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Mylan launches generic Klor-Con

BY Ryan Chavis

PITTSBURGH — Mylan on Friday announced the launch of potassium chloride extended-release tablets, USP in 600-mg and 750-mg dosage strengths. The drug is the generic version of Klor-Con from Upsher-Smith and is used for the treatment of patients with hypokalemia, with or without metabolic alkalosis; in digitalis intoxication; and in patients with hypokalemic familial periodic paralysis, the company stated.

Potassium chloride extended-release tablets, USP had sales in the United States of $135 million for the 12 months ending June 30, 2014, according to IMS Health data.

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Bringing digital shoppers to brick and mortar

BY David Salazar

In the age of omnichannel retail, brick-and-mortar stores, more than any other channel, are still the most important part of a successful omnichannel approach to retail, according to a recent report by consulting group A.T. Kearney.

For the report, “On Solid Ground,” A.T. Kearney surveyed about 2,500 shoppers among four different age groups — teens, millennials, Gen X, baby boomers and seniors — on what channels they use when making a purchase.

And while there are variations among age groups with regard to the role brick-and-mortar stores play in the process, 95% of purchases in 2013 were made in-store by those surveyed. Another 5% of respondents looked at a brick-and-mortar location, even though they ended up purchasing online.

That combination is an example of the most important trend identified in the report: A separation is occurring between value capture — when a customer makes a purchase — and value creation — making a consumer want to purchase something. So even though a purchase might end up being completed online, the physical store is still an important part of the shopping journey.

Even among the purchases that end up taking place online, 67% of the people making those purchases end up in a store along the shopping journey. Moreover, the trend applies even if customers don’t end up making a purchase. For retailers, this trend means finding new ways to evaluate effective strategies in value creation.

“The decoupling phenomenon requires that successful retailers develop effective value creation and capture tracking technologies and systems to track shopper engagement beyond ‘sales,’” the report said.

“The decoupling of value capture is important for retailers to understand as they consider resource allocation decisions across channels to ensure that the true value the physical store creates is accounted for properly,” report co-author and A.T. