FINANCE

Walmart donates nearly $1 million to help retail’s front line

BY Gina Acosta

Walmart is one step closer to fulfilling its mission of donating $100 million toward increasing the economic mobility of entry-level workers.

The retailer and its Walmart Foundation are donating nearly $1 million to Innovate+Educate to fund research and build recommendations that support the advancement of entry-level workers in retail and adjacent sectors.

The grant is the first of its kind to help incumbent entry-level employees in retail attain higher paying jobs based on articulated skills and competencies from the employers in a select region.

“We chose Dallas, Texas, as the first site for this exciting work. After analyzing the labor data provided by Burning Glass Technologies and other sources, doing site selection interviews, and learning more about the work on the ground already underway in pathways by Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas and the Dallas Regional Chamber, we felt confident this was a great place to implement the work and create a model to scale,” stated Jamai Blivin, CEO, Innovate+Educate.

Blivin stated that there are thousands of unfilled retail jobs in the Dallas area, many of them middle-skill jobs, and a great network of employers that appear willing to move to a competency-based hiring and training model for incumbent workers that will not only impact retail but also adjacent sectors such as grocery, pharmacy, telecommunications and banking/finance.

“Through an innovative approach, Innovate+Educate is working to better define the requirements needed to help today’s entry-level workers advance in their careers to attain middle-skills jobs,” said Gayatri Agnew, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Walmart Giving. “Gathering this first-hand research is a unique and valuable mechanism to create an important blueprint that will help companies build clear pathways and training programs for advancement, ultimately supporting the economic mobility of workers nationwide.”

Earlier this year America’s largest retailer launched the Opportunity Initiative to help the retail industry close the skills gap that keeps many Americans out of jobs. The donation entails a series of grants as part of a five-year, $100 million commitment.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Santa’s sleigh will be powered by drones

BY Gina Acosta

Best Buy has formed a retail partnership with the manufacturer of what is expected to be one of the hottest selling items in consumer electronics this holiday season.

The retailer is teaming up with Yuneec International to offer the Typhoon drone series, which includes the Typhoon Q500 4K and Typhoon G multicopters, as well as the Typhoon Wizard, a new ultra-lightweight remote control drone.

“We are excited to be launching a partnership with the country’s largest and most recognizable consumer electronics retail chain,” said Shan Phillips, CEO of Yuneec USA. “Yuneec offers options for every type of drone pilot or photographer with the Typhoon 4K, Typhoon G, and Typhoon Wizard, and the Best Buy partnership is perfect timing for us to introduce our best-in-class drones to consumers across the country.”

Around one million of the popular buzzing devices known as drones could be given as presents over the holidays this year, a Federal Aviation Administration official said at a recent conference, according to Aviation Week.

Sam’s Club and Walmart both plan to stock their locations with roughly a dozen different models of consumer drones ahead of this year’s holiday season, according to The Wall Street Journal.

To ensure Typhoon drones are safe for consumers, Yuneec says its drones include features such as Geo-Fencing, Speed Control, Dynamic Return Home, Low-Battery Return Home, FAA No Fly, Follow Me and Watch Me.

“Yuneec drones are not only easy and ready to fly, but we guarantee a high level of safety that is perfect for both beginners and experienced drone pilots,” said Phillips. “For example, when you are finished flying, the pilot simply uses Dynamic Return Home, and the drone will automatically land between 13 to 26 feet of the ST10+ Personal Ground Station remote control.”

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MOBILITY

Urban Decay freshens e-commerce approach

BY Dan Berthiaume

Specialty cosmetics retailer Urban Decay is taking a lively approach to online customer engagement.

Urban Decay plans to launch a new content-driven website later this fall using the FirstSpirit content management system. The new “UD All Access” site will complement Urban Decay’s existing Demandware-based e-commerce site with the intention of delivering a richer, more immersive and interactive experience

“We have the commerce side and that’s going strong,” said John Perasco, assistant VP of digital at Urban Decay. “Now we’re building out the content side and making a visually relevant, beautiful, and interesting Urban Decay-branded portion of our site. It’s like whispering to our best beauty junkies to come take a peek behind the curtain and come back stage with us. People are looking for all kinds of content whether it’s editorial content, videos, product information or other users’ content.”

Urban Decay is in the midst of global expansion and needed a way to keep its brand presence consistent in every country. It also needed a way to maintain consistency across its Demandware site and the content side.

These needs first led Urban Decay to pursue a content management system. After considering a range of options, the company’s IT and marketing teams settled on FirstSpirit in part for its certified Demandware integration, ease-of-use for content creators and global content management functionality. By moving to a central system for managing and publishing content, Urban Decay is in effect creating a corporate content cloud for managing its brand globally.

The “UD All Access” site is scheduled to go live in late October and will be accessible as a menu item on the current e-commerce site. The site will let consumers explore content at their own pace without active promotions. Urban Decay also plans to integrate consumer interactions on Instagram and Facebook with the new site.

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