OPERATIONS

Report: Starbucks not cutting health care benefits as new healthcare law looms

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Starbucks Coffee Co. does not to plan to follow in the footsteps of some other companies that are cutting health insurance benefits or reducing employees working hours in anticipation of the U.S. Affordable Care Act, Reuters reported.

"Other companies have announced that they won’t provide coverage for spouses; others are lobbying for the cut-off to be at 40 hours,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a telephone interview with Reuters. “But Starbucks will continue maintaining benefits for partners and won’t use the new law as excuse to cut benefits or lower benefits for its workers.”

The new law requires companies with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance for employees who work 30 hours a week or more. Starbucks currently provides healthcare to part-timers who work 20 hours a week or more.

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News

SAP uses social sentiment to analyze back-to-school shopping

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Parents shopping for back –to-school goods react positively to ads that focus on sales and deals to maximize their appeal to shoppers, according to SAP Retail, and they react negatively to commercials that only serve as a reminder of the season. Using SAP’s social media analytics software, the company gathered social sentiment around the 2013 back-to-school season, analyzing more than 600,000 conversations across social channels, including Twitter and Facebook. The key takeaway for retailers: Analyzing social sentiment can uncover buying trends that aren’t as apparent in sales data. If they aren’t doing their own analysis, retailers are missing out on insights that will help them understand the 360 degree view of consumers.

In addition, SAP analysis indicates that 56% of social media conversations parents have about back-to-school shopping relates to in-store experiences, while 44% refer to online experiences, suggesting that retailers need to offer back-to-school deals across both channels. In addition, families tend to perform in-store back-to-school shopping together.

Other insights include a tendency for social media conversations about more expensive back-to-school purchases like electronics and apparel to slowly grow through June and July and plateau in early August, while conversations about less expensive purchases like school supplies sharply increase through July and early August and then dramatically increase in late August. Consequently, SAP advises retailers to time promotions about different types of back-to-school products according to buying season for a specific category.

View the infographic developed by SAP that illustrates its findings and shows social sentiment analysis can help retailers forecast for the 2014 season:


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ENERGY/HVAC

Sears chosen to participate in EPA’s Energy Star National Building Competition

BY Marianne Wilson

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Holdings Corp. has been selected to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings, which is designed to help improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings and protect the environment.

Sears Holdings entered 122 Sears and Kmart stores that will battle it out against thousands of other teams representing buildings across the country. All efforts will be focused on eliminating waste through improvements in energy efficiency with help from the EPA’s Energy Star program.

"Sears Holdings is honored to be a part of the EPA’s Energy Star National Building Competition for the fourth consecutive year," said David Rich, VP of retail operations. "This year, we are dramatically increasing the number of facilities which we have entered into the competition and are looking to take our energy management program to the next level."

Sears said it has experienced significant savings as a result of its previous entries into the Battle of the Buildings contest. Three Kmart stores finished in the Top 15 overall in the 2012 competition.

The competitors in the 2013 National Building Competition represent more than 25 different types of commercial buildings — such as retail stores, schools, hotels, and museums — and hail from all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. More than 100 competing buildings are over 100 years old.

The EPA will maintain a website devoted to the competition, featuring a list of the competitors and their ongoing results, a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress, and a user-generated photo stream where competitors will upload pictures of their energy-saving efforts.”

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