Category ArchiveRetail

Retail 25 May 2007 11:44 am

Saks Shoe Department Gets Zip Code


The Manhattan Saks Fifth Avenue (SKS) store got the U.S. Postal Service to help them with a publicity stunt. The department store announced their newly-remodeled shoe department will be so big and important it deserves its own zip code:

The quintessential Manhattan store is revamping its shoe department, and when it moves from the fourth floor to the eighth floor in August customers will be able to send mail to 10022-SHOE.

“We believe it’s such a big move for us it deserves its own ZIP code,” Saks spokeswoman Lesley Langsam Kennedy said Thursday. “We wanted to make it a destination.”

But the four-letter addition is meaningless:

Only the last four characters, which aren’t necessary when you’re mailing something, are specialized, and they won’t be read by sorting machines.


Retail 22 Feb 2007 07:38 am

Whole Foods/Wild Oats Form Organic Superpower

Wild Oats logoWhole Foods logo

Organic foods have gone a long way from being sold in cooperatives near college campuses by ex-hippies. The idea that the industry wouldn’t become as big business as the mainstream food chain had that buried years ago when Whole Foods (WFMI) started raking in billions. Yesterday, the natural-foods chain announced it would buy competitor Wild Oats (OATS) for $565 million. Whole Foods thinks the purchase will get them back on the growth track. Missing analysts’ targets have hurt the stock. With leadership shakeups Wild Oats has been in some turbulence which gave John Mackey’s Whole Foods the opportunity to grow via acquisition. It will take about two years to integrate the Wild Oats stores into the larger Whole Foods.


Retail 13 Feb 2007 11:00 am

Wal-Mart Finally Displays Error Page for Firefox Users

It took a few days but Wal-Mart (WMT) finally put up a page letting non-Internet Explorer users know their beta movie download service doesn’t work with their browser. This post got lost in the queue but I wanted to let Firefox users who haven’t bothered with the movie download service to know they still shouldn’t bother.

Wal-Mart unsupported browser page

Previous coverage:

Retail & Technology 06 Feb 2007 07:40 pm

Wal-Mart Hates Firefox…for Now

Anti-Firefox button

What does Wal-Mart (WMT) have against Firefox? I showed earlier their new movie download service on the open-source browser looks like something produced by an IBM Selectric on LSD. It looks just as bad on Firefox on the Mac. (The comparison is better understood if you are on LSD as well or weed.) At first look I figured it was just a glich–a HUGE glich–with the Wal-Mart beta. But the retailer has had all day to fix it. Nothing’s happened. Michael Arrington quotes a web designer, “I could fix this in 30 seconds. Did they even test this in Firefox before launching?”

To appreciate Wal-Mart’s efforts you need to fire up Microsoft Internet Explorer. With it the movie download sight looks like, well, the Wal-Mart website.

Pretty Wal-Mart movie download beta screenshot

One of TechCrunch’s commenter told Firefox users to do a hard refresh of the web page (shift-control-R). That does the trick, but Wal-Mart’s had all day to fix this. At the least they could put up a redirect to a page saying the beta site works only with Internet Explorer. A Google beta this is not.

Gizmodo questioned Wal-Mart about the service. The company emphasised the service is a beta and it’s a chance for them to feel things out at the beginning of a downloadable media world.

So what does Wal-Mart have against Firefox? Nothing. Things are just a work in progress.

Wal-Mart’s new endeavor gets an Om Malik beating calling it another in a long line of “too many me-too download services out there, muddying the waters and confusing the consumers about which movie or television they can download from where, and why.” Om thinks the winner won’t be Wal-Mart shareholders by Steve Jobs.

IDG News gives us the techy scoop on how and who brought the movie download site to life:

The offering is built on HP Video Merchant Services, a Web-shopping technology also launched Tuesday that allows businesses to set up an online video store. HP holds hundreds of petabytes of digital films and TV shows in its data centers, and provides back-office sales and search applications, said Willem de Zoete, vice president and general manager of Digital Entertainment Services at HP.

