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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.

Bloomingdale’s Taps Axonify To Gamify Associate Training

Retailers wanting to provide the best possible customer experience need to focus on building associate engagement and loyalty by treating them properly. Proper treatment starts during the training process and puts them in the best possible to succeed.

In a recent webinar, Christine Tutssell, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Axonify, discussed how Bloomingdale’s ramped up its training and eLearning program to be more gamification-oriented, ongoing and engaging for associates.

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This Time, J.C. Penney Picks A CEO With Operations Savvy

Kim head shot
The CEO position at J.C. Penney has been a bit tenuous as of late, to say the least. Former Apple exec Ron Johnson tried to turn things around by attempting to end the retailer’s reliance on almost-constant promotions and rolling out an updated store design. And the store in my local mall did seem fresher, cleaner and more inviting. But in the end, that wasn’t enough.

After a few years of straying from its core strategy, the retailer signaled a “back to basics” approach with the recent naming of Home Depot exec Marvin Ellison as its new CEO. They hired a guy who knows a lot about nuts and bolts — pun intended — to help put their retail operation back together again.

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The Perils Of Not Knowing Your Assortment Speed To Market

VP Ugam head shotRetailers are currently operating in an era of hyper-competitive commerce in which competing retailers have the same products, match prices, provide similar shipping options to consumers, and enjoy flexible supply chains. There isn’t much differentiating one retailer from another.

As far as today’s consumer goes, the social, mobile and technology revolution has resulted in a shopper who is connected, informed and vocal. These shoppers are always on the lookout for the best deals and are acclimatized to dynamically changing prices. They have access to tools that help them get to the right product, on the right channel and at the best price. The modern consumer is more empowered than ever, bringing an added level of complexity to the competitive landscape.


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Given these realities, not having products listed on an e-Commerce site on time and at the right price can certainly be perilous for retailers. In the long run, it may create a gradual shift of loyal and high-lifetime-value customers to competing sites. This naturally impacts market share and in turn, sales. It can also create a perception that competitors are one-upping you in terms of getting new products to market. You appear to be the laggard and may have lost your competitive edge.

High stakes, information transparency and to need to be relevant to their customers are driving retailers to benchmark assortment speed to market metrics with respect to their competitors.

However, this cannot be an ad hoc effort. It requires focused attention in terms of continuously monitoring a number of products and product categories across key competing retailer sites over an extended period of time — something that can be difficult and time-consuming to do alone. Depending on the category, this is a potential Big Data challenge and calls for relevant analytics expertise.

Understanding your time to market for a particular brand and product category combination enables you to go back and focus on one or all of the following:

  1. Strategic relationships — Retailers have long-standing relationships with their vendors, but what worked in the past may not hold well in today’s fast-paced digital environment. Backed with data, you are able to go back to your vendors to renegotiate supply timelines for products and / or categories where you feel you are at a disadvantage.
  2. Operational concerns — In many cases, vendor timelines may not be the problem. Operationally, your products may be taking a while to get online due to the volume of new products, lack of bandwidth or know-how to set these up online. If the data suggests your competition is getting their products to market much faster, you may need a revamp in the way you set up products on your website.

Several retailers are unable to create product descriptions for a large inventory of new products at a quick pace. A smart and cost-effective method of ensuring speed to market is to create templates to generate product descriptions. Templates can be made for all broad categories with placeholders for product-specific information. These templates ensure that product descriptions can be generated en masse, thus resolving speed issues.

Policy or system challenges — Retailers may have policies or systems in place where they wait for an entire batch of products from a particular vendor / designer before the merchandise appears online. Evaluating your competitors’ speed to market and potential opportunity lost in terms of lost sales may warrant a relook at these policies or systems.

One way a retailer can make up for slower speed to market is to plan assortment farther in advance by predicting which products will be hot and when. This will provide extra time, and can give a retailer a huge competitive advantage. Predictive analytics can help retailers identify what assortment to add, keep and drop. Knowing what assortment is likely to be a best seller before competitors or knowing what items to stop carrying before others can be a useful competitive edge to aid speed to market decisions. Predicting trends is regularly listed as a key risk factor on annual reports — being one step ahead of competitors could mean the difference between a profitable or unprofitable quarter.

In today’s retail environment, it has become imperative for forward-looking retailers to benchmark their assortment speed to market, investigate the likely causes of delay and take appropriate action as quickly as possible.


Mihir Kittur is Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder at Ugama global leader in managed analytics. 

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Starbucks Introduces Mobile Order, New Store Formats, Contest For Holiday Campaign

Starbucks-reserveStarbucks will roll out a Mobile Order and Pay feature across all U.S. stores in 2015. Initially, the technology will be implemented in cafés in the Portland, Ore., area before the end of 2014. 
 
