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Michaels’ holiday hiring on pace with last year

BY Marianne Wilson

The Michaels Companies is the latest retailer to get a jump on seasonal hiring amid a strong U.S. jobs market.

The arts and craft retailer said Wednesday it is planning to hire more than 15,000 seasonal workers in its U.S. and Canada stores and distribution centers in preparation for the upcoming holiday season. The number is in line with the amount of seasonal hires the chain employed for holiday 2017.

Faced with a labor crunch, especially in the retail sector, some retailers have come out of the gate earlier than usual this year with their holiday hiring plans. Both Kohl’s and J.C. Penney started hiring for the holidays at the beginning of the summer.

Michaels said seasonal workers will have competitive wages and a 30% discount at Michaels stores. Last year, the retailer hired more than 40% of seasonal workers for regular positions after the holiday season.

Michaels owns and operates more than 1,200 stores in 49 states and Canada under the brands Michaels and Pat Catan’s.

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Walmart nears important hiring goal

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is now more than 80% of the way to reaching its goal to hire 250,000 veterans by 2020.

The discounter announced that it has hired more than 206,000 veterans — and promoted more than 30,000 to roles with higher pay and greater responsibility — since launching its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment initiative in May 2013. The program guarantees a job offer to any eligible, honorably discharged U.S. veteran who has separated from service since the commitment.

Walmart introduced the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment with an initial goal to hire 100,000 veterans by the end of 2018. In May 2015, Walmart revised its goal to hire 250,000 veterans, including veterans hired within the Welcome Home Commitment as well as other veterans hired by Walmart, by the end of 2020.

Walmart also changed the eligibility under the Welcome Home Commitment from within 12 months of active duty, to any veteran who has been honorably discharged since the announcement of the program in May 2013.

Walmart’s military programs not only focus on transitioning veterans, but also those currently serving and military spouses. The Military Family Promise guarantees a job at a nearby store or club for all military personnel and military spouses employed by the company who move to a different part of the country because they or their spouse have been transferred by the U.S. military. The policy allows service members and military spouses to remain in the same personnel and pay systems and gives them the opportunity to turn jobs into careers.

Approximately 1,300 veterans and their families return to civilian life every day, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

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Study: The ‘last mile’ has never been so important—especially for items

BY Marianne Wilson

Retailers have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the delivery of oversized goods ordered online.

Some one-in-five (21%) consumers ordered an oversized item that arrived damaged, while 15% ordered something that never arrived at all, according to a study by logistics tech company uShip.

“Ultimately, the research signals the ‘last mile’ has never been more important to the customer experience and oversized shipping remains a particular pain point for many consumers,” said the report.

The study, conducted with third-party research firm YouGov, uncovered consumer expectations and frustrations regarding their oversized commerce experiences and where retailers can improve the delivery process to positively impact the bottom line.

uShip found that customer frustration primarily stems from a poor shipping experience that upends consumers’ daily routine. For example, for those who made oversized purchases within the past year:

• Nearly one-in-six (16%) had to immediately figure out how to transport an oversized item themselves after making the purchase
• Over one-in-seven (15%) reported missing work because they were waiting for a delivery
• One-in-nine (11%) felt like they wasted a whole day trying to track down a purchase
• One-in-nine (11%) had a ‘fight’ with customer service during the delivery process

For retailers, this detrimental ‘last mile’ experience is causing negative repercussions for the brand. In fact, 14% have actually avoided shopping with a brand or retailer because of a bad delivery experience.

Also, 24% said a lack of confidence their oversized item would arrive safely would prevent them from making a purchase. The same consumers also reported:

Shipping concerns: Over one in four (28%) are hesitant to purchase an oversized item because of shipping concerns
Cost concerns: Nearly half (47%) reported high delivery costs cause them to look elsewhere for the same item
Return concerns: One-in-eight (13%) kept an item they didn’t want because the return process was too complicated

But perhaps the most important aspect for consumers purchasing oversized items in the past year is the time and convenience of delivery – an area easily improved with the right technology and business relationships. When asked about what would improve their oversized delivery experience, a few factors stood out:

Proactive Updates: Over one in four (28%) said proactive updates on the status of their order (i.e., push notifications, text/email updates) instead of checking would improve the experience
White Glove Service: More than one in six (18%) said a ‘white glove’ service like hand delivery, product assembly or installation would improve the experience
Delivery Company Choice: nearly a quarter (24%) want more choice in how their package is delivered (i.e. by hand, UPS, Fedex, etc.)
In-home Delivery: almost one in five (19%) said that an item delivered straight into their home would improve their experience
Delivery Time Slots: More than a quarter (27%) said having more specific delivery time slots would improve their experience

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