All Articles Tagged "retail"
Clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch has been the subject of salacious news headlines in the past. Now the retailer is caught in a maelstrom of gossip again as one of its brand managers made it known that their clothes are not made to be worn by just anyone. “Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t want to create the image that just anybody, poor people, can wear their clothing. Only people of a certain stature are able to purchase and wear the company name”, the manager stated.
In response to the controversy, company CEO Greg Karber released a statement, available on Clutch:
“I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offence. A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers. However, we care about the broader communities in which we operate and are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterisations or other anti-social behaviour based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics.”
For some, the statement isn’t enough. Writer Greg Karber created a campaign called @FitchThe Homeles that declares “Let’s rebrand A&F together.” If you have any unwanted clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch, you can donate to this cause, which will then provide the clothes to the homeless.
Given this most recent dust up, comments Jeffries made in a 2006 interview for an article on Salon seem prescient. At the time he said, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”
Do you shop at A&F?
Ever go into a store and just hate the customer service? You are not alone. According to a new American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey, some of the country’s largest retailers have the worst customer service while, on the bright side, e-commerce retailers scored high customer satisfaction scores.
Recently, 24/7 Wall St reviewed the ACSI data to find the companies with the worst satisfaction scores in retail. On average, the traditional retail companies peaked at 76.6 on a 100-point scale in 2012. Internet retailers, however, had an average score of 82 last year. Out of the nine top retail companies with the worst ACSI scores, only one was an online retailer.
Here are the worst top three:
1. Walmart. Just because a company is a major chain doesn’t mean good customer service. In fact, it seems that the largest chains have the worst track record when it comes to satisfying customers. The $469.1 billion chain only received a score of 71 in the survey. For the purposes of the survey, Wal-Mart Stores was graded as a department and discount store.
When graded for customer satisfaction as a supermarket, Walmart’s ACSI score was not much better, at just a 72, reports the 24/7 Wall St. This was the worst in that category. Despite having a history of poor customer service, Walmart has not improved over the years. In fact, it has been the lowest-rated department or discount store in the nation every year between 2007 through 2012. And, it has been the lowest-rated supermarket every year since 2005. Even it’s e-commerce division doesn’t fare well. According to ForeSee’s E-Retail Satisfaction Index, Walmart received a grade of 78 on a 100 point scale during the 2012 holiday season, while rival Amazon.com led all e-retailers with a score of 88.
2. Netflix. This is the only e-commerce business that had poor grades. It earned a customer satisfaction score of only 75. The company, which makes $3.61 billion annually, was slightly up from 2011 when it received a score of just 74. Over the years it has been dropping in rank. Things got really bad in 2011 when Netflix enraged customers by increasing prices and announcing plans to separate its DVD rental and streaming platforms. But, writes the website, after a considerable hit to its image — consumers were outraged at the prospect of having to pay bills for two platforms that would not be coordinated — the company pulled the plug on the service split.
3. Safeway. Despite earning $44.21 billion each year, Safeway hasn’t put much of an effort in improving its customer service. The supermarket chain received a 75 on the customer satisfaction score. Safeway, which is among the nation’s largest retailers., has more than 1,600 stores. “In each of the past 10 years, Safeway has underperformed supermarkets as a whole in the ACSI,” reports 24/7 Wall St. Customers complain often about inaccurate pricing, which led the state of California to sue the company twice. In fact, a court order required Safeway to refund customers $5 or give them the product free-of-charge if they are charged more than the advertised price. Still, according to a report by CBS 5 in San Francisco the company still often overcharged consumers last year.
We wonder if convenience and affordability, at times, trump a retailer’s commitment to customer service. If you can find what you need at the cheapest price at one store, do you care if the sales associate says “please” and “thank you”? (Though that doesn’t explain what’s going on at Safeway.)
Do you shop at any of these stores? What do you think of their customer service?
