OPERATIONS

Report: Dept. of Commerce to issue facial recognition guidelines

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. — The U.S, Department of Commerce will reportedly start meeting with companies including Facebook, Apple and Wal-Mart in February 2014 to create voluntary guidelines for the commercial use of facial recognition technology. According to Bloomberg, the Department of Commerce plans to have formal guidelines ready for release in June 2014.

The guidelines, which would only apply to commercial entities and not to government agencies, would require companies to notify consumers before using facial recognition technology and receive their permission to apply it to them. Companies that agreed to follow the guidelines and then failed to do so could face sanctions from trade groups as well as class action lawsuits.

A representative of the National Retail Federation (NRF), which will represent Wal-Mart at development talks with the Department of Commerce, is quoted as saying the NRF has concerns about stifling development of facial recognition technology before its full capabilities are known.

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FINANCE

Survey: Four-in-10 consumers to spend less this holiday season

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Nearly four-in-10 Americans (38%) plan to spend less this holiday season than they did last year, while 14% plan to spend more this year and 47% plan to spend about the same amount as last year. According to a new Bankrate.com report, Americans planning to spend less outnumber those planning to spend more in each age and income group.

The disparity increases with age. Households with income less than $50,000 are the most likely to say they plan to spend less this year. However, Americans’ feelings of financial security are now at their highest level since August. They are in positive territory for each age group younger than age 65. Overall, 25% of Americans feel better about their finances than they did last year and 18% feel worse.

Bankrate.com’s Financial Security Index registered a 100.4 in December; readings above 100 indicate improved financial security compared with one year previous. The index dipped into negative territory in September, October and November, due in large part to the uncertainty in Washington.

Feelings of job security turned positive in December for the first time since September, completely unwinding the negative sentiment of the past two months. Net worth continues to be a strong area of financial security: those reporting higher net worth than one year ago outnumber those reporting lower net worth by a margin of three-to-two.

Savings is the only area of financial security that has elicited negative feelings every month since the poll debuted in December 2010.

The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI)

“Many Americans continue to struggle with little or no savings and stagnant wages, forcing them to rein in their spending this holiday season,” said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst. “Overall, Americans are feeling more financially secure after the government shutdown and debt ceiling saga were resolved, but many are still clutching their pocketbooks closely.”

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SUPPLY CHAIN

RSR Research: Retailers must adapt supply chain to omni-channel model

BY Dan Berthiaume

Walnut Creek, Calif. – Most retailers have yet to adapt their supply chains to the emerging omni-channel retail model. According to a new report from RSR Research, “Supply Chain Execution 2014: Making Omni-channel Profitable,” although most retail supply chains are only designed to fulfill the store channel, store is the third-most-common channel slated for retailer investment in the next three years (67%), with online/e-commerce (82%) and mobile commerce (70%) ahead.

However, when asked to name their top three supply chain execution challenges, retailers recognized the importance of omni-channel. The most popular challenges were consumers expect a more seamless omni-channel experience (73%), the pattern of consumer demand and how retailers fulfill it has changed (67%), and competitive pressures create shorter order cycles (58%).

In addition, the report finds that mid-tier retailers with annual revenue of $250 million to $1 billion are much more likely than retailers with $1 billion or more in annual revenue to cite omni-channel supply chain inhibitors such as supply chain not designed to support omni-channel fulfillment (86% mid-tier 68% large), lack of coordination between supply chain, merchandising and marketing (57% mid-tier 42% large) and lack of inventory accuracy (43% mid-tier 40% large).

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