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Fear No E-commerce

BY Katherine Boccaccio

For years, doomsayers have been predicting the end of brick-and-mortar shopping in favor of the more convenient – albeit two-dimensional – online store experience.

Call me an optimist, but I’ve never bought into the gloom-hype. My feeling has been that brick-and-mortar stores will always be around, and malls (whether open-air or enclosed or flavor-of-the-day format) will survive. A recent announcement by Staples only underscores my optimism.

On June 20, the office supply retailer announced it had launched an “omni-channel” retail concept, opening a location in Norwood, Mass., and Dover, Del. – both incorporating Staples online and mobile assets into the brick-and-mortar retail experience.

What a novel idea. Bring the entire shopping experience – online and offline – into the physical space, not only providing customers with in-store offerings but also online access via in-store kiosks.

What that tells the customer is, “We do not view the internet as ‘competition.’ It is simply another avenue from which to conduct our commerce.”

Staples isn’t the only retailer to have figured this out; it is simply a more recent example of a growing trend that should help to quiet the stores-are-out chatter.


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Bealls deploys new solution to grow e-commerce

BY CSA STAFF

EVERETT, Wash. — Bealls is looking to Fluke Networks to help it address network issues and monitor the performance of its applications in the wake of the retailer’s growing e-commerce business.

Fluke’s Visual TruView solution will give the retailer comprehensive visibility into all key systems and applications across more than 500 network locations, enabling immediate remediation of performance issues and minimizing the impact on its 13,000 employees, customers and sales.

Bealls was experiencing sporadic network outages and performance issues because of its growing e-commerce business and its more than 100 custom, in-store and corporate business applications. Without access to comprehensive real-time network data, the company’s engineering teams couldn’t quickly identify and isolate the problems, resulting in lost sales, employee frustration and customer dissatisfaction.

"There are only two solutions I keep up and running at all times, and Visual TruView is one of them," said David Varnum, manager of network engineering at Bealls. "It gives me complete visibility into the application layer and, when problems emerge, I can identify the source and work to fix it before it has an impact on the business. It’s our eyes and ears for the network, and it’s made the engineering team shine."

Visual TruView is a troubleshooting solution that leverages key data sets such as stream-to-disk packet storage, application response time, transactional decode, NetFlow and SNMP to present performance analytics through a single visual dashboard. It eliminates the need for swivel chair correlations and gives the Bealls team the ability to quickly drill down into packet-level details.

"From the moment Visual TruView went live, we had instant visibility into pressing issues and were able to immediately fix problems and do application rollups," Varnum said. "The workflow is very logical and easy to use, and because it pulls all of the data sources we need, we can get as granular as needed to isolate an issue."

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Weather Trends: July 2013

BY CSA STAFF

WTI expects that retail July 2013 will be cooler than last year’s scorching hot July. Despite cooler trends, it is still summer, and there will be some periods of hot weather around the 13th and 26th. The West will start the month off hot leading to stronger demand for hot weather categories like cold beverages, ice cream, pool supplies and air conditioners/fans. Much cooler temperatures and wetter weather in the Central U.S. will lift demand for school apparel. Cooler temperatures in July are actually more favorable for outdoor items like charcoal, but wetter weather may soften overall demand. Tropical activity will be subdued for much of the month, but by the last week of July, odds increase dramatically for at least one storm to form. Any storms that threaten land would likely be near the Gulf of Mexico with flooding rainfall the greatest threat.

Weather Trends International offers year-ahead business weather forecasts and intelligence to hundreds of major retailers and suppliers. It also supports many commodity and energy traders. Weather Trends International offers an unparalleled competitive advantage by helping its clients proactively plan for the weather up to a year in advance. For more information about the company and its services, contact Jack Grum at [email protected] or call 610-807-0118.

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