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Phishing attack exposes grocery chain employee data

BY CSA STAFF

The latest retail security breach may have exposed personal information of workers, rather than customers. According to The Denver Channel, a payroll employee of Phoenix-based, 220-plus-store Sprouts Farmers Markets provided W-2 tax form information from an unspecified number of the retailer’s personnel in response to a request in a fraudulent “phishing” email claiming to be from a company executive. The FBI and IRS are investigating the breach with cooperation from Sprouts. [The Denver Channel]

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Online jewelry retailer continues mall expansion with ‘Webroom’ format

BY Mike Troy

Online fine jeweler Blue Nile is set to open its first physical location outside of New York City in an ongoing effort to reimagine the jewelry buying experience.

Seattle-based Blue Nile said it would open a store at Tysons Corner Center mall in Fairfax County, Virginia by mid-summer as part of a strategy to open four locations this year.

Blue Nile, which generated sales last year of $480 million, entered the physical space in June 2015 at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, New York. The company said the location exceeded its expectations. It plans to open a second location by early summer at the Westchester Mall in White Plains, New York.

Blue Nile calls its stores “Webrooms,” which it describes as physical display rooms that reimagine the retail experience giving consumers yet another way to shop along with their PC, phone, or tablet. Unlike traditional jewelry stores, the spaces are designed to be highly efficient, and feature low overhead, and small footprints, according to the company. They give shoppers the ability to view the company’s products in person, while still enjoying the advantages of online prices, pressure-free advice, and extensive selection. All in-store transactions occur online, via in-store tablets and with the help of non-commissioned consultants.

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Amazon vet takes senior tech post at Nordstrom

BY CSA STAFF

Nordstrom Inc. has named Kumar Srinivasan, a former technology executive at Amazon.com who has also experience with e-commerce technology providers, as CTO.

Srinivasan served as VP of Amazon Web Services from 2005-2008 and general manager of Amazon Payments from 2008-2010. More recently, he co-founded SaaS-based customer engagement platform Evocalize in 2012. Srinivasan also served as CTO of consumer-generated content platform Bazaarvoice from 2011-2012 and chief product and technology officer of social commerce site Lockerz.com from 2010-2011.

In its announcement of his hiring, Nordstrom cited experience including agile development practices, cloud expertise and experience developing “highly innovative customer focused outcomes.” In his new role, Srinivasan will focus on reducing complexity while optimizing engineering and software productivity and effectiveness across four Nordstrom technology teams. The teams will support the company's service & experience, loyalty & marketing, engineering and supply chain initiatives.

"We're bringing Kumar to Nordstrom at an important time as we are positioning our Technology organization to better support our long-term growth plans," said Dan Little, CIO, Nordstrom. "Kumar's extensive experience in strategy, product development and delivering technology solutions that support a great user experience, as well as his passion for the customer, will be invaluable."

Nordstrom has laid off at least 130 IT staff members in the past month. All the layoffs were part of an organizational restructuring and leveling of IT spending. The job cuts came on the heels of Nordstrom announcing during its fourth quarter earnings call that it will maintain its fiscal 2015 IT spending level of $300 million during fiscal 2016. That figure represents a 35% increase from the retailer’s 2014 technology budget.

During a recent analyst call, Nordstrom CFO Michael Koppel said the retailer will focus on fewer, more meaningful IT projects in the coming year. These are set to include a scalable, omnichannel merchandising system, as well as more efficient and cost-effective deliveries.

Srinivasan’s hiring demonstrates that Nordstrom is still willing to spend money on IT resources, as long as there is strategic justification. It is also surely no accident that his 18-year IT career includes five years at Amazon.com, a digital retailer where executives are required to demonstrate high degrees of innovation and effectiveness.

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