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Cone Communications launches social return analysis tool

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boston – Cone Communications has launched its new social impact tool to help companies assess, communicate and prove their progress against addressing critical social issues. The Cone Social Return Assessment is a proprietary, diagnostic tool that uncovers gaps and opportunities within three elements critical to a company’s successful program: awareness, engagement and impact, and provides a plan to optimize its business and social return.

The Cone Social Return Assessment was developed based on a combination of best-in-class standards, Cone’s social impact strategies and its proprietary research.

"Our research shows consumers are increasingly demanding proof that companies are creating viable solutions and achieving substantial results from their social impact commitments. Most companies are implementing programs in the marketplace, yet there is a growing need for companies to better gauge the impacts of those programs," says Rich Maiore, senior VP of social impact at Cone Communications. "Cone’s Social Return Assessment will enable companies to assess their efforts, course correct to deliver greater effectiveness and efficiencies and communicate results to all stakeholders."

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Five Key Takeaways from new Moody’s report, ‘Brick-and-Mortar Continues to March Online’

BY CSA STAFF

On the heels of a mostly disappointing 2013 earnings season, many U.S. brick-and-mortar retailers will focus on building out their online presence for growth, according to Moody’s Investor Service’s new report, “Brick-and-Mortar Continues to March Online,” by Charlie O’Shea, VP – senior analyst, Moody’s.

Here are five highlights from the study:

1. Retailers are looking to online growth.

As brick-and-mortar retailers emerge from a rough 2013 earnings season, many will continue to focus on developing growth by building out their online presence – leveraging their physical store base rather than shutting large numbers of stores as they take on pure-play online players like Amazon.com.

2.Emphasis on distribution capabilities will grow.

Retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Best Buy, and Staples have proprietary distribution networks with their own vehicles, which will become increasingly important as they build online volume. The need to do so was apparent with the difficulties UPS and FedEx had managing increased shipping volume over the 2013 holiday season.

3.Online growth will cause disruption.

As retailers develop their online capabilities, we see higher duplicative costs causing some initial disruption in operating performance. Companies will likely increase operating expenses as they build out their multi-channel capability until their online networks reach an equilibrium point from an efficiency perspective.

4. Measuring online sales remains challenging.

We think it will take time before the industry has an accurate gauge on online sales growth, as there are few agreed common measures and many retailers have yet to break these figures out from their overall sales results. And when they do, it’s not always clear where the sale has been recorded. Is it counted strictly as an online sale or one for the brick-and-mortar base?

5.Strategic shift will take time – and be costly.

We think it will take time for retailers to achieve broader success in building out their multichannel capability. As they invest to grow, many could see margins suffer due to the increased costs, similar to the prior period when several of these same retailers were ramping up their store networks and rapidly growing square footage.


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Overstock.com CEO fires back at Senate

BY CSA STAFF

Overstock.com released a statement lamenting the decision of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy to delay patent troll litigation reform legislation — the same legislation requested by President Obama and passed by the House of Representatives.

The company praised Utah’s Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee and other likeminded senators for their leadership in championing legislative proposals that, "would have put a stake in the heart of abusive patent trolls and restored order to the nonsensical patent litigation system which today inhibits innovation," said Overstock.com CEO Patrick M. Byrne.

Overstock.com has won many victories against patent trolls and continues to fight patent troll suits. The company pointed out that defending itself against these suits comes at a high price. The proposals that the Senate sidelined today would have relief for American companies under siege from patent troll suits, which overrun American business interests and cost the economy $30 billion annually, the statement said.

"That’s real money and real lost jobs and lost opportunities," says Jonathan Johnson, Overstock.com’s chairman and former general counsel. "Tens of thousands of companies have called for reform, and millions of jobs and large sections of the economy depend upon it."

Patent troll litigation reform seemed like the one initiative that the Senate might act on this year that would have had a decisive effect; it enjoyed large bipartisan and White House support. A similar measure passed the House by a 325-vote majority and President Obama pledged support for swift action.

"Failing to act on these measures mocks justice," added Byrne. "We ask senators going into this election season to say ‘no’ to the special moneyed interests opposing this reasonable package of reforms and get this done now."

Overstock.com said it will continue its fight against patent trolls and asks the Senate to pass the legislation.

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