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DDR Corp. CEO to leave at end of 2015

BY CSA STAFF

Leading shopping center owner and operator DDR Corp. announced that CEO Daniel B. Hurwitz and the board of directors have decided not to renew his employment agreement, which expires December 31, 2015. It is anticipated that Hurwitz will remain CEO through 2015 to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

"For more than 15 years, Dan has played key roles in DDR's strategy of building a high quality operating platform, prime portfolio and strong balance sheet," said Terrance R. Ahern, chairman of the board. "We thank him for his many contributions."

Hurwitz became CEO on January 1, 2010. He had served as president and chief operating officer of the company from May 2007 through December 2009, as senior EVP and chief investment officer from May 2005 to May 2007, EVP of leasing and development from April 2002 to May 2005, and as EVP of leasing from June 1999 through April 2002. He joined the company's board of directors in June 2009.

"I couldn't be prouder of what our team accomplished at DDR over the past several years," said Hurwitz. "Together, we have made great strides toward becoming an industry leader. DDR's next CEO will inherit a high-quality portfolio of assets operated by even higher-quality people. I am confident that DDR's best days are yet to come."

The company will engage an executive search firm and consider internal and external candidates to succeed Hurwitz.

DDR is an owner and manager of 390 value-oriented shopping centers representing 108 million sq. ft. in 39 states and Puerto Rico.

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Macy’s refines omnichannel strategy

BY CSA STAFF

Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s will be among the first retailers to support the new Apple Pay mobile payment system, which will be available beginning this fall on new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus mobile devices, as well as on the newly unveiled Apple Watch. It’s just part of the company’s expanding omnichannel strategy.

“Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s remain committed to operating at the forefront of innovation, as well as fostering a locally relevant shopping experience in every store. We will continue to test, to learn, and to proceed aggressively with new ideas that excite our customers and that make shopping more convenient and fun. Our goal remains to help our customers shop whenever, wherever and however they prefer, and to use the entire inventory of the company to satisfy demand,” said Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s chairman and CEO. “We are a multifaceted retailer with stores, technology, Internet capability and mobile access that come together for our customers. They are at the center of all our decisions, and our ongoing research and development will continue to help us understand how to personally engage with them.”

This fall, Macy’s and Bloomingdale's will also begin piloting same-day delivery of products purchased online at macys.com, bloomingdales.com and on both brands’ mobile-enabled websites. Macy's will offer same-day delivery to customers in eight major U.S. markets: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Bloomingdale's will offer same-day delivery to customers in four major markets: Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose.

Deliveries to customers will be powered by Deliv, a rapidly growing crowdsourced same day delivery provider, in collaboration with major mall owners, including General Growth Properties, Macerich, Simon and Westfield Corporation. Specific details will be provided as the pilots are launched. Macy’s and Bloomingdale's same-day delivery is built on an operational foundation that has enabled Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s customers to buy online and pickup in store.

Other new omnichannel features/technologies announced by Macy’s include the following:

  • Expanded use of beacon technology: After a test run during last year’s holiday season at Macy’s flagships in New York and San Francisco, Macy’s will expand the use of Shopkick’s ShopBeacon technology to all 4,000 Macy’s stores nationwide. ShopBeacons, an enhanced mobile location-based technology built upon Apple’s iBeacon Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol, will be placed within various departments at Macy’s locations, allowing for users of the Shopkick app to get more personalized department-level deals, discounts, recommendations and rewards.
  • The installation of ShopBeacons is expected to be complete by early fall 2014, with activation beginning soon after. Once live, as shoppers enter any Macy’s nationwide, ShopBeacon will remind those Shopkick app users who have opted in to receive notifications to open their app. During the initial phase of the program, customers will receive the currently available Macy’s promotions, deals or discounts.
  • Smart fitting rooms: Bloomingdale's has introduced “smart” fitting rooms in five locations: Century City, San Francisco; and Palo Alto (all in California), Short Hills, New Jersey; and Garden City, New York. These fitting rooms have wall-mounted tablets where selling associates and customers are able to scan merchandise items to view other colors and sizes available and, in many cases, see additional product information, product ratings/reviews and recommendations on complementary items to “complete the look.” Customers can also tap a button to call for assistance from a sales associate without having to leave the room. Bloomingdale’s new store in Palo Alto, California, will be the first to have the new technology in all women’s and men’s fitting rooms.
  • Macy’s image search: An all-new app that allows customers to search the merchandise assortment on macys.com by taking and submitting a photograph of any outfit, accessory or merchandise item they see in daily life, Image Search is one of the new technology concepts created in Macy’s San Francisco-based Idea Lab. The visual search will take the customer to similar items on macys.com, where they can be purchased. The feature is currently available for iPhone from the Apple App Store, and the functionality will be incorporated into the primary Macy’s app.
  • Mobile wallets: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have introduced new mobile wallets that enable shoppers to easily store and access offers and coupons virtually. The wallet is designed to create a seamless, omnichannel checkout experience for customers enrolled in loyalty rewards programs whether in-store, on the go via their mobile devices or at home through desktop interaction.
  • The wallets are already available to customers with profiles on macys.com and/or bloomingdales.com, where shoppers can currently access the functionality via desktop, mobile devices and in-store at point-of-sale registers nationwide. In November, the company’s mobile apps will add the wallet function.
  • In-store selling technology: Macy’s is piloting a variety of selling technology innovations at select stores in Georgia and New Jersey, including a new generation of enhanced handheld point-of-sale devices and tablets designed to improve the in-store shopping experience by enabling sales associates to engage customers more effectively, offer merchandise ideas and product information, and speed transactions.
  • Macy’s is testing [email protected]’s Centers in select locations as in-store destinations for online order pickup, with increased associate staffing to help customers with styling and product advice. In pilot stores, customers also can shop Macy’s omnichannel assortment via electronic kiosks and large interactive “lookbook” displays, and purchase on mobile devices if they prefer. The most successful of the new point-of-sale technology is expected to be refined and rolled out to additional stores.
  • Enhanced shopping apps: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have launched all-new mobile shopping apps for iOS and Android. Enhanced navigation allows customers to easily and quickly move between features, reach desired product with fewer clicks, check-out more quickly, as well as the enhanced ability to manage gift registries. New improvements to the shopping experience on the mobile apps will be continually added throughout the fall season and beyond.
  • RFID: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are seeing tangible results from their adoption of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that began rolling out in 2011. In recent omnichannel pilots in several fashion categories, Macy’s documented RFID’s ability to significantly improve sales, gross margins and markdowns by better leveraging inventory counts that are real-time and accurate. Additional rollout of RFID tagging in fashion categories is planned for 2015.
  • Digital catalogs: With the launch of Macy’s fall fashion direct mail catalog, Macys.com will offer a digital edition that leverage the functionality of the tablet experience to introduce customers to an enhanced catalog featuring exclusive editorial content, fashion advice, and closer looks at the product and curated product suggestions. Customers will be able to interact with enhanced content from three of Macy’s fall fashion catalogs including the women’s ready-to-wear/accessories fashion book, the men’s fashion book and Macy’s beauty catalog.
  • The virtual guides will offer consumers the interactive opportunity to learn about the season’s top trends, get 360 degree views of products, see fashion tip videos, and create new outfits using a feature that allows the user to mix and match pieces based on the initial look. Macy’s Digital Edition will also allow customers to shop the styles directly from the virtual catalog.
  • Tabletop builder: Bloomingdales.com will launch an online Tabletop Builder on Oct. 1, allowing customers to mix and match dinnerware, flatware and glassware in table settings. This service enhances the Bloomingdale’s gift registry process on any device.