Customers like Wal-Mart use the service as part of their online retail offerings, allowing cinema fans to browse movies based on genre, or search by entering the name of an actor, director or film. Customers can then download the movies to play on their PCs or portable video players, or order a packaged disc to arrive in the mail, choosing a DVD, HD-DVD or Blu-ray format.

A first-time user must install a program on the PC before starting the 30- to 45-minute process of downloading a 1.5G-byte movie over a typical household broadband connection, although most can start watching within five to 10 minutes, said Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart’s divisional merchandise manager for digital media.

I wonder how much of a turn-key system HP Video Merchant Services is. How easy would it be for this website to set up movie download service? Thousands of movie sites would be great for the movie studios and television networks. It wouldn’t be so good for Wal-Mart to have their competition only a click away.


[Button via James Kolbern.]

Media & Retail 06 Feb 2007 07:37 am

Wal-Mart Goes into the Movie Download Business

Movie reel

Wal-Mart (WMT) is jumping into the digital movie download market almost like they’re a innovator. Sure, having customers pay someone for movie downloads isn’t new, but the world’s largest retailer is bringing something new to the table: more flexible pricing and price competition:

The nation’s largest retailer is using its buying power to beat the prices charged by other download services in many cases, offering films from $12.88 to $19.88 and individual TV episodes for $1.96 — 4 cents less than Apple Inc.’s iTunes store.

Apple charges less for some films sold on iTunes — $12.99 when pre-ordered and during the first week of sale, or $14.99 afterward. But it only carries films from two studios, The Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Studios.

Most studios have resisted signing deals with iTunes in part because of Apple’s desire to sell movies at one price. Studios prefer variable pricing such as Wal-Mart is offering.

Apple’s pricing has also caused scuffles between studios and major retailers, including Wal-Mart and Target Corp. The retailers don’t want studios to sell digital copies of films cheaper than the wholesale price of physical DVDs.

Wal-Mart’s online store will sell older titles starting at $7.50, compared with the $9.99 charged by iTunes.

From the looks of things something has gone seriously wrong. It may be a beta but it has to at least be viewable.

Ugly Wal-Mart movie download beta screenshot

With Wal-Mart in place movie studios are set to make more deals with the likes of Amazon (AMZN) and others.

Geeks and even mild techies hooked on our YouTube age won’t be pleased with Wal-Mart’s offering. Customers won’t be able to burn their movies to DVD or play them on their iPods. That’s not so much Wal-Mart’s fault as that of the fearful movie studios.


Retail 02 Feb 2007 01:17 am

Gap Names Hansen to Run North American Stores

Gap logo

The Gap (GPS) is looking internally to turn around its namesake store chain. Marka Hansen is moving from the company’s Banana Republic division to run The Gap’s North American stores. Hansen served in many positions including “helping expand the chain into Europe and Japan” as “vice president of merchandising for Gap’s international unit.” Hansen has had success in the ailing retailer. While Gap stores same-store sales went down 9% last December sales at Banana Republic stores increased 2%.

The search for a permanent replacement for ex-CEO Paul Pressler continues.


Retail 23 Jan 2007 07:46 am

Pressler Leaves as Gap CEO

Gap logo

Someone’s happy. Paul Pressler, CEO of The Gap (GPS), agreed to leave the company after four years of same-store sales declines and no spark from the mall monster. The company praised Pressler for his work that “strengthened its balance sheet, greatly enhanced its on-line presence across the brand portfolio and improved its standing as a global corporate citizen.” It’s the sales that forced him to leave. Don’t feel sorry for Pressler. The Gap will pay him $14 million in total compensation in the next two years.

Robert Fisher, chairman of the board, will become interim leader while the company finds a CEO “who has deep retailing and merchandising experience ideally in apparel, understands the creative process and can effectively execute strategies in large, complex environments while maintaining strong financial discipline.” Ex-amusement park executives for that clothes seller.

The talk can really continue on whether the company should spin off its Old Navy and Banana Republic brands.