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Tech Guest Viewpoint: Mike Ullman’s Thoughts on Digital Change

BY Shah Karim

[Editor's note: This article is based on a discussion moderated by Shah Karim with Myron E. Ullman, executive chairman of J.C. Penney, held at the Executive + Scholar lecture at the University of North Texas on October 8, 2015.]

This exclusive article is based on a discussion moderated by Shah Karim with Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, executive chairman of J.C. Penney, held at the University of North Texas

To tackle the challenge of digitally-driven customer change, retail leadership in the digital age needs to identify and practice what works. Here are some useful goals, courtesy of Mike Ullman, to keep in mind:

Lay out a common and inspiring vision with your team: Whether starting a new company or rebuilding a revered brand, great leaders have to build an inspiring vision together with their teams. This cultivates trust and an enduring relationship. A leader can have a definite point of view and know when to step in, but also must encourage consensus so the entire team is committed to a single vision.

Listen to the customer: Respect customers for who they are, and understand that they have to sustain their families on a budget. Whether they can afford a $15 price point, or $500, respect and work with that. Help customers meet their basic needs first before trying to move them on to aspirational items. The best way to predict the customers' future actions is to understand their actions now.

Outstanding in-store experiences give shoppers a reason to come back. Communicate effectively with customers to keep them informed about items and special offers, provide platforms that help them share this with family and friends, and make the store experience extraordinary so they want to visit again.

Harness the fact that we are globally connected: There is a dramatic and global increase in the use of both social media platforms and smart devices. Facebook now has more than 1.3 billion users, Skype and Instagram each have 300 million users, and Twitter has 280 million-plus users. Just for 2015, Gartner predicts worldwide shipment of more than 2.2 billion smartphone and tablets. We are truly globally connected.

Measure, analyze, and improve your business: By being self-observant we can improve ourselves, and the same applies in business. In this digital age, there are many, many haystacks of data that can yield insight, which can be good and bad. Good because it's possible to gain the insight. But bad because it's not easy to know where to look for the needle. Analytics can help make sense of what's successful and why, to separate out what's working from what's not.

Shepherd people by being inclusive: Research informs us that different people learn in different ways. This also means that you'll uncover leadership talent in unexpected places. Leadership arises from inspiration and deep insight. It requires an ability to set fear aside, and meet challenges in the 'uncomfortable' zone. You never know where you will find the unknown person who'll excels at this. So provide opportunities and be inclusive to help new stars emerge.

As a leader, it is important to be transparent and let people know where you stand, and the values you stand for. You've also got to retain and develop talent, so be fair and reward people according to their contribution.

Train the next generation: In larger companies, there's often a management culture that focuses on making plan each year, and there's a hierarchical aspect of getting ahead. A leader takes the team beyond that, and sets the vision. Effective leaders go beyond winning for the self.

We must have ways to train the next generation, this is a necessity for retail companies. This includes teaching the team to face adversity. In life, we have to be able to pick ourselves up after a defeat. It's the same at work. As long as we keep your eyes and ears open, we can learn and improve from both success and failure. These lessons increase the chance of future success.



Shah Karim is CEO of Saferock. You can reach him at [email protected] or visit Saferock.com.

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News

Target “pops up” in Manhattan for the holidays

BY CSA STAFF

Target is back to its old marketing tricks in New York City this holiday season with a16,000-square foot omnichannel "spectacle” opening Dec. 9 next to Chelsea Market.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the holiday pop-up store "is filled with 10 holiday-themed displays that incorporate a digital element on top of an interactive physical experience. Each one is tied in to a popular holiday toy that Target is selling at the space."

Read more about Target's holiday pop-up by clicking here.

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OPERATIONS

Study: Retailers face significant cyber risks

BY Dan Berthiaume

Retailers that think they have digital security under control may want to take a second look at their protocols.

According to a new study from risk predictive analytics firm Bay Dynamics, "The Pre-Holiday Retail Risk Report," a significant amount of retailers assign the same login credentials to employees and do not know if employees have leaked sensitive data.

Despite these common gaps, a majority of 125 retail IT decision-makers surveyed said they have full confidence that their sensitive information is sufficiently protected.

Specifically, 62% of respondents said they know everything their permanent employees are doing on their corporate systems, and 50% said they know everything temporary employees are doing on their corporate systems. However, 21% said permanent retail floor workers and 61% said temporary floor workers do not have unique login credentials for corporate systems.

Furthermore, 37% of respondents said they cannot identify which systems their temporary employees have accessed. And more than a quarter of respondents said they don't know if their temporary employees have ever had access to and/or sent data they should not have had access to or sent.

Almost half (47%) of respondents said temporary workers are somewhat risky to their organization and more than a third view them as a high risk. The majority (66%) also view permanent workers as somewhat risky.

Despite this high level of risk awareness, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the most proactive, the majority of retailers (80% or higher) gave themselves a 6 or higher when it comes to identifying critical assets that must be protected, detecting theft or data leakage, and controlling employee access to critical assets.

To help retailers minimize their cyber risk, Bay Dynamics recommends retailers take an “inside-out” approach to security. That includes focusing on how their insiders — employees and third party vendor users — are behaving daily so that if a user isn't acting like himself or is exhibiting risky behavior, the retailer can quickly identify, address and remediate it.

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