U.K.'s Sainsbury's Site Melts Down A Second Time In Two Weeks

For the second time in two weeks, one of the largest grocery chains in the U.K. hit a snag with its Web site, triggering a 24-hour outage and causing the 823-store retailer to use a temporary homepage. Sainsbury's, a $38 billion retailer, is calling these incidents coincidental.

The first outage on June 20 was an internal glitch with the retailer's delivery processing system, forcing the chain to take down its site because it couldn't fulfill the orders. But the site itself wasn't the problem.

JCrew Site Slows To A Crawl As Extensive New Features Launch

When the $1.3 billion JCrew apparel chain launched its new Web site on June 29, it was the culmination of a 2-year deployment effort. Seems that customers may have to wait a bit longer to fully use those new capabilities, as the site quickly crashed and has suffered significant slowdowns ever since.

On Tuesday (July 8), the tenth day of the problematic performance and a "our website and call center are running slowly as we fine-tune the improvements" apology replacing JCrew's homepage, JCrew spokesperson Margot Brunelle-Fooshee said the problems are still slowing things down and the associated disclaimer "will probably be up until Friday" (July 11).

J.C. Penney In-Store Web Access Behind Customer Satisfaction Hike

J.C. Penney customers are twice as likely to say they are highly satisfied with their in-store shopping experience if they are working with store employees who are accessing the company's Web site...

An Ocean Apart: Why A U.K. Retailer Handled A Site Glitch So Differently

When an order processing snafu shut down the delivery operations of one of the U.K.'s largest grocery chains, the $38 billion retailer acted starkly different than the typical U.S. retailer.

The London-based 823-store Sainsbury's grocery chain immediately issued almost a half-million dollars' worth of £10 (roughly equivalent to $20) vouchers to some 30,000 disgruntled customers and personally--through staff volunteers and no software automation—called every one of those 30,000 to apologize and tell them about the vouchers.

Are App Dev Backlogs Inevitable Or Warning Signs?

A new Retail Systems Research report is challenging the way retail IT looks at application development backlogs. The report is based on a survey showing that some 79 percent of retailers have app dev...

China's Online Market Stronger Than Most Analysts Think

The conventional wisdom has held that China is not likely to embrace E-Commerce, because of the Chinese aversion to credit payments and fears of piracy and poor quality products. But a Forbes story...

Medical Study Raises New RFID Fears

Although the question of RFID safety has been debated extensively over the years, with conflicting study results, a major new medical study released this week points to very specific electromagnetic...

Report: SMS Does Not Handle Volume Well At All

In one of the first wide-scale studies of SMS' capability to hold up under volume pressure, the technology fared "surprisingly" poorly, according to Keynote Systems. This has particular significance for retailers, who are exploring the technology's use for mobile communications connecting to both online and in-store.

"Response times for some short codes degraded severely during the busiest hours of the day. One CSC (common short code) showed a 60 percent peak-period slowdown every day, indicating a major capacity issue was present," Keynote said. "Many of the CSCs monitored showed significant reliability issues. Several (experienced) more than 10 hours of outage while one (experienced) more than 50 hours."

Will Voice Prints Work For Payment Authorization?

A UK company is pushing retailers to use voice-recognition to authenticate purchases over the phone and online.The Voice Commerce Group's Voice Transact package has consumers call the service, quote...

Federal Appellate Panel Backs Circuit City In Gift Card Patent Case

A federal appellate court backed a group of retailers Monday (June 23)--including Best Buy, Circuit City, Costco and Lowe's—by ruling that their gift card systems do not violate any patents.

This case has been winding its way through the federal court system for almost four years. It began when a telecom reseller called Realsource Communications said a 1998 patent protected the way it dealt with phone card payments.

PCI Compliance: Who's Re-Minding The Store?

