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GMDC widens audience for silent auction

BY David Salazar

PHOENIX — With 125 items ranging from an evening with two legendary Yankees finishers to Disney World tickets and assorted jewelry, artwork and experiences, the silent auction fundraiser for GMDC Education and Insights at the 2015 Health Beauty Wellness conference has the potential to raise a lot of funds, and in turn generate education and insights for GMDC members.

One of the central parts of GMDC HBW conferences, in years past bidding on items in the silent auction has been limited to attendees onsite for HBW, but this year the bidding has been moved online, opening it up to all GMDC members, even those who aren’t in attendance at HBW 2015.

“In the past, we always had silent auctions focused inside the actual HBW event,” GMDC’s director of research, industry insights and communications Mark Mechelse said. “This year because we have a mobile app, we’ve opened it up to all GMDC members, not just those attending the conference. All GMDC members can now bid and that has begun to accelerate the opportunity to socialize this fundraising event well beyond our attendees.”

Expanded opportunity for bidders means that the auction — which brings in about $30,000 every year — is now open to more people who benefit from the insights beyond GMDC’s HBW members. Especially given that GMDC is focusing on three areas in the next three years — Why GM Matters, the Health & Wellness Minded Consumer and Center Store/Front End is Essential to Total Store — it follows that members who might benefit from insights can take part in helping generate them, and take home an item from the auction in the process.

“It's not just HBW companies that benefit; it's GM companies as well,” Mechelse said. “They all benefit from research and insights. Our insights are actionable to help retailers refine and transform their strategies and help them plan for ‘next practices’ that capitalize on future shopping trends.”

A full list of items up for auction can be found by clicking here, and you can follow all of DSN’s coverage of GMDC HBW 2015 by clicking here.

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New ShopRite designed with community in mind

BY DSN STAFF

NEWARK, N.J. — With a smile on her face and a mascara wand in her hand, beauty advisor Shanelle Smith welcomed the throng of shoppers into the expansive beauty department at the new ShopRite here.

The licensed cosmetologist is just one example of the full-force commitment ShopRite is making to the health and beauty business in its sprawling 70,000-square-foot store, which opened on September 30.  (For extensive photos from inside the store, click here to see a slideshow.)

The store, located in a $94 million mixed-use center in downtown Newark, delivers a major supermarket to a food desert. But that’s not the only void it fills. With a large pharmacy, massive health and beauty aid selection and in-store dietitian (the chain now has more than 120 dietitians in its stores), the one-stop destination brings much-needed categories to a diverse market.

“I don’t have to drive to West Orange to shop for food anymore,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka to thunderous applause in regard to his former 20-minute travel for a big box food chain. “This supermarket could compare to any supermarket around the state of New Jersey. It is a supermarket the people of this city deserve.”

New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno quickly joked to the employees and shoppers lined up to enter the store, “Now you have a chance to look your mayor straight in the face while he’s buying milk and complain to him about what’s bugging you.” On a serious note, she praised the store located in an underserved area.

Consumers were in awe of the sprawling aisles stocked with prepared meals, a bakery, seafood, a butcher shop, a scratch bakery, floral and order online for delivery or in-store pickup. Catering to the diverse customer base, there was also a large Halal section. The on staff dietitian assists in planning meals and educating shoppers on food labels – all at no charge. She highlighted ShopRite’s Live Right labeling which identifies products that are gluten free, lactose-free or heart healthy among other attributes.

But perhaps the biggest attraction was the health and beauty area, curated for the needs of multicultural consumers. The entire department features striking illuminated fixtures and some sought out brands such as Tio Nacho hair care, dreadlock head wraps, the Shea Moisture brand and color cosmetics for women of color. The Men’s Zone is a focal point with a spotlight on products and brands targeted at men.

“The health and beauty assortment reflects the community and it was designed with the community in mind,” said Chris Skyers, VP, Health and Beauty Care, Wakefern Food Corp. “It is also conveniently located next to the dietitian’s consultation room and the pharmacy, bringing all aspects of health and wellness together in one area of the new store.”

In cosmetics, store beauty advisor Smith was especially enthusiastic with the wide shade range from brands such as Cover Girl’s Queen, Black Radiance and Milani. “And I love Maybelline’s Dream Smooth Mousse Foundation because it is really good for oily skin, she said. Smith is on the floor from Thursday through Sunday performing complimentary makeovers. She also leads monthly educational sessions with themes such as getting “Oscar Award” looks. ShopRite has beauty advisors in 10 other stores as an avenue to stay competitive with salons and specialty stores. “It really brings our health and beauty programs full circle by providing a skin and makeup care expert in our store to help customers,” said Skyers.