I’m so excited to launch the newest business column on Madame Noire: “Work It!” Every month we’ll dive into emerging trends, the future of work, and the innovative ways businesswomen are updating how they do business. The nature of work is changing at a rapid pace. Follow “Work It” to get a head start on what the future holds and shake up business as usual to take on this new era.
To establish the “Work It” circle of trust, I’m giving up one my most guarded, secret business weapons: JWTIntelligence. The think tank of one the world’s best-known marketing communications brands, JWTIntelligence’s gift for predicting trends would make Dionne’s psychic friends gag with envy. JWT has released 100 things to watch in 2013. We’re counting down the top ten trends you should be thinking about.
San Francisco Bay area natives Shauna Harper and Selena Young aren’t related by blood, but they are sisters just the same. They predict each other’s thoughts, are a daily presence in each other’s lives, and share a baby called Define Me Greek.
The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters launched their business in 2011 when they realized the t-shirts they made for their organization’s conference satisfied a common need. Members of Greek lettered fraternities and sororities needed apparel that did more than advertise their letters. They wanted what they wore to stand for something.
On the cusp of their two-year anniversary, Shauna and Selena sat down to talk about how they expanded their business from a t-shirt to a growing enterprise with an active social media community.
Madame Noire (MN): Describe the premise of Define Me Greek for those unfamiliar with the brand.
SELENA: Define Me Greek is an apparel and accessories company that looks to capture the essence of organizations. We create designs that are bold, modern, and give people an opportunity to express who they are and what they do as Greek lettered organizations. Our company gives people the opportunity to see that there is more to us than just the letters that we wear.
MN: How did your business relationship start?
SELENA: Shauna and I were preparing for our international conference. We decided to create a shirt for our region. As we began to brainstorm, she and I were thinking that we wanted something that’s a little more meaningful. That turned into, “Well, if we are looking for something a little more meaningful, what if we could do something like this for all the organizations?” That’s when really we started looking at doing something different than what’s already out there, and having a story behind what people wear.
MN: Tell me about the first days of Define Me Greek. How did you get the company off the ground?
SHAUNA: I don’t want to say it happened overnight, but it was one of those things where we just took an idea from a concept to reality. We were sitting down chitchatting and said, “Let’s have a business meeting.” The next week we scheduled a business meeting, and next thing you know we had to-dos and we were doing them. It just ended up turning into what it is today. Sometimes we don’t even have a chance to look up, and when we do it’s like, “Oh my God! Look at all we’ve done!”
MN: What confirmed for you that this was a viable business?
SELENA: [A year and half after we started] Shauna and I were going to a regional conference in Rhode Island, one of the biggest regions in our organization. This was our first major event. We looked up how much it was going to cost and we — literally by faith — took every single penny we had. We flew all the way to Rhode Island with really nowhere to stay. We just said we’re going to go out there and see what lies ahead.
We took everything we had in two suitcases. We took trains, buses, and cabs. We walked blocks to get this venue. When we got there, it just really solidified who we are and our existence. We were able to make so many connections. Define Me Greek became known around the United States after that event.
Just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Facebook is pushing its new Gifts program, which officially launched in September and allows users to purchase physical items to send to friends or family.
At an event at the famed FAO Schwartz store in New York, the social network announced new retail partners, including babyGap, Brookstone, and Lindt. Users can also purchase online subscriptions as gifts, such as Hulu Plus or Pandora.
PC World spoke to Jeff Petrosillo, a senior e-commerce manager for L’Occitane, one of the new retail partners. L’Occitane will offer gifts starting at $19, he said, and using Facebook will be just one more way to sell products.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, users were able to use Facebook to give gifts to charities, and that will still be available, said Lee Linden, head of product for the gifts division. But the main focus for post-IPO Facebook is diversifying its revenue streams and attracting sales.
Additionally this week, Facebook announced updates to its mobile presence for both iOS and Android devices. On Wednesday, Facebook debuted its share button for mobile, its version of the re-tweet, allowing users to re-post an update or photo posted by a friend or Facebook page. It was originally available on Facebook’s mobile site, but with the debut of new versions of the Facebook app for iOS and Android yesterday, it is now more widely accessible.
