April 30, 2012, 11:39 AM

Belk bulks up its technology staff

Among some 100 new hires, Belk is seeking a new vice president of digital marketing.

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With surging online sales and a growing tendency of its customers to shop across its web site, mobile site and bricks-and-mortar stores, department store chain Belk Inc. plans to hire about 100 people for its e-commerce and I.T. departments, says Jon Pollack, executive vice president of marketing and e-commerce.

An overall goal, he adds, is to provide a consistent shopping experience, including inventory availability, for shoppers regardless of which retail channel they choose to shop. “We’re looking at ways to improve the customer experience through a really holistic approach,” Pollack says. “We have a unique chance to seize the day.”

In addition to software developers, I.T. infrastructure experts and personnel for a new 515,000-square-foot fulfillment warehouse Belk is building in Jonesville, SC, the retailer is looking to fill a new position of vice president of digital marketing, reporting to Ivy Chin, senior vice president of e-commerce. “We want a consistent digital message married to our traditional advertising,” Chin says.

The expanded team of e-commerce, marketing and technology personnel, along with the new fulfillment center, will enable Belk to improve how it engages and serves its growing number of customers from outside of the 16-state region in the southern United States, where it operates about 300 stores, Pollack says. Traffic to Belk’s web and mobile sites has been growing faster from states outside of that 16-state region, he adds.

Belk is also working on a new mobile shopping app that it expects to launch soon, Pollack says.

Belk, No. 296 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, reported web sales of $72.4 million for the fiscal year ended Jan. 28, up 108% from $34.8 million the prior year, as total sales rose 5.3% to $3.7 billion and same-store sales rose 5.5%.

Murali Bandaru, Belk’s director of I.T. solutions delivery for e-commerce and bridal systems, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in a session about working with e-commerce technology vendors titled “Mega mergers: how to negotiate with the big as they get bigger.” Bandaru also spoke about web page design at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference in February.

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