Retail NaviGator

The Retail NaviGator - our communication to you about our research on retailing issues and the activities of the David F. Miller Center. This ongoing media change creates a direct connection to the retailing community in a way that keeps information current, direct and GREEN!

In this issue:


Engaging Associates: The New Topic on Companies Minds

By Jonathan Mayen

The Retail Society held a workshop with JCPenney on 'Engaging Associates.' Candace Wang, College Recruiter for JCPenney, provided more than 40 students the opportunity to be introduced to this important business practice as well as network opportunities with JCPenney.

According to Tower's Perrins Global Workforce, a study concluded that a shocking 21 percent of employees worldwide are engaged with their work and 41 percent just feel enrolled. In a retailing atmosphere where turnover of associates is high, employee engagement is coming to the forefront of the strategy behind major companies.

JCPenney combines "Winning Together" principles which include associates, integrity, performance, recognition, teamwork, quality, innovation and community with inclusion and diversity organizations and a comprehensive intranet in order to increase their employee engagement. These efforts by JCP result in an associate engagement level of 81 percent among all associates including part-time employees.

The inclusion and diversity organizations allow associates to learn about different cultures as they create a commonality among different departments and regions of the company. The comprehensive keeps their employees informed of the successes of the business, leaders and employees from around the country.

Keeping associates informed and feeling appreciated are at the strategic core of engaging associates at JCPenney.

Customer service is the bottom line. Without happy employees that feel fulfilled at work, customer service lacks and the business suffers as a whole. Companies like JCPenney take the time to recognize its associates and keep them feeling like they are part of an organization much like the functioning of a family.


The Regional Relevance of Dick's Sporting Goods

By Elizabeth Hebeler

Dick's Sporting Goods executives Mike Sablowski, Vice President of Allocations and Replenishment, and Mike Krysa, District Manager of north Florida, visited the University of Florida's Retail Seminar Class to share how their company provides a more effective customer experience.

Sports and their respective seasons vary across the country. For example, baseball has two seasons in Florida but usually peaks in spring everywhere else. Lacrosse is very popular in the Northeast, but has recently gained popularity in the South. This information dictates how Dick's Sporting Goods leverages distribution to support the customer's needs.

The customer service that Dick's Sporting Goods offers doesn't stop with the merchandise. Employees are trained to understand the customer. Many employees are sports enthusiasts and are able to recommend and talk about the sport and related equipment with true insider knowledge. If an associate doesn't know enough about a sport, the associate finds someone who does. Employees are aware of the sporting needs of their communities and support them as well through expos, sponsorships and workshops.

Dick's Sporting Goods hopes to become the "No. 1 sports and fitness specialty retailer." They want to sell authentic goods to athletes no matter what they are playing or how long they have been playing it. University of Florida students and the Miller Center for Retailing were excited to be exposed to the game plan of Dick's Sporting Goods.


Target as a Retail Leader

Kim Strong, Regional Vice President Stores, Human Resources at Target, delivered her presentation from her iPad as discussed Human Resources and Diversity at the University of Florida.

Target is a well-known retailer. Its brand is recognizable and associated with great prices and fun shopping experiences. The company currently has 1,755 stores (entering Canada in 2013) backed by 350,000 team members who proudly support stores that offer exceptional style, great design and unexpected value. The heart of the business is to surprise and delight the customers. This concept began in 1999 with world-renowned architect and designer Michael Graves, who believes great design should be democratic, available and affordable. His funky, artsy style was a hit with customers. The partnership with Graves was just the beginning as Target branched out to other exclusive designers who offer current trends at affordable prices.

Target spends time listening to guests. They understand customers want a connection to a quality brand at a low price. Target introduced private label Archer Farms groceries and household goods, which is only available at Target. Quality private labels helps Target build loyalty with its customers. Establishing this connection is critical to success. They talk with guests and use this information to market appropriately and remain relevant to evolving changes with the customer.

Target is known for pushing the boundaries. It knows its guests are living in a rough economy. Target marketing helps the customer to know they have what they need at a price they can afford. In addition to the customers, Target wants to continue to extend the brand. It's a valuable asset as it defines the company. Like all companies, it knows the importance of its reputation

Target has a tradition of community giving. The company is committed to giving 5 percent of its pre-tax income to support and improve communities. This equates to $3 million a week! Much of the money goes to public education which is what guests say they value the most. For example, Target will have donated $500 million by 2015 to improve reading efficiencies by the third grade. Social responsibility goes beyond the classroom. It's about making the world a better place one neighborhood at a time. Target has reduced the amount of waste going into our landfills by offering reusable shopping bags rather than paper or plastic. Target gives guests five cents for every reusable bag they use when they shop Target stores! To date, 34 million plastic bags have been kept out of landfills because of this program.

Corporate philanthropy and sustainability have become a part of every aspect of what it means to be Target. It is also what it means to be a leading 21st century corporation.


The Hess Way

Richard Lawlor, Vice President Retail Sales and Marketing for Hess Corporation, visited the University of Florida to talk about the retail division of his company. Of his contributions, Lawlor helped develop the "On the Run" convenience store concept and grew the convenience retail business.

