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Westfield Shopping Centers court tech-savvy BTS crowd

BY CSA STAFF

Los Angeles — Westfield, an Australian-based company that operates 47 U.S. malls, is leveraging mobile technology and social media to promote its back-to-school campaign.

The company is touting itself as a destination not only for apparel and accessories but also as the place where students can get supplies and the latest technology. Aiming its marketing efforts at the mall crowd, the company is also hosting special events and offering prizes both online and at its centers and stores and positioning itself as a place where students can connect with friends.

Beginning in August, the Westfield back-to-school campaign will take place on the weekends at 10 centers across the country, including Westfield Brandon, Westfield Fox Valley, Westfield Connecticut Post, Westfield Annapolis, Westfield Montgomery, Westfield Oakridge, Westfield Culver City, Westfield Santa Anita, Westfield Southcenter and Westfield North County. Oversize, colorful school lockers, which contain prizes, showcase retailers’ merchandise. For four consecutive days — or for eight consecutive days at select centers — shoppers will have a chance to “unlock” combinations, and enter to win daily prizes online and at the participating center. Daily winners who open a locker by texting their center’s special code to ‘51515’ can win an iPad Mini and other prizes.

“During the back-to-school season, Westfield knows busy parents are on a mission to find value and kids are on the hunt to find the latest and coolest items,” said Kirk Thompson, VP Marketing, Family, Community and Customer Service at Westfield. “Our goal is to deliver a fun and engaging experience, making it easy and convenient for our shoppers to be successful during back-to-school.”

The company is also inviting anyone who can’t make it in person to participate by following local mom bloggers and fashion vloggers, selected from each of the participating Westfield locations, who will be showcasing the Westfield back-to-school experience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Additionally, Westfield center Facebook fans will have the chance to win a $1,000 back-to-school shopping spree simply by “liking” their local center on Facebook.

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Poorly Engaged Employees Just Aren’t That Into You … or Your Customers

BY CSA STAFF

By John Orr, [email protected]

Passive-aggressive, unengaged employees just aren’t that into your customers. Worse, they might be taking it out on customers, whose experience sends them to competitors. Contrast that with the upside of having an engaged staff happy at their jobs and going out of their way to treat customers well.

On the store floor, improving the customer experience is often a matter of improving the employee experience through engagement. Your organization’s success or failure largely hinges on your employees’ relationship with your customers. Fortunately, for employers to improve their workforce’s engagement levels on the job, the way forward is straightforward. By tweaking processes and technologies for human capital management (sometimes referred to as HCM) and implementing programs that assist in employees’ work-life balance, retailers can improve profitability and retention.

The evidence and the understanding: Intuitive and long-established
That a good customer experience underpins retail success is intuitive. Business leaders have sensed that for a long time: “The State of Customer Experience, 2010,” a survey by Forrester Research, found that 90% of retail executives think customer experience “is very important or critical,” and four-fifths indicated that their organizations try to use the customer experience as a way of differentiating themselves. More recently, 82% of CEOs across several industries were planning to make some or major changes over the next 12 months to their strategies for customer growth, retention and loyalty, according to the “16th Annual PwC Global CEO Survey,” conducted in fourth quarter 2012.

The evidence and understanding that an engaged workforce contributes to the customer experience are long-standing and intuitive, too: In 2010, a report by Retail Systems Research, titled “Enterprise Workforce Management: Redefining the Boundaries of Customer-Centric Retailing, Benchmark Study,” found an undeniable link between higher workforce productivity and an increase in the time these employees have to satisfy customers; the CEO Survey aforementioned stated, in fact, that improved employee engagement also improves performance by up to 34% and effectively drives 20% growth in year-over-year output.

Savvy customers, savvy employees
How much of a difference your organization can achieve in its employees’ engagement is the open question. A confluence of the online shopping experience, social media networking and more has left consumers savvier. For instance, 69% report that they’re now smarter about shopping, and 63% claim to be more demanding — all according to a 2010 report by EURO RSCG Worldwide titled “The New Consumer in the Era of Mindful Spending.”

