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Crumpler unpacks improved store management with Raymark

BY Dan Berthiaume

Melbourne, Australia – Vertical Australian luggage retailer Crumpler has selected Raymark's cloud-based store management software suite for deployment in its stores worldwide. The software initiative is aimed at supporting Crumpler's international growth, improving the omnichannel customer experience and modernizing IT operations.

Raymark Point of Sale, Clienteling, Repairs, Order Management, CRM, Inventory Management and Analytics will be deployed in all stores and at headquarters, and will be integrated with Crumpler's online store and ERP solution, enabling the organization to improve relationships with its customers globally, and improve productivity in all areas of its retail operations.

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Faith Popcorn: McDonald’s profits from serving people, not burgers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chain Store Age recently had the chance to speak with noted consumer trend expert Faith Popcorn, founder and CEO of marketing consulting firm Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, about steps McDonald’s can take to reverse its struggling fortunes. Popcorn’s insights come on the heels of McDonald’s reporting a 33% year-over-year drop in profits for first quarter 2015.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better
According to Popcorn, McDonald’s vast size is not necessarily an asset anymore.

“People appreciate small,” said Popcorn. “Big used to mean fast, convenient and cheap. But everyone now has access to almost any product. Now big means exploiting animals, the planet, people and health.”

Popcorn said McDonald’s is so ubiquitous that it could use its size to its advantage, but too often does not.

“Big could mean power to the people,” she said. “McCafe coffee shows McDonald’s can sell what Starbucks offers for $1 with the same quality, but strip away the pretense and the fanciness.”

Get With the Times
Another issue McDonald’s faces is that its business model and brand image have fallen behind the times, according to Popcorn.

“It’s nice to back off using antibiotics in chickens, but there’s much more McDonald’s needs to do,” Popcorn said. “Where’s the Weight Watchers, gluten-free, or paleo-diet? There’s no response to current dietary trends.”

In addition, Popcorn said McDonald’s is ignoring its female and multicultural customers in its marketing and communications.

“There is no sympathetic messaging to moms,” said Popcorn. “Moms are often the ones who decide to keep kids out of McDonald’s. There’s no ethnicity in McDonald’s branding. It’s still white. They need to show they have moved past 1950 and engage the new consumer.”

Service with a Smile
“Instead of saying one billion served, McDonald’s should say we are serving more than one billion people,” advises Popcorn. “It’s people they are serving, not hamburgers.”

Popcorn’s recommendations for McDonald’s to improve its service to people include offering non-core services such as voting booths, check-cashing, downloading and recording music, and even buying cars. She also says McDonald’s should become more of a community center, serving as a “safe space” for any consumer or minor who feels they are in a threatening situation and highlighting the efforts of local businesses, charities, performers and organizations.

Popcorn recommends the retailer also better serve its employees in ways that go well beyond higher wages and benefits.

“McDonald’s often is the first entity to teach its employees English,” she said. “They should formalize the process. They should provide child care and help employees get a college education. There should be homework help at all locations. They could become the company of the 99%. They own that piece of DNA, but don’t leverage it.”

Community and Technology
Finally, Popcorn advises McDonald’s to focus on community-building efforts, supported by technology.

“McDonald’s is a global community,” said Popcorn. “Screens in restaurant should show other people in other locations around the world, with an instant translator. You should be able to interact with McDonald’s customers in Belgium.”

Popcorn said McDonald’s should also focus on building a global community of customers using social media, instead of its current strategy of using social media as a platform to promote products.

“There should be iPads at tables,” said Popcorn.

Interestingly, almost none of Popcorn’s recommendations focus on product price, cost of sales, or any other strictly financial factors. Her insights reflect the deeper challenge facing all retailers in all verticals – how to stay relevant in a time of rapidly evolving customer demands, which often have little or nothing to do with the price tags.

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Apple Watch going well, time will tell

BY CSA STAFF

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said the launch of the company's new watch has been "overwhelmingly positive"just as another seemingly unstoppable surge of iPhone and App Store sales helped Apple Inc. post a 33% increase in profit for the second quarter, setting a record for its best March quarter ever.

Net income at Apple totaled $13.57 billion in its fiscal second quarter ended March 28, versus $10.22 billion in the year-ago period. Incredibly, the company is selling more products while also raising prices.Apple said it sold 61.17 million iPhones in the three months ended March, up 40% from the year-earlier period. The newest iPhone 6 costs $100 more than the previous generation.

"We are thrilled by the continued strength of iPhone, Mac and the App Store, which drove our best March quarter results ever," Apple CEO Tim Cook said. "We're seeing a higher rate of people switching to iPhone than we've experienced in previous cycles, and we're off to an exciting start to the June quarter with the launch of Apple Watch," he added.

Cook told CNBC that he is "very confident" in the company's iPad sales (which have been lagging), and that he is also happy with the Apple Watch.

The company also announced Monday that it would expand its capital return program to $200 billion from a previously announced $130 billion. Apple boosted its dividend 11% to 52 cents per share. The tech giant said its cash reserves had risen to a record $194 billion. Last quarter that figure came in at $178 billion, according to the company.

Earnings per share rose more sharply, to $2.33, from a split-adjusted $1.66, because the company’s stock-repurchase program reduced the share count. Revenue rose 27% to $58.01 billion from $45.65 billion in the year-ago period.

For the third quarter Apple is forecasting $47 billion in revenue, which would represent 26% year-over-year growth.

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