OPERATIONS

Fast-fashion giant exploring data breach

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Forever 21 is investigating whether it has become the newest victim of a cyber-attack.

The fast-fashion retailer learned from a third party that hackers may have gotten unauthorized access to payment card data at certain Forever 21 stores. Upon hearing the update, the retailer immediately launched an investigation of its payment card systems and engaged a leading security and forensics firm to assist.

Forever 21 implemented encryption and tokenization solutions in 2015, a move that left only certain point-of-sale devices in some Forever 21 stores vulnerable when encryption support went offline. The company’s investigation is focused on card transactions that occurred in stores between March and October 2017.

Since the investigation is ongoing, the retailer said it is too early to reveal specific details. However, Forever 21 expects to provide additional updates once specific stores and timeframes are revealed, according to the company.

“We regret that this incident occurred and apologize for any inconvenience,” the company said. “We will continue to work to address this matter.”

The fast-fashion retailer also urged customers to closely monitor their payment card statements. If customers notice an unauthorized charge, they are encouraged to immediately notify the bank that issued the card, there retailer said.

Based on payment card network rules, cardholders are typically not responsible for such charges.

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Faster online shopping options top Target’s holiday strategy

BY CSA STAFF

Target is relying on its store network to get online orders to shoppers faster than ever before.

In a blog on its website, Target gave an overview on some of the initiatives it has launched in recent months to make online shopping faster and easier in time for the holiday season. Here’s a recap:

• Target store associates will be using the company’s new myCheckout app, which enables an associate to search Target’s website for desired products, or specific styles and colors, that the customer can’t find in the store. Associates can also use the app to place orders for the customer, tender payment, and choose a delivery option.

• The discounter is also streamlining how online customers order their holiday essentials via its Target Restock program, which enables users to choose from “thousands” of items across the personal care, food, household and baby goods categories. Customers can fill a box with up to 45 lbs. of merchandise, and have items delivered the next day for a fee of $4.99. The program is currently available in in 11 major markets and smaller cities, including Athens, Georgia, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and Santa Rosa, California, according to the discounter.

• Shoppers can also leverage Google Assistant on Google Home devices and dedicated smartphone, and use voice commands to shop Target’s online assortment on Google Express. Merchandise is shipped to customers in two days.

• Target will continue to offer its “order pickup” service, a program that enables shoppers to pickup online orders at a nearby store, with more than 95% of orders are ready in an hour. Starting on Black Friday, Target’s service will also enable customers to use the service to retrieve doorbuster deals ordered online. Nearly all doorbuster deals will qualify for the service.

• Target will continue leveraging its “Ship from Store” process, which enables stores to fulfill online orders by pulling product from store shelves and shipping merchandise directly to shoppers. Some 1,400 Target stores — more than 75% of all Target locations — will be fulfilling Target’s online orders this year.

• Target is also offering free holiday shipping on all online orders between Nov. 1 and Dec. 23.

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How to Successfully Schedule Retail Staff for the Holiday Rush

BY Anati Zubia

Scheduling is one of the hardest parts of managing retail employees — and that goes double (if not more so) during the holidays. Retailers scheduling during this busy time of year must maintain a delicate balance between permanent workers’ need for stability, their seasonal counterparts’ desire for flexibility, and the extended demands on all team members that come with peak season.

Savvy retail managers know that planning the right employee scheduling strategy can make or break a business during the holidays. And because staffing hiccups can turn even small personnel problems into a downward productivity spiral, some retailers have gotten creative in their scheduling, with a few going so far as to adopt on-call work schedules. However, studies show that an unpredictable work schedule (especially over the holidays) can be truly challenging for the 10% of the American workforce in retail.

Working irregular, on-call, and split shifts makes it hard for retail employees to succeed — they are typically more stressed than employees with stable schedules and often report experiencing more conflict at home, which can affect their ability to do their jobs to the best of their ability. In the long run, this can end up costing retailers money in the form of lost productivity and staff turnover. Retailers seem to be getting the message: On-call shifts are quickly becoming a thing of the past, with leading U.S. retailers like Disney, Aeropostale, Carter’s and PacSun leading the charge to eliminate the practice altogether.

Additionally, both state and local governments have begun introducing legislation that protects workers’ rights to request a flexible, predictable, or stable work schedule, such as The Schedules that Work Act. These laws state that employees forced to adhere to on-call scheduling policies face daily disruptions in their lives outside of work.

Take the case of the Starbucks barista and single mother, for example. Her story about her complicated process of a daily commute and childcare planning prompted Starbucks to change its scheduling policies for 130,000 employees nationwide. Companies are realizing that in order to maintain the best talent, they can’t let scheduling issues develop into an unbearable burden.

Whether your retail business is shifting its scheduling methods or simply gearing up for another busy holiday season, it’s hard to ensure coverage at all times. Here are a few ways to make sure your store is properly staffed during the busiest time of the year:

1. Allow Employee Self-Scheduling
Give your employees a bit more control over their own schedules by offering them some self-scheduling options. Doing so will increase their brand loyalty as well as give them some of the workplace flexibility they want over the holidays. Using a cloud-based scheduling solution allows employees to check their schedules, switch shifts, adjust their availability and preferences, and communicate with their supervisors or co-workers. It also takes some of the scheduling burden off retailers and puts it in the hands of their workers — leaving everyone happy.

2. Be Proactive, Not Reactive
A basic supply and demand approach is not always the best way to handle holiday schedules. While it does minimize retailer costs, this planning method is often responsible for creating erratic and unpredictable shifts for employees. Instead, review your last holiday season’s shopping patterns to outline your staffing needs. Once you’ve identified peak times, generate a flexible work schedule that fits the data.

3. Pool Talent for Multilocation Retailers
If you’re a multilocation retailer, you can learn a lot from the “substitute teacher” model. Hire seasonal employees in a pool instead of assigning each of them to specific store locations. This not only gives your seasonal hires a flexible schedule with more hours, but it also helps each of your locations boost or reduce staff as needed over the holidays.

4. Incentivize Hard-to-Fill Shifts
Whether it’s an unpopular time slot or a last-minute change to the schedule, every retailer knows that some shifts are harder to cover than others. Keep those shifts filled by incentivizing employees to work at those specific times. Instead of worrying about overtime, think about the benefits of keeping a good worker happy versus paying to hire and train a new employee.

Scheduling is never an easy task, but it is one that makes a crucial impact on both retailers and their employees. In their increased efforts to be employee-centric, more and more retailers have left on-call scheduling behind. You too can provide your workers — both permanent and seasonal — with flexibility and stability. Retailers that incorporate cloud-based scheduling technology and other thoughtful staffing strategies are sure to get the best talent — and keep it.

Anati Zubia is the director of marketing for AppointmentPlus. Her passion for SaaS and cloud-based applications has only continued to grow throughout her 16 years of marketing within the technology industry.

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