ECOMMERCE

Study: Store managers’ roles evolve in the unified commerce era

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

To effectively service shoppers at store-level, managers need to evolve beyond their sales roles and become “problem solvers.”

This means store managers must learn to master the combination of order fulfillment, inventory visibility and staffing to keep up with customer demands, according to the “Voice of Store Manager Survey,” a study from JDA Software Group. The second annual study is based on responses from 252 US-based retail store managers compiled in August.

As the lines between online and in-store continue to blur, order fulfillment (29%) and limited staffing (29%) are evenly split as the biggest challenges for retailers at the store-level. Meanwhile, inaccurate data (31%), and limited stock and slow replenishment (31%) are the biggest challenge for operations.

To solve these issues, the majority of store managers (64%) are using technology in some capacity to check store inventory availability in real-time. This could be via mobile or wearable devices (33%) or a central computer system (31%).

New fulfillment services are also being offered to deliver ease and convenience to busy shoppers, while luring traffic back into stores. Forty-four percent (44%) of respondents said their stores offer buy online ship from store services and 41% offer buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS). Meanwhile, 40% offer buy in-store ship to home, and 38% offer buy online return in-store (BORIS).

BOPIS services (41%) and buy online ship from store services (40%) have seen the largest increase in customer usage, though these options rely heavily on inventory visibility and staffing for pick, pack and ship to meet customer fulfillment timelines. In fact, respondents have staff allocated to support BOPIS (65%), BORIS (64%), buy in-store ship to home (61%), buy online ship to store (59%), and buy in-store ship to home/store from another store (49%).

Store managers believe lack of visibility across inventory (41%) is the biggest difficulty among BOPIS services. Despite this challenge, 36% of store managers said their stores currently offer a discount to customers who utilize BOPIS services. Another 14% are currently testing/researching options.

“As customer expectations continue to rise, it will be crucial for brick-and-mortar stores to streamline how they fulfill customer orders and work to draw in shoppers with incentives for in-store fulfillment options,” said Jim Prewitt, VP, retail industry strategy, JDA. “In the future, we foresee some stores evolving into distribution centers, fulfilling 100% of customer demand while others will morph into showrooms with centralized fulfillment.”

Another area needing improvement is the influx of inventory due to BORIS offerings — two in three store managers reported some difficulty with the service. Thirty percent (30%) of respondents are unsure of what to do with the additional inventory received through BORIS, and lack direction as to whether to keep it at the store, return to a distribution center or another store. Nearly 30% of store managers reported a staff-related concern with regards to BORIS.

While the “gig economy” is increasingly popular, more than 40% of store managers reported that only a small number of their store staff (less than 25%) are part of this segment. One in four store managers are exploring the possibility of leveraging additional labor – such as short-term contractors or freelance workers – outside of the traditional workforce.

Looking ahead to the 2017 holiday season, 60% of store managers plan to hire the same amount of temporary labor as they did last year 24% plan to hire more. However, the focus of the seasonal staff may be changing to meet customer demand. Over 40% of seasonal hires will be for fulfillment at stores/warehouses, not customer-facing. The other fulfillment area where store managers will increase hiring is BOPIS. One in three respondents will hire temporary staff specifically for the service this year.

“As store operations change with increasingly complex order fulfillment capabilities, the demands for staffing will change as well,” said Prewitt. “We predict there will be an uptick in tailored staffing hirers for both BOPIS and ship-from-store services.”

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FINANCE

Blockbuster retail deal in Canada

BY Michael Johnsen

One of the largest grocers in Canada has just expanded its presence in the drugstore business.

Metro Inc., the third largest food retailer in Canada, on Monday announced a deal to acquire the Jean Coutu Group, which operates more than 400 pharmacies, for $3.6 billion. The deal creates a combined food and pharmacy retailer with annual sales of $12.8 billion, and an overall network of more than 1,300 stores in Canada, with 677 drug stores.

Metro's existing pharmacy distribution and franchising activities will be combined with those of the Jean Coutu Group. Jean Coutu will operate as a stand-alone division of Metro with its own management team led by Francois Coutu.