Customers can sense when your employees — themselves savvier, too—aren’t into their jobs, and employees today understand when their work experience is clunky or inefficient. The need to invest in improvements in the employee experience is urgent. Again, CEOs across several industries agree — 77% of them were planning to make some or major changes to their talent management strategies over the next 12 months, according to the same PwC survey, conducted during fourth quarter 2012.

It is incumbent upon retailers’ senior leadership to recognize and acknowledge that the experiences of customers and front-line employees go hand in hand. The approaches to bettering your organization’s relationship with the employee and customer, simultaneously, are many. Following are three categories where improvements in your human capital management can help:

Human capital management technology: The majority of technologies for core HR, workforce management and payroll are severely lacking in efficiency — i.e., in their ability to perform as one, cohesive system. Published in August 2011, “Next Generation Retail Store-Level Workforce Management Strategies,” an Aberdeen Group study of retailers, found that those with old workforce management technologies were 76% more likely to rely on manual processes or spreadsheets than those who have implemented a modern solution. Manual processes and spreadsheets leave organizations unable to plan, schedule, monitor or track labor in a modern way. Employees take notice — and they disengage.

Self-serve, mobile accessibility: Employees, especially the millennial generation apt to constitute the majority of front-line retail staff, expect the basics of their employment to be self-serve, accessible via mobile applications. When employees can manage the fundamental aspects of their employment (e.g., tax withholding, benefits, etc.) via handheld devices, the resulting efficiency translates to their having more time to focus on the customer as they enjoy the peace of mind of control over their livelihood. Better yet, modern technology for human capital management technology may also enable employees to make adjustments to their preferred work hours via their mobile devices. According to another recent report by PwC, “PwC’s NextGen: A Global Generational Study,” 66% of the Millennial generation would like that option.

Work-life balance: Front-line employees could stand to benefit from better work-life balance, and any employer that provides a structured program for that is bound to score points with its workforce; for example, affording employees time off to tend to family care responsibilities. Providing not only the flexibility and communication, but, also, a formalized employee assistance program can further reinforce engagement. If done properly, that provision of caring is then likely to be extended by the employee to the customer during that magic moment of truth — in the store, where conversion takes place. It simply makes good sense, as many companies have reported a greater than two times return on their investment in employee assistance programs.

Human capital management: The place to start
Most retail organizations’ leaders understand that their relationships with employees have a direct impact on those with their customers. The trick is in taking the right steps to improve those relationships, and in recognizing that straightforward changes can make big, positive differences. Human capital management is the place to start.

John Orr is senior VP, retail strategy & execution at Ceridian HCM, a leader in human capital management delivering trusted results and transformative technology. Offerings include the award winning, cloud-based Dayforce HCM, LifeWorks and International Payroll. He can be reached at [email protected].


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Lawsuit halts HanesBrands bid for Maidenform

BY CSA STAFF

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The Shareholders Foundation has announced that an investor who currently holds Maidenform shares filed a lawsuit to halt the proposed takeover of Leap Wireless International by HanesBrands for $23.50 per share.

Investors who purchased shares of Maidenform Brands prior to July 24, 2013 and still hold them are being asked to contact the Shareholders Foundation at [email protected] or 858-779-1554.

The business deal between Maidenform and HanesBrands appears to make a lot of sense given their respective product offerings. However, the price HanesBrands offered and the Maidenform board accepted represented a 30% premium to the average closing price of Maidenform over the past 30 days. While those deal terms may have resonated with newer shareholders, longer-term holders are looking at a price that is several dollars below Maidenform’s 52-week high price of $26.37.

As such, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties owed to stockholders by agreeing to sell the company at an unfair price via an unfair process. The plaintiff claims that the proposed transaction is patently opportunistic and does not reflect the intrinsic value of the company as a takeover candidate. Shares traded in April 2012 as high as $23.77 and in April 2011 as high as $31.66 per share. The plaintiff is also pointing to Maidenform Brands’ financial performance, which went from $466.25 million for the 52-week-period ended Jan. 2, 2010 to $600.28 million for the 52-week-period ended Dec. 29, 2012.

The Shareholders Foundation is a professional portfolio legal monitoring and settlement claim filing service, which does research related to shareholder issues and informs investors of securities class actions, settlements, judgments and other legal-related news to the stock/financial market.

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