The Body Shop tests ‘entertailing’ in Britian

The Body Shop on New Bond Street in London is more than a store; it’s an oasis of calm, according to, and the prototype for a new “experience based” store known as the Pulse concept. The retailer, with 2,600 locations in more than 60 countries, is testing the new interactive retailing model that includes information and conversation areas designed to encourage customers to linger as they flow through the store. It’s a trend the industry has dubbed “entertailing.”


Shoppers can receive hand massages while listening to stories at the “story table” and checking out the community wall featuring handmade notices about the city’s events. They can test a variety of products for sale, including ointments, lotions and makeup.

“We found that the average amount of time a consumer spends in our prototype stores has doubled, from an average of five minutes to more than 10. This shows a depth of interaction and communication we have witnessed,” Sophie Gasperment, executive chairwoman of the Body Shop International, said in the story.

The Body Shop isn’t the only retailer embracing entertailing. Oher examples include the Apple’s Genius Bar and the hands-on approach at the Build-a-Bear Workshop. Entertailing is simply giving customers something to do that will make them want to stay longer. The activities facilitate interaction with the brand.

[via retailcustomerexperience]


Ann Taylor to make Canadian debut

Ann Inc. announced Thursday that it will open two stores in Toronto, in fall 2012, marking the apparel retailer’s first foray outside the United States.


“Toronto is the perfect location to open our first international stores. It is a beautiful city filled with modern, sophisticated women who lead busy lives, and we are excited to bring a trusted fashion destination that offers great style as well as incredible versatility,” said head designer Lisa Axelson.

According to Brian Lynch, Ann Taylor brand president, Canada is a natural global jumping-off point because of the “strong awareness Ann Taylor already enjoys in Canada,” he said.

[via ChainStoreAge]

iPad Point of Sale Tips, Retailers, Retail Localization

4 iPad POS Suggestions From Retailers

Tablets have invaded the homes of consumers–and Apple is the King of this generation of mobile computers. Since the iPad’s initial announcement in 2010, Apple has sold nearly 80 million iPads. The mobile computer’s next ring to dominate? Your local department store or collectibles shop.

iPad Point of Sale Tips, Retailers, Retail Localization

According to a survey from RIS News, 28 percent of retailers are currently testing tablets in their stores and 31 percent plan to begin some form of testing in 2012. There are a number of benefits that retailers can realize utilizing a mobile tablet at the point of sale (POS), such as shortening of the checkout line and providing instant product answers for customers’ questions.

Another survey from AisleBuyer found that 64 percent of shoppers thought retailers were more helpful when using a mobile device in the store aisles.

Michael Koploy, Retail Analyst for Software Advice, recently spoke with three retailers that have deployed iPad point of sale solutions in their stores. Koploy asked what they’ve learned throughout the process and what they would suggest to other retailers thinking about using iPads at checkout. Here are their four suggestions:

  1. Don’t purchase too many iPads up-front: One of the strongest selling points of iPads is the ease of their deployment and their scalability. That being said, retailers advised other retailers to purchase iPads modestly at first–making a one-for-one switch of registers for iPads. If more tablets are needed at a later date, the retailer can then purchase more iPads online or at most electronics stores.

  2. Upgrade Internet bandwidth and wireless security: When moving to mobile POS solutions, upgrading the store’s infrastructure is a worthwhile investment, according to the retailers interviewed. Increased bandwidth and improved security are two areas that retailers should research and update in their stores to reduce downtime and improve transaction security. Wireless routers should meet Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards, encrypted with either WPA or WPA2.

  3. Ask for help from resellers and MDM experts: The retailers also suggested reaching out to other technology experts for assistance with device deployment and management. Software resellers can help retailers connect the hardware and software solutions, as well as integrate data from previous or existing technology. Mobile device management (MDM) experts can help lock-down devices and integrate data across stores–an important consideration for retailers that have multiple locations.

  4. Utilize the iPad during checkout: The iPad is a fully-capable piece of hardware to manage the point of sale. At the same time, it offers a number of options for the retailer to improve checkout–and the overall shopping experience, as well. From the aisle, retailers can help customers research products, check inventory levels and process the transaction–without having to ever get in a long checkout line. Additionally, retailers can use the device’s camera, web browser, and social media applications to allow customers to share their experience with their friends and family. This presents a powerful marketing platform for the retailer.

To hear more tips from these retailers, check out: 5 iPad POS Tips For Retailers, From Retailers.

Chico's, E-Commerce, Fulfillment, shopper marketing

Chico’s Maximizes on E-Commerce, Fulfillment

Chico’s FAS has implemented e-commerce fulfillment for items that are out-of-stock in its stores. The capability will also be extended to fulfill from stores when an item is out of stock on the retailer’s website.

