C-SUITE

Home improvement giants taps Neiman Marcus exec for supply chain post

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Lowe’s Cos. has appointed a 20-year retail veteran to lead supply chain field processes

Michael West will join Lowe's as senior VP of supply chain field operations, effective Sept. 25. He will report to chief supply chain officer Brent G. Kirby.

West joins Lowe's from Neiman Marcus, where he served on the company's leadership team as senior VP, supply chain. He led distribution, transportation and fulfillment for all brands in the Neiman Marcus Group.

Prior to Neiman Marcus, West was senior VP, global logistics and distribution at Ann, Inc. He also spent 12 years with Target Corp., where he held various leadership positions, including VP, global logistics.

In his new position, West will lead operations for Lowe's regional and flatbed distribution centers, millwork facilities and bulk distribution centers. He will be tasked with driving efficiency and flexibility to best meet the needs of customers.

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News

Online footwear startup to try out brick-and-mortar

BY Marianne Wilson

Birdies has gotten some new seed — seed funding that is.

The San Francisco startup, known for its stylish and comfortable house slippers, announced it has raised $2 million in seed funding. The round was led by Forerunner Ventures, the investors behind Jet.com and Dollar Shave Club, with participation from Slow Ventures, Graph Ventures, Social Capital and a few strategic individual investors.

Birdies plans to use the investment to accelerate brand growth through product expansion and increased marketing efforts. Additionally, the company will open its first store, on Union Street in San Francisco, this fall.

Birdies was launched in late 2015 by Bianca Gates, who previously spent five years leading retail partnerships at Facebook and Instagram, and Marisa Sharkey, former group VP of strategy at Ross Stores.The company specializes in fashionable-looking house slippers, or what it calls "true indoor' shoes." The chic slippers, which sell for $140, are lined with memory foam and arch support, with satin and faux shearling lining for softness, and rubber soles for indoor traction and outdoor wear.

"As evidenced by the number of early customers that have shared their own discovery of Birdies with friends, it's clear Bianca and Marisa have struck a chord in a somewhat forgotten, and certainly dated, category,” said Kirsten Green, founder and managing director of Forerunner Ventures. “We respect their founding story and are looking forward to being part of their team as they seize the potential to redefine indoor fashion with chic slippers."

"We love to entertain friends and family at home but could never find cozy footwear that made style sense and were also comfortable for around the house," said Gates, co-founder and CEO of Birdies. "Tired of running around barefoot, in our socks, or in frumpy slippers, we decided to leverage our design aesthetic and work with incredible manufacturers to solve this issue."

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ECOMMERCE

Study: Cash-free society could be here sooner than you think

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A cash-free economy could be here sooner than expected — and American consumers are leading the charge.

Slightly more than half (54%) of consumers in the United States expect to stop using cash for shopping by 2020, according to “Lost in Transaction,” a report from payments provider Paysafe. The study, conducted among 3,038 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, examines how cash is merging with digital formats.

There is already rapid movement in this direction, as 54% of American consumers only visit an ATM once a month, and one in seven said they rarely carry cash at all. Meanwhile, two thirds (63%) of people said they rely less on cash than they did a year ago.

American consumers are championing the adoption of new payment methods. In fact, 14% already use cryptocurrencies, and 31% use mobile wallets, such as Android Pay and Apple Pay. This high adoption rate is linked to the increased confidence U.S. consumers have in using their mobile phones for shopping (72%).

Despite leading the way in alternative payment technologies, Americans are still hanging onto some old-fashioned methods. For example, 50% having written a check in the last month, compared to 30% of British consumers, and 40% of Canadians.

The wider adoption of mobile wallets is likewise affected by concerns regarding people’s handsets. Nearly a third (30%) of American consumers said they worried about their phone being stolen, while a quarter did not even want to take their cell phone out to pay. This is despite nearly three fourths (72%) saying they are increasingly confident about using their phone for shopping, according to the study.

“Today, the American consumer experience is defined by a huge diversification of choice – in retail options, services delivery and payment methods,” said Joseph Daly, COO, Paysafe payments processing, North America.

“As consumer acceptance of a cash-free society grows, businesses are challenged to reimagine the shopping experience to allow for behaviors and payment models unthinkable a decade ago,” he added. “In a rapidly transforming landscape, the merchants who survive will have invested early in emerging technologies that enable them to meet a range of customer payments preferences and quell security concerns – from cash and debit cards to mobile payments and eventually biometrics and cryptocurrencies.”

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