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Plug and Play’s CEO Corner: Judd Ferrer, Sparkle

BY CSA STAFF

Plug and Play helps bring together retailers and startups who offer specific technology and expertise that can relieve their pain points. In each issue of our Customer Disruption e-newsletter, we will provide you a brief Q&A with the CEO of a Plug and Play startup, explaining how their company assists retailers in succeeding in today’s disruptive customer environment.

This week’s CEO Corner features three questions with Judd Ferrer, CEO of Sparkle.

What does your company do?
Sparkle bridges the gap between e-commerce and physical retail point-of-sale (POS).

How do retailers leverage your solution?
Sparkle has developed The App Store for POS, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that enables retailers to connect their physical POS systems into the omnichannel digital marketplace without the need for integration or changes to the POS software.

Once deployed into a retailer, our PaaS platform creates an open framework upon which the retailer and /or other third-party vendors can "app" their solution into the POS. This provides the retailer with a whole new capability by being able to quickly innovate. In a matter of weeks, they can now conduct A/B testing of their own or other parties’ apps, continually iterate and update apps just like their digital counterparts, and unify their e-commerce, mobile and physical platforms for a single view and enhanced experience for the customer.

The other big benefit for the retailer is that they can mix and match to identify the right channels to communicate with their customers and migrate them to digital at their own speed. The possibilities for what the App Store for POS can deliver for retailers is only limited by their imagination. Already we are working with some of our retail customers to turn tweets into a discount offer at the physical checkout, tagging, showcasing, tracking and rewarding social commerce such as sharing photos online of products through to the physical checkout. We are also developing the ability for retailers to recruit new customers through enabling their most loyal customers to issue discount/coupon codes to their friends, which can be all tracked when redeemed in store, individually as a coupon issuer. This is all done with complete accountability and control both online and in-store.

What is your background as CEO and/or what led to the development of the company?
I have more than 15 years’ experience in developing retail technology for CPG, in-store retail and consumer marketing. Sparkle co-founder Mark Brighton and I focused on rationalzing the outdated processes associated with paper coupons using cloud technology for mining transactional data. As Sparkle got closer to bringing its product to market, we discovered a completely overlooked subtlety that meant having to integrate with each retailer’s POS.

Mark and I looked at the implications of this setback given the length, cost and competitive intensity for a company to make it on to a retailers POS change request roadmap process. Our conclusion was that unless we could find a way around having to integrate, Sparkle was finished as a business, as the cost and timing of getting to scale would take too long. So we had to tackle head-on the process of developing a method for getting around the need for integration.

We looked at what, in essence, happens during a transaction, as this is where the need for integration often arises. What we realized was that as with e-commerce, mobile commerce and any other form of transaction was that it was about the management of different code variants. The issue is that the ecosystem of the digital world uses codes such as tweets, hashtags, NFC and QR codes, while the physical would uses EAN barcodes and now the GS1 databar, so they are by nature incompatible both in structure, and in the devices that use them, such as a mobile phone compared to say a 10-year-old POS system, which are themselves not designed to communicate with each other.

The result is our App Store for POS that puts a retailer’s POS at the heart of an omnichannel strategy rather then what is often the case, where e-commerce and physical retail operate as separate business units. Sparkle’s App Store for POS brings all of the richness and functionality of e-commerce directly into the point of sale without the need for any integration.

Visit Sparkle-cs.com for more information or email us at i[email protected].

Editor’s Note: Sparkle will be attending the Plug and Play Fall Expo 2014 at Plug and Play’s campus in Sunnyvale, California on Thursday, Sept. 18 from 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. PDT. Plug and Play’s quarterly pitch competition event will feature 40-plus startup pitches, panel discussions and corporate networking. In addition, Chain Store Age will be in attendance and we hope to see you there!

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