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Focusing on the store

BY Deena Amato-mccoy

“It is no secret that if consumers do not have an optimal shopping experience, they will leave your store,” said Cathy Hotka, principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates, Washington, D.C.

To avoid this issue at all costs, retailers are planning to attend the fourth annual Technology & Operations Store Summit (TOPSS), formerly the Global POS & Store Operations Summit, this fall. Here, they will learn how to implement excitement while simultaneously creating operational efficiency at store level.

The event, which features the theme “Where Technology & Operations Merge,” will be held Oct. 3-5, 2007, at the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa in Las Vegas. The conference, sponsored by Chain Store Age and Retail Technology Quarterly, expects to welcome a delegation comprised of retailers, suppliers, analysts and technology partners, all ready “to come and share business ideas,” said Hotka, who co-created the show program.

Unlike other events, TOPSS focuses on a “meeting” format that provides a relaxed environment that encourages intimate, serious discussions among peers. “This is the event that should have always been,” she explained.

“What retailers of all flavors talk about most is the ‘store’ and issues that affect store-level business,” Hotka said. “TOPSS is the only show that has ‘Store’ in the name, and focuses on the role logistics, supply chain and information technology play at store level. It clearly attracts a diverse cross section of people.”

This intimate meeting style also attracts a think tank of ideas that are not always possible at traditional trade shows. “The days of the large trade show are waning,” said Frank Riso, senior director, retail operations, retail industry solutions group for Holtsville, N.Y.-based Motorola. “This niche clearly offers more opportunities for sharing ideas and networking.”

Many of these ideas will surely be sparked during a strong session agenda. With an emphasis on the store, the show promises to educate attendees on the expected issues: point-of-sale, preparations for the PCI (payment-card industry) standard, loyalty and loss prevention. However, TOPSS puts a spin on the topics that challenge delegates to think outside the box when tackling these issues at their own organizations.

John Thompson, senior VP and general manager, BestBuy.com, will address this specific topic as he kicks off the event with his keynote, “Beyond the Box.”

Similarly, the show hopes to change the mind-set of how retailers regard loyalty.

“Loyalty is so much more than just carrying around a card. That is not loyalty,” Hotka explained.

“Retailers also have to understand the patterns of their shoppers by gender. Clearly, men and women shop very differently, but there are very loyal male shoppers,” she said. “The proper loyalty program will help chains understand their patterns and address the needs of all their customers.”

These are some of the points that retail panelists such as Ken Brame, CIO of AutoZone; Jim Osborne, VP, IT for REI, and Steve Streiffert, VP of IT for GameStop, will uncover during the session, “Loyalty for Guys.”

“During the session, I plan on discussing how AutoZone developed a loyalty program for our customers which happens to be comprised of a large male customer base,” Brame told RTQ. “I will also share how the program has been both successful and profitable for the company.”

While attendees will have their own individual agenda, TOPSS promises to deliver a common goal: “to get business leaders to share their passion about the store and the shopping experience,” Hotka said.

“These retailers are sure to energize each other,” she noted. “Discussing what makes them passionate about the store experience is what will enhance the pathway for growth.”

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Long lines greet iPhone debut

BY CSA STAFF

CUPERTINO, Calif. The long-awaited debut of Apple’s iPhone was greeted with long lines outside of Apple and AT&T stores on June 29 with some people camping out days to get one. Analysts expected Apple’s new smart phone to sell about 200,000 units during its first weekend in release.

The combination phone and Web browser is selling for $499 for a basic phone and $599 for a version with 8GB of memory. The sleek phone that’s operated with a touch screen also comes with an iPod and a camera. The phones are being sold exclusively at 166 Apple stores and 1,800 stores operated by service provider AT&T. Apple ceo Steve Jobs said he hopes to sell about 10 million iPhones during its first year on the market.

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CE vet Callahan passes on

BY CSA STAFF

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. CE veteran Phil Callahan died from what is believed to be a heart attack June 26 at the age of 57.

Callahan spent several years at Mitsubishi and also held positions at Sumiko, Hitachi and Princeton Graphics Systems. In June 2005 he founded a public relations and consulting firm named Callahan Public Relations and Consulting.

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