Internal audit is not staffed to enforce PCI at the store level, argues GuestView Columnist David Taylor. Except for about a dozen leading retailers, most retailers do not have enough IT-skilled internal auditors to meet the requirement for a "continuous" review of store-level IT security.

Since almost no one can afford to add another group of people with both auditing skills and IT skills, nor can most retailers afford to pay consulting firms to do this, I tend to recommend very specific PCI audit training courses for your internal audit staff. One way to do this is to send them to the same two day course that PCI auditors go through.

Wal-Mart Proving That Green Can Indeed Mean Something

The environmentally friendly green retail campaigns have been an embarrassing mix of pseudo-environmental policies that have little real benefit to those true policies that have real impact. Rather, these campaigns are akin to demanding that recycling be enforced.

But Wal-Mart and a handful of others have been trying to do green the right way, with policies that will have a significant environmental impact and that also improve operations.

E-Commerce Getting A Bit More Respect

The Moody's Investor Service has upgraded how important a retailer's E-Commerce activity is when assessing that retailer's overall economic health.

Although this isn't a radical change for the financial firm—and the thought that E-Commerce is important is hardly surprising—it's one of several recent moves suggesting that the young teen-age Web is starting to be taken a wee bit more seriously.

Oracle's Challenge: Legacy Mindset Goes Far Beyond Legacy Apps

When Oracle finally introduced its Retail 13 integrated suite this week, after three years of acquisition and integration, the teams working for the world's largest enterprise software vendor might...

Oracle 13: Swiss Cheese Integration?

After three years of acquisition and integration, Tuesday (June 17) saw the official launch of Oracle's Retail Release 13, consisting of some 33 retail applications, only four of which were new. The rollout was billed by Oracle as the be-all and end-all of end-to-end integrated retail application suites, but some analysts said the integration was lacking.
"Given that they waited so long, I would have expected better connectivity with some of the supply chain assets that they've acquired over the years and not have to wait until who knows when for some of that connectivity," said AMR Research Director Mike Griswold.

Report: Self-Service To Top $1.7 Trillion By 2012

North American self-service transactions will process $607 billion this year, a figure that is projected to soar to $1.7 trillion by 2012, according to a report published Wednesday (June 18) by the IHL Group.

When IHL began work on the report, "I did not expect the acceleration that we're seeing in the out years," said IHL President Greg Buzek. "I did not expect how fast it's growing."

Ironically, Buzek said, the jump in later years is being partially caused by the sales slowdowns of today. As dollars are getting tighter, retailers are pushing more sales through less-labor-costly self-checkout systems and paying for the installation of more such systems. Those additional machines, over the years, will increase the number of dollars being processed by self-service.

Bank Breach Hits ATMs, No Retailer At Fault This Time

One of the repeated arguments made in retail data security circles is that retailers tend to have much weaker security because it's not as much of a cultural priority as, for example, banking. So...

Re-Thinking Payment Gateways

GuestView Columnist David Taylor suggests that a surprisingly large number of major retailers today are using inhouse or outsourced payment gateways to reduce the scope of their compliance effort, as well as their costs.

At some point in the last decade, nearly every organization involved in electronic commerce did an evaluation of payment gateways. So, what's changed?

Netherland Supermarket Chain Trying Biometric Payment

Are European retailers going to have any better luck than American retailers with consumer-facing biometric payments? The 750-store Albert Heijn supermarket chain, the largest such chain in the...

Federal Judge Rejects Ameritrade Settlement

One day after lawyers presented a proposed settlement in the Ameritrade 6.2 million-customer data breach, a U.S. federal court judge has tentatively rejected the settlement (on June 13), questioning the value of the deal for the consumer victims and the size of the $1.87 million attorneys' fees.

San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker gave lawyers on both sides until June 26 to address his concerns. The judge didn't specifically say that the lawyer's fees were too high, but merely that "plaintiffs' counsel has not established the basis for its fee request," leaving himself the opportunity to potentially approve the figure if he is satisfied with a justification.