OPERATIONS

Sears Canada plans 712 job cuts, including head office

BY Dan Berthiaume

Toronto – Sears Canada is undergoing a six-month reorganization that will result in 712 job cuts, including 79 staffers that have already been terminated at its head office. According to Sears, the head office staff reduction aligns its support structure with the size and volume of the organization and also takes advantage of internal processes that have been recently implemented to improve efficiency.

In addition, in its repair service division, Sears Canada will be shifting to using exclusively Sears-authorized contracted technicians in mid-markets, which it has been using in smaller markets for several years, resulting in a reduction of Sears technicians and support teams in these locations. Due to their complexity and size, major markets will continue to be primarily serviced by Sears technicians, although the teams will be streamlined. There has also been a shift of in-warranty repair work on major appliances from Sears to its suppliers as is the industry standard.

In the parts division, 16 existing stand-alone parts processing locations and a central processing center in Belleville, Ontario will be consolidated into three major fulfillment centers located in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Where a parts processing location is closing outside of these three cities, a parts counter will open in a nearby Sears location so that customers can continue to have local access. This model has been piloted in three locations with what the company says has been no impact to customer service.

The reorganization of repair services and parts will result in the streamlining of support functions in both the company’s head office and the field including consolidating the dispatch function to one English language center in Toronto and one French language center in Montreal.

"The changes we are announcing today are being made to bring the structure of our organization in line with the size of our business," said Doug Campbell, president and CEO, Sears Canada Inc. "These improvements are initiatives we are implementing as part of the efficiency lever, one of the three levers we utilize along with the merchandising lever and network lever to maximize total value for the organization. While right-sizing is important for a more effective enterprise, our greatest opportunity lies within the merchandising lever, where our focus is on providing quality products and services that Canadians expect from Sears when and where they want them at prices that provide great value.”

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Jos. A. Bank opening stores Thanksgiving night

BY Dan Berthiaume

Hampstead, Md. – Jos. A. Bank is one more retailer planning to start Black Friday while it’s still Thanksgiving. The retailer will hold its annual Black Friday doorbusters event from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m. Thanksgiving night and 6 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29.

Jos. A. Bank will also offer discount doorbuster prices from 12:01 a.m. on Thanksgiving to 1 p.m. on Black Friday. Other chains including Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Kmart, Dollar General, Best Buy, and Toys ‘R’ Us will also open stores at some point on Thanksgiving.

“We are pleased to offer our largest and most varied assortment of tremendous Black Friday values to our customers this year,” said R. Neal Black, president and CEO of Jos. A. Bank. “We will be opening our full-line stores to offer this expanded doorbuster assortment on Thanksgiving Day starting at 8 p.m. local time.”

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Lowe’s introduces mobile product finder

BY Dan Berthiaume

Mooresville, N.C. — Lowe’s has integrated Point Inside’s StoreMode mobile shopper engagement platform into the free Lowe’s mobile app to improve the in-store customer experience. Shoppers at all Lowe’s locations can use the Product Locator capability to search for products and instantly see the items’ locations on a detailed store map using Lowe’s iOS and Android mobile apps or Lowe’s mobile-optimized website.

All in-stock items’ aisle and/or bay locations are represented as pins on an interior map of the specific Lowe’s store. The Lowe’s app also provides store-specific product search, prices, inventory availability, detailed product information, customer ratings and reviews, and weekly ads. In addition, customers can create and manage personalized shopping lists the same way they would on a piece of paper using natural language terms or by scanning product barcodes.

Furthermore, the 42,000 iPhones used by in-store associates also have access to the search and mapping capability through Lowe’s store associate app.

"Helping customers complete their home improvement projects simply and easily is what Lowe’s is all about," said Ronnie Damron, Lowe’s senior VP of multi-channel testing and commercialization. "We’re constantly looking for new, innovative ways to use technology to serve our customers better. Whether customers are browsing the store for ideas or searching for a specific item in a hurry, we think the Product Locator feature will simplify the shopping process, creating a better experience that encourages customers to come back again and again."

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