Chico's, E-Commerce, Fulfillment, shopper marketing

“We have a terrific DTC business, and one of the things that our DTC business has allowed us to do is to locate merchandise that may not be available in those stores,” said David Dyer, CEO for Chico’s FAS on a recent call with investors. “We are able to actually ring the sale in the store and credit the store for the sale and then ship it from our distribution center, so that has been another way that we get increased productivity from a smaller square footage.”

In addition, Chico’s is utilizing e-commerce as a powerful, efficient marketing tool that allows it to create brand awareness and maximize the opportunity to attract and retain multi-channel customers. Significant investments are being made that include updates to mobile functionality, social marketing, improved quality of mailers and catalogs, shifting paper catalogs to the digital realm, online marketing, page search and emerging mobile platforms.

The retailer will also be allotting resources to the growth of customer groups that are outside of boutique trade areas, “fostering growth of our multi-channel customers, the most important customer of all from a sales perspective,” continued Dyer. “A multi-channel customer spends two times more than our boutique customers only, and three times more than our e-commerce customers only.”

[via RIS News]

Sears Canada stores, retail localization

Sears spins off Canada stake to focus on US stores

Sears Holdings Corp. said Thursday it returned to a profit in the first quarter as it benefited from a gain on the sale of underperforming stores. The troubled retailer also said it would spinoff a stake in its Canada unit to focus on turning around its U.S. business.

The Hoffman Estates, Ill., company, which runs Sears, Kmart and Lands’ End, said it earned $189 million, or $1.78 per share, for the period ended April 28. It lost $170 million, or $1.58 per share, a year ago.

Sears Canada stores, retail localization

The current quarter included a $233 million gain on the sale of 11 U.S. stores, three Canadian stores and leasehold interest.

Excluding store closing costs and other items, Sears lost 31 cents per share from continuing operations. That was better than the loss of 67 cents per share analysts expected.

Sears shares rose $1.55, or 3 percent, to close at $52.42 Thursday.

Earlier this year, Sears also announced that it was spinning off its smaller Hometown and Outlet stores as well as some hardware stores in a deal expected to raise $400 million to $500 million. That transaction is still expected to close in the third quarter, Sears said Thursday.

Sears Chief Financial Officer Rob Schriesheim said in a statement that the company anticipates that it will generate $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion in capital this year through a number of actions, including the Hometown and Outlet spinoffs, previously announced cost reductions and moves taken to lower cash invested in inventory, and the sale of certain stores in the U.S. and Canada.

“They’re selling their branches to raise working capital,” said Michael Cipriani, executive vice president of Rosenthal & Rosenthal, which buys merchandise from suppliers and then collects the money from the retailer once the goods are sold. “All these are good signs. I believe they’re on the road to recovery.”

Still, the company has a long way to go in turning around its business. Total revenue for the latest quarter slipped 3 percent to $9.27 billion, partly as a result of unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates and having fewer stores open during the period. Wall Street had forecast revenue of $9.26 billion.

Revenue from Sears stores in the U.S. open at least a year fell 1 percent, while the figure dropped 1.6 percent for Kmart locations. The figure is a critical indicator of health because it excludes the impact of newly opened or closed stores.

Both Sears and Kmart stores experienced soft sales of consumer electronics but stronger sales of clothing and footwear. For Sears Canada, the metric slid 6.3 percent on declines in electronics, home decor, hardware and clothing.

Gary Balter, an analyst with Credit Suisse, noted that Sears may have benefited from J.C. Penney’s “debacle” in the first quarter. Penney blamed its big first-quarter loss on bad reaction from shoppers to its decision to get rid of hundreds of sales each year in favor of predictable low prices every day. Balter said that implies that it could be more difficult for Sears to deliver positive results going forward.

Sears’ cash balance for the quarter climbed to $784 million from $754 million over the three-month period ending April 28. It has also reduced inventory levels and trimmed its total debt to $3.2 billion at quarter’s end, down from $3.5 billion.

[via BusinessWeek]

Sears Explains Its Success In Content Marketing

Earlier this week we profiled digital marketing execs from General Mills and GE on how they’re running their organizations like publishers. For our third and final installment in this series on content marketing, we sat down with Julia Fitzgerald, Chief Digital Officer, Fitness, Sporting Goods & Toys at Sears Holdings and Gilad de Vries from best of breed content discovery platform, Outbrain.

Brandon GutmanHow do you get people to discover your content?        

