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The Omnichannel Executive: Beyond E-Commerce

BY CSA STAFF

By Suzy Stewart, DHR International

It appears that 2010 was a real turning point for retailers going to the outside to find experienced and talented omnichannel executives.

As online shopping surges, with no retreat in sight, Retailers are realizing the urgency of adapting their organizational strategy and talent to accommodate the shifting demand toward the digital, omnichannels, and anxiously anticipating the next new technologies on the horizon.The new world of the omnichannel is much more than just web sales. True innovators understand the bigger picture in needing to leverage technology for the absolute and seamless integration of strategies for branding, drive to store, efficient and targeted marketing, loyalty, customer service, distribution and more.

Experienced teams are being sought out and recruited to build and manage these functions, while they revolutionize complex inventory management, establish new distribution centers/supply chain, and tackle the inevitable logistical puzzles that come with implementing and updating new channels.

The message is clear that the omnichannel is not merely another channel, but in fact the future of retail; and those who fail to embrace it can expect to be left behind.

In order to effectively compete for the digital dollar, retailers will have to face the music and understand the need to establish clear career pathing strategies to recruit, grow, develop and support these new age innovators. Companies will also have to determine where the new and increasingly blurring roles of marketing, analytics, planning, social media and mobile will sit within their organizational structure, and how they will ultimately shape their omnichannel strategies.

The meteoric rise of the omnichannel is a reflection of today’s ever changing technology and culture.The big question today is: where to find the webby – techies who can fully relate to the culture and needs of bricks & mortar, yet appreciate and embrace the future technologies of the omnichannel.

This is very similar to the mid 2000’s when retailers were forced to go outside the industry in order to find experienced brand building marketers. Once inside, the CPG-revered marketers often felt like fish out of water, as they encountered the then-existing culture of the merchant prince and advertising/sales promotion teams, who often didn’t understand or appreciate what the marketers were recruited in to do.

Today, retail giants like Walgreen’s, Target Corp., J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart Stores, and Kohl’s Corp. are all in the process of bringing in new leadership for their digital/e-commerce teams, as are smaller luxury brands such as Sur La Table, David Yurman and Coach.

In case any remain unconvinced of the necessity of digital sales, Internet giants like Amazon.com are there to remind them as they aggressively expand to new platforms and siphon off more and more online purchasers.

Suzy Stewart is an executive VP and senior retail and e-commerce specialist at DHR International, a Top 5 retained executive search firm. She is in the firm’s New York office.

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Growth story intact at Dick’s

BY CSA STAFF

PITTSBURGH — Forty new Dick’s Sporting Good stores are slated to open this year as the company remains undaunted by a weak fourth-quarter same-store sales performance at U.S. stores brought on by warmer than normal weather.

“In the fourth quarter, we generated record earnings, maintained an exceptionally strong balance sheet with our cash balance growing $188 million, initiated our first ever dividend, and announced a 12-month share repurchase program,” said Dick’s chairman and CEO Ed Stack. “In 2012, we will continue to build on our momentum as we profitably grow the business with earnings expected to increase approximately 18% to 19%, while simultaneously investing in key strategic areas including new stores, e-commerce, inventory management systems and private brands.”

Dick’s said its fourth-quarter same-store sales were essentially flat at 0.1%, but noted that new store expansion enabled total sales to increase 6.1% to $1.6 billion. The weak comps performance was due to a 2.5% decline at Dick’s full line stores where unusually warm winter weather hurt sales of cold weather products, partially offset by a 9% increase at Golf Galaxy stores and 52% increase in online sales. Dick’s opened six new stores during the fourth quarter.

In terms of profit, the company said net income increased 27% to $111 million or 88 cents a share which was at the high end of the company’s expectations that had been downwardly revised slightly in early January when it became evident warm weather was negatively impacting sales.

Dick’s ended its fiscal year on January 28 with 480 Dick’s full line stores and 81 Golf Galaxy stores and the company is looking to add 40 new Dick’s stores and relocate four others. The additional square footage and expectations for full-year same-store sales in the range of 2% to 3% are expected to yield earnings per share in the range of $2.38 to $2.41.

If the company hits the mid-point of that range it will be a more than 18% increase from the $2.02 in adjusted earnings per share the company reported this year on total sales that advanced 7% to $5.2 billion. Dick’s ended the year with no borrowings under its revolving credit facility and $734 million in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet compared to $546 million the prior year.

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Giant-Carlisle goes mobile

BY CSA STAFF

CARLISLE, Pa. — A supermarket chain in the Northeast is the latest to enter the mobile application game.

Giant Food Stores, based in Carlisle, Pa., announced the launch of a mobile app for iPhone and Android devices that it said syncs with a customer’s BonusCard, provides access to an online account and allows customers to check point totals for Gas Extra Rewards and A+ School Rewards and view personalized savings offers.

"More customers are relying on the convenience that technology can offer, and we are committed to bringing that innovation to our customers and to our stores," Giant president Rick Herring said. "The launch of a mobile app is a natural extension to the suite of technologies we currently offer in store."

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