OPERATIONS

NRF: Proposed regulatory relief must go further

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation welcomed plans announced by the Obama Administration Tuesday to streamline hundreds of government regulations, but said the plan does not go far enough.

“This is a step in the right direction but at the same time the Administration is promising to reduce regulations, the government is continuing to crank out new rules that hamper the ability of the business community to create desperately needed new jobs,” NRF senior VP for government relations David French said. “It’s time to stop the presses at government agencies and on Capitol Hill and focus on reform of what’s already on the books.”

French cited examples such as pending regulations proposed by the National Labor Relations Board that would make it easier for unions to win organizing elections, rules under health care reform that will force many employers to reduce their workforces in order to meet the increased payroll costs of government-mandated health coverage, trade barriers on textiles and apparel, OSHA recordkeeping requirements and the Commerce Department’s agenda for consumer privacy rules that could curtail improvements to online shopping.

President Obama signed an executive order in January requiring federal agencies to review business regulations and streamline or eliminate them where possible. The Administration Tuesday unveiled a package of regulations that have been identified for action, and said businesses would “likely” save $10 billion over the next five years.

“We’ve been presented with a package of rules the Administration says should be streamlined, but it’s vital that what has been proposed actually be accomplished,” French said.

In addition to reducing government regulation, French said the Administration should focus on assisting employers, especially small businesses, with regulatory compliance rather than aggressively pursuing fines and penalties.

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REAL ESTATE

Italian brand to makes U.S. retail debut

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Italian handbag maker Piero Guidi will open its first retail location in the United States, in New York City’s Soho district. The Soho store will be the company’s fourth standalone store outside of Italy, following openings in China, Japan and Hong Kong.

The 1,800-sq.-ft. space, designed by Thomas McKay, is strongly influenced by Urbino, Italy, the birthplace of the brand. McKay’s design for the store references Urbino’s famed Studiolo workshop in the city’s Palazzo Ducale, through the use of classic proportions that are at once cleanly modern and also evocative to Urbino’s rich Renaissance history. The brand’s emblem of two embracing angels, a symbol of positivity and exuberance, will figure prominently in the store’s flooring.

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OPERATIONS

Macy’s tops among specialty retailers in Digital IQ Index

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Macy’s took the top spot in the annual Digital IQ Index, which ranks retailers according to their online competence. The index measured the digital footprint of 64 brands via 350 data points across four dimensions: Site, Digital Marketing, Social Media, and Mobile. Based on these scores, each brand was assigned a Digital IQ and a corresponding class of Genius, Gifted, Average, Challenged, or Feeble. While 37% of the brands in the Index were classified as Gifted, only Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and Nordstrom earned the Genius distinction.

The ranking was developed by NYU Stern Professor of Marketing Scott Galloway with L2 in partnership with Buddy Media.

The top ranked brands in the study were:

  1. Macy’s
  2. Victoria’s Secret
  3. Nordstrom
  4. Sephora (tied)
  5. Urban Outfitters (tied)
  6. Threadless.com
  7. Bluefly
  8. Bloomingdales (tied)
  9. Gilt Groupe (tied)
  10. Pottery Barn (tied)

Key findings include:

  • Facebook presence has become the price of entry as every brand has developed their own fan page; however there still remains a significant opportunity to monetize Facebook communities as only four brands developed fully-functional Facebook storefronts.
  • For most specialty retail brands, mobile has become synonymous with the iOS (iPhone/iPad) platform. Despite the Android platform’s enormous and steadily growing market share, only 5% of brands in the Index have Android apps; likewise, only one brand’s mobile site is optimized for Blackberry.
  • Sixty-seven percent of brands have mobile sites, almost triple the number from 2010; 88% are e-commerce enabled.

“In Q1 2011 e-commerce grew more than twice the pace of overall retail," Galloway said. "Digital competence and mastery of mobile and social platforms will likely result in a bifurcation in retail between the haves (digitally competent) and have-nots (digitally challenged).”

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