Hurricane Sandy is causing all sorts of havoc. And it is also hitting the economy and even the elections. The New York Stock Exchange has already been shut down for the day. And according to Forbes, the storm is coming at a bad time for the election. “This would have been a weekend and week dominated by candidates’ final pitches. Instead, the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns canceled events. Newspaper endorsements were overshadowed by storm coverage. In some places, early voting was postponed, as well,” reports the magazine.
The airlines are also hit hard as thousands of flights have been canceled. “According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 6,800 flights had been canceled for Sunday and Monday as of Sunday evening,” writes the The Washington Post.
On the upside (if there can be one in a major storm) is that stores are seeing an upswing in business as people prepare for Sandy. “Grocery store chains and department stores like Target and Wal-Mart are seeing a burst of business from shoppers stocking up on supplies they need for the storm,” the article said.
What people aren’t buying, however, are cars. October is actually the first month of the new 2013 model year. “But sales on the Eastern seaboard probably dried up this weekend, because consumers had other things to worry about… Any hurricane also means that dealerships will eventually start seeing storm-damaged cars, as happened after Katrina and Irene, which means buyers will have to beware,” reports Forbes.
Speaking of the auto industry, because of Sandy gas prices are expected to rise. “Experts warn that the powerful storm, which could seriously impact the U.S. East Coast next week, may close off the supply and stop production of oil coming from East Coast refineries, causing gas prices to go up, according to research firm Seeking Alpha,” reports the Huffington Post.
All and all, the “Frankenstorm” is making a mess. Meteorologists predict Hurricane Sandy could cause $1 billion in damages.
Stay safe if you are in the way of the storm.
Love those shoes but don’t want to pay $120? Making a deal for new office equipment and want a discount? Whatever you are buying, you can bargain for a better price, according to an article in MSN.com.
“Here in the United States, haggling over a purchase is often confined to yard sales and flea markets. But there’s no reason you can’t apply your haggling skills to any potential purchase. Not only will you find that you get greater value for your dollar, but you might also decide that shopping is more fun with a little friendly negotiation,” writes MSN.
Before you ask for a deal, do some window shopping for the same item in other stores. Then figure out your target price, making an offer that is not ridiculously low. And check for damage on the item you intend to purchase. “Whether it’s clothing or a refrigerator, even minor damage should mean a lower price,” advises MSN.
Be prepared to walk away from the negotiations if you are not getting the price you want. Walking away may also make the salesperson waver because she doesn’t want to lose a sale.
Let the salesperson know you have cash in hand. “Using cash to pay for your purchase adds about one percent to the seller’s profit margin,” states MSN.
There are also certain times to get good results in bargaining. “Most sellers are more willing to deal when an item is going out of season, out of style or out of model year. If you can help the seller reduce unwanted inventory, you can increase the value of any offer you make,” says the article. “Sometimes salespeople or stores have monthly sales quotas. And there may be additional financial advantages for them to complete a sale, so deals may be a little easier to snag near a deadline.”
Be friendly and polite with the salesperson. The more the salesperson likes you, the more willing the will be to cut you a deal. But if the salesperson unwilling to bargain, ask for the store manager.
Still, if you can’t get the price of the item lowered, MSN suggests asking for a free accessory or free delivery.
Don’t be a hardcore haggler. Play the deal making light, easy and pressure free. If you stress out the salesperson they’ll be less willing to make a deal with you.
Have you ever successfully gotten a deal by negotiating with a salesperson? Let us know about it.
Veronica Robledo and Karin Widmann, two former “perfumistas” at the high-end perfume shop Bond No. 9, have sued the company’s owner Laurice Rahme, alleging that they were fired for not heeding instructions to follow black customers around the store when given a verbal cue.
The two former staffers are suing Rahme for $3 million. Robledo and Widmann allege that there was a code that Rahme used — “We need the light bulbs changed” — when she wanted them to tail a customer.
