OPERATIONS

Walmart launches Women in Factories empowerment program

BY Staff Writer

Bentonville, Ark. — Walmart announced it has launched its Women in Factories program, a five-year initiative that will empower 60,000 women working in factories that supply products to Walmart and other retailers in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America.

The program, which is being implemented in collaboration with local NGOs, will teach critical life skills related to communication, hygiene, reproductive health, occupational health and safety, identifying personal strengths and gender sensitivity. Up to 8,000 women will also receive leadership training to develop the work and life skills necessary for personal and career development.

The program will be rolled out to 150 factories in India, Bangladesh, China and Central America over the next five years, initially launching in Bangladesh and India in 2012. The program was designed and will be implemented in collaboration with CARE in Bangladesh and SWASTI in India. The program will be evaluated by Northwestern University in partnership with DAI and Mission Measurement.

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Survey ranks the 10 most ‘relevant’ retailers

BY Marianne Wilson

BostonAmazon.com is America’s most relevant retailer, followed by Target, according to Brodeur Partners’ Retail Relevance Top 10 ranking. The study asked shoppers to look at 21 of the nation’s top retailers and select the "most" and "least" personally relevant retailer in four specific areas: practicality, values, sensory appeal and social appeal.

"These are four ingredients of relevance that you look for in everything, from a Google search to a product, candidate, cause, or place to shop," said Brodeur Andy Coville, CEO, Brodeur Partners, Boston. "Amazon.com has clearly cracked the code when it comes to being relevant to American shoppers."

It is striking, the company noted, that shoppers gave Amazon.com the highest ranking in the area of practical value considering it has no real-world storefront shoppers can visit.

Target came in second in the relevance ranking largely because shoppers found it the most appealing to the senses.

"Clearly there’s something shoppers find exciting about Target, its store design, merchandise and messaging. That is reflected in its high sensory ranking," said Jerry Johnson, Brodeur’s EVP strategic planning.

Wal-Mart came in third place. Along with Amazon, shoppers selected Wal-Mart as the retailer that had the highest "practical relevance" among those tested.

Here is a list of the survey’s 10 most relevant retailers:

  1. Amazon.com
  2. Target
  3. Wal-Mart
  4. Best Buy
  5. Costco
  6. Kohl’s
  7. J.C. Penney
  8. Macy’s
  9. Walgreen
  10. Apple

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Deloitte survey finds consumers more optimistic; looking to shop more at discount stores

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — More than half of consumers (67%) said they plan to spend the same or more at retailers than they did last year, a nine percentage point increase from last year, according to the 2012 Spring Consumer Pulse Survey by Deloitte. Consumers also feel slightly better about the economy this year than last; 57% of survey respondents said the economy has been recently recovering, compared with 52% last year.

Discount stores were the overwhelming favorite when consumers were asked which retail venue they expected to shop more in 2012 than last year, with 72% of respondents selecting this category. Online-only retailers was a distant second (35%), followed by dollar stores and warehouse clubs (tied at 33%).

The survey confirms the increasing popularity of digital channels. Almost two-thirds (65%) said they are shopping more online to get the best product or price, up 13% points from last year. And in deciding what to buy, 45% said they rely more on online recommendations/comments from others than they do marketing messages from retailers.

Social networking and mobile activity are up, with 46% of smartphone owners indicating they have used phones to research product prices online – up 10 percentage points from 2011. And 45% of respondents said they interact with retailers through social networking sites.

Despite the positive sentiments, however, inflation remains a top concern.

When asked what might cause them to hold back spending in the months ahead, 76% said higher prices generally, followed by higher energy costs (69%) and higher medical bills (44 %).

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