News Briefs

04/04/2022

RIS Parent EnsembleIQ Investing in Membership and Subscriptions With New Hire: Craig Lowe

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Craig Lowe Headshot

RIS parent companyEnsembleIQ has tapped previous Wall Street Journal employee Craig Lowe for its newly created position: senior vice president of membership and subscriptions. Lowe will be responsible for the overall strategy and delivery of new enterprise membership and subscriptions initiatives across the company’s grocery, drug, convenience, retail technology, and consumer goods channels. 

Lowe brings vast international membership and subscription expertise from across both the business to business information services marketplace and consumer media. He created paid subscriptions and membership programs, transformed a conferences business, and led controlled circulation and news trade sales and marketing initiatives. 

He was most recently vice president, global audience marketing at Dow Jones, where he was responsible for delivering audiences for the Wall Street Journal’s global events business, and developing membership growth strategies for all WSJ Professional membership propositions. Earlier in his career, Lowe was with BMI Research, Espicom Business Intelligence, Saga Publishing Ltd, Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc, and Centaur Media Plc. 

“Today we have two high-value membership products — Path to Purchase Institute and Restaurant Technology Network. By bringing Craig into EnsembleIQ, our goal is to create new, innovative membership and subscription experiences that leverage our actionable intelligence and connections across key retail channels,” said Jennifer Litterick, CEO of EnsembleIQ. “Craig will provide strategic leadership to ensure that we are tailoring our solutions to fulfill the needs of our business decision maker audiences and new constituencies seeking to grow their businesses.” 

EnsembleIQ is a North American business intelligence company delivering insightful information and actionable connections throughout the entire path to purchase in retail, retail technology, consumer goods, healthcare, and hospitality. To learn more about EnsembleIQ, visit ensembleiq.com.

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04/04/2022

The Vitamin Shoppe Is Expanding Its Assortment and Drop Shipping Capabilities

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Beginning this month, The Vitamin Shoppe consumers will have an expanded online shopping experience, able to view new product categories such as exercise equipment and accessories. 

The company has tapped cloud-based digital commerce platform Logicbroker to enable additional digital merchandising capabilities and provide real-time inventory visibility and reliable shipping. 

Sharon Leite, CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe, said the company’s goal is to “continually provide new products and services that meet customer needs.”

“Logicbroker's innovative technology will help expand our drop ship offering with limitless possibilities to discover the partners and products that help our customers become their best selves, however they define it,” she added. “We are confident that Logicbroker understands our drop ship and merchandising needs, providing the best platform to deliver on our objectives."

Through the partnership, said Logicbroker founder and CEO Peyman Zamani, his company can help promote wellness for diverse communities everywhere. 

04/01/2022

enVista Looking to Increase Enterprise Interoperability with New Mobile Fulfillment App

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Dashboard showing tech performance

Global software solution company enVista has launched a mobile fulfillment app, enStore. The solution integrates omnichannel order fulfillment, enterprise inventory available to promise (ATP), and mobile point of sale (mPOS) capabilities. 

According to the company, omnichannel retail organizations looking for visibility, interoperability, and agility across their customer and associate functions would benefit from the technology.

enStore includes onboarding, training modules, and in-app assistance, as well as built-in gamification features to “incentivize, engage, and reward associates around picking, packing and selling.”

The platform can run on Apple iOS, Windows or Android devices. enStore is pre-integrated and built on a common data model with enVista’s OMS and Point of Sale solutions; however, it can be used with any order management system or POS. 

enVista’s CEO Jim Barnes said the technology can extend the ideal consumer experience at any point in the store and simplify training for associates across the store network. 

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03/31/2022

Lowe's Brings User Intent to Brand E-com Search

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Lowe's website

Retailers including Lowe’s, Fnac Darty, and Casas Pernambucanas are leveraging Google Cloud’s new technology to improve website and mobile app search experiences.

The tech, which became widely available this week, is built on Google’s technologies to understand user intent and context. For example, when a consumer searches for a “long black dress with short sleeves and comfortable fit” on an e-commerce site, they will immediately get results for that item, according to Google.

This fully managed service is customizable and features advanced query understanding for better results from broad queries and non-product searches; semantic search to effectively match product attributes with website content; optimized results that leverage user interaction and ranking models to meet specific business goals; and security and privacy measures to ensure retailer data is isolated with access controls to delivers search results on their own properties.

[See also: Nike’s Apps Rocket Fuel for Growth]

“With limited customer signals and no historical data, descriptive long-tail searches are some of the most challenging queries to understand,” added Neelima Sharma, senior VP, technology, e-commerce, marketing and merchandising at Lowe’s. “We have been partnering with Google Cloud to give our customers relevant results for long-tail searches and have seen an increase in click-through and search conversion and a drop in our ‘No Results Found’ rate since we launched.”

