All aboard the Data Breach Express, next stop – drumroll please – Kmart!
All kidding aside, Sears Holdings Corporation has announced a data breach at its Kmart stores that began in early September. The company has said that Kmart's information technology team identified a breach last Thursday, and that it immediately launched a full investigation, working hand-in-hand with a security firm.
The retailer has since removed the malware, but it is believed a number of debit and credit card numbers have been compromised – the specific number has not yet been released. At this time no personal information, debit PIN numbers, email addresses or social security numbers however had been gleaned during the episode. There is no evidence at this time that online customers at kmart.com have been affected.
"Our Kmart store payment data systems were infected with a form of malware that was undetectable by current anti-virus systems," the company released in a statement.
The company added that it had "deployed advanced software to protect our customers' information" and that the store would offer free credit card monitoring to customers who had shopped at the retailer September through Thursday.
Kmart is latest in a string of cyberattacks dating back to fall of 2013, becoming an expectation rather than an exception. Retailers hit include Home Depot, Target, SuperValu and Neiman Marcus, pressuring retailers to reinforce their database and credit card processing security. Nationwide concerns about cyber intrusions have escalated after JPMorgan Chase shared that an attack by hackers exposed contact information of 76 million households and 7 million small businesses.
However, the majority of retailers are facing the facts: it's not a question of if you'll get hit, but when. A conversation with several retail CIOs shed some light on the topic – the truth is, retailers are unaware of exactly who is on their network, everyone is being breached they just don't know it until something this severe hits.
So, retailers big and small, public and private, must strengthen their security and begin to close off any opportunities for malware to penetrate. It won't be the scale of the data breach, but how the retailer responds and contains the damage that will be make it or break it.
Holiday 2014 Shopping Trends and Predictions
Retailers are expecting an increase in holiday sales this year and are increasing their digital and social efforts to maximize returns.
MarketLive and ChannelAdvisor both recently released studies in anticipation of the upcoming holiday shopping season and revealed optimism across the industry and new retail strategies being deployed to capture as much of the anticipated increased spending as possible.
Below are some highlights of the two studies:
Retailers Gear Up.
- 86% of retailers surveyed expect an increase in holiday sales this year versus last year: 27% expect an 11% to 15% increase; 46% expect an increase between 1% and 10%
- 42% of retailers began their holiday push in September; 20% of retailers began their push in August or sooner
- 41% of retailers plan to offer free shipping and returns to increase holiday sales
- 33% of retailers plan to stock more product quantities this holiday season
- 36% of shoppers intend to make a purchase via a mobile device, up from 29% last year
- 70% of shoppers are likely to research on their smartphones the gifts they find in retail stores
- 56% of shoppers are likely to reserve products from their smartphones for subsequent pick-up at retail stores
- 49% of customers will make purchases based on a social referral
- 30% of shoppers have made a purchase via social in the last year, an increase of 12% over 2013
- 44% intend to discover new products via social networks
- 52% feel it is important to review products they have purchased
- 48% say it is important to share product recommendations with friends/family via social channels
- 42% will pin items on Pinterest
Customer Gifting Plans.
- 27% of retailers plan to increase their overall digital marketing and advertising budgets
- A quarter of retailers plan to launch new digital marketing initiatives to increase holiday sales
- 90% of retailers are selling on marketplaces
- 16% of retailers reported expanding to additional marketplaces this holiday season
- 60% intend to purchase 11 or more gifts
- 55% will spend $500 or more on gifts this holiday season
- 43% will pay full price in order to get the “perfect gift” for someone on their list
- High shipping costs (64%) or hidden shipping costs (52%) are top reasons why consumers will abandon gift items in their cart
LevelUp Announces Dynamic Receipt Notifications
LevelUp, the mobile payment and loyalty/rewards platform, continues to expand its set of customer engagement tools. LevelUp announced that merchants using the LevelUp network will now have another innovative way to connect with their customers: dynamic receipt notifications.
In today’s world of information overload, emails go unread, Tweets unheard, and Facebook posts hidden by the NewsFeed algorithm. Add to that list the inevitable fate of paper receipts, sent straight into the trash unnoticed and unread.
Recognizing that merchants were in need of alternative opportunities to communicate one-to-one with their customers, LevelUp tapped into the valuable mobile real estate of digital receipts. As one indicator of how valuable this real estate is, consider the fact that digital receipt notifications are viewed by customers an impressive 90% of the time.
Every time a customer transacts at a merchant using LevelUp, they receive a push notification receipt. This receipt pops up immediately, while the customer’s phone is still inhand. Merchants can now customize these receipt notifications to communicate a wide variety of messages to customers. For example, they can promote a new product, offer a specific limited time promotion, invite customers to complete a survey, or opt to send a quick, heartfelt “thank you for coming in.” Merchants can also easily set up multiple receipt notification messages using LevelUp’s merchant dashboard, and intelligently rotate through them by assigning each message a priority level
OpenTable Mobile Payments Offered in Washington D.C.
OpenTable, provider of online restaurant reservations and part of The Priceline Group, has announced that Pay with OpenTable is now available in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
To pay with OpenTable, diners who book at participating restaurants simply add a credit card in the OpenTable iPhone app before they dine and can then view and pay their check with a few taps. There's no separate app to download; no codes to enter; and no scanning or barcodes involved. Diners who Pay with OpenTable simply get up and go whenever they're ready.
In addition to Washington, D.C., Pay with OpenTable is currently available in New York City and San Francisco. OpenTable plans to roll out the feature across the nation by introducing it to a total of 20 cities before year end.
To find out more about OpenTable mobile payments, watch "Life's too short to wait for the check" and visit http://pay.opentable.com/ to view the current list of participating restaurants. Restaurants who are interested in providing their guests with the experience of paying with OpenTable can learn more at http://pay.opentable.com/restaurants.