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California female Walmart employees regroup in bias case

BY Katherine Boccaccio

San Francisco — Four months after the Supreme Court tossed out a huge class-action lawsuit by female Walmart employees who claimed they were discriminated against by the world’s largest retailer, a smaller, regionalized group of employees has regrouped to file another gender-bias claim against Wal-Mart Stores.

The new, amended lawsuit, filed in San Francisco federal court on Thursday, narrows the class from all of the women who work or have worked at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, estimated at 1.5 million, to those in the retailer’s California regions, estimated to be at least 45,000 current employees and 45,000 former employees across some 220 California stores. The group alleges that the company pays and promotes them at lower rates than their male counterparts.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said the lawsuit was the first of many that will be filed against Wal-Mart alleging discrimination against women in pay and advancement.

The June Supreme Court ruling, a 5-4 decision, determined that the plaintiffs had not met class-action requirements.

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Mobile survey: 37% of retailers now have a mobile site

BY Staff Writer

Chicago — The third annual Mobile Audit, released Thursday by e-commerce and digital marketing company Acquity Group, found that mobile adoption is on the rise. In fact, the percentage of retailers with a mobile site reached 37% in 2011, up from 12% in 2010 and only 4% in 2009 – a 210% increase over the past year alone.

The survey also found that one in four retailers have at least one mobile app, with nearly a quarter developing for the iPhone, followed by Android (10%). The number of retailers offering mobile apps grew 278% over the past year, rising from 7% in 2010 to slightly more than 26% in 2011

Leaders in the mobile space, according to survey findings, are – in alphabetical order — Amazon, Armani Exchange, Barnes & Noble, Buy.com, Cabela’s, Gilt Groupe, The Home Depot, Newegg, Walgreens and Wal-Mart.

“These 10 retailers are executing mobile tactics that are positioning them ahead of the mobile commerce curve,” said Tom Nawara, VP of digital strategy and design at Acquity Group. “All of these companies have made a focused commitment to mobile, and it’s paying off. Not only have they implemented mobile-optimized sites to support a wide range of devices, but they have taken initiatives a step further with exceptional transactional functionality and well-designed apps that meet customer needs.”

Other key survey findings include: The percentage of companies with a site optimized specifically for the iPhone decreased, from 11% in 2010 to 9% in 2011. Nawara explained that as mobile browsers become more similar and full-featured across different devices, this non-specialization is an expected trend.

Although tremendous progress is being made across the board, the rate of mobile adoption, and the specific mobile tactics used, can vary considerably by industry. For example, Acquity Group’s analysis shows that for the implementation of iPhone apps, industry groups such as health & beauty, food & drug & sass merchants skewed much higher (an average of 66% adoption) than groups such as flowers & gifts and hardware & home improvement (an average of 36% adoption).

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Neiman Marcus to accept Visa and MasterCard

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Dallas — Neiman Marcus announced Thursday that it had entered into agreements with Visa and MasterCard to begin, effective Nov. 1, accepting MasterCard and Visa credit, debit and prepaid cards at all 41 Neiman Marcus stores.

The luxury retailer had long been criticized for accepting only its private-label credit cards, American Express and cash.

"We listened to our customers and heard that they wanted more flexibility in their payment choices," said Karen Katz, president and CEO, Neiman Marcus.

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