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Alliance Data to launch loyalty-focused credit card for online retailer Venus

BY Marianne Wilson

Dallas — Alliance Data Systems Corp announced that its retail services business, which manages more than 130 private label and co-brand credit programs, has signed a new multi-year agreement to provide private label credit card services for women’s fashion online and catalog retailer Venus.

Predominantly an online soft-goods retailer, Venus is experiencing double-digit growth by focusing on fashion-forward merchandising trends, expanding into new fashion categories, and appealing to a customer demographic with whom digital channels resonate.

“We provide our customers with great fitting clothing and swimwear that has outstanding quality and style. We are confident the new Venus credit card and loyalty program will reflect all that the Venus brand represents. We consider this credit card program a key component to driving sales and strengthening the relationship we have with our customers – all through the use of Alliance Data’s digital and traditional marketing tools,” said Jim Brewster, CEO of Venus.

Alliance Data will offer a customized loyalty-driven credit program for Venus, designed to deliver incremental sales, cross-category selling and increased transaction size. Through the new loyalty program, members will earn points for every dollar spent on the card, receive reward certificates redeemable on future purchases, experience hassle-free exchanges and receive exclusive offers.

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Toys ‘R’ Us to update U.S. store base; creating store of the future

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Toys “R” Us has launched a new strategy to drive future growth that includes a big emphasis on improving its in-store customer experience.

The nation’s largest toy retailer said it will update its existing stores to make them easier to shop, focusing on everything from the restrooms and lighting to the flooring and signage. It also is committed to reducing in-store clutter and improving in-stocks and checkout speed (slow checkouts registered as a big customer complaint in its research.).

“Customers feel our stores need a better execution,” said Antonio Urcelay, chairman and CEO, Toys “R” Us, during a presentation Tuesday at the chain’s Times Square flagship.

The retailer also said it is developing a store of the future, with an unveiling likely in late 2014. And it will no longer focus on putting its Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores side by side.

“We completed the planned rollout of the side-by-side stores,” said Hank Mullany, president, Toys “R” Us U.S. He added that the chain learned that Babies “R” Us customers do not like the side-by-side environment as much as they do the standalone concept.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Toys “R” Us has no plans to close a large number of stores.

“Reports of us closing a large number of our stores in the United States are not accurate,” said Urcelay, who added that the majority of the chain’s U.S. store fleet is “very profitable.”

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Walmart tests new c-store format, Walmart To Go

BY Staff Writer

New York — Wal-Mart Stores is testing a new convenience-store concept called “Walmart To Go,” with the initial location in the chain’s hometown of Bentonville, Ark.

The new store offers convenience store products, prepared foods and gasoline. At approximately 2,500 sq. ft., Walmart To Go is much smaller than the company’s other small-format concept, Walmart Express, which averages about 15,000 sq. ft.

Walmart also has a grocery delivery service with a similar name, WalmartToGo.com, in two markets.

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