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IBM extends Smarter Commerce line with three new offerings

BY Staff Writer

San Diego — IBM on Tuesday at its Smarter Commerce Global Summit announced three new cloud and on-premise offerings designed to help organizations respond automatically to shifting consumer business trends. The new solutions — Commerce-as-a-Service and Social Media Marketing — combine technology from key acquisitions of Unica, Coremetrics and Sterling Commerce with IBM research and development to help companies intelligently automate supplier and trading partner interactions, automatically turn marketplace insights into marketing and sales actions and connect online, mobile and social channels to physical stores.

The IBM Smarter Commerce initiative is focused on helping companies more effectively market, sell and secure greater customer loyalty in the era of social networking, mobile computing and online buying.

Smarter Commerce allows customers to shop or buy easily regardless of medium, channel or device," said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM Industry Solutions. "Informed by deep customer insights, companies can provide a personalized customer experience that feels like a service to consumers.

The new offerings are extensions of IBM’s existing Smarter Commerce line of solutions and services.

IBM also announced the launch of a new Global Center of Competence for Smarter Commerce. The new Center of Competence will be part of IBM Global Business Services and is comprised of highly skilled Smarter Commerce consulting experts who will help clients worldwide solve their most complex buying, marketing, selling and servicing business problems.

Additionally, IBM Global Business Services is introducing three new "quick-start" Smarter Commerce accelerator offerings. These new service offerings include rapid consulting engagements that help clients define measurable business outcomes they can achieve through Smarter Commerce and a roadmap to achieve them.

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NRF launches year-long advocacy campaign

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation has announced a major year-long campaign to help support the retail industry and the jobs it helps create.A centerpiece of the campaign – which will include lobbying, grassroots, advertising, social media, earned media and more – is www.RetailMeansJobs.com, an interactive web site and action center designed to encourage engagement on behalf of the retail community’s agenda. The web site houses new research conducted for NRF by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which shows that retail directly and indirectly supported nearly one in four U.S. jobs and provided 18% of GDP in 2009.

“The retail industry supports a quarter of our nation’s jobs and will continue to be at the forefront of our economic recovery,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “This campaign aims to ensure that we do everything possible as a nation to support the vitality of the retail sector, in order to create jobs and continue to foster U.S. innovation and competitiveness.”

NRF’s campaign will include:

  • Grassroots activation of retail businesses, employees and consumers in hundreds of communities and congressional districts across the country, including an open letter to the retail industry to urge participation

  • Outreach to Congress to highlight the value of retail to the U.S. economy and jobs

  • Advertising in multiple media including print, radio and online

  • A viral campaign to showcase the “Faces of Retail” by engaging consumers and employees in a video contest to be launched in 2012

  • The release of new research that measures retail’s unique role as the nation’s most significant driver of jobs, innovation and consumer value

  • A unique social media campaign including a viral video, with heavy emphasis on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

  • An international push to highlight the importance of retail to the global economy

“With direct daily contact with U.S. consumers in every congressional district around the country, retailers have an untapped advocacy potential larger than any industry in the nation and we want to unleash that potential state by state,” said Shay.

NRF’s campaign also seeks corporate tax reform, passage of pending free trade agreements, steps to make it easier for foreign visitors to obtain visas so they can travel to the United States and shop in U.S. stores, leveling the playing field for sales tax collection by passing the Main Street Fairness Act, modernizing aging transportation infrastructure that slows down the retail supply chain and drives up costs, repeal or delay of a health care employer mandate that would force job cuts, and protecting consumer privacy while promoting innovations like mobile marketing.

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A tale of two toy lists

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. andWAYNE, N.J. — While most consumers have barely started making Halloween plans, the retail industry is looking ahead to the holiday season and predicting what they think will be the most popular toys this year.

Toys“R”Us and Kmart both announced their top toy lists for the holiday season detailed below:

Toys"R"Us

  1. Air Hogs Hyper Actives from Spin Master

  2. Air Swimmers eXtreme from Animal Planet

  3. Lalaloopsy Silly Hair dolls from MGA Entertainment

  4. LeapPad Explorer from LeapFrog

  5. Monster High Fearleading 3-Pack from Mattel

  6. Moshi Monsters Moshling 3-Pack Mini-Figures from Spin Master

  7. My Keepon from Wow! Stuff

  8. Nerf Vortex Vigilon from Hasbro

  9. Ninjago Lightning Dragon Battle from Lego Systems Inc.

  10. Poppin’ Park Elefun Busy Ball Popper from Playskool

  11. Power Wheels Dune Racer from Fisher-Price

  12. Radica Fijit Friends from Mattel

  13. Sesame Street Let’s Rock! Elmo from Hasbro

  14. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure from Activision

Kmart

  1. Let’s Rock! Elmo

  2. Fijit

  3. I am T-Pain Microphone

  4. Barbie Designable Hair Extensions and Doll

  5. Lite Sprites Lite Wand, Prisma and Pod

  6. Redakai Championship Battle Tin

  7. FurReal Friends Cookie My Playful Pup

  8. Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster

  9. Mini Lalaloopsy Treehouse Playset

  10. WWE Colossal Crashdown Arena

  11. Transformers Mechtech Ultimate Optimus Prime

  12. LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet

  13. Lazer Stunt Chaser R/C Vehicle

  14. Simon Flash

Consumers looking to comparison shop will notice that both companies have the LeapPad, Nerf Vortex, Fijit and Let’s! Rock Elmo on their top toy lists. This could be a concern for Toys"R"Us as Kmart’s more aggressive pricing strategy may lure cost-conscious consumers into its stores, especially if they know they can get at least a few of this year’s hot toys for less. Where Toys"R"Us can thrive is in the area of exclusives, several of which appear on its top toy list.

“There are so many really terrific new toys available this year, so narrowing down the list of top toys was fun, but challenging,” said Karen Dodge, SVP, chief merchandising officer for Toys“R”Us, U.S. “The Toys“R”Us 2011 Holiday Hot Toy List highlights what we expect will be the most sought-after items this holiday season and the ones that will yield squeals of delight when kids tear off the wrapping paper on Christmas morning.”

Toys"R"Us may be the leading toy retailer, but mass-merchandisers like Kmart continue to gain market share.

“Brands have told us that being chosen for our (toy list) creates an increased demand for the toys on the list,” said Hugo Malan, SVP and president, fitness, sporting goods and toys. “And customers are thrilled that we’re helping them identify the toys that will be the next holiday craze.”

As the holiday season approaches, additional retailers will look to challenge Toys"R"Us’ authority with their own top toy lists.

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