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Industry News - November 28th, 2008



Office Depot Achieves Strategic Pricing with DemandTec  

Office Depot renews its subscription to DemandTec software services Everyday Price Optimization and Everyday Price Management.

Office Depot cited several factors in renewing its relationship with DemandTec, including growing consumer price sensitivity due to recent macroeconomic conditions. In addition, DemandTec helps the retailer address the challenges they face managing a diverse product assortment with complex pricing relationships by providing a sophisticated rules engine and optimization approach.

"We are extending our relationship with DemandTec because Office Depot's long term strategic direction is to be consumer-centric in terms of assortment, store layouts, new service offerings and compelling pricing that sends a positive value message to our customers," says Steve Mahurin, executive vice president of merchandising for Office Depot. "DemandTec's optimization engine and advanced analytics enable us to gain insight into consumer demand and set prices that benefit Office Depot customers."


PayPal Introduces Mobile Access for Security Key

PayPal offers its customers more security with their PayPal accounts using their mobile phones. Customers can now choose to receive a unique six-digit security code via text message to their mobile phones prior to logging in to their accounts.

The PayPal SMS Security Key adds another layer of protection to PayPal accounts and uses the same security infrastructure as the PayPal Security Key, which generates a unique security code approximately every 30 seconds on a small electronic token. Members receive this code to their phones or tokens, and use the codes along with their usernames and passwords to sign in to their accounts.

The PayPal Security Key is part of the VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Network. As part of this network, consumers can use the security codes to protect their accounts on a variety of financial services and e-commerce Web sites like eBay. The new SMS functionality is provided by VeriSign's Messaging and Mobile Media Division.


Retail IT Execs Form RetailROI to Address Adoption Issues

Retail executives, analysts and technology vendors have formed a new charity organization, RetailROI, aimed at raising awareness towards adoption issues. The recently launched site, www.retailROI.org, is a charitable foundation established to help the 400 million orphaned and vulnerable children worldwide. Created under the umbrella of The Giving Back Fund, RetailROI provides grants to charities that provide "feet on the street" efforts in the following areas:

- Orphan Care (food, shelter, medical, clothing, education)
- Foster Care support organizations
- Adoption support organizations
- Grants and zero interes loans for adoption
- Child rescue from human trafficking
- Life skills training for orphaned and vulnerable children

While soliticiting donations from retailers, vendors and employees initially, the goal is to create programs such as "RoundUp for Orphans" at the point-of-sale where customers can round up their transactions to the nearest dollar to support the fund or custom multi-retailer gift cards that would have a portion of the sales go to these causes.

RetailROI will meet for the first time on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009 at the National Retail Federation Show in New York. New members are welcome to attend.


Steve & Barry's to Liquidate Remaining 173 Stores

Just three months after purchasing apparel chain Steve & Barry's out of bankruptcy, investment firms Bay Harbour Management and York Capital Management will liquidate the remaining 173 stores as a result of slumping retail sales and difficulty in getting financing.
The investment firms bought the company for $168 million in August 2008 and plans to liquidate their holdings by early 2009, according to the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Steve & Barry's began in 1985 as a retailer of university-branded clothing. The company became best known for its discount apparel and celebrity-endorsed apparel lines from celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker, Laird Hamilton and Venus Williams.

BH S&B Holdings, the affiliate of the two investment firms, said in the bankruptcy filing the declining health of the U.S. economy and the slump in the retail market had hurt company revenue. Sales at all stores have been disappointing said the filing, citing "the general health of the American economy and the state of the retail market in particular." Another reason cited includes the chain's aggressive negotiations with mall landlords for lower-than-average lease rates, which resulted in rapid expansion.


Blue Nile Launches Personal Shopping Service

Blue Nile announces the launch of a new, complimentary Personal Shopping Service designed to help customers find the perfect gift. Blue Nile's expert diamond and jewelry consultants are available via phone to assist with ordering custom engagement rings, locating a diamond with specific criteria, or finding that one-of-a-kind gift.

"Many customers visit our site with a specific engagement ring design or gift idea in mind, but have limited time to shop for it on their own," says Diane Irvine, CEO, Blue Nile. "For those customers, Blue Nile's Personal Shopping Service not only offers convenience, it also gives them the extra confidence that they desire when making such an important purchase."

Features of the service include:

Special Order Engagement Rings: If a customer is looking for a particular engagement ring setting, Blue Nile's Personal Shopping Consultants will work to create the perfect ring that fits her style and taste.

Special Order Diamonds: If a customer is looking for a diamond with a very specific set of criteria, Blue Nile's Personal Shopping Consultants will work to locate the stone.

One-of-a-Kind Gifts: For a customer looking for a unique gemstone, pearl or diamond jewelry piece for a special occasion, Blue Nile's Personal Shopping Consultants can help find that extraordinary gift that's sure to exceed expectations.


Cellit Releases Mobile Coupon Redemption Tool

Cellit announces the launch of its stand-alone coupon redemption Widgit. This new Widgit helps retailers redeem and track mobile coupons in real-time directly through their Windows-based point of sale system.

Running in the background behind the POS system, the Widgit can be activated to enter redemption codes before or during the customer checkout process. The Widgit is tied into Cellit's real-time database to ensure accurate reporting and redemption information.
The Widgit complements the Cellit Studio platform, a Web-based system for managing mobile marketing campaigns and CRM initiatives.

Through Cellit Studio, retailers clients can create and deploy campaigns ranging from text-to-vote and text-to-win to alerts and surveys. Cellit Studio's mobile couponing engine delivers unique coupon codes to each customer, enabling track-able offers and targeting.


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