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John Lewis, Birmingham, United Kingdom

BY CSA STAFF
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British retailer John Lewis has opened one of its largest department stores ever, in the just-opened Grand Central shopping center in Birmingham.

The four-level, 250,000-sq.-ft. department store has a strikingly contemporary design and features several new services and concepts, including a new fashion and lifestyle department, loved&found, and the first John Lewis-branded spa, &Beauty. There is also a market stall-styled food offering, The Place to Eat.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, said that the new store sends a clear message that “physical shops remain as important to us as they do to our customers.”

John Lewis operates 45 John Lewis shops across the United Kingdom, 32 department stores, 11 John Lewis at home and shops as well as Johnlewis.com.

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OPERATIONS

Walmart cuts 450 jobs at headquarters

BY Mike Troy

The importance of expense control at Walmart became evident on Friday when the retailer confirmed it planned to eliminate 450 positions as part of a broader restructuring effort.

The long-rumored cuts were detailed in an internal memo with the subject line “a company positioned for the future,” that Wal-Mart Stores, president and CEO Doug McMillon distributed to the company’s home office employees on Friday, Oct. 2. Approximately 18,000 employees work at Walmart’s complex of buildings in Bentonville and neighboring Rogers, Arkansas, so the elimination of 450 positions represents a 2.5% reduction in force.

McMillon said the decision “impacts people we care about,” but noted that the structure changes that will make the company a more nimble organization that serves customers better.

“Our customers are changing, retail is changing and we must change," according to McMillon. "We need to become a more agile company that can easily adapt to shifting customer demand. After months of evaluation, we’ve concluded there is an opportunity to better position our home office teams to move with speed and purpose,” “This is an important time in our history -– requiring all of us to think critically about our business and not be afraid to challenge the status quo. For the company, this in part means pulling back in some areas and investing in others.”

Additional details on areas of investment and reduction were not immediately available.

While the elimination of 450 positions is sizable, Walmart took more extreme measures in early 2009 at the beginning of the Great Recession when it eliminated 800 positions. The company also eliminated 300 positions in 2010.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

And the top omnichannel retailers are …

BY Dan Berthiaume

Retailers wondering who among their peers is an omnichannel leader have an answer.

The new Omnichannel Retail Index from the National Retail Federation and e-digital consultancy FitforCommerce identifies the top performers among 120 retailers in several key areas of omnichannel commerce. The areas include showing in-store product availability, multidevice/platform shopping experience, email and loyalty marketing programs, delivery to customer, and customer returns.

In the area of showing in-store product availability, the top retailers are BJ’s, GameStop, Lowe’s, PetSmart and Staples. Only 50% of retailers note in-store product availability online and 49% enable mobile lookup of online inventory.

Leaders in multidevice/platform experience (mobile optimization, saved cart, in-store service) are Apple, Ikea and Macy’s. Ninety-five percent of retailers have mobile-optimized sites and 84% save a cart between platforms, but only 26% offer in-store WiFi and 12% offer an email receipt for in-store purchases.

For email and loyalty marketing programs, Bloomingdale’s, Crocs, H&M and Kay Jewelers have the highest rankings. While 81% of retailers offer in-store loyalty program sign-up, only 54% mobile-optimize email and 48% have an online/offline loyalty program, with even lower rates for online email sign-up incentives (40%) and collecting email addresses in-store (39%).

Two luxury retailers – Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, and a big box DIY retailer – The Home Depot, perform best in customer delivery. Seventy-seven percent of retailers provide home shipping for in-store purchases and 58% provide free shipping. Far less common are offerings such as buy online pickup in store (BOPIS – 28%) and BOPIS for mobile purchases (26%).

Top retailers for customer returns are Aldo, Cabela’s and Target. Almost all retailers accept in-store returns (93%) have store associates who can handle returns (89%), and note return policies on receipt (84%). Buy online return in store (BORIS) is fairly common (70%), but less so for mobile purchases (51%). Almost half (49%) provide free shipping.

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