OPERATIONS

Walmart provides scheduling visibility to associates

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Wednesday that it is implementing a pilot program that brings increased transparency to its workforce scheduling and allows associates to choose more hours for themselves.

Walmart said it is piloting the program in Denver and Fort Smith, Ark., to provide associates with transparent and consistent information on available shifts throughout the store and give them the opportunity to request to work any of those shifts.

The pilot, which delivers on a scheduling transparency commitment announced in January by U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon, will allow associates to pick up additional shifts to earn extra pay, as well as transition to full-time duty and learn about different areas of the store to boost career advancement.

As part of the program, Walmart is testing web technology that allows associates to use their computers or smartphones to view and request to work available shifts in their store.

The pilot program, which began Feb. 1, is scheduled to expand to more stores in July and roll out to the company’s more than 4,000 stores by the end of October.

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OPERATIONS

Survey: 20% of smartphone users respond to savings notification

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Whiting, Ind. — Survey results released Wednesday by CouponCabin.com found that one in five smartphone owners have visited a store after receiving notification that specials, coupons or deals were available nearby.

The survey – conducted by Harris Interactive – also found that 70% of smartphone owners would be at least somewhat influenced to make an unplanned purchase at a store after receiving this type of alert.

Smartphone owners see saving money as a top priority, as 47% said they would like to receive geo-targeted coupons on their device for precisely that reason.

Nearly seven-in-10 (67%) said they would be at least somewhat interested in a mobile app that allows them to receive notifications for geo-targeted coupons.

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Jones Group to close 170 stores, cut workforce

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — The Jones Group Inc. announced Monday that it will put into action a series of events designed to shore up profitability, the most significant of which includes shuttering 170 underperforming stores in the U.S. by mid-2014.

The stores identified for closure include 50 units previously announced in the fourth quarter.

Jones, which owns the Nine West, Jones New York and Anne Klein banners among others, will emerge from the restructuring with a higher percentage of outlet stores in its portfolio, and some units will be converted to more viable sister banners.

"We remain focused on our mission to create the leading global fashion company defined by premier brands,” said CEO Wesley Card.

Other cost-saving initiatives announced by Card include consolidating DCs and cutting staff. About 18% of the company’s retail employees in the U.S. will be terminated, and another 2% of corporate, support and supply chain staff will be cut. Retail staff reductions are already underway and, said the company, will continue through the first half of 2014.

The aggressive cuts come as Jones has struggled to ride out the economy. The company said Monday that it projects first-quarter earnings to be half what they were in the same period last year.

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