SUPPLY CHAIN

August merchandise imports to show first increase since May

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — Following negative numbers in four of the last five months, import volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to grow 1.7% in August over the same month last year and should continue to see gains through the holiday season and the remainder of 2013, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. The year is expected to end with a 2.4% increase over 2012.

“As the economy continues to slowly improve, retailers are stocking up for their most important sales season of the year,” NRF VP for supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold said. “Merchants have been very cautious so far this year, but our forecasts show that they plan to make up for it in the next few months.”

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OPERATIONS

Best Buy Canada combats showroomers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Richfield, Minn. — Best Buy Canada is attempting to combat showrooming in its stores with the 360pi 360mobile solution. The solution provides real-time data on competitors’ pricing to Best Buy Canada store associates, allowing them to better anticipate and respond to customer requests for discounts.

“The entire buying process has changed, from where customers do their research to where they’re influenced to where, when and how they ultimately buy,” said Sean Wilson, VP merchandising operations, Best Buy Canada. “360mobile gives our retail associates the information they need to better address customer questions and concerns, and lets prospective customers make an informed decision while in the store, effectively turning showroomers into buyers.”

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OPERATIONS

Toys ‘R’ Us launches branded gift cards in China

BY Staff Writer

Wayne, N.J. — Toys “R” Us announced that it has introduced its own gift card program in its stores throughout China. Gift cards are now available for purchase in its 41 locations, and can be redeemed in any Toys “R” Us store in the country.

“We continue to look for ways to make shopping with Toys “R” Us more convenient for our customers throughout China,” said Mark Murphy, managing director, Toys “R” Us, China. “Offering gift cards provides the opportunity to let the recipient choose their own special gift, whether they’re celebrating a birthday, the New Year, Children’s Day, a successful semester at school or welcoming a new baby.”

In October 2011, Toys “R” Us, Inc. acquired the majority stake in its business in Greater China and Southeast Asia from Fung Retailing. With this agreement, the existing Toys “R” Us licensed operations in this region became 70% majority owned and controlled by Toys “R” Us, Inc. and 30% owned by Fung Retailing.

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