OPERATIONS

RSR Research: Home Depot tops in digital gift cards

BY Dan Berthiaume

Walnut Creek, Calif. — The Home Depot comes in first in a new ranking of retail digital gift card offerings. Retailers with the highest overall digital gifting scores in a new RSR Research benchmarking report, “Digital Gift Cards: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, are The Home Depot, Sephora, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and The Cheesecake Factory.

This is third annual digital gift card report RSR Research has conducted and The Home Depot has been ranked number one each time. RSR found that, as a whole, digital gifting experiences are improving. According to the report, retailers with the best rankings have recognized that digital gifting is different than traditional online product sales, and as a result have streamlined the checkout process to include fewer screens, offer rich personalization capabilities, have convenient card management on mobile devices, and have strong and responsive customer service departments.

“This year we really raised the bar in terms of the evaluation criteria, focusing on truly exceptional experiences, said Nikki Baird, managing partner of RSR Research. “We commend The Home Depot and each of the category winners for continuing to outpace the competition when it comes to digital gifting.”

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OPERATIONS

CEO of Loehmann’s to appear on ‘Undercover Boss’

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Steven Newman, CEO of Loehmann’s, will appear on CBS’s popular television show, "Undercover Boss," on Friday, Oct. 4 (8 p.m.-9 p.m., ET/PT).

The executive of the original off-price retail chain, with 39 stores in 11 states, went undercover in a few stores around the country in a variety of roles, including order processing at the Loehmann’s distribution center, visual merchandising, personal shopper, and sales associate.

"The various roles I took on provided critical reminders, like how many steps actually go into processing one online order for a customer, and that you can’t take for granted that the communication you drive always makes its way to all the associates in all of our stores," said Newman.

During the course of the show, the CEO had the opportunity to make several lucky employees’ dreams come true.

"It was incredibly rewarding to be able to impact those people’s lives in a personal way. On a professional note, this experience also provided me the chance to transfer the success of how one associate used technology to be more effective, to others in her role," Newman said.

Newman’s decision to go undercover stemmed from his first love of spending time in stores combined with the opportunity to do so unrecognized and, as such, see what really goes on. For a preview of Newman’s episode, click here.

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REAL ESTATE

JC’s 5 Star Outlet going out of business

BY Dan Berthiaume

Columbus, Ohio — JC’s 5 Star Outlet, formerly the outlet store division of J.C. Penney, is winding down operations and closing its 15 stores. "Going out of business" sales will start Wednesday, offering shoppers deeper discounts than the usual outlet prices of 25% to 75% off retail.

The 5 Star Outlet stores, which had been designated for closure by J.C. Penney, were acquired by SB Acquisitions in October 2011, and rebranded JC’s 5 Star Outlet.

Glen Gammons, the former head of the JCPenney Outlet Store Division, and CEO of JC’s 5 Star Outlet, said closing the stores was a painful decision.

"The closing of the Outlets was necessitated by the precipitous decline of sales," Gammons said. "After exploring all the alternatives, we could no longer incur the losses resulting from the continued operation of the Outlet stores."

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