China, Bangladesh and India.

Though dependent on a variety of macroeconomic and geopolitical factors, the evolution of low-cost sourcing/manufacturing countries is more or less the same: Over time, these countries develop a rising middle class, inflating the price of labor and overhead. While this growth in wealth chips away at the cost advantages of production, it simultaneously creates viable consumer markets. As countries move from “we make it” to “we buy it,” manufacturers search for new locations to manufacture while retailers tap the new consumer markets.

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Walmart To Raise Hourly Wages For 500,000 Workers

walmart--621x414Wal-Mart Stores will raise the salaries of 500,000 full-time and part-time associates at Walmart U.S. stores and Sam’s Clubs this year, according to a company statement. In April, the retailer will raise its entry wage to $9.00 per hour, $1.75 above the current U.S. federal minimum wage of $7.25. Current employees will have their wages raised to $10.00 per hour on Feb. 1, 2016. In total, the raises will impact 40% of the company’s 1.3 million U.S. employees.

Starting in 2016, all entry level employees that successfully complete a six-month skills-based training program, will receive a guaranteed raise to $10.00 an hour.

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Reflektion Helps Retail Clients Boost Conversion Rates 26%

reflektionDisney and Uniqlo are among retail clients of personalization provider Reflektion that have experienced, on average, a 70% increase in engagement and a 26% increase in conversion rates. Additional clients using the company’s one-to-one personalization solution include Gander Mountain, Converse and O’Neill Clothing.

“We are experiencing expanding interest from retailers and e-Commerce brands that are looking to replace first generation personalization and product recommendation technology with a more advanced solution that can deliver a true one-to-one shopping experience for their customers,” said Sean Moran, CEO of Reflektion. “In 2014, we helped our clients increase revenue throughout the year as well as boosted conversion rates during the critical holiday time period.”

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NET-Count Provides Detailed Store Traffic Intelligence

SS Net-Count ImageTraffic counting solutions can help retailers understand how many consumers visit a store throughout the day, week or even month, providing them with detailed intelligence to improve staffing and the overall in-store experience.

CountWise has added NET-Count, a traffic intelligence device, to its suite of Shape Recognition Technology (SRT) solutions. NET-Count combines shape recognition with motion detection and tracking to count in-store customer traffic with 95% accuracy.

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Target Focuses On Smaller-Format Stores In 2015

Target will open 15 stores in 2015 using multiple formats that appeal to urban shoppers. The retailer will open eight TargetExpress locations, one CityTarget and six general merchandise stores in different cities across the U.S.

TargetExpress is the retailer’s smallest store format at approximately 20,000 square feet per location. These stores will open in Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, St. Paul, Minn. and Washington, D.C.

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H&M To Open 400 Stores And Launch Beauty Brand

After reporting a 17% increase in gross profits in 2014, Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) has plans to open 400 new stores in 2015. The company, with brands including H&M, & Other Stories, H&M Home and Cos, also opened 379 net new stores in 2014.

While the bulk of the expansion will take place in existing markets, with most of the openings in the U.S. and China, H&M also will expand to several new markets including South Africa and India in 2015, according to a company statement. The fast-fashion retailer’s online presence will further expand into new European markets as well, including Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland.

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Quri IMPACT Analyzes The Impact Of Retail Promotions

SS site only Quri ImageRetailers create in-store promotions to boost foot traffic, drive impulse purchases and generate loyalty among consumers.

Quri, a retail intelligence solution provider, has launched IMPACT, a platform designed to combine retail sales data with in-store conditions data. As a result, retail execution managers can determine the success of in-store promotions and identify strengths and potential weaknesses.

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Gap Shuts Down Piperlime Brand

Due to underperforming sales, Gap Inc. is eliminating the Piperlime brand and its sales channels, which include an e-Commerce site and flagship store in SoHo, New York City. The entire Piperlime business will close by the end of Q1 2015. 

Although Gap Inc. has not broken out Piperlime sales from the overall business, the retailer estimated that the brand is the smallest of its entire portfolio, bringing in yearly revenue of less than $100 million, or less than 1% of total revenue. Moving forward, the Gap Inc. family of brands will include: Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, Intermix and Old Navy.

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Belk Optimizes Workforce Management With Reflexis

Sales associates play a pivotal role in the overall success of a retail store. However, store employees sometimes spend too much time completing day-to-day tasks and are unable to spend quality one-on-one time with customers. This, in the end, can lead to a drop in customer satisfaction and overall sales.

During a session at the National Retail Federation’s annual BIG Show, Eric Bass, SVP of Store Operations at Belk, discussed how the department store chain aligned its sales floor coverage with customer demand, reduced costs and improved the execution of labor operations and customer engagement strategies by using solutions from Reflexis.

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Target Pulls Plug On Canadian Operations

TargetstoreTwo years and 133 stores later, Target has announced that it will be closing all of its Canadian stores. Representatives today announced that Target Canada has obtained an Initial Order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to close all of its stores. The retailer is taking a $5.4 billion write-down as a result of costs associated with the Canadian business.

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Reflexis Launches Task Management Solution For Small Retailers

Reflexis-WhiteLog-largeAt NRF, Reflexis launched ReflexisPlus, a task management solution designed for smaller retailers with approximately 200 stores or less than $250 million annual sales.

The solution features embedded best practices that include task management, store audits and mobility for a variety of retailers. It is expected that companies can implement the new solution in three to five weeks.

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Prism Skylabs Upgrades Analytics Platform

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 2.33.27 PMDuring NRF 2015, Prism Skylabs, a cloud-based video intelligence and imagery provider, announced upgrades to its retail analytics platform, which is designed to help retailers understand and optimize their physical stores. 

Prism’s analytics allow retailers to run on-demand studies of the customer journey and A/B test their stores in real time. The upgrades included in this new release include dynamic path maps that offer visual summaries of customer movement, and surface new metrics around customer flow rate, group size, occupancy and dwell time.

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