Data Breach At Chatbot Service Potentially Affects 100,000 Sears Consumers

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UPDATE: Best Buy confirmed in a statement that a number of customers may have had their payment information compromised during the [24]7.ai payment breach.

Best Buy has not revealed the number of potential customers affected by the breach, indicating “a small fraction of our overall online customer population could have been caught up in this [24]7.ai incident, whether or not they used the chat function.”


Sears confirmed that one of its customer support services experienced a security incident in fall 2017 that may have exposed credit card information of nearly 100,000 Sears customers. The incident also affected Delta Airlines consumers.

[24]7.ai, an AI-powered chatbot platform that provides online support services to Sears and Kmart, notified Sears of the breach in mid-March 2017, the retailer revealed in a blog post. Sears immediately notified the credit card companies to prevent potential fraud, and launched an investigation with federal law enforcement authorities, banking partners and IT security firms.

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Does The 5.5% Holiday Sales Increase Signal A 2018 Retail Rebound?

While 2017 was arguably a year of turmoil for retailers, the industry managed to end on a high note: $691.6 billion in holiday sales for November and December, a 5.5% increase over the same period in 2016, according to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF). The results exceeded the NRF forecast of a 3.6% to 4% increase, and marked the largest percentage jump since the 5.2% seen in 2010, when the country was coming out of the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

Another sign that things are looking up: growth was not limited to a few big retailers or specific verticals. “The holiday results were very strong, showing renewed confidence in the economy and some of the positive aspects of the tax cuts,” said Michael Brown, a partner in the retail practice of A.T. Kearney and author of an upcoming report on the future of retail real estate. “Additionally, the performance improvements seem to be across the board.”

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Will Sears Live To See Holiday 2018?

While department stores such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, JCPenney and Nordstrom all generated promising holiday sales numbers, Sears had an abysmal November and December: same store sales dropped 16% to 17%. These figures are the latest indication that Sears and Kmart are on their last legs: the retailers shuttered 358 stores in 2017, and 103 more closures are expected for 2018.

Is there anything Sears can do to engineer a comeback? Retail analysts don’t have much confidence in such an alternative, with many believing that the ship to recovery sailed long ago.

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Sears To Close 100+ More Stores, While Macy’s Announces 5,000 Job Cuts

Store closures will continue to be a running theme in retail throughout 2018, and department stores are already leading the way. In an internal memo, Sears told its employees that it will be closing 103 more stores in 2018 — 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears stores, all of which are expected to shut between early March and April.

Macy’s is planning 5,000 job cuts in 2018 and will close seven previously unidentified stores that were not part of a batch of 100 store closures first announced in 2016. The Macy’s closures come after a positive holiday season which saw November and December comparable sales increase 1.0%. The company expects to save $300 million from the cuts and store closures beginning in fiscal year 2018.

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Destination Maternity Names Second Interim CEO, Seeks Turnaround Leader

While Destination Maternity continues its search for a permanent chief executive to execute a turnaround, it has named its second interim CEO in less than four months. Melissa Payner-Gregor, an independent director of the retailer, succeeds Allen Weinstein, who also had been an independent director before taking on the temporary CEO role. The company said Weinstein decided to step down for personal reasons.

Payner-Gregor will head a newly created “Office of the CEO” comprised of Ronald J. Masciantonio, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer; David Stern, EVP and Chief Financial Officer, and Shelley Liebsch, SVP of Merchandising and Design.

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Are Amazon’s Calvin Klein Exclusives Good For The Brands?

Calvin Klein is offering Amazon customers exclusive styles in the two CALVIN KLEIN X Amazon Fashion pop-up stores, as well as online at Amazon.com/mycalvins. The stores, open until Dec. 31, also are showcasing the latest Amazon technologies, including:

Fitting rooms with Amazon Echo devices, allowing shoppers to ask Alexa questions about Calvin Klein products and control the lighting and music;
Content creation stations to encourage shoppers to create shareable media clips; and
• Lounges with video calling to connect the bi-coastal stores in New York City’s SoHo and Santa Monica, Calif.

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Birchbox Tops Monthly Rankings Of E-Commerce Site Health

The Online Store Health & Usability (OSHU) Index, designed to rank online retailers with user experience metrics, identified Birchbox as its top performer for October 2017. The subscription retailer scored 99.6 out of a possible 100 points.

These scores are calculated using a proprietary algorithm from Shoppimon that is based on four factors:
• Average site speed;
• Slowdowns and their severity;
• Issues and their severity; and
• General store stability.

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Kohl’s To Open Amazon Smart Home Experience In 10 Stores

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1kohlsIn an industry dominated by Amazon, many retailers are choosing to join the giant rather than compete with it. Companies such as Nike and Sears have recently announced partnerships with Amazon, to sell items on its marketplace and enhance products with Amazon technology respectively. Now Kohl’s is partnering with Amazon to sell Echo devices inside its stores.

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Bad Times At Macy’s And Sears Mean Good Times For Dollar General And TJX

The mass store closings and divestitures occurring at Macy’s and Sears have been a rude awakening for the two iconic retailers, with the brands scrambling to maximize whatever value these locations have left. But as the Tsunami slams down on Macy’s and Sears, discount and off-price retailers such as Dollar General and TJX are riding a great wave.

Thus far in 2017, Macy’s is set to shutter 68 stores, while Sears Holdings will close 109 Kmart stores and 41 Sears locations. And while more closures will likely be on the docket beyond 2017, the retailers also are selling off properties to third parties.

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Sears To Close 150 More Stores, Sell Craftsman For $900 Million

Although it’s a new year, the same old struggles at the iconic Sears brand haven’t slowed down. The century-old retailer is closing an additional 150 stores and selling its flagship Craftsman tools brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million in yet another desperate attempt to raise cash.

Sears Holdings has been hemorrhaging money since Kmart acquired Sears in 2005; the massive operation of nearly 3,500 combined stores has dwindled to approximately 1,400 after the latest closures. And the latest revenue numbers aren’t any more promising: same store sales at Sears and Kmart for the first two months of Q4 have declined in the range of 12% to 13%.

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