He added the company has focused on beauty and offering full portfolio lines in many hair and skin products. “We focused a lot on beauty and we offered full portfolio lines of some hair and skin products. We try to create a tailored approach to our product lines each time a new store opens. We are also working with top beauty manufacturers to come together and help design a beauty portfolio that really speaks to the new consumer market and how customers shop for their health and beauty needs.” Specifically, the store hits the sweet spot for the millennial and multicultural generation so important in shaping modern day retailing. Some of the other key brands highlighted include Jayne Carter and Giovanni – both are naturally positioned offerings.

The pharmacy is located near the front of the store, surrounded by over the counter items merchandised on lower profile gondolas to present the feeling of a store within a store. In a timely reminder, the pharmacy promoted flu shots during the opening.

A hallmark of the store is a mural painted by Newark students and coordinated by the Barat Foundation, a local non-profit (some of the students attended the ribbon cutting). Signage in the store also pays homage to Newark landmarks such as Ferry Street and Port Street.

The store is owned and operated by the Greenstein family, headed by third generation grocer Neil Greenstein. He said the store brings 360 full and part-time jobs to the community. Greenstein made a $10,000 donation to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey as part of the store opening celebration.

Newark resident Paula Graca welcomed the store, noting her local supermarket is slated to close. “We just didn’t have anything like this. We have small specialty stores. The prices are good, the store is well stocked and will save me going to several different stores,” she said. 

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Omnichannel comes of age with new index

BY Dan Berthiaume

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation (NRF) and e-digital consultancy FitforCommerce are launching the Omnichannel Retail Index to help retailers benchmark against industry best practices.

This first-of-its-kind bi-annual report examines 120 retailers across multiple categories and their use of omnichannel strategies across web, mobile and store. A variety of strategies that align back-end systems to provide a consistent front-end experience across all channels, including buy online pick up in store, real-time inventory availability and mobile optimized websites.

In July 2015, FitForCommerce used a mystery shopping method to evaluate specific omnichannel offerings and capabilities across Web and mobile sites, as well as in-store.

Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • Half of the bricks-and-mortar Index retailers show in-store product availability on their product detail pages;
  • Another half let customers look up in-store inventory on their mobile device;
  • 23% offer buy online pick up in store options for their customers;
  • 84% let registered customers see a bag or a cart that is consistent across different platforms;
  • Nearly half of multichannel retailers provide in-store signage designed to educate shoppers about their omninchannel offerings (buy online pick up in store, reserve online, etc.);
  • Three out of five retailers in the Index offer “save for later” functionality with their online shopping cart;
  • Half of the retailers offer free return shipping; and
  • Three-quarters of the retailers in the Index offer a “click to call” service feature on their mobile websites.

The establishment of this index, especially with the leading retail trade organization as a founding partner, demonstrates that the age of omnichannel has truly arrived. “Omnichannel” has essentially come to be a synonym for modern retailing, which out of necessity must meet the needs of constantly connected customers whose lives cross between physical, online and mobile channels.

“In an increasingly competitive landscape, retailers are taking a truly customer-centric approach to running their business and developing innovative solutions to meet their customers’ expectations,” said NRF senior VP and Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell. “The Omnichannel Retail Index provides the industry an in-depth and practical method to benchmark their organization’s initiatives in the digital space against best practices from around the industry and all the methods that exist when it comes to how customers engage with brands across all touchpoints.”

The industry is approaching the point where omnichannel becomes as assumed a capability as basic e-commerce, with the Internet of Things (IoT) on the horizon as the next emerging retail IT practice. Historically forward-thinking retailers such as Amazon.com, which is enabling automatic shopping via smart device with its Amazon Dash service, are already starting to offer IoT-based retailing.

"Brands and retailers need to or already are concentrating enormous resources on enabling the omnichannel customer, whether the brand or retailer calls it omnichannel or not,” said Bernardine Wu, CEO of FitForCommerce. “The Omnichannel Retail Index is a guide for vetting business cases and prioritizing investments, especially because today’s innovations become tomorrow’s best practices, which become the next day’s table stakes.”

The next index is slated for release in 2016. The NRF-FitforCommerce partnership may lead to future content, research and thought leadership in omnichannel.

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