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Industry News - August 31St 2014



AT&T Opens Innovative Flagship Store

AT&T will open a 10,000 square-foot flagship store on September 1, 2014 at Chicago's Magnificent Mile. The store will display AT&T's advertising campaign, "It's what you do with what we do."
In addition to product and services found at AT&T's 2,300 retail stores nationwide, the Michigan Avenue store will offer customers demos of AT&T Digital Life home security and automation services as well as a connected car that shows how wireless technology can aid driving. The store is designed to educate customers about the future of wireless technologies and services with its more than 100 digital displays. 
"Every aspect and every innovation of our Michigan Avenue store has been designed with the customer experience in mind," said Paul Roth, president of AT&T retail sales and service. "From the design and layout of the store, to the way we display products and services, to the in-store technology and our brand ambassadors, everything is an extension of our goal to be the nation's premier retailer and our brand mission to make people's lives better."
Areas of the store will allow customers to: play and learn about apps that interest them in the Explorer Lounge; view "app-tenders," one-on-one or group demos at the Apps Bar, displayed on video monitors on the Apps Wall; watch interactive content and product information on an 18-foot high Connect Wall, visible to the store and passers-by. Lifestyle Boutiques offer themed products, apps and accessories organized and showcased by Get Fit, Be Productive, Share Your Life and Chicagoland. Customers can also use and interact with AT&T products for home security and automation, entertainment, music and automobiles at the Experience Platform, as well as learn how Digital Life services can control the home from a wireless device with the Family Life demo.

IBM Acquires HR Software Firm Kenexa for $1.3B

IBM will pay $1.3 billion for Kenexa, a human resources solution provider specializing in recruiting and talent management solutions, in a deal expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2014. The acquisition will bolster IBM's ability to help clients gain insights from the enormous amounts of data generated each day by social networks.

"Every company, across every business operation, is looking to tap into the power of social networking to transform the way they work, collaborate and out-innovate their competitors," said IBM's general manager of social business Alistair Rennie in a statement. "IBM is uniquely positioned to help clients generate real returns from their social business investments, while helping them gain intelligence into the data being generated in these networks to be more competitive in their markets."

Kenexa offers a combination of cloud-based technology and consulting services, supporting more than 8,900 customers in industries including financial services, pharmaceuticals, retail and consumer, including more than half of the Fortune 500.

The combination of IBM and Kenexa will bring data into the hands of business leaders in functional departments including sales, marketing, product development and human resources, helping them attract and develop the right skills to build the right teams for the right projects.

Nordstrom Rolling Out 1,500 Mobile Devices to Rack Stores

Following tests that showed mobile POS successfully sped up the checkout process in its Rack stores, Nordstrom will roll out approximately 1,500 of the devices to its 110 Rack units by the end of Q3. This deployment is in addition to the mobile POS technology already in use in Nordstrom's 117 full-line stores.

"We are constantly adding to the functionality of our mobile point-of-sale devices and their use in our stores is increasing," said Nordstrom president Blake Nordstrom during a recent conference call discussing Q2 financial results. "By the end of the year, they will have all of the capabilities of our existing cash registers."

Nordstrom executives did identify differences in its use of mobile technology in full-line versus Rack stores. In the former, Nordstrom plans for its mobile POS devices to exceed fixed-terminal functionality by next year, with associates using them during multiple parts of the shopping and purchasing process.

"I believe we're up over 75% of our fixed POS capability that is now onto our mobile device. We've added a lot this year, things like return capabilities," said Erik Nordstrom, the retailer's executive vice president and president of stores. "There are some personal book capabilities that still need to be added that will get us to the 100%."

While mobile POS provides speed and convenience in both store types, in the full-line stores "there's more of the benefits of that one-to-one personal interaction between the salesperson and the customer," said Erik Nordstrom. "It doesn't happen at the counter with other people around. It can happen in the dressing room, it can happen at the shoe store. And all that functionality is being able to more personalize our connection with the customers.

"For the Rack, it's a little easier to understand and draw the direct line benefits," he added. "It's speed. It just makes that line significantly shorter." In addition, the opportunity to remove some checkout counters in Rack stores provides more selling square footage on the floor, which he calls "prime real estate."

The retailer had a strong second quarter: for the period ending July 28, net sales of $2.92 billion represented a 7.4% increase over the same period last year. Same-store sales grew 4.5%, and direct sales rose 40%, outpacing the rest of the company and reflecting its investments in e-commerce.

Following a revamp of its Fashion Rewards loyalty program earlier this year, new accounts have risen 20% during the first six months of fiscal 2014, on top of a 66% increase the previous year, with program members spending 20% more relative to last year. In addition, Nordstrom has just launched a new iPad app to facilitate browsing and sales via mobile commerce.


Discover Deal Puts PayPal in 7M Retail Locations by 2014

A new partnership between PayPal and Discover Financial Services, the nation's fourth-largest credit card issuer, pushes the eBay division even further into the brick-and-mortar retail payment space – to more than seven million merchant locations in the U.S., to be precise. Beginning in 2014, "PayPal can be enabled as a payments option for our 50-plus million active users in the U.S. at any in-store location that accepts Discover," said PayPal vice president of retail and prepaid products Don Kingsborough in a statement.

"The establishment of this relationship is a major industry milestone, which will help shape the emerging payments landscape by bringing together an established direct banking and payments company with a leading commerce enabler to create an alternative payments option for consumers at the point of sale," said Diane Offereins, president of Discover Payment Services.

Retailers will not need to add new POS hardware or software to accept PayPal-issued cards, according to the companies; consumers will swipe the cards through existing readers and enter a four-digit PIN. The new cards will have a Discover Issuer Identification Number, or IIN, to identify the cardholder; Discover has already set up the IINs for the PayPal cards on its network, according to Reuters. PayPal will charge retailers a small fee when customers pay using the cards, and in turn will pay Discover for access to its network on a per-transaction basis.

PayPal has been aggressively moving into store payments. After enabling mobile phone-based payments via a rapid rollout to all Home Depot stores earlier this year, PayPal expanded its retailer roster in May with 15 more name-brand companies, including JCPenney, Barnes & Noble, Toys 'R' Us, Advance Auto Parts, Abercrombie & Fitch, Foot Locker, Office Depot, American Eagle Outfitters, Guitar Center and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers.

The company also launched a mobile payments solution for small businesses, PayPal Here, and has forged relationships with several leading POS terminal vendors.

The Discover deal, announced August 22, "will deliver a truly seamless digital wallet, available most places consumers shop offline, which offers the speed, simplicity and security already enjoyed by 113 million active PayPal customers online," said Kingsborough.


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