Neiman Marcus pilots ‘table commerce’
Dallas – “Table commerce” (or perhaps “t-commerce”) is not a widely recognized channel of customer engagement, but The Neiman Marcus Group just may change that. Neiman Marcus is piloting three interactive tables from T1Visions in its Austin, Chicago, and Topanga, California, locations.
The retail tables, prominently displayed in each store's shoe salon, feature a 32-inch Ultra HD 4K touch-screen, covered by a single continuous pane of glass that is customized in color per Neiman Marcus’ specifications. The touch-screens are powered by T1Visions’ OneShop application that allows customers to browse and filter Neiman Marcus’ in-store and out-of-store inventory.
Customers can add items to their “My Favorites for Wishlist,” which can be emailed with live product links to reference for immediate purchase or for later review. The software also supports a recommendation engine based on search results. For store associates, the table provides them with up-to-the-minute inventory beyond what is available in-store, including inventory that is coming soon. The touch tables can also be used as a tool to share trend information with shoppers.
The tables are currently in their first phase of OneShop, with additional updates scheduled to release early in 2015. Now that the tables have been deployed to the stores, T1Visions and Neiman Marcus will continue to test and refine the software, which can be updated remotely. The long-term vision for the retail table is to conduct transactions, ultimately functioning as an additional point of sale in the store that blends in-store shopping with the online experience.
The interactive retail table project began as a partnership between T1Visions and the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab (iLab). T1Visions worked with the iLab to align the project with Neiman Marcus’ standards and visual brand identity. The interactive retail table measures approximately 70-inches long, 34-inches tall, and 26-inches wide.
“Whether it’s a product in another store location or from our online inventory, our goal is to provide customers with omnichannel access to the best merchandise in the world,” said Wanda Gierhart, CMO, Neiman Marcus Group. “With our touch tables, we deliver another layer of exceptional customer service.”
Nook hits a new low for Barnes & Noble
Barnes and Noble Inc. saw a sharp decline in holiday sales in its Nook e-reader division, even as its retail segment showed small improvement.
The Nook segment (including digital content, devices and accessories), had sales of $56 million for the nine-week holiday period, decreasing 55% as compared to a year ago. Device and accessories sales were $28.5 million, a decrease of 68%. Digital content sales were $27.4 million, a decline of 25%.
Barnes & Noble is expected to spin off the Nook segment into a separate business in March.
The retail segment, which consists of the Barnes & Noble bookstores and BN.com, fared better with sales of $1.1 billion, increasing 0.2% from the prior year. The continued stabilization of physical book sales and growth in the educational toys and games and gift departments, as well as the 2014 holiday season extending into January, offset the sales decline from store closures. Excluding the impact of this timing difference, Barnes & Noble said holiday sales would have declined approximately 1.6% from the prior year.
“We were very pleased with our overall holiday sales results," said Michael P. Huseby, CEO of Barnes & Noble Inc. "Our core comparable bookstore sales were better than our expectations, even as we cycled against the improved core sales trends that began this period a year ago. Our retail booksellers performed at an outstanding level for our customers this holiday season, which is reflected in our results.”
“Core” same-store bookstore sales, which exclude sales of Nook products, increased 1.7%. Total comparable bookstore sales, including Nook products, declined 0.6%. Same-store sales comparisons are not impacted by the calendar timing difference.
Based on the better than expected retail core comparable bookstore sales performance, the company now expects full-year retail core same-store bookstore sales to be approximately flat.
Barnes & Noble is maintaining its previously issued outlook on total retail same-store bookstore sales to decline in the low-single digits and college same-store sales to decline in the low-single digits.
NRF urges passage of bill restoring 40-hour workweek for benefits
Washington, D.C. – The National Retail Federation has expressed its strong support for H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act, a bill that would restore the traditional 40-hour workweek standard for health benefits under the Affordable Care Act. The NRF sent a letter to each and every House office stating that all votes related to the bill would be considered “key votes” and factored into its annual legislative scorecard.
“Restoring the traditional 40-hour workweek would benefit employers and employees,” said NRF senior VP for government relations David French said. “It would return power to employers to establish and maintain healthcare benefit eligibility standards, protect full-time employees and benefit hourly employees with more hours, more income and greater opportunity to advance to full-time employment.”
The bipartisan bill was introduced the week of Jan. 5 by Reps. Todd Young (R-In). and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), along with their colleagues, Reps. Pete Olson, (R-Texas), Mike Kelly, (R-Pa.) and Tim Walberg, (R-Minn.) The bill, which would repeal the ACA’s definition of a 30-hour workweek, is expected to come to the House floor for a vote during the inaugural week of the 114th Congress.
A corresponding Senate bill, authored by Sens. Susan Collins, (R-Maine) and Joe Donnelly (D-In), will likely will be introduced this week.