"Bringing together our two highly respected and longstanding Quebec brands represents an exciting milestone in the history of the Jean Coutu Group," stated Jean Coutu, chairman of the Jean Coutu Group. "I am confident that this combination will ensure the safeguard of our entrepreneurial vision and corporate values as well as the perennial strength of the brand and will enable us to pursue our growth plan."

"We're honored to become the steward of the iconic Jean Coutu Group brand and we intend to build on this exceptional legacy," added Eric La Fleche, president and CEO Metro. "It is a unique opportunity to bring together each company's expertise to better serve the growing consumer demand for healthier choices, value and convenience," he said. "The Jean Coutu Group's extensive retail network and state-of-the-art distribution center will provide us with increased scale and reach, operational efficiencies and enhanced growth potential."

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News

Project Profiles: Mixed-use retail

BY Al Urbanski

Streets of St. Charles (bottom right)

  • Location: St. Charles, Mo.
  • Size: 27 acres, 1 million sq. ft. when completed
  • Developer and owner: Cullinan Properties Ltd.
  • Key tenants: Dining: P.F. Chang’s, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, Bar Louie, Tucanos Brazilian Grill, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Pieology Pizzeria, and First Watch and local and regional eateries include Prasino, Wasabi, Mission Taco Joint, Dewey’s Pizza, Picasso’s Coffee House, and U-Swirl. Entertainment: AMC Theatre with eight screens and oversized, reclining seats, in addition to MacGuffins Bar. Retail and services: Leopard Boutique, MOD, Sole &amp Blues, Olivino Tasting Bar, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Orangetheory Fitness, Supercuts, MassageLuXe, Think Pink Nail &amp Spa, Streets of St. Charles Dental, and RCS Bank.
  • Other uses/components: 180-room Drury Plaza Hotel, Tru by Hilton, 300-plus luxury residential apartments, two parking decks totaling more than 1,500 spaces, and on-site trolley service to local attractions.
  • Construction status: Approximately 80% is complete. Tru by Hilton is expected to open next spring, and construction on a 60,000-sq.-ft., three-story building with ground floor retail and two floors of office space will break ground next spring. A limited number of spaces and sites remain.

Streets of St. Charles has established itself as the destination in St. Charles County and the surrounding area for dining, shopping, entertainment, and as a place to live and work. This premier development with excellent access and visibility from Interstate 70 includes more than 1 million sq. ft. of space in a convenient and distinctive environment unlike anything in the greater St. Louis metro area. Formerly home to Noah’s Ark Motor Inn and Restaurant, the site began its transformation in 2008 into a vibrant and energetic development that is now home to luxury apartments, a state-of-the-art movie theater, offices, two hotels, unique shops, and some of the best restaurants in the St. Louis area. Streets of St. Charles has an energetic vibe and contains a terrific blend of locally owned businesses with nationally known names.


Monticello(top left)

  • Location: Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Size: 47,811 sq. ft. of retail
  • Developer and owner: Irvine Company
  • Key tenants: Nob Hill Foods, The Yellow Chilli, Pressed Juicery, California Pizza Kitchen, Konjoe Burger Bar, Vitality Bowls, and Starbucks.
  • Other uses/components of project: Walkability, accessibility, and convenience have never been more prized, particularly so in this tech corridor. With Apple, Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments nearby, the centrality of Monticello is one of its greatest perks for both residents and tenants. The retail at this upscale mixed-use development is highly visible from Lawrence Expressway and Monroe Street with over 84,000 cars passing by each day. For the next generation eager to reduce its carbon footprint, Monticello is steps from the Lawrence Caltrain station, which links to Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties.

