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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OPERATIONS

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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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Toys ‘R’ Us launches digital wish finder site, app

BY Dan Berthiaume

Wayne, N.J. – Toys ‘R’ Us is launching its digital wish finder, a dedicated website providing an online version of its “The Great Big Toys"R"Us Wish Finder” holiday catalog, on Nov. 2. The retailer is also launching The Toys"R"Us Wish List Wizard, a free iOS and Android app that turns parents’ smartphones into a scanner and lets kids scan items they want in-store for automatic inclusion on a digital wish list.

Toys “R” Us will give fans and followers of the company’s official Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram pages a sneak peek of all 80 pages of The Great Big Toys"R"Us Wish Finder beginning Oct. 29. And, throughout the holiday season, wishers and wish-granters alike can follow the conversation using the hashtag #WishinAccomplished.

"Among the truest signs that the holiday season has begun, is the arrival of ‘The Great Big Toys"R"Us Wish Finder’ on families’ doorsteps,” said Peter Reiner, senior VP, marketing, Toys “R” Us. “Every year, kids carefully comb through this beloved book, studying each item, and checking off the toys they hope to unwrap on Christmas morning, While children tackle the project of making their wish lists with great determination, parents also are steadfast in their hunt for great deals, and will be thrilled to find incredible savings, as well as Free Layaway, Extended Returns and Price Match Guarantee, to help make all their kids’ wishes come true when shopping at Toys ‘R’ Us."


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