REAL ESTATE

Sears closing downtown Chicago store

BY Dan Berthiaume

Hoffman Estates, Ill. – Sears plans to close a store in the Loop section of downtown Chicago in April 2014. Sears spokesperson Howard Riefs announced the closing in an email which said the store’s 160 employees, most of whom are part-time, will be eligible to apply for jobs at other Sears stores in the area and also to receive severance.

The email also said the store has lost millions of dollars and Sears cannot afford its operating losses. In a separate blog posting, Sears CEO Edward Lampert said Sears and its competitors may need fewer locations to better serve customers.

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J.Shaughness says:
Jan-23-2014 12:26 pm

Sears closing
Death spiral continues.

J.Shaughness says:
Jan-23-2014 12:26 pm

Death spiral continues.

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OPERATIONS

Target to end health coverage for part-time workers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Minneapolis – Target Corp. is the latest major retailer to announce it will stop offering health insurance to its part-time employees. In a company blog post on Jan. 21, Target said it will no longer provide health insurance coverage to part time workers after April 1, 2014.

The blog post said Target is stopping the coverage, which fewer than 10% of Target’s 361,000-person workforce currently uses, due to the availability of public healthcare exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. Target said employees could be disqualified from receiving government-subsidized health care if they are offered a company plan.

"Healthcare reform is transforming the benefits landscape and affecting how all employers, including Target, administer health benefits coverage," Jodee Kozlack, Target’s executive VP of human resources, said in a corporate blog post Tuesday. "Our decision to discontinue this benefit comes after careful consideration of the impact of our stores’ part-time team members and to Target, the new options available for our part-time team, and the historically low number of team members who elected to enroll in the part-time plan."

Other retailers that have also announced intentions to stop offering health insurance to part-time employees due to the availability of public insurance exchanges include The Home Depot and Trader Joe’s.

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News

Survey: Retail CIOs prepare for IT innovation

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Retail CIOs are preparing to take advantage of innovative technologies such as mobile, cloud and social, although they are less involved in efforts to leverage Big Data analytics. A new study of retail CIOs from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Forrester Consulting, “The Global Agenda of Retail CIOs,” retail CIOs plan to rapidly implement an array of mobile technologies, with context-aware tech (32%), mobile payments (28%), digital signage (24%), and mobile POS (22%) leading the way.

Perhaps with an eye toward further improving customer service and logistics, six out of ten (59%) retailers plan to invest in mobile-enabling their partners and vendors over the next three to five years. While 41% of retail CIOs currently use SaaS (software-as-service) for back-office functions such as supply chain and product life cycle management or ERP, more than half (52%) intend to do so in the next five years.

In addition, eight-out-of-10 (80%) retail CIOs leverage social media for sales and marketing, with customer service and recruitment the next most common functions. However, almost half (46%) of retailers plan to link social insights to R&D and product design during the next three to five years, unlocking customer-centric product designs.

Retail CIOs are less active in the area of Big Data. Almost seven-out-of-10 (68%) retail CIOs report that they collect data, but agree they are not maximizing its full value. Only 47% have invested in cross-channel analytics, and only a fourth (25%) of retailers have plans to invest in big data analytics to support customer service.

Acquiring the talent needed to support IT innovation is a challenge for retail CIOs. Almost seven-out-of-10 (67%) retailers surveyed consider attracting and retaining talent a critically important challenge during the next three-to-five years.

"Retail CIOs are uniquely positioned with an enterprise-wide perspective to overcome operational silos and become true change-agents, critical to future cross-channel customer engagements and business growth," said Pratik Pal, president of retail, CPG, travel, transportation and hospitality for TCS. "They are primed to expand their leadership role in the dynamic new world of retail by spearheading the digital and innovation agenda."

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