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Roots simplifes business communications with Opterus solution

BY CSA STAFF

Toronto – Opterus announced that specialty apparel retailer Roots Canada Ltd. has eliminated the use of e-mail at their stores and now remotely manages its 119 locations entirely through Opterus’ Store Ops-Center. Roots, which branded the solution Roots Ops-Center, has taken advantage of Opterus’ Web-based technologies to streamline business processes and improve communications with its stores.

“ROC allows us to have exception-based follow-ups which help to have more targeted communication,” said Jarar Kazmi, executive director, retail operations at Roots. “Our district managers can now send messages directly from a smartphone to all stores, via a specific link, allowing those messages to be easily viewed by store associates in the ROC. This has simplified communication, especially because our strict security levels did not previously allow stores to send or receive emails externally from our network.”

The Store Ops-Center solution is an on-demand, web-based retail portal designed to communicate corporate policy, day-to-day objectives, tasks and handle issues between the corporate office and store locations. It enables retailers to rapidly and accurately transfer information to the stores, helping them to make more informed and strategic enterprise-wide decisions. Retailers can deploy the Software as a Service (SaaS) Opterus solution with minimal IT impact, while providing improved store operations efficiency immediately upon deployment.

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Wal-Mart to buy 51% of South Africa’s Massmart

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores announced Monday that it is buying a controlling stake in South Africa’s Massmart in an approximately $2 billion deal. The investment gives the discounter a substantial presence in South Africa and paves the way for further expansion across the continent. Wal-Mart International president and CEO Doug McMillon made clear his company is pursuing a regional strategy.

"The more we learn about South Africa and the surrounding countries the more we are convinced that this is an important region with attractive growth characteristics," he said in a statement.

The two retailers said that Wal-Mart would purchase 51% of Massmart for 148 rand ($20.71) per share. Massmart Holdings Ltd. currently has approximately 203.5 million shares outstanding, according to Thomson Reuters.

Massmart will continue to be listed on the Johannesburg exchange, addressing the concerns of stockholders. The company, based in Johannesburg, runs nearly 290 stores in 14 countries in Africa, with most in South Africa. It also manages eight wholesale and retail chains under various brand names.

“Owning a majority stake allows them that degree of control that they need at this stage, while it also appeases (Massmart’s) shareholders," said Natalie Berg, global research director at Planet Retail, an industry research firm, in a Reuters report. "Wal-Mart is not going to be making many changes initially. Even though they are present in 16 countries around the world, ranging from India and Costa Rica, retailing in South Africa is a whole new ball game."

Massmart is Africa’s third-largest distributor of consumer goods, the leading retailer of general merchandise, liquor and home improvement equipment and supplies and the leading wholesaler of basic foods.

The deal will pit Wal-Mart against South Africa’s powerful trade unions, which are known for their propensity to go on strikes. Analysts have said local expertise would be critical to avoid a bruising union fight.

By taking a smaller slice of Massmart, Wal-Mart is alleviating some of the concerns of shareholders, because it allows Massmart to keep its JSE listing and investors can keep their stakes.

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Solstice taps Demandware for e-commerce platform

BY CSA STAFF

Woburn, Mass. – Demandware on Monday announced that sunglass specialty retailer Solstice is taking its first step into the ecommerce arena by announcing the launch of its new online retail store www.solsticesunglasses.com built on the Demandware Commerce platform.

The new site mirrors the company’s upscale store design, combining clean sophisticated lines with the brands’ seasonal advertising campaigns. It offers more than 40 luxury, designer and sport sunglass brands, with easy-to-navigate search options designed to make shopping easier.

“We needed an ecommerce platform that would mirror our dedication to providing a unique, tailored shopping experience and that was scalable to the broad range of inventory we offer to our customers,” said Rick Talmage, chief operating officer for Solstice. “The Demandware platform enabled us to meet the needs of our customers as well as the demands of our luxury partners. Demandware is the platform that will grow with us while at the same time support our increased marketing initiatives.”

The new site will be integrated with many of the top social networking sites. Customers will not only be able to send detailed product information and photos from the online store to their mobile devices using the latest mobile shopping technology, they will also be able to share information and photos with others using advanced social networking tools. Combining ecommerce with social networking allows for instant uploading of favorite picks on Facebook, sharing new styles on Twitter, or sending a few selections via email.

In addition, select Solstice stores will offer customers the unique opportunity to interact with www.solsticesunglasses.com while in store using touch-screen kiosks. The feature allows further browsing through the entire virtual inventory available while providing detailed product information.

Solstice used the Demandware SiteGenesis storefront application as the foundation for its new ecommerce site. The solution includes best practices in usability, site merchandising and technical architecture, along with hundreds of apparel-optimized ecommerce features.

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