Robledo, who is Puerto Rican, worked with Rahme for nine years. Both workers were fired after Rahme accused them of stealing $25,000 worth of merchandise in February. They deny any thievery.
Rahme, of course, has denied that she’s a racist, saying that many of her staffers are minorities and professing her love for black customers in the New York Daily News. The code, she says, is used when someone dodgy comes into the store and bothers the “perfumistas.”
Just last month, another retailer, Wet Seal, was sued by staffers for discrimination.
-So maybe the economy is doing as poorly as we thought? It’s an emotional roller coaster! Now The Washington Post is saying there are indications that things are moving in a lasting, positive direction. New homes are being built and sold at a higher clip. Those jobs numbers improved with yesterday’s Labor Department numbers showing 361,000 fewer people filing for unemployment insurance. And U.S. exports were up. Experts question whether this will make a difference in the Presidential election.
-We talked about some of the trends in retail in this story yesterday. Today we have a story from The New York Times outlining the ways in which personalized shopping is heading to the supermarket as well. Grocers, using data collected on loyalty cards and apps, are reaching out to customers in a variety of ways with personalized coupons and offers.
-The Census Bureau has proposed an end of the use of the term Negro, leaving black and African American. The suggestion is one of a few that the Bureau has made following research it conducted during the 2010 census in which some questions, when worded differently, got better response rates. The other suggestions include a separate category for “Hispanic” and different ways of identifying Arab-Americans. Hispanics are concerned that changes will short-change the count. But other groups, including the National Urban League, are in support of the rewording.
-And in the final Olympics update of this year’s Games, Usain Bolt won gold in the 200-meter race, becoming the first to ever defend both the 100-meter and 200-meter titles in back-to-back Games. For many, the win earns him the title of “best sprinter in history.” He’s also competing in the 4X100 relay competition. Separately, Bolt took issues with comments US Olympian Carl Lewis has made, suggesting that Jamaica’s drug testing program needs to be strengthened.
Ashton Eaton became “the best athlete in the world” with his gold-medal win in the decathalon. Another American Trey Hardee took silver, the first time the U.S. took the top two spots since 1956.
And the U.S. women’s soccer team took gold for the third straight time, beating Japan. The game was a rematch of the 2011 World Cup in which Japan was the victor.
Shopping is so great. So so great. But even something as simple and perfect as this changes with the times.
Increasingly, brick-and-mortar shops are serving as showrooms for online purchases. More people are shopping on their mobile devices. Technology like apps that scan products to find you the best deals across retail outlets and the coming hi-tech fitting rooms will change the way we buy our wardrobes, electronics and other items. And, of course, everyone has their credit card information and shipping address saved on their favorite e-commerce site to make online shopping that much easier.
On the one hand, this is good news. Apps like Shopkick are showing people (lots of people) how they can save money. More information via mobile devices and online sites means a more customized shopping trip for customers. Waste less time, get what you need, get in and get out.
A new and improved site for Lucky magazine promises to be even more direct by letting you shop from their website. They’re even making digital stickers available to flag items you like online. And, chances are, you’re already getting your daily deals emails from sites like LivingSocial and Ideeli. You can buy everything you need and never leave the house.
But all this progress can have drawbacks. Providing more information to do all that mobile shopping could be made available to retailers, which could cause privacy concerns for some. Those who enjoy a good shopping trip could eventually find less merchandise at the stores to linger over.
And there will likely be cuts to the retail workforce.
“Experts aren’t predicting the end of the in-store experience, but it stands to reason that as with other industries, technology might improve efficiency while setting retailers on a path toward a leaner workforce,” writes USA Today. Already, in an effort to revive lagging business and compete with companies like Apple and Amazon, Best Buy is shutting 50 stores and planning to cut $800 million in costs over the next three years. It’s possible even more stores will close. The coming health care law also bodes poorly for retail workers who may find themselves cut all together rather than adding medical benefits.
Are you using all of the latest technology to do your shopping? What do you think of these changes?