OPERATIONS

Twistee Treat sees improved hiring with JobOn video recruiting

BY Dan Berthiaume

Orlando, Fla. – Store expansion is a wonderful thing, but effectively keeping up with recruiting and hiring the employees who staff new stores is not always easy. Twistee Treat, a rapidly growing, 15-store specialty ice cream retailer, is using video HR technology from JobOn to facilitate hiring and recruiting at remote locations.

“We’re a small growing company and needed a solution where instead of an executive traveling sand spending 10 days in a market interviewing people, there would be a better way,” said Corey Balzer, president, Twistee Treat USA, in an interview with Chain Store Age.

Using the JobOn application, Twistee Treat lets applicants answer prescreening questions by video. Applicants can review their answers and rerecord ones they don’t like before submitting them. Applicants can use an iPad or smartphone as well as a PC.

“For everyone except the manager, it’s normally their first job,” said Balzer. “Applicants are nervous and young and have never been through the interview process.”

Twistee Treat corporate recruiting personnel review the video applications and select the “best of the best” submissions for follow-up in-person interviews. The retailer has been using JobOn for three years and installed a variety of software updates that provide features such as better contrast on videos.

This year, Twistee Treat has also started using a more in-depth JobOn video application to recruit managers. As the retailer expands to new markets to Dallas, it plans to leverage JobOn to make recruitment easier and more cost-effective.

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Insights

Tech Guest Viewpoint: Poor Mobile Performance Can Mean Missing Out

BY CSA STAFF

By Carin van Vuuren, Usablenet

If there was ever any doubt of mobile’s essential role to retail success, the most recent holiday shopping season should put that to bed. Last year, more than 40% of all Cyber Monday sales came from mobile devices. In fact, Amazon stated that almost 60% of its customers shopped via mobile during the 2014 holiday season, with total U.S. sales from its app doubling from 2013.

Mobile has inarguably come into its own as a primary driver of sales, brand engagement and more. But aside from breaking e-commerce revenue records, what does mobile’s prominence mean for retail’s busiest seasons?

The reality is that rising preference for e-commerce, and mobile in particular, combined with timely, highly attractive promotions, creates massive amounts of Web traffic on a scale that has changed the way brands must approach mobile design and prepare for busy seasons.

Yet not every retailer has been prepared for what mobile’s rapid adoption means for their IT systems and the end customer experience. The rapid growth of mobile has led not only to increased Web traffic, but also to high consumer expectations across platforms. A popular anecdote in e-commerce today is that if a page does not load in a few seconds, a viewer will leave for a competitor.

Hence electronics giant Best Buy’s decision to shut down its entire Website on Black Friday, referencing a “concentrated spike in mobile traffic” that overwhelmed its systems. The company judged that it would be better to take the site down completely, rather than allow consumers to try to purchase under slow, underperforming conditions.

Issues like this were seen worldwide in various sectors: U.K. retailers like Boots and TopShop also experienced unprecedented traffic and service outages. Increased Web traffic and resulting performance issues have created an environment where the potential for a website crash or massive slowdown is high and brands risk missing out on millions of dollars in minutes – not to mention diminished customer loyalty.

With consumers increasingly making purchases via smartphones and tablets, mobile performance has become a key differentiator between leading brands and the rest of the pack. Yet, delivering swift, effective and satisfying mobile experiences has proven difficult. As retailers look to add integrations to websites, ensuring features are translated to mobile without impacting performance will only pose more of a challenge.

While Web traffic and network latency often result in sluggish speeds, “weight” also plays a crucial role. Sites using responsive design, for example, which dynamically configure the experience for each channel, often deliver content which is never displayed on mobile, causing unnecessarily long load times.

The balance between presentation and functionality can be fragile. Responsive design provides adequately designed, yet slow-loading sites while dedicated mobile sites have swift speed and good usability, but require additional resources to manage. Many brands employ server-side technologies to try to process only what an individual user needs, accelerating speed and eliminating unnecessary content. However, companies must also weigh how to effectively distribute computation load between server and browser.

Adaptive delivery taps into this by providing experiences optimized for different devices through a unique front-end. Since this approach includes a common data layer that supports multiple mobile experiences, changes can be made to a device-specific page without impacting other devices.

Broadly, one of the strongest ways to ensure the right mobile balance is struck is to encourage close collaboration between marketing and IT teams. Such collaboration is essential to identifying and executing achievable mobile goals; while marketers are vital to understanding the customer and managing the brand experience, IT supports the development of the technologies needed to execute strategies.

As mobile becomes key to determining retail success or failure, brands must take strides to ensure performance is up to par. This is especially true during the busiest shopping seasons, when increased Web traffic can multiply performance problems and create situations that lead to missed revenue and poor customer experiences. Leading brands prioritize speed and balance presentation with functionality to ensure performance and create experiences that not only impact customer satisfaction, but long-term loyalty and willingness to recommend a brand.

Carin van Vuuren is CMO at Usablenet.

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News

REI joins national parks campaign

BY CSA STAFF

REI is looking to increase sales to its stores by joining the National Park Service on a campaign to lure more visitors to America's national parks.

In its role as "Official Outdoor Retailer" of the National Park Centennial celebration, the co-op aims to inspire, guide and outfit people with a passion to explore these national treasures more deeply.

"REI began in the national parks. Seventy-six years ago our founders and their friends searched for an ice axe to climb Mount Rainier, and the co-op was born," said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO. "Spending time in these treasured places often creates a deep and lasting connection with the outdoors. We're incredibly lucky to have access to them, and part of REI's job is to invest our resources into the places that inspire our members, and people everywhere, to enjoy their lives outside."

REI’s Find Your Park initiative encourages people to find their own personal connections within the network of national parks and public lands. Through 2017, REI plans to offer expanded gear and programs tailored for national parks through 140 stores and REI.com.

To kick off Find Your Park, REI will also launch five new REI Adventures trips at national parks. In honor of the National Park Service Centennial, REI Adventures will donate 10 percent of the retail price for each of its national park destinations to the National Park Foundation through 2016.

Stritzke continued, "REI is aiming to connect people everywhere, including our community of 5.5 million members, with America's greatest natural spaces – in particular the hidden gems. We're channeling a good portion of our support for the centennial into stewarding these places so that their beauty can be enjoyed for generations."

Additional information about REI's partnership is available at rei.com/nationalparks. More announcements will be shared in the coming months, including how REI will extend its support of more than 300 non-profits who create access to more than 600 inspiring outdoor spaces.

REI has 140 stores in 33 states.

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