For Irvine Company, knowing its audience is essential in tailoring an authentic neighborhood experience and meaningful social hub. A diverse mix of stores and restaurants reflect the residential community — cult-status included. The Yellow Chilli restaurant debuted its U.S. flagship by acclaimed Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor. And come October, Nob Hill Foods opens its first Santa Clara store customized to the Monticello style where an alfresco caf&eacute fuels the indefatigable tech crowd with coffee and local craft brew. Additionally, the 24,000-sq.-ft. anchor tenant will feature meat, seafood, organic produce, a bakery, and expanded grab-and-go meals. The live-work-play blueprint was conceived with a certain resident in mind: dynamic, urban, connected, progressive. The resort-inspired Mediterranean vibe encourages an active lifestyle with pools, a fitness center, and abundant indoor-outdoor living spaces, including lounges and courtyards. Here, year-round social events cultivate a compelling social fabric. The integrated concierge: Expect text-alerts of pressing happy hours.


Butler Town Center at Stengel Field(bottom left)

  • Location: Gainesville, Fla.
  • Size: 450,000 sq. ft. of retail, restaurants, and residential
  • Developer and owner: Butler Enterprises
  • Key tenants: Leases signed with Whole Foods Market, P.F. Chang’s, Irish 31, The Village Jeweler, Grub Burger Bar, and newly renovated, recliner seating Regal Cinemas. In lease negotiations with tenants to fill 13,000-sq.-ft. Stengel Field Food Hall and other new-to-market retailers, boutiques, and restaurants.
    Other uses/components of project: Stengel Field Food Hall, the first chef-curated food hall in the greater North Central Florida region 202 luxury apartments located in The Residences, the top five floors of a six-story building, and The Terraces, situated above the retail and restaurants on the main street major “gathering place” component complete with high-tech misting “cloud” fountain and adjacent spray fountain, and an area for staging/entertainment and seating.
  • Construction status: Under construction now for a phased opening, beginning with Whole Foods and adjacent retail in spring 2018.

This Main Street-style retail and residential project will be the first of its kind in North Central Florida, creating a new community where people will live, shop, dine, and play near major universities and rapidly expanding major medical facilities. As the capstone development in The Neighborhoods of Butler, which include Butler Plaza (est. 1975) and Butler North (est. 2016) in one area, Butler Town Center will include boutiques and dining experiences not found anywhere else in the region, the first Whole Foods Market in the region, street level amenities including fountains and landmarks for gathering places, and the unique Stengel Field Food Hall, which will offer fine dining from renowned, locally based chef Bert Gill, in addition to national, regional and local dining options, as well as pay homage architecturally to the property’s history as a WWII airfield. Butler Town Center will serve as the emotional core of a 14-county market trade area.


Celebration Pointe(top right)

  • Location: Gainesville, Fla.
  • Size: 1 million-plus sq. ft.
  • Developer and owner: (Owner) Celebration Pointe Holdings, LLC (developer) Celebration Pointe Development Partners, LLC.
  • Key tenants: Bass Pro Shops, Regal RPX Theatre, Miller’s Ale House, Kilwins, Uniform Destination, MidiCi, The Neapolitan Pizza Company, Azulene Day Spa, and Liquid Ginger. In lease negotiations with a number of first-to-market retailers and themed/casual dining.
  • Other uses/components of project: 140-room Hotel Indigo, Infotech software company headquarters, multi-tenant Class A office building, luxury apartments, and luxury town homes.
  • Construction status: Bass Pro Shops is open. Regal will open in Q1 2018. Phase 1 “main street” retail to open in Q2 2018.

Celebration Pointe fills a major void not only in the Gainesville area, but the entire North Florida market. The project provides a unique blend of retail, entertainment, fine dining, hospitality, office and residential offerings all organized as a city within a city. Immediately adjacent and highly visible to one of most highly traveled north-south Interstates in the country ( I-75) as well as a 700-acre conservancy complete with a major trail system (Archer Braid Trail). Segregated into distinct districts yet systematically connected through an internal street system, complete with access to multi-modal transportation, the highly walkable and architecturally pleasing environment is centered around its signature feature, The Promenade at Celebration Pointe. This pedestrian friendly environment is not just another main street project. Guests and residents will be treated to not only entertainment, dining and shopping, but regular events as well as a very pleasing environment, Easily accessible, highly visible, and engaging, Celebration Pointe is destined to be north Florida’s signature destination.

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