OPERATIONS

Wal-Mart kicks off holiday with employee promotions

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Gearing up for the holidays, Wal-Mart announced that it expects to promote more than 160,000 associates to jobs with higher pay and more responsibility this year, including 25,000 promotions during its fourth quarter.

"Our success from day one is a direct result of our associates and the hard work they do in taking care of our customers. We are proud to provide our people with additional opportunities for career growth and greater economic security for their families," said Bill Simon, Wal-Mart U.S. president and CEO. "Like most Americans, our associates want good jobs and access to a better life. Whether you are a cashier in Charlotte, or a stocker in Dallas or an assistant manager in Los Angeles, Walmart wants to see you succeed."

The promotions are in addition to Wal-Mart’s announcement in September to move 35,000 associates from temporary to part time and another 35,000 associates from part-time to full-time by the end of the year.

Also this year, as part of an effort to give greater flexibility to employees, Wal-Mart is providing associates with access to open shifts, giving them the opportunity to pick up extra hours that fit with their personal schedules. The company is also providing priority status for existing employees to fill open positions, so current associates have the first opportunity to apply for open store positions, and access to supervisor roles at stores throughout the country.

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SAP survey: Retailers see lack of skilled managers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Waldorf, Germany – Retailers see a need for functional competencies leaning toward technology and data skills, even more than general business and people management. But a new survey of 76 retail managers from top retailers conducted by SAP during the recent SAP Retail Forum North America in Dallas, Texas revealed that 84% of retailers are worried that it will be challenging to find employees with these skills.

Exacerbating the problem is the overall hiring trend: 93% of survey respondents said hiring will not decrease during the next two to three years. When asked to specify which skills are in high demand, retailers indicate they are focused on filling management-level roles that have a strategic impact on the business, such as understanding and applying business analytics and big data in retail (80%), optimizing the retail business for omni-channel commerce (72%), and analyzing consumer buying behavior for improved operations (55%).

Within these functional competencies, 97% of the retailers surveyed are aware of the challenge of finding and training employees for new skill sets. Retailers plan to approach this challenge using a mix of activities. The majority, 75%, plan to hire new people from outside the organization to fill these roles, if they can find them. More than half said they plan to use in-house educational resources or organically develop new skills through experience and training. And, 53% plan to offer external education opportunities to current employees to improve skills.

Other skills of note that are top of mind for retailers include mobile commerce management (50%), merchandise buying/planning (37%), and digital and social branding skills (37%).

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Pizza Hut enhances mobile ordering

BY Dan Berthiaume

Plano, Texas – Pizza Hut is introducing all-new mobile ordering apps and a refreshed mobile website. The new mobile enhancements will enable users to order in less than 30 seconds, will be GPS-enabled to assist in finding the nearest restaurant and will immediately update as new products and deals are introduced.

Digital ordering accounts for about 30% of deliveries and carryout traffic for Pizza Hut nationwide and nearly half of the company’s digital orders stem from mobile devices. That’s a 4,000% increase in Pizza Hut mobile ordering since 2010.

Pizza Hut partnered with industry-leading mobile designers and developers to produce a simplified ordering flow based on best-practice mobile navigation and user experience. The company will also add a reordering feature in the near future that will save orders enabling users to place an order in 10 seconds. In addition, Pizza Hut has added an "Inbox" and application badges for delivering deal messages to app users. Push notifications will soon be added to let customers know when their delivery order is on its way.

Other features include instant access to new menu additions without downloading updates and GPS technologies to find nearby restaurants and gain access to local deals. Current Pizza Hut app users should have received a notification update for the new mobile app. New users can download the app at the Pizza Hut website and in the Apple and Google app stores.

"When it comes to technology in the pizza category, no one has led the way like Pizza Hut," said Kurt Kane, chief marketing officer, Pizza Hut. "We’ve consistently innovated in this area with technology that improves the experience and focuses on convenience for our customers. Our new apps and mobile website again push that forward with even more speed and ease."

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