MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Analysis: How acquisition of TaskRabbit will benefit Ikea

The acquisition of TaskRabbit allows Ikea to efficiently remove one key barrier (the dislike of furniture assembly) for a segment of customers that have until this point avoided Ikea.

Ikea' core customer is very online savvy. Magid's Retail Pulse study finds that younger customers with family (Ikea's core customers) will research purchases online prior to buying at a higher rate than typical furniture customers and engage in digital tools like Amazon Prime at a much higher rate. Fortunately, the physical nature of furniture and the desire to touch and feel has kept Ikea somewhat insulated from the "Amazon Effect." Ikea knows that this insulation is only temporary as digital tools advance and thus Ikea is embracing the digital needs of its core customers through this new capability.

This (acquisition of TaskRabbit) will have the effect of opening up Ikea to customers who may not have considered them in the past due to assembly avoidance. How big this "assembly avoider" segment is I’m not sure, but I think Ikea's move speaks to the fact that it is not insignificant.

TaskRabbit and Ikea both gain from this partnership due to the fact that TaskRabbit finds itself at the center of thousands of Ikea customers who have a very specific need that TaskRabbit can address. Ikea gains from the fact that customers searching for help with upcoming tasks (and who are thus at a key point in their purchase journey where Ikea wants to interact with them) will see Ikea offerings.

Ikea is addressing one of the key desires of the on-demand culture, which is to provide a service WHEN and HOW customers need it. Millennials desire not to be marketed to, but rather to be provided with a service offering that removes friction, and this partnership holds the potential to do just that.

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FINANCE

Gymboree emerges from bankruptcy

BY Marianne Wilson

Gymboree has emerged from bankruptcy with a reduced footprint — and with new owners.

The children's apparel retailer announced Friday that it has successfully completed its financial restructuring and emerged from Chapter 11 as a new corporation under the name Gymboree Group. The company exited bankruptcy with a reorganization plan that includes a comprehensive recapitalization that will eliminate more than $900 billion in debt and a reduced store footprint.

Gymboree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2017. According to court filings, the company plans to close some 350 underperforming stores.

"Today marks a new beginning for Gymboree Group as we emerge as a stronger and more agile competitor in the children's apparel market," said Daniel Griesemer, president and CEO of Gymboree Group. "With the support of our new equity owners, this process has allowed us to secure the company's long-term financial health, and we are excited about the opportunities ahead as we turn our full focus toward executing our strategic product, brand and omnichannel initiatives.

The company has received an $85 million new term loan from Goldman Sachs and access to a $200 million revolving credit facility from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citizens. Gymboree Group's pre-petition term loan lenders – including Searchlight, Apollo Global Management, Oppenheimerfunds, Brigade Capital Management, LP, Marblegate, Nomura Securities International and Tricadia Capital Management, LLC – are the company's new owners.

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News

Amazon’s new acquisition becomes data breach target

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Cyber-thieves have found their way into Whole Foods Markets’ payment network.

The natural foods grocer, which Amazon purchased for $13.7 billion in August, learned that payment card information processed at certain venues within some of its stores, such as taprooms and full table-service restaurants, has been breached. These venues use a different point-of-sale system than the company’s primary checkout systems.

The transactions seem to be contained among these Whole Foods’ entry points, as payment cards processed at the primary store checkout systems were not affected. Since parent company Amazon’s systems do not connect to those at Whole Foods, Amazon transactions also have not been impacted, the grocer reported.

“This is still noteworthy however, because it might be the first big ’traditional brick-and-mortar’ cyber-challenge that Amazon will need to overcome following its acquisition of Whole Foods,” Paul Martini, CEO of iboss told Chain Store Age.

Upon learning about the incident, the grocer launched an investigation. In addition to contacting law enforcement, Whole Foods is working with a leading cyber security forensics firm, and taking appropriate measures to address the issue.

The company’s investigation is ongoing, and it will provide additional updates as it learns more, Whole Foods said.

While most Whole Foods stores do not have these taprooms and restaurants, the grocer encourages its customers to closely monitor their payment card statements and report any unauthorized charges to their issuing bank.

“Retail chains are high-priority targets because not only do they give cyber-criminals easy access to financial information, but their networks are also are very distributed — with multiple locations, offices and often various different point of sale systems. This means attackers have multiple entry points to choose from,” Martini said. “Distributed networks like retail stores have very unique challenges, and you’re going to continue to see breaches like this unless the big chains get serious about preventing attacks.”

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