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Amazon Web Services makes new cyber-security play

BY CSA STAFF

Amazon is bolstering end-user cyber-security.

The online giant’s cloud services group quietly acquired cyber security firm harvest.ai, a San Diego-based startup that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze online user behavior, according to TechCrunch.

The acquisition, which Amazon hasn’t confirmed, will help the division identify and stop data breaches before cyber-criminals swipe valuable customer data, TechCrunch said.

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Edens sells center near University of Virginia

BY Al Urbanski

O’Connor Capital Partners has acquired The Shops at Stonefield in Charlottesville, Virginia, from Edens for $121 million.

The 231,761-sq.-ft. Town Center portion of the property, which is two miles from the campus of the University of Virginia, opened in 2013. A 33,422-sq.-ft. Northside portion was completed in 2016. Key Tenants include Trader Joe’s, Regal Cinema, Pottery Barn, Brooks Brothers, and Bluemercury.

O’Connor Capital CEO Bill O’Connor plans to make some improvements to the property and to add some first-in-market tenants.

“The modern architecture and intimate outdoor environment provide a vibrant urban destination that attracts the top retailers in the market. There is significant upside potential through lease-up of the available space,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor reported that L.L. Bean has committed to a 15,000-sq.-ft. space at Stonefield, which is currently 90% leased.


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2017 Retail Predictions

BY Kevin Cundiff

As the new year gets underway, it’s time to look forward to the changes and trends 2017 will bring. For retailers, that includes some new consumer behaviors in addition to the always-expected technological advances.

While change might seem overwhelming, it can also provide fresh opportunities for sales. And with a little planning, retailers can stay ahead of competition to meet the demands of their customers.

To help guide you into the new year, here are a few of our 2017 retail predictions.

Non-Traditional Revenue Sources

As we enter 2017, many retail organizations are beginning to explore non-traditional revenue sources to keep profits up. One of the easiest turnkey ways to build revenue? Credit protection and warranty solutions. These products not only offer a positive impact on the bottom line, but they’re also a great way to build customer loyalty — the sort of loyalty that keeps customers coming back and turns them into brand advocates.

Automated Online Returns

Throughout 2016, online shopping experienced enormous growth — and there’s no sign of a slowdown. As online shopping continues to become more common, you can anticipate a push for easy, automated return processes from online retailers. Convenience can help breed confidence, allowing customers to make a purchase online knowing they can easily return if they’re not satisfied.

Retailer Transparency

From manufacturing details to corporate values, the average consumer desires greater transparency from retailers recently. This is especially true of Millennial shoppers, many of whom would rather purchase from a socially conscious brand over a luxury retailer. Businesses that embrace the same values as consumers can anticipate a boost to brand loyalty, which is a great reason to let your customers know you’ll always be up front with them.

Renting vs. Buying

The year 2017 may also see a rise in rentals — especially when it comes to larger or generational electronics. Knowing that a product’s lifespan lasts only until the release of next generation model may give consumers pause before taking the full purchase plunge. For example, full two-year phone contracts are becoming more expensive. With consumers aware the next iteration comes out in just in six short months, there’s far less incentive to sign up long term and more mobile customers are leasing devices rather than buying them. Be on the lookout for this trend to hit other industries as well.

Independent Retailers

Over the last several years, there’s been a growing demand for niche, independent retailers. Why? It starts with personalization — having access to a retailer that simultaneously caters to individual needs and likely knows their customer inside and out. For both new and existing brands, this trend leads to improved, more personalized service as well as a smaller store footprint. Going forward, the desire for unique and customized service is only going to go up — so get on board.

Mobile, Mobile and More Mobile

The growth of mobile is no longer a secret, and incorporating a mobile strategy can only benefit your brand — regardless of your company’s size. Simply ensuring a website is mobile friendly, or enabling mobile purchase, creates a sophisticated mobile interaction that improves the customer experience.

Get ready, retailers. The new year is here!


Kevin Cundiff is VP of retail for Fortegra Financial Corporation, a Tiptree Financial Inc. company. Fortegra and its subsidiaries comprise a single-source insurance services provider that offers a range of consumer protection options including warranty solutions, credit insurance, and specialty underwriting programs.

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