Verizon Business sees mobile commerce demand, cloud adoption spread
Basking Ridge, N.J. — Verizon Business, which delivers integrated, secure IT solutions to many of the world’s largest retailers, said it predicts the following five trends will shape the retail industry in the coming year.
First, the company expects mobile commerce demand will spike. “Consumers have high expectations for m-commerce,” according to Verizon Business. Customer demand for m-commerce, however, will outpace retailers’ ability to deliver it. “Retailers must adapt their IT systems and processes to support m-commerce, or risk alienating customers,” the company said.
The cloud is expected to go mainstream. Verizon Business said
retailers will turn to the cloud (web-based computing delivered “as a service”) more and more as they look to control cost and reduce complexity while boosting agility. Also, ownership of brand will shift from retailer to consumer. “Consumers are relying more on discussions and customer evaluations that take place over social media to drive product selection, as opposed to supplier or retailer advertising,” said Verizon Business. “Consumers will increasingly ignore store associates and instead conduct research on their own — or via their mobile device while in the store.”
Security and compliance continue to be concerns, the company said. New technologies will require increased protection of consumer personally identifiable information such as social security (or national identification) and credit card numbers. Also, with the October release of the updated Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), retailers must quickly get up to speed on changes to the standard and incorporate them into their IT processes. Updates to the standard will force retailers to take a much closer look at securing virtualization technology and improving risk-management capabilities.
And, finally, shopping in “silos” will disappear. Previously, retailers operated their various customer touch points as separate business units, using distinct staffs and business processes for their websites, brick-and-mortar stores, and mobile commerce engines. Customers, however, now expect one seamless, consistent store experience, whether they are visiting the store or its website, or shopping from a smart phone.
“The retail industry is rapidly evolving,” said Ravi Bagal, VP retail and distribution for Verizon Business. “Consumers are challenging the industry to adapt to the ways they live and shop today. Supported by emerging technologies, consumers will be more focused than ever on price and convenience. As such, retailers will need to even more clearly differentiate themselves through excellent customer service that’s further enabled through technology.”
Kronos Retail Labor Index shows dramatic increase in last-minute holiday hiring
Chelmsford, Mass. — Kronos announced the December release of the Kronos Retail Labor Index, analyzing the relationship between the demand and supply sides of the labor market within the U.S. retail sector.
The December report, which includes data for November 2010, showed that the Index increased significantly to 3.8%, a 28% increase over last month’s figure of 3.0%. (A level of 3.0% means that for every 100 applications received, three hirings occurred.)
The retailers representing 27,034 distributed locations across the U.S. that make up the Kronos data sample recorded 56,028 hirings (on a seasonally adjusted basis) in November, a dramatic 77.5% increase over the October 2010 seasonally adjusted figure of 31,569. This was also a 9.8% increase over the 51,037 hirings that occurred in November 2009.
The supply of applications was also up significantly, reaching a seasonally adjusted level of 1,457,264 in November. The November figure represented a 38.4% increase over the 1,052,765 applications processed in October 2010.
Report: A&P to be considering bankruptcy
Montvale, N.J. — A report Friday said that Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. may file for bankruptcy in the coming days to restructure debt.
Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported that a filing to reorganize under court protection may come as soon as this weekend. A&P hired law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP to represent it in negotiations with creditors and in any Chapter 11 proceeding, according to the report.
The grocer has struggled to compete with discounters such as Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores, and has dropped its store counts over the decades from a once-high almost 16,000 stores in the 1930s to about 400 locations under its namesake banner as well as SuperFresh and Food Emporium. Its most recently quarterly report, representing the 13 weeks ended Sept. 11, showed a 7.1% drop in sales and losses doubling to $153.7 million.
CEO Sam Martin was hired away from OfficeMax in July to help lead a turnaround, replacing then-CEO Ron Marshall.