News Briefs

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. 

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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.

03/30/2022

Stride Rite Overhauling Digital Experience, Focusing on Personalization and Enhanced Site Search

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Stride Rite storefront

Children’s footwear brand Stride Rite, under the Vida Shoes International umbrella, is looking to evolve its e-commerce growth strategy and reshape the consumer shopping experience. 

To do so, it has tapped Searchspring, which will create e-commerce campaigns and enhance site search, product recommendations, and personalized experiences across the brand’s e-commerce platform. 

Stride Rite is also redesigning its navigation taxonomy to optimize for conversion and mobile viewing, using tech from CQL to create a website with growth and scalability in mind. The website itself runs on Shopify Plus. 

[Related: Stride Rite Fit Zone Growing Retail Footprint]

According to Brian McManus, executive vice president of Vida Shoes International, Stride Rite’s technical complexity is growing rapidly alongside its expanding list of digital features. 

“Stride Rite’s newly launched tech stack, designed for future growth and stability, lowers our total cost of ownership significantly and empowers our e-commerce teams to focus on content, marketing, and acquisition to cultivate deeper relationships with our customers,“ he added.

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03/29/2022

Snowflake Expands AWS Relationship with Demand Forecasting Improvements

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Amazon Web Services logo

Data cloud company Snowflake is expanding its relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS), to improve demand forecasting and delivery for the retail and CPG industries. 

Customers will now be able to natively access Amazon purchase order (PO) data and Amazon Forecast generated insights from Snowflake’s Retail Data Cloud to better identify variances in product demand and plan for manufacturing and delivery lead times. 

Through this technology, users can leverage brand-level and fulfillment center-level forecasts, and access new data from third-party data providers within the Retail Data Cloud, from Snowflake’s single, integrated platform. 

[Read more: Five Innovations to Improve CPG & Retailer Collaboration in 2022]

Capabilities include the following:

  • Import Amazon PO data into Snowflake to better access, govern, and share data seamlessly across the organization.
  • Improve forecast accuracy using machine learning models from Amazon Forecast to create accurate time-series forecasts to predict demand for variable vendor purchase orders weeks ahead of time.
  • Track product weight or dimension changes to ensure they adhere to manufacturer standards.
  • Improve on-time in-full (OTIF) metrics to enhance organic ranking on Amazon.com, reduce chargeback expenses, and help ensure products are in-stock for consumers to buy.
  • Match correct probabilistic forecasts with SKU sales velocity to help ensure key products will stay in stock and improve revenue.

Rosemary Hua, global head of retail and CPG at Snowflake, said that today’s retail and CPG companies are looking for accurate, efficient, and timely tech solutions that positively impact their bottom lines.

“Amazon.com has revolutionized how retail and CPG businesses sell and deliver to consumers and, similarly, Snowflake has had a profound impact on empowering businesses to optimize their operations and seamlessly collaborate on data,” she added. “Together, Snowflake and AWS can streamline data-driven inventory management for items sold on Amazon.

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

03/28/2022

Zebra Introduces New Purpose-Built Offerings for Digitizing and Automating Fulfillment

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a woman standing in a room

Zebra Technologies Corporation is introducing its first all-in-one Android-based wearable computer, the new WS50, and its first RFID sled designed for industrial usage, the RFD90.

In addition, Zebra is also showcasing its recently announced Fetch FlexShelf autonomous mobile robot (AMR) solution, as well as several other in-booth demos focused on optimizing the fulfillment process and streamlining workflows, at MODEX 2022.

Zebra’sWS50 Android wearable computer is half the size of traditional wearables and includes a small display, WiFi and an imager or camera, eliminating the need for multiple devices supporting hands-free workflows, such as picking, sorting, loading, and put away. With powerful data capture capabilities and an integrated speaker and microphone, the WS50 supports task management and communication in warehouse, manufacturing, and retail environments. With the option of three different wearable styles including back of hand, wrist, or on the fingers, the ergonomic WS50 wearable computer provides users with the flexibility they need that’s right for the job.

Zebra’s new RFD90 RFID sled offers industrial-grade IP65 and 67 sealing and 6-foot drop specifications to concrete, making it ideal for use in extreme weather and tough environments. The RFD90 sled supports packaging and baggage tracking, cycle counting, cold chain, and item locating as well as raw materials inventory, work in progress (WIP) tracking, and returnable transport object (RTO) tracking. Featuring a long-lasting battery for lengthier shifts and industry-leading read rates, the RFD90 optimizes workflows and reduces task completion time resulting in greater productivity and a better user experience.

At MODEX 2022, Zebra will also be showcasing its recently announced fulfillment solution, featuring dynamic orchestration of equipped workers augmented by the latest FlexShelf series of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), including the FlexGuide and RollerTop Guide. Both AMRs are purpose-built for maximizing pick productivity in e-commerce and wholesale operations where speed and accuracy are critical to meeting the increasing demand of customers. New FetchCore fulfillment software optimizes the human workforce and robot fleet, while intelligent safety features leveraging cloud-based machine learning algorithms help front-line workers, robots, and even forklifts work safely side-by-side.

In April 2022, Zebra will launch a new specialization track in its award-winning PartnerConnect program for experienced mobile robotics partners. Zebra’s Mobile Robotics specialization program will feature partners with deep mobile robotics, manufacturing, and warehouse expertise to provide businesses with the best possible automation solution.

“The global pandemic created exponential growth in the industrial automation sector as businesses worked to scale their operations and stay on time with shipping demands, all while addressing labor shortages and high turnover rates,” said Mark Wheeler, director of Supply Chain Solutions, Zebra Technologies. “Zebra’s solutions help businesses confidently accelerate their automation efforts through a single vendor, helping them address needs ranging from the movement of pallets from trucks to put-away locations, to the movement of pickers and cobots in diverse picking environments. By addressing these needs, companies are seeing increased productivity and worker satisfaction, reduced costs, and improved safety.”

Zebra executives and customers will also participate in three speaking sessions on Monday, March 28 and Tuesday, March 29 including The Dynamic Supply Chain: Intelligence at Every NodeHow the Cloud is a Change Agent for Warehouse Robotics, and Take your pick: order, batch, case, or pallet picking using AMRs.

03/28/2022

The Honest Company Launches One-Click Checkout

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Honest company website

The Honest Company has updated its e-commerce site, now allowing consumers to check out with one click. 

Using technology from online checkout company Fast, the Honest Company is providing consumers with the ability to purchase its products directly from online articles, display ads, emails, and QR codes via one step. The partnership was announced during ShopTalk, and will allow Honest consumers to quickly replenish their products by inputting their payment and shipping information once. 

Honest will also be adding QR codes to its product packaging to allow consumers to more easily reorder their preferred items. 

Fast Checkout is directly embedded on product detail pages on the company’s website, allowing buyers to bypass the shopping cart and subsequent checkout flow. If consumers wish to make additional purchases, they will have an opportunity to do so during the Fast Checkout process. These items are added to the original order, eliminating packaging waste and extra shipping costs. 

Pete Gerstberger, chief digital and strategy officer at The Honest Company, said that the company is evolving to meet the needs and preferences of its consumers. 

[Related: Pete Gerstberger Named Chief Digital & Strategy Officer at The Honest Company]

"Our goal every day is to make it as easy as possible for consumers to discover and purchase our products, while delivering the experience they know and expect from us,” he added. “By implementing Fast's one-click checkout, we're providing consumers another way to shop with us at the click of a button, no matter where they are."

Domm Holland, co-founder and CEO at Fast, said the tech upgrade makes it easier for the Honest Company consumers to order and reorder products, whether via the e-commerce store or a QR scan. 

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