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Vera Bradley adds e-commerce expertise to board

BY Gina Acosta

Vera Bradley is adding some deep e-commerce experience from Best Buy to its board of directors.

Kelley has e-commerce, marketing, and strategic planning experience and has served as president, e-commerce for Best Buy since 2014. Prior to joining Best Buy, Kelley served as senior VP, e-commerce for Chico's FAS and held the posts of VP of retail real estate and marketing and VP of e-commerce for L.L. Bean.

"We are so pleased that Mary Lou Kelley has joined our board of directors," said Robert Wallstrom, CEO of Vera Bradley. "Her vast omnichannel experience, counsel, and insight will be invaluable as we continue to transform our business, which includes elevating our marketing efforts and growing our own Verabradley.com digital flagship."

Previously, she also held key marketing positions with Ashford.com and Ben & Jerry's and was an engagement manager at McKinsey and Company. Kelley holds a BA in Economics from Boston College and earned a MBA from the University of Virginia Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business.

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GBT announces development of The Shoppes of Northgate

BY Melonie Messina

Nashville, Tenn. — GBT Realty Corporation announced it acquired a 13.1-acre site along Memorial Blvd in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for $2.4 million. The company plans to develop the site into The Shoppes of Northgate, a 98,000-sq.-ft. center anchored by a 30,000-sq.-ft. Sprouts Farmers Market, along with retail tenants PetSense, Liquor Barn and Newk’s Eatery. The construction of the $16 million retail center is expected to begin this month with store openings set for spring 2016.

“Murfreesboro is the fastest growing city in Tennessee and the sixth largest city in the state,” explains Jeff Pape, managing director, shopping center division, GBT. “The area is experiencing rapid growth in both the industrial and commercial sectors and is a logical target for new investment – and retail expansion – in our home state.”

With the announcement of Northgate and recent announcement of Village 21 at Regions Park, a $45 million mixed-use development in Nashville, Tennessee, along the development of Crestview at The Summit, a 15-acre mixed-use development GBT currently has approximately $161 million of commercial space under development in the Nashville region.

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Which retailer knows its customers best?

BY Dan Berthiaume

When it comes to understanding what consumers want, one retailer stands tall above the rest.

According to a new study of 1,000 consumers from beacon marketing platform provider Swirl Networks Inc., Amazon.com holds a clear lead in knowing its customers. Fifty-six percent of consumers say that Amazon demonstrates an understanding of their individual preferences and needs on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, only 25% of consumers say that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers demonstrate an understanding of their individual preferences and needs on a regular basis. The personalization gap is prevalent across every retail category.

However, categories that actively capture consumer behavioral data through large-scale point-of-sale or loyalty/rewards programs) perform significantly better than those that do not. Thirty-eight percent of consumers say grocery retailers understand their individual needs, and 35% say the same about big-box retailers. The percentages drop for other categories:

· Pharmacy/Drug Stores: 29%
· Specialty Retailers: 25%
· Department Stores: 24%
· Warehouse Clubs: 24%
· Off-price retailers: 20%

In addition, consumers do not feel most personalization attempts are working. Respondents said 79% of mobile content and ads they see from retailers, as well as 78% of online content and ads and 75% of emails and offers, are irrelevant. In-store sales associates also fail to demonstrate an understanding of shopper needs and preferences 75% of the time.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers said that more personalized and connected online, mobile and in-store experiences would increase their likelihood to shop at that retailer. And 87% of consumers said that more personalized and connected online, mobile and in-store experiences would increase their loyalty to a retail brand

"Amazon continues to be the clear leader in understanding individual consumer preferences and delivering highly-personalized shopping experiences,” said Hilmi Ozguc, founder and CEO of Swirl. “Mastering omnichannel marketing needs to be a top retailer priority in 2016."

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