The service is integrated with the Starbucks mobile app and is designed to enable customers to place orders in advance of their visit. Customers who use the service will have their order ready for them once they arrive at their selected Starbucks location. 
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Luxottica CEO Resigns After Six Weeks In Position

Luxottica
Luxottica Group, a designer, manufacturer and distributor of luxury and sports eyewear, held an emergency Board of Directors meeting after Enrico Cavatorta, CEO of the company, resigned on Oct. 12, 2014.

Cavatorta, who previously served as Chief Financial Officer for the Milan-based organization, reportedly resigned over disagreements with founder Leonardo Del Vecchio, according to The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, “the two had conflicting views over the scope of Cavatorta’s powers...” He initially joined Luxottica in September 2014, taking over as CEO after Andrea Guerra stepped down from the position.

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Sunoco To Roll Out VeriFone-Powered Payment Terminals At All Locations

gilbarco verifone pumpmedia close
Sunoco, Inc.
has selected VeriFone as the exclusive media provider for its fueling islands. With the partnership, VeriFone will provide Sunoco with dispenser card readers that tout integrated video screens and dynamic streaming content to help enhance the fueling experience.

Sunoco initially sought a payment platform that was PCI compliant and EMV-ready. The Secure PumpPAY solution from VeriFone offers this security, as well as a mix of advertiser-funded offers, coupons and other relevant content through a media service called VNET - At the Pump.

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Nearly Half Of CMOs And CIOs Think Internal Collaboration Has Improved

RR Accenture ImageAs many as 43% of CMOs and 50% of CIOs think their relationship with each other has improved over the past year, according to research conducted by Accenture.

However, 45% of CMOs believe there still needs to be more collaboration with CIOs and only 23% of marketers believe the level of collaboration between CMOs and CIOs is at or approaching the right level.

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Fjällräven Enlists Junction Solutions To Implement Microsoft Dynamics AX

fjallraven-store-exteriorFjällräven North America, a manufacturer and retailer of outdoor equipment and clothing, selected retail software provider Junction Solutions to implement Release 2 of the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 solution. The implementation was deployed in 12 weeks, according to a company statement.

Fjällräven first went live with Dynamics AX 2012 at its Boulder, Colo. office to assist employees with financials, purchasing, inventory and retail front office and back office applications. As part of the next implementation phase, the company will roll out the solution to an additional eight stores in the U.S. and Canada.

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NetSuite And ChannelAdvisor Build Integrated SuiteApp

netsuitechanneladvisorCloud-based omnichannel commerce software provider NetSuite and e-Commerce solution provider ChannelAdvisor have integrated their platforms to build the ChannelAdvisor SuiteApp. The integrated suite is available at www.suiteapp.com to ChannelAdvisor and NetSuite customers and streamlines product and order data exchange between the two solutions.

The ChannelAdvisor SuiteApp is designed to save time for retailers by helping them handle the challenges of meeting expectations for a broad selection of products, immediate order fulfillment, lower prices and a consistent customer experience across multiple channels. It also enables retailers to overcome the limitations that come from using third-party packaged or custom-built integrations. With the integration, retailers are positioned to take advantage of online marketplaces by expanding their business through a revenue stream in domestic and international markets.

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Johnny Rockets Unveils New Restaurant Design Concepts

JohnnyRocketsInternational restaurant chain Johnny Rockets has unveiled four new restaurant prototypes to boost brand awareness and overall sales. The drive-thru, drive-in, food truck and pop-up concepts are expected to debut as early as Q4 2014 as part of the company’s Route 66 concept.

The Route 66 concept was established to allow guests to order from Johnny Rockets while they are in their car or watching a drive-in movie. The drive-thru prototype, which will be the primary focus for Johnny Rockets, will be placed in high-volume, regional plazas located off major freeways and highways.

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Amazon And Sears Top List Of Most Price-Dynamic Retailers

RR 360pi imageAmazon and Sears are the most price-dynamic retailers, changing prices on 15% to 20% of their product assortment daily during normal shopping periods, according to research from 360pi. These figures can double during heavy shopping periods, particularly during the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.

On the other end of the spectrum, the least price-dynamic retailers included Apple and Staples. These retailers changed prices on nearly 0% of their products. The research indicates that price dynamism varies for the majority of retailers during normal shopping periods, falling between 0% to 5% and 15% to 20%. Walmart falls into this range, as it changes prices on 6% to 8% of its assortment on a daily basis.

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Why There Really Is Value In A Name

Debbie head shotWhile most industry experts and executives agree that a focus on innovation, transformation and customer-centricity are key to a successful future in retail, there’s an ongoing debate about whether or not they need to assign specific titles bearing those terms.

In an exclusive survey report conducted by Retail TouchPoints, scheduled to be released on October 7, 2014, you’ll learn that many retail organizations are adding new titles to their C-level list, such as: Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Customer Officer, Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Transformation Officer.

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