Morning Coffee Jul 07 2011

When Robots Take Over

By chris prentice

Duane Reade unveiled a "virtual assistant" in one of its Manhattan stores on Wednesday. The greeter -- a digital sign with a holographic image of a red-headed salesperson -- welcomes customers when they walk through the drug-store chain's doors.

Many retailers are already using self-checkout. How long before robots completely replace people on the retail floor? If consumer surveys are correct, this won't happen any time soon. Customers want to speak with people. In a Consumer Reports survey published in July, the industry organization found that being unable to find a store salesperson was among the top gripes.

And retailers have been cutting fewer jobs. Retail layoffs announced for the first six months of 2011 dropped by 12% to 23,027 from a year earlier, according to a new report from Chicago-based outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Retail workers can look forward to slow, but steady improvement in their job prospects, economic woes and digital assistants notwithstanding. (Retailing Today)

Sales Buzz

Hearst's New Group Publisher (FINS)

The media giant announced that Jack Essig will become publisher of Esquire and Hearst's men's enthusiast publications before the month is out.

Speaking of Customer Gripes (The Economist)

Why is it that airlines and hotel chains can sell tickets and get customers checked in online, but still require complaints to be faxed in?

Growing Worried (Glassdoor)

The number of employees concerned about layoffs increased to 22% of people polled in the second quarter of 2011, up from 17% the previous quarter, according to Glassdoor's Employment Confidence survey.

Marketing Buzz

Wieden+Kennedy Looks to Mobile Tech Startups (ClickZ)

The Portland-based ad agency is upgrading the mentoring program during its annual "incubation experiment" for advertisers, hoping more tech-savvy brands will attend the session in September.

Food Ads Are Fine (AP)

House Republicans say the Federal Trade Commission's new guidelines on marketing food to children go too far.

Thinking Inside the Box (Ad Age)

Anheuser-Busch InBev is pushing its newest brew with the "Green Box Project." The Belgium-based beer company set green cubes set in random spots around New York, London and other cities meant to garner the attention of passersby and direct them to download a mobile app.

Buzz Around the Office

Corgi Jailbreak (YouTube)

Now that's sisterly love.

List of the Day: Things You Should Know Before Requesting a Break

1. No federal laws require work breaks, not even bathroom breaks.

2. Only 20 states have meal break requirements.

3. Only nine states require non-meal breaks for adults.

(Source: AOL Jobs)

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