LIGHTING/FLOORING/SIGNAGE

Grocery giant invests in exit signs that put high-tech spin on glow in the dark

BY Marianne Wilson

The Kroger Co. is installing cutting-edge exit signs as part of a $4 billion store- investment program.

The chain is deploying photoluminescent exit signs developed by Cincinnati start-up MN8 at all new and renovated stores nationwide. The LumAware signs differ from standard glow-in-the-dark products in that they also emanate light. The signs, which consumer no energy, eliminate the need for batteries, light bulbs, electricity or maintenance.

"It is estimated that Kroger will save over $6 million and reduce its carbon footprint by over 50 million pounds over the next 15 years by transitioning to LumAware EXIT signs," said Keith Oliver, VP of facility engineering at Kroger, which operates 2,778 supermarkets under a variety of banners.

The new signs are part of Kroger’s recently announced plan $4 billion investment to open new stores and expand or renovate older ones.

The LUMAware signs are being manufactured by people with severe vision loss at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired (CABVI).

"We use LumAware technology in our retail store locations because it aligns with our core value of safety and reinforces our commitment to give back to the communities we serve by providing job opportunities for people, especially those with disabilities," said Reuben Shaffer, chief diversity officer at Kroger.

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WORKFORCE

Six retail-related companies where people want to work … according to LinkedIn

BY CSA STAFF

The first-ever LinkedIn “Top Attractors” list of the most desirable companies to work is out, and several firms engaged in retail were included.

The list used proprietary LinkedIn data and examined actions of LinkedIn’s members to rank the top companies where people want to work now. The industries attracting the most job seekers in the U.S. include technology (45%), media and entertainment (13%), financial services (10%) and professional services (10%), among others. However, six of the companies ranked in the U.S. top 10 are retailers or have significant retail operations.

The most desirable company to work, Google, operates a large e-commerce marketplace. LinkedIn cited perks including on-site food, massages and guest speakers, as well as post-mortem benefits. Google also studies how to build teams and allows employees to work on important projects with other high achievers.

Facebook, ranked third, has a millennial CEO and offers four-month paid parental leave. The company also has strong revenue and offers the chance to work independently. Fourth-ranked Apple operates close to 500 stores globally as well as a direct-to-consumer business. The company provides most employees with restricted stock and is designing a new multibillion dollar corporate campus.

Fifth-ranked Amazon.com, the world’s largest e-commerce retailer, provides excellent salaries and such perks as the Amazon Career Choice Program, which pays 95% of tuition for in-demand fields. Microsoft, ranked seventh, operates more than 75 stores as well as a direct-to-consumer channel. Perks include an individualized career path, a corporate campus with numerous amenities, and career coaching, mentoring and training opportunities. Twitter, ranked ninth, is increasing the e-commerce capabilities of tweets and holds regular meetings between its leaders and employees to stress transparency.

Additionally, professionals point to notable CEOs, schedule flexibility and company growth as the most important attributes when considering where to work. While every company on the U.S. list fosters a certain culture, business model and leadership team, the list revealed some key themes. These include preferences for growth over revenue, well-known founding CEOs. And flexible work schedules.

LinkedIn partnered with Censuswide Research to carry out an online survey of 6,266 workers between May 18 and May 23, 2016. Countries surveyed were Australia, Brazil, France, India, U.K. and USA.

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ECOMMERCE

Nordstrom makes big e-commerce decision

BY CSA STAFF

Nordstrom Inc. has re-evaluated its near-term needs for e-commerce infrastructure.

The luxury retailer has decided to postpone the planned opening of a West Coast fulfillment center dedicated to fulfilling digital orders until 2020 or later.

For the past year, the cities of Visalia and Fresno, California, had both been in discussions with Nordstrom about serving as the site of the proposed center. However, the retailer sent the governments of both cities an identically worded letter signed by co-president Erik Nordstrom dated June 15, explaining why it has decided to put off opening the center for at least four years.

“Since our teams first met a year ago, the pace of change in retail has continued to increase,” states the letter. “What’s most important is to evolve our business to best serve our customers. We will continue to invest across our business to competitively position us for long-term success and to deliver the products and experiences customers want.”

The letter goes on to say that although Nordstrom is confident a “west coast fulfillment center will continue to be part of our longer-term plan,” it has re-evaluated the timing based on the “broader needs of our business in the current environment.” The retailer now does not think opening such a center would occur before 2020.

Two copies of the letter were sent – one addressed to Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and director of economic development Larry Westerlund and one to Visalia Mayor Steven Nelsen and City Manager Mike Olmos.

E-commerce accounted for 20% of Nordstrom’s sales in its most recent fiscal quarter, and the company has said it expects online sales to represent 30% of its business by 2020. The company also recently moved to make its loyalty program omnichannel.

However, Nordstrom also admitted to analysts in March 2016 that the costs of fulfilling online orders was cutting into profits. Presumably the retailer wants to wait until online sales pick up more before committing millions of dollars toward a new dedicated west coast fulfillment center.

This may be a wise move, but Amazon is rapidly opening e-commerce fulfillment centers across the country, including in Eastvale and Tracy, California. While Nordstrom waits for the e-commerce landscape to shift, Amazon is busy trying to steer its course.

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B.Penn says:
Jun-26-2016 01:44 am

Back to the Future for Nordstrom
It sounds to me like AMZN will be gobbling market share with its online platform while NORD tries to figure out how to make online sales less unprofitable. By 2020, NORD's west coast fulfillment centers won't be required. Instead, they may be looking at shutting down the fulfillment centers they currently run, citing 'a further erosion in profit margin from our online channel.' Stay tuned.

B.Penn says:
Jun-26-2016 01:44 am

It sounds to me like AMZN will be gobbling market share with its online platform while NORD tries to figure out how to make online sales less unprofitable. By 2020, NORD's west coast fulfillment centers won't be required. Instead, they may be looking at shutting down the fulfillment centers they currently run, citing 'a further erosion in profit margin from our online channel.' Stay tuned.

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