Julia Fitzgerald: At Sears Holdings Company we use various ways of connecting people with our content. For FitStudio, the Sears online fitness community, we use multiple fitness experts as our content creators. The expert contributors all reach various wellness communities and draw them to the FitStudio content. We leverage our online platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, and Shop Your Way, to promote the FitStudio content. We also use some of our more traditional Sears marketing assets to let our customers know about FitStudio. We do use some paid methods of distribution as well. Since we have such a rich library of fitness content, we leverage services that allow people to choose our content from multiple online portal links.

Julia Fitzgerald of Sears Holdings

What is the ROI on your content marketing efforts? How do you measure success?

While FitStudio is a major content marketing initiative, it is one of several Sears multichannel programs. Depending on the program, we have various ROI related metrics. For some programs, we are measuring membership acquisition, engagement, page views, return visits, coupon redemption, or purchase. Most of these metrics feed into a lifetime value of an engaged customer equation that ultimately determines ROI.

Many people may not know that Sears is the largest seller of fitness-related products. Why did Sears decide create to create FitStudio and what is the value you get from the initiative? What part do you see the brand playing in the conversation of how to get in shape, fitness and how fitness should be a part of everyone’s lives?

We realized that when shoppers come to Sears looking for a piece of fitness equipment, what they really are looking for is a 15 pounds lighter, fitter, or healthier version of themselves. And while the equipment is often a key component to their goal, they also need information and motivation to keep on track with a healthier lifestyle. FitStudio was the perfect solution for Sears to provide – free of charge – expert advice from fitness professionals and nutritionalists. In addition to the advice, FitStudio is a social venue where people can connect with each other and the fitness experts for information and encouragement. While the Sears brand is successful at selling fitness equipment, we have challenged ourselves with FitStudio to extend the brand beyond the equipment and to stand for the motivation and know-how to get America in shape.

[via Forbes]

Partner Collaboration Drives Merchandising Success

Innovative merchandising created through collaboration among retailers and suppliers requires careful planning and dedication, but it can be a powerful driver of incremental sales if executed properly, according to presenters at an FMI2012 session here.

“We had to start thinking more like shoppers, and had to work on breaking down barriers and silos within the company,” said Don Fitzgerald, senior vice president of merchandising at Roundy’s, Milwaukee, speaking about a partnership with The Clorox Co. that leveraged the expertise and authority of the chain’s pharmacists to drive sales of preventative-care products. “We had to do some unconventional things.”

The merchandising program, which incorporated Clorox-brand disinfectant wipes with OTCs and other items, was effective in driving incremental sales in the categories of products involved, Fitzgerald said.

One of the keys to making the program effective, he said, was having Clorox educate the retailer’s pharmacists about preventative health care.

Bob Richardson of The Clorox Co.; Don Fitzgerald of Roundy’s.“We said, ‘Let’s effectively use pharmacy as your offensive tool,’” explained Bob Richardson, director of sales and customer development at Clorox. Richardson (right) is pictured with Fitzgerald at FMI2012.

The emphasis on preventative care also played into consumer trends, he pointed out, as the costs of health care have increased and the economy has remained weak, forcing many consumers to be more concerned about the costs of becoming sick.

The merchandising platform also fit nicely into Roundy’s overall emphasis on health care and its “shop well, eat well, live well” ethos.

Similarly, a merchandising partnership between Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. and Coca-Cola’s Vitamin Water products also played well into Kroger’s “customer first” approach, explained Larry Nelson, director of DSD sales planning at the chain.

He said transparency and honest discussion about costs were essential to making the merchandising effort with Vitamin Water work.

“The only way to survive is if you both make a profit,” he said.

Larry Nelson of Kroger Co.; Wade Duke of Coca-Cola Refreshments.The comprehensive merchandising program, which is ongoing, involves tie-ins with performer Carrie Underwood and a web-based effort that ties into the in-store displays. It helped increase penetration of Vitamin Water by 26.5% in 2011, according to Wade Duke, president of the Kroger account team at Coca-Cola Refreshments. Wade (right) is pictured with Nelson at FMI2012.

The effort involves displays in the Nature’s Market sections of Kroger stores and includes educational efforts about the importance of hydration.

[via Supermarket News]

Harris Poll, Nordstrom, Retail Localization

Harris survey ranks Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Target and Walgreens highest in their categories

Kohl’s, Nordstrom and Target ranked first in their categories in a new survey by Harris Interactive The 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend (EQ) study surveyed Americans about brands across several retail segments, revealing which brands prompted them to open their hearts—and consequently—their pocketbooks.

Harris Poll, Nordstrom, Retail Localization

While all brands in the department store category dropped in 2012, Kohl’s came out on top as the Department Store Brand of the Year. Kohl’s edged out J.C. Penney in 2009 and has maintained its lead in the rankings ever since. Kohl’s shows the highest overall brand equity score, carried by a strong performance in purchase consideration.

