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Study: Brand values second only to price in holiday purchasing decisions

BY Marianne Wilson

Americans are leaning towards socially conscious companies this holiday season.

That’s according to a new survey by SAP SE, which found that 54% of American consumers consider themselves to be socially conscious shoppers, and 63% of respondents prefer to purchase holiday gifts from brands that support specific social causes.

The study also revealed that brand values are second only to price when making purchasing decisions. The values of a matter more than a previous positive or negative experience with a brand, how user friendly a website is and if the brand has a physical store nearby, according to the survey.

Additional insights from the SAP survey include:
•Sixty-percent of individuals will avoid buying from brands that support causes they disagree with during holiday shopping.

•Consumers are willing to pay more for values. More than half of respondents said they would spend more for a holiday purchase from a brand that strongly supports a cause or represents specific values.

•Brand values are second only to price when making purchasing decisions. Brand values matter more than a previous positive or negative experience with a brand, how user friendly a website is and if the brand has a physical store nearby.

•Brands must be transparent in business practices. Sixty-seven percent of consumers said transparency in business practices is essential for brands to prove authenticity.

•Shoppers want their values to align with brands. The values most important to shoppers this holiday season are environmental sustainability, education and diversity and inclusion.

“We live in an experience economy in which consumers care not just about products but also about a company’s purpose, value and global impact”, said Alex Atzberger, president of SAP’s customer experience organization. “For retailers this can be decisive while competing during the holiday season, when shoppers are spending more than any other time of the year. Our survey findings indicate that when a company closely connects its purpose to the brand, chances are customers will relate to it on a more personal, human level — which supports customer loyalty and completes the customer experience.”

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Walmart rolls out in-store ordering app for employees

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart associates can now place online orders for in-store customers — directly from store aisles.

Walmart on Tuesday introduced a new employee-based app designed to save the sale. Internally known as “Dotcom Store,” the app enables customers to work with associates to order items that may not be available on store shelves, as well as pay for merchandise.

Here’s how it works: Using the app, which is downloaded on a mobile device, associates can look up out-of-stock merchandise. (The app is directly integrated to Walmart’s e-commerce site.) Customers can choose to have the item shipped to their home or delivered to the store for free, and the associate will print a receipt or send an email that must be presented at any register in the store, according to a blog on Walmart’s website.

Customers pay for orders using cash, check (a new option), credit card or Walmart Pay, a mobile wallet that stores customers’ preferred gift, debit and credit cards, and enables them to pay through their device.

“This new app connects our stores and Walmart.com to enable a new, convenient service, and it’s also the latest in a series of apps associates now have to help them serve customers even better,” the blog reported.

Walmart’s other custom-built employee apps include PlanIT, which keeps associates up-to-date on company and store announcements; the Receiving App that reveals which products have just arrived at the store, and the Downstock App that keeps associates abreast of merchandise available on store shelves, according to separate blog on Walmart’s website.

Walmart’s Price Change app delivers information about necessary product price updates. It also categorizes them by aisle so associates receive them in the order they should be made, creating an efficient path through the store.

An Availability app gives associates insight into how their store is performing over time, including when out-of-stocks occur. Meanwhile, the Sales app updates a store’s sales numbers in real time so that associates know how their designated areas are performing against the previous year, down to specific products.

“[The] suite of custom-built apps for associates … allows them to manage a variety of routine activities directly from a mobile store device. From the moment a product arrives in the back room to the second a customer finds it on the shelf, an ecosystem of data gives associates new visibility that helps them make informed decisions quickly, thus allowing them to take on more ownership of their work,” according to Walmart.

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Regulatory Wrap-up: Weekly review of legislative developments — Dec. 3

BY CSA Staff


Wages

Federal – With the newly-elected U.S. Congress set to take office in January, a House committee plans to hold a hearing entitled, “Mandating a $15 Minimum Wage: Consequences for Workers and Small Businesses.” The committee is currently controlled by Republicans and the Democrats who are set to take over in 2019 have stated they will hold hearings and advance a $15/hr minimum wage mandate early in the next Congress.

Michigan – The Republican-controlled senate passed new legislation to delay the state’s scheduled minimum wage increase and reestablish the tipped wage. The bill extends the phase-in period to 2030, increasing at a rate of 23 cents annually until it hits $12. The phase-in could be stretched out even later if the unemployment rate is 8.5 percent or higher. The tipped wage would be capped at $4.00/hr under the new language. The new bill now moves to the house for consideration where it is likely to pass. Should that happen prior to the newly-elected Democratic governor taking office, advocates for the increase may initiate litigation or could refile the issue for the 2020 ballot.

New Jersey In an opinion piece, Assembly Speaker Coughlin announced that a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15/hr will be introduced in the coming weeks. Legislative leaders and the governor have called for the legislature to advance an increase but negotiations around the tip credit and other issues have hampered movement to date.

