REAL ESTATE

Divaris finalizes four new retail leases in Richmond metro

BY Michael Fickes

Virginia Beach, Va. — Divaris Real Estate has announced four new retail leases in the greater Richmond area.

Friendly Motors has leased 5,000 sq. ft. in the Divaris-leased and –managed Belt Trade Center.

Zoe’s Kitchen has taken 2,800 sq. ft. in The Corner at Short Pump. DRE’s Richmond office represented the tenant in the negotiations.

Premier Soccer signed a lease for 2,559 sq. ft. in the Divaris-leased-and-managed Parc Place at Short Pump. DRE’s Richmond office represented the landlord, Gibraltar Virginia S. The soccer retail store will join PetSmart, Dollar Tree, Jason’s Deli, Tropical Smoothie and Portrait Innovations.

Premier Audio renewed its lease for 3,612 sq. ft. in the Divaris-leased and –managed 360 West Shopping Center. DRE’s Richmond office represented the landlord, HSW and RMW1.

Divaris Real Estate is a member of Realty Resources, a national group of independent retail property brokers and managers, covering 91 major markets throughout the U.S.

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Two Retail Technologies to Keep an Eye on in 2014

BY CSA STAFF

By Jeff Weidauer, VP of Marketing and Strategy, Vestcom International

Webster defines technology as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.” Put another way, technology is the use of knowledge that solves problems in a practical manner. It’s important to understand that, because when it comes to the concept of retail technology, history shows that too often the solution becomes a hammer looking for a nail.

Technology is certain to play a major role in retail this year, but the success of any given technology will depend more on whether we start with a problem, rather than start with a solution. It’s not as if there are not plenty of challenges to solve. Solutions for the most critical and obvious challenges are well within reach of current technology. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

The single largest complaint shoppers have with retail stores is the wait to checkout. Online shopping, along with its many other advantages, comes without any concept of lines or waiting. If stores could figure this one out — and at least one or two have — then the overall brick and mortar experience would improve. With the low cost of sensors, e.g. infrared to sense heat, or photocells that can sense movement, in-store traffic can now be monitored in ways that were unthinkable even a decade ago.

Anyone who has worked in a store knows that there is never a steady flow of shoppers through the store. That would be too easy. It sometimes seems like shoppers gather in the back and rush the checkout on purpose; the ebb and flow of traffic at the front can be that extreme. The net result is that the checkout goes from lull periods to times where all available checkstands are needed, and the process can be repeated two or three times in an hour.

Leaving checkstands open in between the rush periods isn’t cost-effective. The standard practice is to close down all but a couple so other tasks can be accomplished, and when the next rush hits, the troops are brought back up front. But by this time the lines have formed, and that 30 seconds of waiting feels like five minutes to the shopper.

The answer is to monitor the flow of shoppers through the store and bring the troops up before they descend on the front end. The tracking devices previously mentioned, combined with some software, can make short work of this problem. This is a perfect example of how technology can solve a real problem and increase shopper satisfaction. The only question is why this isn’t the standard now.

The next challenge has been around for just about as long as lines: out-of-stocks. Out-of-stock levels in U.S. supermarkets have held consistently at about 8 percent for as long as anyone has been tracking them. Many approaches have been tried to reduce out-of-stocks—often using technology — but with no real success in reducing the 8 percent rate. Part of the challenge has been in defining the root cause of the problem. Out-of-stocks have historically been blamed on either a broken store product pipeline or on poor ordering, so technology solutions focused on solving these two problems.

Logistics have gotten very precise in the past 20 years, and major pipeline supply issues are rare with auto-replenishment, item movement tracking and perpetual inventory systems that take out the guesswork at both the warehouse and store level. So why is there still an out-of-stock problem? Recent studies have shown that up to 75% of out-of-stocks are actually caused in the store itself, i.e. the product is in the building but not on the shelf.

Oftentimes this problem is exacerbated by store policies. It’s been a longtime practice to “face over” holes where products were missing, but more often than anyone wants to admit, that has the effect of making a temporary stock-out a permanent one. A classic example of this is when a product is out, it’s faced over with something else, and the shelf tag is covered or even removed (often being stuck under the shelf). Voilà! An instant out-of-stock.

The dirty little secret about that 8% out-of-stock rate, by the way, is that shopper perception of the problem is much higher. Shoppers perceive the out-of-stock problem to be closer to 25%. Higher velocity items are out more often and have a greater impact on shopper perception. No one cares that the pickled okra is out, but if the Honey-Nut Cheerios are gone, that’s a problem.

Item-tracking software tends to be focused on movement, i.e., when shoppers purchase a case of a certain product, it’s reordered automatically. But what happens when that case never makes it to the shelf and the movement stops? Few systems track that, or if they do, it’s to reorder yet another case. Suddenly there are three cases in the backroom, but still none on the shelf because the tag is missing.

Out-of stocks present one of the greatest challenges retailers face today. Rather than looking outside the store, the solution lies in the store itself, at the shelf.

Retail technology is a tool, and properly used, it can be a very effective one. Laser scanners and barcodes, perpetual inventory systems, even automatic misters in produce — these are all examples of effective use of technology. But for every practical use, there is an example of a solution in search of a problem, to wit: electronic shelf labels, kiosks, and ceiling-mounted video screens.

If we can focus on technology second, and spend more time and resources identifying opportunities and their underlying causes before we worry about solving the problem, the customer benefits and retailer ROI will rise together.

Jeff Weidauer is VP of marketing and strategy for Vestcom International Inc., a Little Rock, Ark.-based provider of integrated shopper marketing solutions. He can be reached at [email protected], or visit Vestcom.com.


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REAL ESTATE

A bigger Belk

BY Michael Fickes

Charlotte, N.C. — Belk has announced a $12.6 million expansion and renovation of its store in Cool Springs Galleria, a 1.1 million-sq.-ft. mall in Franklin, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville. CBL & Associates Properties and TIAA-CREF own the center jointly.

Belk plans to create a new fashion flagship store for the greater Nashville region.

The project features two components. First, Belk will completely renovate its two-level main store. Second, it will construct a new 50,000-sq.-ft. men’s and kids’ store on the first level of the former Sears building at the mall.

Construction of the new men’s and kids’ store will begin in October and finish in March 2015. Belk intends to expand the men’s and kids’ merchandise departments currently located in the two-level main store when the move is made to the new space.

Women’s apparel, shoes, accessories, including handbags and fashion jewelry, and cosmetics will move into the men’s and kids’ space. The move will enable the ladies shoe department to double in size. Belk also plans to increase its selection of top shoe brands and styles in the expanded department. In addition, the store will update and expand the ladies accessories and fashion jewelry areas, adding open display jewelry and cosmetics fixtures to enhance presentations.

Another change will move Belk’s home merchandise departments, now located in two separate shops a the mall, will expand and relocate to an 18,000-sq.-ft. space on the second level of the main store.

All told, the expansion will increase the store’s square footage from 135,000 sq. ft. to 185,000 sq. ft.

“We’re creating the ultimate Belk shopping experience for our customers at CoolSprings Galleria with this expansion and remodel,” said Jan Clevenger, chair, Belk Western Division based in Birmingham, Ala. “The enhancements will feature the latest in retail design, décor and layout and the added space will allow us to greatly increase our merchandise assortments, including many new premium brand offerings for the whole family. All of these improvements combined will make the store one of our premier Belk flagships to serve Franklin and the entire Nashville region.”


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