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Bob’s Discount Furniture names CEO

BY Mike Troy

After more than doubling in size the past 10 years, the 69 store Bob’s Discount Furniture chain has executed a succession strategy.

Manchester, Conn.-based Bob’s Discount Furniture elevated Michael Skirvin from his role as president and COO to serve as president and CEO. He assumes the top job from Ted English who will remain with the company as executive chairman.

Skirvin has been with Bob’s since 2011 while English joined in 2006 when the company operated 27 stores in seven states. Today, Bob’s operates 69 stores in 12 states across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. Recent years have seen the 25 year old company enter new markets such as Philadelphia in 2014, Pittsburgh in 2015 and Chicago earlier this year.

"The last four years at Bob's Discount Furniture have been the most rewarding of my career,” Skirvin said. “Our team wakes up every day focused on providing value, transparency and helpful support to our customers as they furnish their homes, and we do it with an overarching commitment to excellence. I look forward to advancing the remarkable growth we have had in our brick-and-mortar stores, and on our mybobs.com platform, as we continue to deliver on our promise of value and quality in the years ahead."

Before joining Bob’s, Skirvin held a variety of leadership roles at TJX, including serving as COO of the company’s A.J. Wright store division from 2007 to 2010, and holding leadership roles in real estate, finance, and business development.

“Mike (Skirvin’s) elevation to CEO is an exciting milestone for Bob’s Discount Furniture,” said Tricia Patrick of Bain Capital Private Equity, a board member of the company since Bain invested two years ago. “He has been instrumental to the success of the business during his tenure here. His strong leadership, deep retail expertise, and relentless focus on bringing great values to furniture consumers make him the ideal leader for this next phase of growth at Bob’s Discount Furniture.”

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Whole Foods and Instacart take relationship to new level

BY CSA STAFF

Whole Foods Market and online delivery service Instacart have big plans to make it easier for consumers nationwide to receive home deliveries from the nation’s leading retailer of natural and organic products.

The two companies will launch in several new markets in the coming year, building on the 17 existing metros where consumers can use Instacart to order deliveries from Whole Foods stores. Interestingly, the companies also said they are looking ahead to create new e-commerce and delivery solutions, with the first pilots launching in 2016. No other details on the development of new technology were provided.

In addition, the strengthened partnership will increase the number of Whole Foods Market stores with embedded Instacart shoppers by up to 50% nationwide by the end of 2016.

The new partnership means Instacart will be Whole Foods Market’s largest partner for online ordering and delivery.

“We’ve seen how much our customers love this fast and convenient way to receive Whole Foods Market groceries right to their door, so we are excited to extend our relationship with Instacart,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. “Working together, we will continue to find even more ways to create outstanding shopping experiences – whether they’re happening in the digital space or within the four walls of our stores.”

Whole Foods has previously reported that Instacart sales comprise a mid-to-high-single-digit percentage of sales in the cities where it currently partners with the delivery provider. These cities include Atlanta; Austin; Boulder; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; New York City; Philadelphia; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; San Jose; Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Whole Foods would presumably obtain tighter control over what is becoming an increasingly large in-store sales driver with this partnership, while Instacart obtains financing and long-term stability with a major client.

It is possible other Instacart retail partners may have issues with a competitor financially benefiting from their online deliveries. Also there could be concerns about Whole Foods having access to competitive information.

However, as with UPS’ recent investment into online delivery provider Deliv, this agreement shows that online delivery is becoming a more established omnichannel retail niche with growing profit potential. Look for other partnerships between online delivery providers and various retail, logistics and technology partners in the months ahead.

“Instacart has always prided itself on being a retailer’s best friend, and our extended partnership with Whole Foods Market is a testament to how brick and mortar retailers can successfully adapt to the growing demand for ecommerce and on-demand delivery services,” said Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Instacart. “Instacart and Whole Foods Market share a mutual commitment to providing our customers with the easiest and most seamless grocery shopping experience possible. We look forward to continuing to innovate with Whole Foods Market in the services that we can bring to users.”

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Seven signs of online fraud

BY CSA STAFF

Everyone knows detecting fraudulent e-commerce activity is crucial, but how do you know when something is up?

Fraud detection provider Simility aggregated patterns across 500,000 browser-based devices throughout January 2016. Analysts looked for patterns in the 10,000 (or 2%) of those devices that were in the hands of fraudsters and contrasted those with the other 98% of devices in the hands of good or “organic” users.

Simility discovered seven anomalies that were leading indicators of fraud:

1. 32-bit OS running on 64 bit processors: A transaction is eight times more likely to be fraudulent if the device configuration matches this description. Similty analysis indicates this is often because fraudsters use “cracked versions” of older Windows machines which are imaged and then explicitly programmed for greater control.

2. Fresh cookies without old cookies: Fraudsters clear their cookies 90% of the time, whereas organic users clear cookies only 10% of the time. Thus cookie age is a strong fraud signal, and browser cookies are more likely to be good the older they are.

3. Null values: Browsers have a “Do Not Track feature. For organic/real users, the possible options are “Yes”, “No”, and “Unspecified.” The default setting is “No” 70% of the time. With fraudsters, this value is often “null” which is not among possible organic values. There are more browser configuration parameters where fraudulent devices have values other than the possible organic values.

4. Flushed browser referrer history: Fraudsters often flush their browser referrer history. Less than 5% of the organic population explicitly filters their referrer history using third-party plugins or extensions. Fraudsters as a population are five times more likely to do this.

5. Fraudsters don’t use Macs: Windows desktop and laptop have a dominant market share organically (90%-plus overall) and 70%-plus among the sampled data of users. However, more than 96% of fraudsters use Windows.

6. Fraudsters do not install a lot of plugins and extensions: Ninety percent of fraudsters having less than five plugins in the browser. By comparison, good users have more plugins, and in fact 5% of the organic population have more than 25 plugins/extensions installed.

7. Fraudsters don’t go incognito: A user in “private mode” is more likely to be good than bad. Surprisingly, fraudsters do not enable private mode. Organic users are three times more likely to prefer private mode.

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