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On heels of Equifax incident, retailers cite need for uniform data breach law

BY Marianne Wilson

The National Retail Federation is once again making the case for a new federal law on data breach notifications.

Citing the recent breach at the Equifax credit reporting agency, National Retail Federation and other industry associations are telling Congress that any new federal law on data breach notification should apply to all industries that handle consumer data.

“The fact is that hackers do not discriminate as to the type of business they attack,” NRF and the other groups said in a letter to House and Senate leadership of both parties. “Every industry sector – whether consumer-facing or business-to-business – faces data security threats that may put consumer data at risk.”

“To protect customers and ensure effective public policy, Congress should ensure that any federal breach notification law applies to all affected sectors and leaves no holes in our system for some industries that criminals can exploit,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by NRF, NRF’s National Council of Chain Restaurants, and associations representing convenience stores, truck stops, gasoline stations, grocers, real estate agents, franchises and the travel industry.

Citing the 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, the letter noted that the financial services industry accounts for 24.3% of all data breaches while retail represents only 4.8%. More than 80% of all breaches take place in industries other than those signing the letter.

The letter asked for a uniform national law to replace existing state laws, reasonable data security standards, Federal Trade Commission enforcement, and a requirement that all breached entities be obligated to notify consumers when they suffer a breach of sensitive information that creates a risk of identity theft or financial harm.

NRF has long called for a uniform federal data breach law to replace separate and often-conflicting laws in 48 states and the District of Columbia that are confusing for consumers and create compliance challenges for multi-state retailers. NRF believes that the new federal law should cover banks, card processors, telecommunications companies and all other entities that handle sensitive consumer data, not just retailers.

By contrast, banks and other industries have pushed for breach notification legislation that would subject retailers to stringent bank-style security rules while banks themselves would be subject only to discretionary guidance.

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ECOMMERCE

Study: Amazon influences how shoppers research merchandise online

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is expanding into one of the go-to destinations for product discovery.

This was according to “Amazon: The Big E-Commerce Marketing Opportunity for Brands,” a report from Kenshoo. The study is based on 3,100 consumers in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom and France.

According to the study, Amazon is moving beyond its reputation as the biggest online marketplace in the United States, and playing a bigger role in people’s shopping journeys. For example, more consumers visit a broad list of online sources when researching information prior to a purchase. For 72% of shoppers, Amazon is a top resource for product discovery and research. This is second only to Google (85%).

For 56% of customers, Amazon is the very first site they visit when researching merchandise. Even if shoppers find a product elsewhere online, 51% usually check Amazon to find alternative ideas, compare prices, or gather more information before making a purchase, the study reported.

Amazon also augments research that shoppers conduct in physical stores. In fact, 26% of customers admit to checking Amazon for alternatives, background information, and prices when they find a potential purchase in a physical store.

According to the report, most consumers are attracted to Amazon as their go-to research resource based on the sheer breadth of products that the online retailer carries. Amazon’s customer recommendations also help customers make a purchase decision. Specifically, 23% will sneak a peek at Amazon recommendations under the “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” and “Customers who bought this brand also shopped for” categories while researching products.

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FINANCE

Experiential retailer in store closings

BY Marianne Wilson

High-end bath, kitchen and appliance retailer Pirch is focusing on its California roots for future growth.

The company, famed for its "try before you buy" experiential showroom format, is closing up to six of its 10 locations in an overhaul that will see it focus primarily on its four California stores (Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs and Orange County) and such customers as architects, builders and interior designers. Pirch's stores in Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta are due to close Sept. 30, reported Bloomberg. Also closing on that date is its store in Austin, Texas, which opened in May.

“Pirch has made the strategic decision to refocus its footprint and pace of expansion,” stated a Perch company spokesperson. “Our California stores are performing well and profitable, and we remain focused on growth in this region. In other regions, Pirch is currently in discussions with landlords and has begun the process of closing certain locations that have not met our expectations."

Although numerous reports said Pirch is also closing its flagship in Manhattan's SoHo, the company spokesperson told Chain Store Age the location is performing well and has a strong customer following. Pirch is evaluating its plans for the SoHo location, with a decision expected in the next few weeks, according to the spokesperson.

Going forward, Pirch will emphasize its core business of serving the design resource community (architects, builders, interior designers, and the like). "These have been the most impactful customers and have driven the company’s success in Southern California," the company spokesperson said. 


Pirch emphasized that all customer orders will be satisfied and shipped as planned from all stores. It also struck a positive note about its future.

"We remain confident that our unique business model will be successful on a more focused scale and we are committed to delivering on our founding mission of providing customers exciting new ways to shop for the home through our innovative multi-brand immersion experience," the company spokesperson stated.

Pirch offers a curated collection of premier appliance brands in an interactive environment that allows customers to "test drive" many of the items. Multiple vignettes are featured, showing cooktops, ovens, refrigerators and grills, as well as working showers, sinks and bathtubs. Many of the stores feature a working test kitchen where recipes are by a visiting chef or special events are held.

In July 2016, Pirch opened its largest location, a 32,000-sq.-ft. flagship in an historic, former ironworks building in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. The store offered complimentary on-site cooking classes, and had two on-site live demo kitchens, one set up as an indoor kitchen and the other as an outdoor one.

In February, Pirch was named one of the 10 most innovative companies in retail, "for bringing the appliance store to life," in an annual ranking by Fast Company. And in June, it made Inc. Magazine's"25 Most Disruptive Companies of the Year" list.

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