MOBILITY

Purse purveyor has e-commerce talent in the bag

BY Mike Troy

Executives from Staples and virtual reality firm Magic Leap have joined the strategic advisory board of leading online handbags, luggage and backpacks retailer eBags.

Mike Edwards, eBags president and CEO, said Faisal Masud, executive VP of global e-commerce at Staples, and Scott Henry, CFO at Magic Leap, would bring a wealth of wealth of entrepreneurial and operational experience and an understanding of what it takes to excel in a fast-paced technology to eBags as the newest members of the board.

“Faisal and Scott have held senior leadership positions at some of the most progressive and disruptive global brands, including Staples, Amazon, eBay, Magic Leap, and Beats by Dr. Dre,” said Edwards, a former Staples executive himself.

The noteworthy additions to the eBags board come on the heels of what the company said were new sales records for the first week of December and Cyber Monday.

Prior to leading the digital efforts at Staples, Masud was VP and general manager at Groupon, Inc., where he managed Groupon Goods' strategy and execution in more than 35 countries, and directly coordinated all functions for that unit, including merchandising, inventory, marketing, engineering and operations. Masud also held executive positions at eBay-PayPal and Amazon.

Henry is currently CFO at Magic Leap, a startup that has raised more than $540 million, which develops technology around virtual reality and 3D computer-generated imagery. Prior to Magic Leap, Henry held CFO roles at Beats Music and Beats by Dr. Dre. He joined Beats in 2011 and led the company's transition from a licensing company to an independent global manufacturer. Before Beats, Henry served as CFO at several major companies, including Borders Group (another company where eBags CEO Edwards worked) and Las Vegas Sands. Earlier in his career, Henry worked as an investment banker at ING, Prudential Securities and Salomon Brothers.

Founded in 1998 by Peter Cobb, who also serves as chairman of the National Retail Federation’s digital division known as Shop.org, eBags contends it is the leading online retailer of handbags, luggage, backpacks, and accessories offering 67,000 products from 550 brand such as Michael Kors, kate spade, Tumi, Fjallraven, The North Face and Patagonia.

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FINANCE

Home Depot’s $101 billion plan

BY Mike Troy

Home Depot has revealed a new set of ambitious financial targets it expects to achieve in three years by focusing on a uniquely Home Depot strategy called, “interconnecting retail.”

Just weeks after releasing impressive third quarter financial results, Home Depot convened an investor conference where executives detailed how the home improvement retailer expects to achieve annual sales of $101 billion, a 14.5% operating margin and a 35% return on invested capital by 2018. If achieved, those figures represent a marked improvement from goals established in December 2013 that the company expects to achieve by year end of 2015 of a 13% operating margin rate and 27% return on invested capital. If the company achieves the $101 billion sales target by 2018 it equates to a compound annual growth rate of about 4.7% from the $88 billion in sales it expects to tally by year end.

"While our strategic priorities are evolving to reflect the changing needs of our customers and our business, we will continue to focus on delivering the experience and value that our customers and shareholders expect from The Home Depot," said Craig Menear, Home Depot’s chairman, CEO and president.

During the meeting, the company offered an update on how it plans to create value by connecting the business end-to-end with a framework it calls “interconnecting retail” which places an emphasis on customer experience, product authority and productivity.

The company also confirmed its sales and profit forecast for the fourth quarter and current fiscal year, which was not surprising since it had just increased its full year outlook on Nov. 17 with the release of third quarter results. Home Depot currently operates 2,273 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

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OPERATIONS

Virtual product labels arriving on store shelves

BY Mike Troy

Consumer packaged goods companies eager to keep pace with shoppers’ desire for product ingredient transparency have embraced a major initiative branded as SmartLabel.

SmartLabel is the name given to an initiative spearheaded by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) that is designed to give consumers easy access to detailed information on ingredients and hundreds of other product attributes, such as whether food items contain ingredients from genetically modified sources.

The SmartLabel isn’t a label at all, but rather a digital solution to satisfy shoppers thirst for more information about product ingredients than could ever fit on a label. For example, each individual product participating in the SmartLabel program will have a specific landing page that contains detailed information. As is the case with the nutrition facts box on food packages, all SmartLabel landing pages are organized in a similar format, with a consistent look across products, whether the consumer is looking at a gallon of ice cream or a gallon of laundry detergent. Shoppers will access the landing page by scanning a QR code on the package, using a web search such as through Google, Yahoo or Bing, going to a participating company’s web site, or eventually through an app.

“People want more information and are asking more questions about products they buy, use and consume, and SmartLabel puts detailed information right at their fingertips,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). “SmartLabel is a modern technology that will change how people shop and will help them get answers to questions they have on the products they purchase when they want that information.”

More than 30 major companies have committed to taking part in the transparency initiative with a few products trickling onto shelves in late 2015 and early 2016. SmartLabel is expected to really gain traction later next year and by the end of 2017 an estimated 30,000 products are expected to participate in SmartLabel. Within five years, GMA estimates that more than 80% of the food, beverage, pet care, personal care and household products that consumers buy will be using SmartLabel.

"People's relationship with food has changed dramatically and consumers now want to know more about their food, such as where it came from and what went into making it,” said J.P. Bilbrey,chairman, president and CEO The Hershey Company and chairman of GMA’s board of directors. “SmartLabel creates a way for consumers to get unprecedented access to information about what is in their food. This is what real food transparency is about."

In addition to Hershey, Unilever is among the 30 major company’s supporting the initiative.

“As more and more consumers are looking for responsible and sustainable brands, SmartLabel can link consumers to information about how a brand integrates sustainability into its products’ ingredients and lifecycle,” said Kees Kruythoff, President of Unilever North America. “SmartLabel is an important tool for brands to provide more product information, helping build trust with consumers who are increasingly mobile and online.”

In addition to Hershey and Unilever, other CPG companies committed to using SmartLabel include, ConAgra Foods, Hormel Foods, Campbell Soup Company, Knouse Foods, Land O’Lakes, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, J.M. Smucker Company, Kellogg Company, General Mills, McCormick & Company, Bimbo Bakeries USA, Bruce Foods Corporation, Bumble Bee Seafoods, Ferraro USA, Flowers Foods, Reily Foods Company, Rich Products Corporation, Sunny Delight Beverages Co., Tyson Foods, Inc., Ahold USA, Topco LLC, The WhiteWave Foods Company, Pharmavite LLC, Clorox, Colgate and Procter & Gamble.

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