FINANCE

PwC survey details top concerns of retail CEOs

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Increasing tax burdens (76%) are the top concern of retail CEOs, according to PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey. Worries about the tax burden were followed by the government response to the fiscal deficit and debt burden (74%), over-regulation (69%), the high and volatile prices of raw materials (68%), and exchange rate volatility (64%).

The report finds that a majority (80%) of retail CEOs believe “technological advances” is the global trend that will most transform businesses during the next five years, with “demographic shifts” a distant second. Only 38% of retail CEOs see the speed of technological change as a concern, compared to 47% of CEOs overall.

Retail and consumer goods CEOs are concerned about many of the same issues, according to the report. The consumer goods chiefs share retailers’ concerns about the high prices of raw materials. Nearly three-quarters of consumer goods CEOs and almost as many retail CEOs saying they are “somewhat” or “extremely” concerned that a rise in those raw materials prices could slow down growth. Also, both groups say they are more worried about sluggish growth in developed economies than in high-growth ones.

The survey also finds retail and consumer goods CEOs more optimistic than last year. Thirty-eight percent of them believe that the global economy will improve in the next 12 months, compared to just 17% last year.

In other survey highlights:

• In terms of markets, 26% of retail CEOs planning transactions have their eyes on Western Europe, making it their top deal destination.

• Retail and consumer goods CEOs agree they will need to change their talent strategies to cope with future trends like demographic changes and urbanization. But less than 40% of them think their HR departments are well prepared to execute on plans to capitalize on transformative global trends.

• Around half of both retail and consumer goods CEOs worry that supply chain disruption could threaten growth.

For more, go to pwc.com/ceosurvey.

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News

Jo-Ann takes capes and crafts to basketball game April 12

BY CSA STAFF

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores is teaming with the Cleveland Cavaliers for an unconventional promotion. The craft retailer will be distributing capes to fans at the second annual Superhero Night at the Cavs vs. Boston Celtics game Saturday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.

The first 500 fans to visit Team Jo-Ann at the Express Yourself table on The Q’s main concourse (located near section 133) will receive an official Wine & Gold Cavaliers Superhero Cape courtesy of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. Fans will also have the opportunity to craft their own superhero masks (while supplies last).

The specially themed “Cavs Superhero Night” will also include a chance for fans to get their photo taken with “life-like” characters on the arena’s main concourse.

“We are excited to join forces with the Cavs to bring Superhero Night to The Q,” said Beth Shivak, manager of special events for Jo-Ann. “Once fans arrive at the arena they should find Team Jo-Ann on the main concourse to pick up their Wine & Gold capes to be ready for action.”

Once fans have their masks and capes ready, they can take their Superhero Selfie in front of an oversized Cleveland skyline. The photo opportunity will be located on the main concourse.

“We hear that the Wine & Gold capes give superhuman powers to those who wear them,” said Kerry Bubolz, Cavaliers president of business operations. “With Supervillains sure to be roaming The Q’s concourse along with the Superheroes, we thank Jo-Ann for giving us that extra WHAM! ZAP! POW! to ensure everyone has a great time at the game!”

Jo-Ann is also reminding those who don’t get a cape that it carries a large assortment of products, including cotton and fleece fabrics, featuring a variety of superheroes and characters for crafting and sewing, including Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Retro Marvel Comic Book Characters.

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OPERATIONS

Panera Bread unveils new ordering, payment technologies to improve customer experience

BY Dan Berthiaume

St. Louis – Panera Bread has unveiled a series of integrated technologies to enhance the customer experience at its restaurants. The new “Panera 2.0” initiative brings together new capabilities for digital ordering, payment, operations and consumption for patrons who choose to eat in as well as for those who order to go. In test for several years, the solution is now live in 14 of the chain’s locations and is slated to be deployed in nearly all locations over the next 36 months.

"Panera 2.0 is an integrated experience that meets the differentiated needs of ‘to go’ and ‘eat in’ customers, so they don’t bump into each other," said Blaine Hurst, Panera’s executive VP of technology & transformation. "Panera 2.0 provides new mechanisms for ordering, payment, food production, and, ultimately, consumption. We took a totally integrated approach, and believe what we are providing is a truly enhanced guest experience."

Key elements of the new program include an ordering option called Rapid Pick-Up that enables customers to place an online/mobile order from their office, car, work or home, up to five days in advance, and pick up their food at a pre-determined time without waiting in line. To facilitate easy pick up, restaurants will be equipped with a special "to go" pick-up area, featuring dedicated seating, an order-status monitor providing real-time information as orders are prepared and completed, and shelf space.

In other key features, eat-in customers can place an online/mobile order from anywhere within the restaurant and have the meal delivered directly to their table. The chain is also rolling out “fast lane” kiosks, equipped with iPads, for dine-in and to-go orders, with a goal of reducing wait time for guests.

Customers can save customizations, past orders and favorites at kiosks and through online or mobile app ordering, and link them to their MyPanera loyalty or credit card.

Panera’s new digital ordering processes are enabled by an online ordering web function on its website and a mobile app that will allow customers to store their purchase history and credit card information for future use.

Beyond technology, Panera has invested in new production equipment and systems, such as upgraded kitchen display system (KDS), auto-load balancing, and a new, centralized phone system. Moreover, to increase capacity and accuracy, Panera 2.0 cafes feature customer-facing order displays at checkout and an expeditor station, where an associate confirms and verifies every order before it is delivered to the customer. A comprehensive training program has been developed to help associates adopt and master the processes and systems that are part of the new initiative.

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P.Siegel says:
Apr-23-2014 01:26 pm

Panera new ordering system
If there ever was a restaurant chain that needed a new ordering system - it's Panera. Presently, it's the worst system of all systems and undoubtedly cost them thousands- if not more - customers already, so perhaps they should look into EXPEDITING the new system, rather than taking 3years to implement.

P.Siegel says:
Apr-23-2014 01:26 pm

If there ever was a restaurant chain that needed a new ordering system - it's Panera. Presently, it's the worst system of all systems and undoubtedly cost them thousands- if not more - customers already, so perhaps they should look into EXPEDITING the new system, rather than taking 3years to implement.

P.Siegel says:
Apr-11-2014 12:45 pm

Panera Technology
They can install all the technological advances in the universe - but to improve the "customer experience" which today can only be described as LOUSY - won't help. WHAT'S NEEDED IS BETTER TRAINED PERSONNEL! Turnover appears to be daily, weekly at best, which presently makes for a poor customer experience. THE HELP BEHIND THE COUNTER HAS NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON, and the next visit, it's all new help behind the counter and over and over and repeated experience aFTER REPEATED EXPERIENCE.

P.Siegel says:
Apr-11-2014 12:45 pm

They can install all the technological advances in the universe - but to improve the "customer experience" which today can only be described as LOUSY - won't help. WHAT'S NEEDED IS BETTER TRAINED PERSONNEL! Turnover appears to be daily, weekly at best, which presently makes for a poor customer experience. THE HELP BEHIND THE COUNTER HAS NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON, and the next visit, it's all new help behind the counter and over and over and repeated experience aFTER REPEATED EXPERIENCE.

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