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Industry News - June 7th 2014



Customer Self-Scanning App Bridges Mobile and Traditional POS

A new app for Apple and Android devices gives consumers the ability to scan any product barcode in a retailer's store as they load up their shopping carts. When they arrive at the checkout, the Swift Shopper app produces a barcode representing the total of all the scanned items that can be read by the retailer's dual-line hand scanner.

The app, created by ezCommerce Solutions, is designed to save time at checkout by eliminating the need to unload shopping carts so items can be scanned at the retail POS. There's no cost to retailers; shoppers can download the app to their phone or tablet device for free, or upgrade for $1.99. ezCommerce is currently seeking national retailers to adopt the application.

"The Swift Shopper app successfully bridges the gap between old-school traditional cashiering and the much more cost-prohibitive mobile point-of-sale options," said ezCommerce Solutions president Naomi Wilson in a statement. "It allows retailers to boast their technological prowess without any upfront cost or new cashier training on their part."

Walmart Launches Commitment to Hiring 100,000 U.S. Veterans

Walmart launched its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment initiative on Memorial Day, pledging to offer a job to any honorably discharged U.S. armed forces veteran within the first 12 months off of active duty. The retailer projects that it will hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years.

"Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make," said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. (and a U.S. Navy veteran) in a statement. "We believe Walmart is already the largest private employer of veterans in the country, and we want to hire more."

Simon had announced the hiring initiative at this past January's NRF Big Show, along with a commitment to boost its purchase of U.S.-made goods by $50 billion in the next 10 years. In April, Walmart participated in the Joining Forces Employment Announcement at the White House, challenging companies to hire 100,000 veterans and their spouses by the end of 2014. Simon wrote to 50 U.S. CEOs urging them to make their own hiring commitments. The Walmart Foundation has also committed $20 million through 2015 to help veterans and their families transition into the civilian workforce through job training, transition support and education programs.

"Every company in America has benefited from the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform," said Simon. "The biggest issue facing our veterans today is jobs. Sadly, too many of those who fought for us abroad now find themselves fighting for jobs at home."

Gap Pilots Reserve-in-Store Capability for Online Shoppers

Gap's next step in its Easy Buy Anywhere initiative is this month's launch of a pilot program allowing online customers to reserve products in stores for later pickup and purchase.

"The ability for a customer to seamlessly engage with our business, to go online, see something that they love, reserve it, get down to the store, hopefully buy more, have an amazing experience, I think, is good for loyalty," said Gap CEO Glenn Murphy during a recent conference call discussing the retailer's Q1 financial results. "The way to win these days is with great product, compelling marketing and giving customers access to your business anywhere they want."

In addition to this new customer-facing functionality, Gap has been moving ahead with seamless inventory initiatives, including shipping online orders from its brick-and-mortar stores. "In the quarter, we launched ship-from-store for Old Navy," said Murphy. "All of Gap is now on ship-from-store, Banana Republic was in 2012. We're easing our way into getting more stores and more categories on, but the launch has been smooth."

The flexibility afforded by being able to ship products from stores is becoming increasingly important given the shopping habits of today's consumers. "We've talked many times about the psychological impact of showing an out-of-stock online," said Murphy. "For the majority of our customers, when they see something not available, not in their size, not in the right color, then they assume it's not available in the store."

The sales and marketing value of reducing the disappointment from online out-of-stocks is a benefit for Gap, but it's only one element of a larger set of improvements. "The ability now to use our pools of inventory seamlessly, to take something from a store and ship it to an online customer, is really just a preliminary step on this amazing continuum we have with omnichannel," said Murphy.

For Q1, which ended May 4, 2014, Gap's net sales increased 7% compared to the same period last year, to $3.73 billion. Comparable store sales increased 2% during the quarter.

SAP Acquires E-Commerce Software Provider hybris

SAP announced plans today to acquire e-commerce software provider hybris. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in Q3 depending on regulatory approvals, were not disclosed. After the purchase hybris will continue to operate as an independent business unit with a management team headed by its CEO Ariel Lüdi and president and co-founder Carsten Thoma.

The acquisition positions SAP to deliver a next-generation e-commerce platform offering clients a choice of on-premise or cloud deployment. The combination of enterprise solutions from SAP with agile omnichannel commerce solutions from hybris will provide companies with enhanced data and tools needed to optimize margins and customer loyalty.

"With hybris, SAP has made a decisive move to raise the stakes in customer relationship management and define the next generation customer experience," said SAP co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe in a statement.

Founded in 1997 in Zug, Switzerland, hybris offers a complete omnichannel commerce platform incorporating Web, mobile, call center and store solutions. These help businesses on every continent by providing a single view of customers, products and orders across multiple demand and delivery channels, using master data management and unified commerce processes. The company's majority investor is HGGC, a Palo Alto, CA-based private investment firm.

"hybris is a recognized leader in commerce platform technology, and the combination with SAP will enable us to deliver complete omnichannel business solutions and continue our strong growth trajectory," said Lüdi and Thoma. "Joining with SAP will significantly expand the scope, scale and power of hybris' commerce platform."

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