Lawlor began by discussing Hess and its iconic toy truck. Sold in 16 states for four weeks a year, it is the second-largest selling toy in America. The truck is a cute gimmick, but it demonstrates the high quality and the value of the company.

To understand the Hess Company, one needs to understand the founder. Leon Hess began delivering fuel oil to homes in New Jersey in 1933 using a secondhand 615gallon delivery truck. His drive led him to build an oil storage terminal five years later. Hess, who was drafted into the Army as a private and left as a colonel, He built the Hess Corporation into a $7 billion company before his death in 1999. Now, Hess Corporation is valued at $29 billion.

Hess is a fully integrated oil company. It explores, refines, ships and sells the product to consumers in its retail outlets. Exploration and production is a huge focus. Simply put, it is hard to find oil, but Hess operates with a family appeal. John Hess, Leon's son and Chairman and CEO of Hess Corporation, typically works directly with the country the company does business with in order to develop the working relationship. In fact, he recently spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia and gave the entire speech in Farsi believing people would rather work personally with Hess rather than impersonal and large conglomerates. This approach has been helpful with developing large production facilities across the globe.

Hess runs a retail marketing business comprised of 1,400 Hess Express stores on the East Coast. One focus for Hess is the retail division because it is the only business that touches the consumer ever day. The company owns all of the stores to assure a quality and reliable experience for the customer. The stores are a convenience as people are time-starved. Express lanes in grocery stores are not fast enough. In five minutes, Hess Express can fill your stomach and fill your car. Their mantra is fast, fun and family. The stores are convenient, upbeat and one family serving another. Turnover in the stores is less than 12 percent. The average Hess Express in Florida averages $18 million in sales. Customer service is No. 1 for Hess. In fact, Lawlor stated that he rarely gets calls from John Hess if sales are down. Instead he will get a call if a customer has a bad experience. "We're frantic about providing the best customer service there is," Lawlor said.

According to Lawlor, convenience stores are a blur. What puts Hess Express stores ahead of the rest is increasing sales. Additionally, Hess Express associates respect the customer. This respects helps the customer know when they have to spend money, they look to Hess because they know they will get a great product at a great value with the respect they deserve. Hess' bulk commodity offerings assure consumers value pricing.

Hess Express stores offer important and consistent food offerings. Instead of developing a new food concept, Hess partnered with the best. Quiznos, Dunkin' Donuts and Godfathers now call Hess Express their No. 1 franchisee. In keeping with the value of the food, Dunkin' Donuts sold at Hess Express stores are all made on site because consumer research indicated that people want Dunkin' Donuts products available at a convenience store. Again, it is offering what the customer wants, when it is wanted and at a value price.

When Lawlor speaks with his managers, he advocates the "Hess Way." He stresses the look of the store focusing on brightness, cleanliness and vibrancy. Employees help the Hess Way by keeping the atmosphere of the store fun and upbeat. The attitude of the store is also influenced by the employees by encouraging them to connect with the customer and offer excellent customer service. When Lawlor visits stores, he looks for these attributes. Said Lawlor: "I don't need to see P&L [Profit & Loss] if management follows the Hess Way."


Q&A Webinar With Santiago Velez, Macy's

Santiago Velez is a Gator in Retailing. During a recent Pathways to Retail Success webinar, Velez talked about his career path with Macy's from completing the Executive Development Buying and Planning training program to his current position of Buyer for Men's Tailored Clothing.

When asked if Velez's father, who was a retailer, encouraged him to pursue a career in retailing, Velez said his father encouraged him to do what made him happy. He recalls being on vacations where he went shopping with his father to see what other retailers were doing to succeed. It made an impression on the young Velez.

As a Gator grad, Velez recalls pursuing many opportunities as he searched for his career while at the University of Florida. Going into retail was a conscious decision because he knew that retail offered many choices with great compensation. Velez attended career fairs, got involved as an undergrad and interviewed with many companies to make sure the decision was a perfect fit. Today he sees retailing for the value it offers those who want a career in analytical and strategic thinking.

At Macy's, Velez is at home. He talked about how Macy's sponsors Lunch and Learn events to help associates continue to grow. Mi Macy's is a group of Hispanic associates who gather to talk about how Macy's can partner with Hispanic customers to make a better shopping experience. It is just one way that Macy's fosters growth and innovation.

Velez's career path has been at a breakneck speed. He began in the buying and planning program to learn the ropes. He rapidly advanced through Assist Buyer in Men's Sport Coats to Associate Buyer of Men's Suits and Overcoats. In only four years, he was promoted to Buyer of Men's Neo-traditional Collections. Since he is a true retailer, he wanted to diversify his training and began to learn about planning by taking the position of Planner for Men's Designer Collections which quickly led into his current role of Buyer for Tailored Clothing. One amazing journey for a motivated Gator!


Retail Navigator

This electronic newsletter from The David F. Miller Center for Retailing Education and Research is issued throughout the year to provide updates on what is happening in retailing at the University of Florida. Information regarding student outreach, jobs, internships, research and retailing connections throughout the country will be included. We hope you enjoy seeing what Gators are doing in the retail industry!

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