"Making constant improvements to our website search engines has always been a priority for us as we aim to give our customers a simpler, more customized and enhanced online shopping experience,” said Olivier Theulle, Fnac Darty's chief ecommerce and digital officer. “As we implement Google Cloud’s site search solution on our Fnac Darty websites and are the first French retailer to do so, we expect the solution to deliver increased conversion rates while also offering greater customer satisfaction.”

Fabiano Rustice, CIO at Pernambucanas, said the retailer recorded a 20% reduction in search refinements per user on Black Friday 2021, the largest retail date in Brazil.

This article first appeared on the site of sister publication, CGT.

03/30/2022

EnsembleIQ Named ‘Best Place to Work in Chicago’

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Ensemble IQ Comparably award

Parent company of RIS News, EnsembleIQ, has been named a “Best Place to Work in Chicago” based on a survey of company employees. Comparably included EnsembleIQ in its ranking due to the company’s outstanding culture and leadership.

EnsembleIQ received “A” level grades for its company leadership, office culture, and overall team. Survey analysis revealed 95% of employees look forward to interacting with co-workers; 81% report they are happy with their work-life balance; 95% are proud to be part of the company; and many employees commonly receive constructive criticism or positive feedback every week.

Comparably awards are derived from sentiment ratings anonymously provided by employees about their workplaces, and winners are determined based on 20 core culture metrics — ranging from work-life balance and environment to compensation and career growth.

EnsembleIQ chief executive officer Jennifer Litterick said, “This study clearly shows that EnsembleIQ employees appreciate our positive culture and strong corporate values. Our employees are the foundation of our business, and I am proud to collaborate with them as we drive growth by delivering actionable business intelligence and connections to business professionals and solution providers in the retail, healthcare and hospitality markets.”

In recent years, EnsembleIQ leadership has transformed the organization into a North American business intelligence company. This has included rebuilding the company’s executive leadership team to include financial, people, operations and content, and communications executives — all especially focused around innovation. 

The company also has created a performance-based culture; recruited high-performing employees from diverse backgrounds with high levels of information services, technology, and emotional intelligence; bolstered morale through new people programs that help connect employees with each other; and provided strong leadership development programs and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. 

All of these factors have significantly contributed to the evaluation by employees that has resulted in Comparably honoring EnsembleIQ as a “Best Place to Work in Chicago.”

“An organization’s culture starts at the top,” said Comparably CEO Jason Nazar. “According to feedback from employees at EnsembleIQ, they believe their CEO is an extraordinary leader who is creating an excellent workplace culture.”

EnsembleIQ — North America’s leading source of insightful information and actionable connections in retail, healthcare and hospitality — is headquartered in Chicago, also operates out of a Toronto office, and includes team members working remotely throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

03/30/2022

Valvoline Taps Walmart Exec for Retail Services Lead

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flees

Valvoline Inc., a global retailer in vehicle care, has named Lori Flees as the president of its Retail Services business segment reporting directly to CEO Sam Mitchell. Flees joins Valvoline after nearly a decade with Walmart where she most recently held the position of senior vice president and chief operating officer of its health and wellness division.

"Lori is an exceptional business leader, and we are excited to welcome her to Valvoline," said Mitchell. "As we continue to invest in our industry-leading automotive service network, Lori's experiences in strategy, innovation and applying technology in the retail space will be a great fit for our Valvoline Instant Oil Change operations."

As president of Valvoline Retail Services, Flees will be leading its fast-growing business segment, which includes more than 1,600 locations across the U.S. and Canada with a team of nearly 9,000 employees.

"I am excited to join the Valvoline team," said Flees. "I'm impressed by the strong growth track record driven by an unwavering focus on delivering a consistently high quality, quick and friendly experience to customers every day."

Flees joined Walmart in 2014 as the SVP, Corporate Strategy. In addition to developing the company's strategy, she was responsible for all acquisition and integration activities, including Jet.com, Bonobos, Moosejaw.com and Shoes.com. She was then promoted to SVP, Next Generation Retail & Principal, Store No 8. In that role, she led the incubation of next generation retail capabilities leveraging emerging technologies and managing all strategic partnerships (including Google and Microsoft), as well as launching several joint venture partnerships. In her last role, she oversaw all aspects of the Health & Wellness business across more than 4,800 locations, including the COVID vaccination operations focusing on protecting both customers and associates.

Prior to her leadership experience at Walmart, Flees spent 17 years at Bain & Company Inc., where she did a variety of work in consumer services, CPG, engineering and construction, industrial manufacturing and oil and gas. She has extensive experience in M&A, corporate strategy, and performance improvement, including experience developing growth strategies for retailers with a combination of company-owned and franchised stores. Early in her career, Flees worked at Intel and at General Motors.

"With 15 straight years of same-store sales growth," Mitchell continued, "Lori will be leading a talented and dedicated Retail Services team into our next phase of growth."

Flees begins her role at Valvoline on April 11, 2022.