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Harris Poll: The retail brands of the year are…

BY Marianne Wilson

The Harris Poll has released its 29th annual study of America’s top brands, and Kohl’s is one of the retail brands on top.

Kohl’s earned the top position in the department store category of the poll, in which more than 100,000 U.S. consumers assessed more than 4,000 brands across more than 450 categories.

Other retailers named as Brands of the Year included:

Luxury department store: Nordstrom

Off-price: TJ Maxx

Electronics store: Best Buy

Footwear: DSW

Sporting goods: Dick’s Sporting Goods

Coffee & quick-serve restaurant: Starbucks

Hardware and home store: The Home Depot

This year’s poll revealed that in a country facing a “values chasm,” Americans are rallying around brands aligned with their personal values.

“Age is certainly a driver of liberal versus conservative values, but there are other fundamental differences suggesting that there is less a divide based on age alone,” said Joan Sinopoli, VP of brand solutions at The Harris Poll. “It’s more of a divide based on ideologies and world views, and we see those values played out for politically and socially active brands.”

Based on consumer response, Harris Poll’s 29th annual EquiTrend Study measures brand health and utilizes a “brand equity index” that is comprised of three factors: familiarity, quality and purchase consideration. Each brand receives an equity rating. Brands ranking highest in equity receive the “Brand of the Year” award for their respective categories.

The full Harris Poll EquiTrend Brands of the Year list can be found here.

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Quick-service giant reaches for the cloud — Amazon’s cloud

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s cloud computing platform is helping Dunkin’ Brands secure its customer-facing processes.

Dunkin’ Brands, parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, migrated its mobile applications, e-commerce websites, and key corporate IT infrastructure applications from on-premises infrastructure to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform. The transition is designed to help the brand increase scalability, reliability, availability, security, reduce costs, and improve the digital experience for customers across both brands.

The company has a number of digital customer-facing applications, such as its mobile apps and e-commerce websites, which Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins customers frequently use to review the menu, order ahead, and redeem rewards, pay for orders or send virtual gift cards.

In addition to providing high performance, reliability, and security across these touch points, AWS has enabled Dunkin’ Brands to maintain high availability during peaks in usage. For example, key events such as National Donut Day and popular timeframes such as the holiday season drive significant volume peaks across these key applications.

However, it was increasingly difficult to predict and manage the on-premises capacity needed to provide an optimal digital experience for its guests during these times. AWS solves the issue, since support easily and reliably scales up and down as needed. The company has also migrated internal corporate IT infrastructure applications to AWS to reduce costs and increase availability, according to Dunkin’ Brands.

The company began its migration to AWS with development and test workloads and websites. After benefiting from lower costs, faster innovation rates, and improved reliability, Dunkin’ Brands migrated critical, customer-facing and corporate IT infrastructure applications, according to AWS.

“Our mobile applications and digital properties are an absolutely critical way through which we reach our customers, and they must be secure, available, and high performing at all times,” said Santhosh Kumar, VP, infrastructure, data security and privacy at Dunkin’ Brands. “We selected AWS as our cloud infrastructure provider for these key business applications due to the depth and breadth of the AWS services, and their experience in securely managing enterprise applications.”

AWS also provides Dunkin’ with redundancy that helps the chain meet its goals of high reliability and availability, robust security and optimal performance for our applications, and the ability to quickly add capacity on demand when needed, Kumar added.

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Office supplies chain sheds more of its international businesses

BY Marianne Wilson

Office Depot continues to make good on its promise to focus on its North American business.

The company announced it has reached an agreement to sell its business in Australia and New Zealand to Platinum Equity, a global private equity firm. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval in each country and is expected to close within the next several months.

Office Depot had previously disclosed its intention to sell substantially all of its international businesses under a process that began in 2016. Earlier this year, the chain completed the sale of its European operations to The Aurelius Group.

“I’m very pleased that we were able to reach a favorable agreement to sell the Australia and New Zealand businesses to Platinum Equity,” said Gerry Smith, CEO, Office Depot. “The proceeds from this transaction will further enhance our financial flexibility as we focus on our strategic initiatives to grow our North American business.”

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