Nordstrom led the ratings in a new category and was named Luxury Department Store Brand of the Year. Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, included in the study for the first time, placed second and third respectively in the luxury ratings.

In the value retailer category, Target was the Value Retail Brand of the Year, surpassing Walmart. While this is just the second year of this award category, in 2007 Target supplanted Walmart in overall retailer rankings, and has maintained its lead ever since. Top scores for all three elements of brand equity – Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Intention – drove this strong performance.

[via Chain Store Age]

Macy's Leads in Tech-Enhanced Shopper Marketing

Macy’s Takes the Lead in Tech-Enhanced Shopping

While many retailers are working hard to get technology out the door and on the floor, none have mastered a truly technologized shopping experience – except for Macy’s, that is. With an omni-channel strategy that takes the lead, Macy’s has created tech-enhanced store shopping. From expanding both its online inventory and store-to-door fulfillment capabilities; WiFi enablement of brick-and-mortar stores; working with Google on store maps and mobile-enabled payment; and use of item-level RFID to better track and manage its inventory, Macy’s is using a range of technologies to make the shopping experience seamless across channels.

Macy's Leads in Tech-Enhanced Shopper Marketing

“We think the sales potential from this omni-channel approach is enormous,” said Karen Hoguet, Macy’s CFO on a recent call with investors. “In addition, over time, it should enable us to also improve the productivity of our inventory, as well as our store square footage. We have barely scratched the surface here, and we are very optimistic about the possibilities.”

At a Manhattan Associates’ supply chain conference in Orlando, FL last week, Brian Leinbach, Macy’s senior vice president of systems development and field services said, “90% of our customers research online at least occasionally before purchasing in-store,” said “Our best customers shop us online and in our stores,” he continued, noting that they are also twice as likely as other online buyers to have researched a product in its stores before purchasing online.

Here is a more detailed look at Macy’s technological advancements and future plans:

Expanding Online Inventory: Macy’s locations are becoming a blend of physical and digital, allowing customers to touch and hold the real thing but also find an endless aisle of products online that they can rotate and look at on screen. This allows Macy’s to display merchandise that it might not have been able to otherwise because of limited floor space or inventory.

“As we’ve been adding more and more categories online that are available to be fulfilled form the store when they run out, we are seeing that there’s a big opportunity and increased demand,” said Hoguet. “In other words, at, we may not have been buying enough inventory to satisfy the demand that was out there. So I think that’s going to help significantly.”

Store-to-Door: The retailer believes that the other half of “buy anywhere” is “fulfill anywhere,” noted Leinbach. The goal is to optimize inventory for customers to shop across channels with ease. By 2013, 300 of Macy’s 840 locations will be equipped to handle direct-to-consumer order fulfillment.

“We are also beginning to be able to satisfy online demand with store inventory when the distribution center runs out of a particular item,” noted Hoguet. “It is really very exciting to watch. We now have over 80 stores equipped to fulfill orders from other stores or from online demand and by the holiday season, we’ll have over 290 store fulfillment locations.”

In addition, Macy’s sales associates in select departments will be equipped with mobile POS handheld devices to create a better customer experience. The associate can help a customer find a different size of a product, or if it is out of stock, ship it directly to their house. Associates will also be able to check out customers directly from the sales floor instead of finding a register.

Digital Mannequins: The retailer is also researching digital mannequins to better target different types of customers at different times of day. The mannequins can be re-outfitted throughout the day to appeal to different customers’ clothing styles.

[via RIS News]

New Balance, mPOS, VeriFone, Shopper Marketing

New Balance Enhances Customer Experience with VeriFone App

New Balance, mPOS, VeriFone, Shopper Marketing

New Balance has selected VeriFone GlobalBay’s Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) solution to engage customers by untethering the store associate from a fixed location POS register. This will provide mobile checkout at the point of interaction where it’s needed. VeriFone GlobalBay apps also provide store associates with access to inventory, price and product information, and customer purchase history and recommendations.

Part of a suite of mobile applications, GlobalBay mPOS is changing the ways retailers interact with their customers. By empowering store associates with easy to use sales tools and relevant customer information on mobile devices, retailers are realizing tangible ROI through increased sales while enhancing the overall shopping experience. This is done both inside the store and in new selling locations outside of the store.

VeriFone’s PAYware Mobile Enterprise card encryption solution for iPod touch provides Samsonite and New Balance with card acceptance, encryption of payment transactions and an interface with VeriFone’s PAYware Connect gateway services. Samsonite will also utilize the VeriFone GlobalBay mPOS app for iPod touch.

[via RIS News]