STORES Magazine - December 2009 - (Page 14)

trEnDS Still, 80 percent plan to maintain or reduce their inventory levels for spring, and 57 percent will do so in the fall. Initiatives under way or in the works include decreasing SKU counts, which means shoppers will find fewer style and color choices on the sales floors. Merchants are hoping to encourage customers to shop early to ensure the best selection, and are holding their collective breath that those who are late to the party will get the message. Retailers also are renegotiating vendor agreements, tweaking payment terms, order quantities and the like as they work to get “back-of-the-house” type activities back on track. Finally, retailers say they’re revaluating product categories. Some plan to decrease or de-emphasize poor-performing categories; in some instances, retailers will exit certain categories or line extensions entirely. Busting Bad Customers Anyone remotely connected to the retail business knows that the customer is always right. ut merchants have a hard time with that old axiom when they’re faced with mounting losses resulting from customer chargebacks, a problem that cost U.S. retailers $11.8 billion last year, according to NRF. Chargebacks are issued to retail companies when an unscrupulous or lazy customer calls her credit card provider seeking a refund, rather than following the proper return/credit protocol. Online retailers appear to be the hardest hit. In an attempt to appease their customers, credit card companies “are making it easier for them to use chargebacks, often sticking the retailer with hefty fines and fees, not to mention the loss of the merchandise, which is usually not returned,” says Brien Heideman, founder and CEO of In an effort to save online retailers time and money, has launched what it believes to be the Internet’s largest shared database of frequent chargeback customers and is offering free customer screening services to all online retailers. Participating retailers contribute to the database, providing the details of known chargeback “risks.” The result is an Internet-based frequent chargeback customer “blacklist.” When a customer attempts to make a purchase from a participating retailer, the shopper’s contact data is run against the list. If the purchaser is found in the database, the transaction is declined and he receives a notification and instructions on how to rectify the situation. “Customers are unaware they are even being checked against the database unless they’re on the list,” says Heideman. “We direct them to visit our site or call our customer service line to be removed.“ Consumers must pay $99 to be deleted from the list. sure that we reach as many people as possible to let them know Filene’s Basement is still here and we are stronger than ever,’’ Syms told The Boston Globe earlier this year. The $1 million campaign included a series of commercials launched in mid-October and run again during the week of Thanksgiving. Workers at the company’s 23 stores are now wearing “Where Bargains Were Born’’ T-shirts and buttons, and consumers can purchase anniversary mugs and T-shirts at the shops. WWW.STORES.ORG Bringing Back the Basement Earlier this year things seemed pretty down and out for Filene’s Basement. T he 100-year-old brand, established by Edward A. Filene as a way to sell excess merchandise from his father’s department store upstairs, seemed on the brink of demise when the chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. Marcy Syms, chief executive of Syms Corp., rescued Filene’s Basement from the auction block, paying $62.4 million for the bankrupt business. Ever since, Syms has been on a mission to replenish merchandise at the 23 operating stores and find a new site in Downtown Crossing, the Boston area where the first shop opened a century ago. Syms’ biggest project, however, may be restoring the brand in the minds of consumers. In an effort to reacquaint shoppers with the company, a marketing campaign including network, cable, newspaper and gift card giveaways was recently launched. “We want to make 14 STORES / DECEMBER 2009 http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - December 2009

Stores - December 2009
Editor’s Page
President’s Page
Wrapped in Mystery
Hot Colors for 2010
Holding the Line on New Lines
Busting Bad Customers
10 Things You May Have Missed
JCP Teams with Olsen Twins
Retail People
Half Full–or Half Empty?
Retail Industry Buying Guide
Loeb Retail Letter
ARTS Update
NRF News
Point of View
Retail Industry Calendar
End Cap

STORES Magazine - December 2009