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Google: Mobile-friendly sites sought out by consumers

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Smartphone and Internet users actively seek out and prefer to engage with mobile-friendly sites, but such sites must meet certain expectations in order to convert users from visitors to consumers, according to a Google study conducted by independent market research firms Sterling Research and SmithGeiger.

Surveying 1,088 U.S. adult smartphone Internet users in July, the "What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today" found that as nearly 75% of respondents said they prefer a mobile-friendly site to a traditional website and two-thirds (67%) are more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site, 96% of consumers said they’ve encountered sites that were clearly not designed for mobile devices. Additionally, 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will search for another site, and 61% said they would move onto another site if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site. What’s more, half of respondents polled said even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn’t mobile friendly.

Additional findings included:

  • 48% of users said they feel frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that’s not mobile friendly;

  • 36% said they felt like they’ve wasted their time by visiting those sites;

  • 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company;

  • 48% said that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business.

To view the full results, click here.

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Walgreens, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation partner on specialty pharmacy services

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens will get a "significant" ownership stake in a specialty pharmacy that treats people with cystic fibrosis under a new deal with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the two announced Tuesday.

The pharmacy, Cystic Fibrosis Services, will continue to operate under its current name and remain based in Bethesda, Md. CF Services provides medications and treatment support for patients with the disease, which affects 30,000 people in the United States, causing debilitating lung infections and premature death. In the United States, 10 million people carry the defective CF gene, and the predicted median age of survival for a person with the disease is in the late 30s, according to the CF Foundation.

Walgreens said its more than 7,900 stores, including 180 hospital outpatient pharmacies, would be able to offer enhanced services to CF Services customers, including "unique" programs to help them manage their treatment regimen.

"Walgreens has a long-standing relationship with the CF community, and we understand the unique needs and challenges that CF patients and their families face," Walgreens VP specialty pharmacy and infusion Mike Ellis said. "By working with the CF Foundation, we are both committed to CF patients continuing to have access to the medications and services they need to stay healthy, and getting the greatest benefit from their relationship with their pharmacist."


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NRF: Holiday 2012 sales forecast to rise 4.1%, down from last year’s growth

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation released its 2012 holiday forecast on Tuesday, which shows sales increasing 4.1% to $586.1 billion, down from last year’s 5.6% growth.

However, the NRF’s 2012 estimate tops the 10-year holiday sales growth average of 3.5%.

"This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession. In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "Variables including an upcoming presidential election, confusion surrounding the ‘fiscal cliff’ and concern relating to future economic growth could all combine to affect consumers’ spending plans, but overall we are optimistic that retailers promotions will hit the right chord with holiday shoppers."

Recent government data released show a crosscurrent of indicators that could impact holiday sales, including unimpressive job and income growth and an unemployment rate stuck at 8%. However, positive indicators are emerging that show a cautious but capable consumer, such as increases in confidence and home prices.

"While moderate compared to what we experienced the last two holiday seasons, the forecast is a very pragmatic look at what to expect this year given the current rate of economic growth," NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

In preparation for the holiday selling season, NRF has forecasted that retailers will hire between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers, compared with the 607,500 seasonal employees hired last year.

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