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Maurices teams with AT&T for new branded mobile app

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Duluth, Minn. — Apparel retailer Maurices said Thursday it has debuted a new mobile application designed to enhance its customers’ in-store shopping experience.

The app, introduced by AT&T and developed using Digby’s Localpointä Mobile Platform, allows the retailer to set virtual perimeters around its stores. Once a customer has the app on her smartphone, and accepts the use of location information, Maurices can send the shopper timely messages and offers via a push notification, alerting the user to noteworthy news about the specific store location as soon as she enters the store.

Shoppers can also use the app to scan product barcodes in the store, allowing them to read product descriptions and ratings.

Maurices has also introduced a new optimized mobile website, making it easier for customers to search, browse and buy via the retailer’s website, on their mobile phones.

“We know our customers are relying more and more on their smartphones for communication and information, and that their time is valuable,” said Brett Trent, VP e-commerce for dressbarn.com and Maurices.com. “With the new app and new mobile website, not only can we better communicate directly with our loyal shoppers, but we can also provide detailed, relevant information right at their fingertips, helping them to make informed purchasing decisions.”

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Supplier fair coming to Sam’s Club auditorium

BY CSA STAFF

Sam’s Club next week is set to hold the first of three unique supplier fairs designed to improve sourcing from women and minority owned firms.

The event is scheduled for April 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is designed to provide education on the Sam’s Club merchandising strategy, engage potential suppliers, strengthen relationships with diverse suppliers and identify product offerings relevant to the members that Sam’s Club serves.

“Through our Supplier Diversity Program, we can identify and provide business opportunities to the best suited suppliers who are ready to help us achieve three key objectives: to provide our members with products they want, to create jobs, and to improve the way of life in the communities we serve,” said Brian Graham, Sam’s Club VP merchandise solutions.

Participating suppliers must be U.S. privately held companies that are 51% owned and operated by women, minority individuals, veterans or people with disabilities. Each supplier will need to complete a questionnaire and meet the minimum requirements to determine eligibility to attend. Interested parties should contact ECRM Marketgate at (440) 498-0500 ext. 1143 or [email protected]

The Sam’s initiative is part of a larger effort on the part of Walmart to empower women across its supply chain. By the end of 2016, the company will source $20 billion from women-owned businesses in the United States and double sourcing from women suppliers internationally. Additionally, the company has committed to working with major professional service firms and merchandise suppliers with over $1 billion in sales to increase women and minority representation on Walmart accounts.

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Search for digital depth yields Google result

BY CSA STAFF

Much was made this week of the nomination of Google executive Marissa Mayer to the Walmart board and for good reason. She will add a new layer of depth and expertise to Walmart’s board, but she won’t be the only digital darling on the board.

Does the name Jim Breyer ring a bell? The partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel Partners became involved with Walmart in the late 1990s, and in early 2000 Accel invested in a joint venture with Walmart to accelerate development of its online efforts, which were being ridiculed at the time. Eighteen months later, Breyer was named to the Walmart board and the following months Accel’s stake in the dot com joint venture was acquired. He’s been on the board ever since.

It is also worth noting that at the time of the buyout, Greg Penner was promoted to SVP finance and operations at Walmart.com. If his name sounds familiar it is because he joined the Walmart board in 2008 and is Walmart chairman Rob Walton’s son-in-law. Penner brings some digital insights of his own to the board as he has served on the board of Chinese search engine giant Baidu Inc. since 2004 and is on the board of online dating site eHarmony.

With Breyer on the board for the past decade Walmart has gained a unique perspective on the digital world that Google’s Mayer will complement. For example, Breyer has served on the Facebook board since 2005 and owns a considerable stake in the company and he was also intimately familiar with Kosmix, a company Walmart acquired last year. Various Accel funds owned a 15.56% stake in Kosmix.

The perspective Mayer brings to the board is decidedly different, as she is an engineer who helped build Google and has served as VP local and maps at Google since 2010, according to Walmart’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. In her current role, Mayer leads the product management and engineering efforts of Google’s local, mobile, and location-based products including Google Maps, Google Maps for Mobile, Local Search, Google Earth, and Street View. Prior to assuming her current role with Google, Mayer had served as Google’s VP search products and user experience since 2005. Mayer, 36, enjoyed the distinction of being Google’s first female engineer in 1999 and during her career has been responsible for launching hundreds of products and features. She holds a bachelor’s degree in symbolic systems and a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University.

Through her experience at Google, she will bring to Walmart long-term experience in Internet product development, engineering, and brand management, according to the company. In addition, the board will benefit from Mayer’s expertise in governance and strategic planning gained through her experience on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations. She serves on the boards of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Ballet, the New York City Ballet and the Smithsonian Cooper – Hewitt, National Design Museum.

At 36 years of age, Mayer will become the youngest member of a Walmart board by a wide margin. Currently, 10 of the 16 directors are over the age of 60 and the next youngest director is Greg Penner, 42.

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