FINANCE

Microsoft making $300 million investment in Barnes & Noble’s Nook

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Microsoft Corp. and Barnes & Noble have entered into an agreement by which Microsoft will invest $300 million in Barnes & Noble’s digital-book (Nook) business and college texts unit.

With the arrangement, Barnes & Noble’s digital and college businesses will become a new, still-to-be-named subsidiary in which Barnes & Noble holds an 82.4% stake and Microsoft owns 17.6%. The agreement also means the two companies have settled their patent dispute.

As part of the move, there will be a Nook application included in the new Windows 8, scheduled to have a release preview in early June.

The agreement comes after the companies feuded over the Nook. Microsoft in 2011 sued Barnes & Noble and the manufacturers of the Nook, charging the device infringed on its patents. As part of the new arrangement, the two companies settled their dispute. Going forward, Barnes & Noble and the new subsidiary will have a royalty-bearing license under Microsoft’s patents for the Nook.

“Microsoft’s investment in [the new subsidiary], and our exciting collaboration to bring world-class digital reading technologies and content to the Windows platform … will allow us to significantly expand the business," Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said in a statement.

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SUPPLY CHAIN

Charming Shoppes selects Oracle Retail to drive cross-channel growth, improve inventory management

BY Marianne Wilson

Redwood Shores, Calif. — Charming Shoppes has selected Oracle Retail to drive growth across its multiple platforms and brands. The retailer said it will use Oracle Retail applications to deploy a modern technology platform that helps transform its merchandising supply chain and store operations to reduce the total cost of ownership of hardware, software and support while enabling a better shopping experience for customers across channels and brands.

"Oracle Retail will help us improve our internal processes, analysis and decision making to manage inventory and deliver assortments that provide a variety of choices for our targeted segments, so we may offer her trend-right, fashion-appropriate, and quality apparel with consistent, great fit offered in multichannels,” said Michael Barrett, CIO and VP, Charming Shoppes, Bensalem, Pa., whose brands include Lane Bryant, Lane Bryant Outlet, Fashion Bug and Catherines Plus Sizes.

Charming Shoppes will use Oracle Retail’s merchandise operations management application to obtain a single, comprehensive source of consistent and accurate data delivered on a proven, scalable platform.

In addition, the retailer will use Oracle Retail’s stores solutions application to improve cross-channel sales capabilities, gain better access to information and deliver a consistent, personalized experience at customer touch points.

The company will also implement Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle, E-Business Suite and Oracle Database as part of its strategy to better serve customers and streamline operations across all its brands.

"Charming Shoppes is establishing a platform that will allow them to deliver an exceptional customer service experience for each of its brands," said Mike Webster, senior VP and general manager, Oracle Retail. "By selecting Oracle Retail, Charming Shoppes will gain additional insight and control to optimize performance across all locations."

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OPERATIONS

Report: Millennial shoppers hard hit by economic downturn

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Millennial shoppers (consumers ages 18-34) now represent the highest percentage of Americans who do not have enough money to cover their basic needs according to WSL/Strategic Retail, a leading authority on shopper behavior and retail trends. The finding, which noted that nearly 25% of this young adult market say they are not able to make ends meet – as compared with 17% of adults ages 35-54, and only 13% of those age 55 and over – was revealed as part of the company’s How America Shops MegaTrends report, Moving On 2012.

“The young adult market has always been known for being the most fashion forward, first to respond to trends and first to adopt to new retail channels,” said Candace Corlett, president of WSL/Strategic Retail. “But they’re also the group that’s been hit hardest by the economic recession, which has left them struggling to find jobs and pay down student loan debt.”

Wendy Liebmann, CEO of the company continued: “This decline in millennial spending power presents a significant challenge to brands and retailers who have long considered young adults to be the ‘golden ticket’ to sales growth. Businesses must begin rethinking their strategy to lure these shoppers to buy. At the same time, they must reevaluate the power of this generation to support new brands and stores.”

The How America Shops MegaTrends report, Moving On 2012, found that 80% of millennials believe it’s important to get the lowest price on most things, and 60% are likely to choose a lower priced brand over their usual, if they can save money. It also found that 57% of the demographic make a point to search online for discounts before shopping, and 63% are now sticking to only those brands and stores they know they can afford.

The findings gain significance when compared with results of the 2010 MegaTrends study, showing a full 10% increase in those who now make getting the lowest price a priority – even over long-held brand loyalty.

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