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Retailers Moving Toward Single Omni-channel Platform

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With retailers becoming increasingly “omni-channel” but computer systems often still split among store, online and mobile channels, a new study conducted for NRF says more than a third of merchants are considering adoption of a single system for all their operations.

“The future of retail will envelop business platforms that enhance the endless opportunities that new technologies offer,” said NRF vice president for retail technologies Tom Litchford. “Retailers are working overtime to keep up with the expectations of their savvy customers and are intent on integrating the digital shopping experience like never before.”

The survey of more than 200 U.S. and European retailers, done in partnership with the University of Arizona and e-commerce software company Demandware, found 36 percent are considering moving to a single platform. Among other benefits, a unified system can help retailers ensure that the same merchandise is available to all customers regardless of whether they are buying in-store, online or via mobile, that the same prices, photos and information are seen regardless of channel and that information about customer purchases is available to associates regardless of where the purchase is made.

Guide to Conflict Mineral Regulations

NRF and other associations have set up an online resource center that will help retailers comply with new regulations requiring them to determine whether merchandise contains “conflict” gold and other minerals.

Located at

, the Conflict Mineral Resource Center offers a variety of compliance tools intended to help retailers and other companies navigate the regulations. In addition to NRF, participants include the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the Toy Industry Association and the U.S. Fashion Industry Association.

Beginning in March, new SEC regulations will require publicly traded companies to determine whether their products include gold, tin, tungsten or tantalum from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and surrounding nations. The regulations, which cover merchandise ranging from jewelry and electronics to some apparel and cosmetics, implement a 2010 law intended to cut off funding for armed rebels fighting in that region of Africa.

Congress aimed the requirement at manufacturers, but the regulations adopted by the SEC would also apply to retailers who “contract to manufacture” private-label merchandise and have “actual influence” over the manufacturing. Privately held retailers and those selling only third-party merchandise or simply placing their name on generic products are not affected. NRF last year filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a lawsuit against the regulations, saying they should be limited to manufacturers.