Wilmette Village, IL – The suburban Chicago village board reversed their decision to opt out of Cook County’s $13/hr minimum wage ordinance. A nonbinding resolution appeared on the Nov. ballot and passed by wide margins, indicating public support for the increase. Several other local jurisdictions in Cook County could follow suit. The state is also likely to pick up the issue in 2019.

Paid Leave

Kansas The outgoing Republican governor signed an executive order providing paid parental leave to all government employees under the authority of the executive office. The move comes as a Democratic governor-elect is set to take over in 2019 and could serve to enable a broader conversation on paid leave mandates for private employers.

Michigan – The Republican-controlled senate passed new legislation that adjusts the paid sick leave provisions passed prior to Election Day. It lowers the required number of annual accrued hours that employers must provide from 72 to 36 and creates an exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The new bill now moves to the house for consideration. Advocates for the initiative have already pledged to put the issue back on the 2020 ballot if the law is substantially changed.

Washington – The state paid family leave law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019. Companies must participate in the state-run program or create their own program, provided it meets certain criterion.

Albany County, NY – The county legislature postponed action on the much-debated paid sick leave ordinance until 2019.

Wilmette Village, IL – The suburban Chicago village board reversed their decision to opt out of Cook County’s paid sick leave ordinance. A nonbinding resolution appeared on the Nov. ballot and passed by wide margins, indicating public support for the proposal. Several other local jurisdictions in Cook County could follow suit. The state is also likely to pick up the issue in 2019.

Rick Santorum – Former U.S. Senator, presidential contender and current conservative political pundit, Rick Santorum, authored an opinion editorial calling on Republicans to work with Democrats to establish a national paid leave program for working families.

Scheduling

Boston, MA – The city council heard testimony from business groups and some advocates regarding the proposed “fair workweek” legislation that would apply to city contractors. However, the language defines city contractors broadly and much of it mirrors other laws passed in localities across the country.

Philadelphia, PA – The city council continued debate on the proposed “fair workweek” legislation and made some amendments to the language. It remains to be seen whether there is enough support on the council to pass the bill on to the mayor. The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6.

H&M – The fashion retailer announced an update to their benefits package for part-time workers to include paid leave and a guaranteed minimum number of hours per week.

Labor Policy

California – A business group has initiated a legal challenge over the state’s decade-old Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) which allows individuals to bring suit against employers for labor code violations.

Taxes

U.S. House U.S. House Republicans introduced a tax package that addresses some technical changes to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed earlier this year. Most notable for many operators is correction of the drafting error related to the Qualified Improvement Property (QIP) provision. While the package may see some action in the House, it is unlikely to move in its entirety in the Senate prior to adjournment for the year.

Trade

China – President Trump announced a tentative truce with China in the ongoing trade war between the two countries. The two leaders met during the G20 in Argentina and reached an agreement that lacks specific details beyond the United States not implementing the scheduled increase of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The tariffs on those goods will remain at 10 percent and in return China has agreed to increase imports from the United States. The agreement reportedly is set to expire on March 1, 2019 and discussions between the two countries will continue during that time.

NAFTA – The Presidents from Canada, Mexico and the United States signed off on the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement late last week while all three leaders were attending the G20 summit. The proposal still needs approval by the U.S. Congress (as well as the legislatures in Mexico and Canada) and also faces considerable opposition from some in Canada’s agricultural community. The continued imposition of aluminum and steel tariffs by the United States on both trading partners also hangs over the ongoing discussions.

Key Takeaways

  • Washington state’s new paid leave program, effective Jan. 1, is significant and should be watched closely. The program is an important test of paid leave as a government-sponsored program or “insurance” fund. The monies – paid in part by employers and deducted from employees’ paychecks – are deposited into the state fund to be distributed to employees when they become eligible. If the mechanics of the program work, expect other states to adopt the model. And, perhaps more importantly, a functional program lays the groundwork for a future portable benefits program. 
  • The scheduling issue continues to heat up. What was largely a west coast issue has now migrated east, first to New York City and now to more blue-collar cities like Boston and Philadelphia. Concurrently, major retail brands are deploying technology solutions that undermine many of the industry’s political arguments and at the same time, there is continued disagreement within the industry on what is an acceptable compromise – especially between large companies and independents. With more cities – and states – tackling this in 2019, the industry needs to aggressively work toward palatable solutions.

Podcast

Check out our Working Lunch podcast each week that includes further analysis into these legislative issues, policy, politics and much more. You can find Working Lunch on the Nation’s Restaurant News website, or by clicking here, and when you download the podcast and subscribe on iTunes here.

Legislature Status for Week of 12/3/18

  • The United States Senate is in session this week
  • The United States House is in session this week
  • Five state legislatures are meeting actively this week:
    • MA, MI, NJ, OH & UT

The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Align can provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.

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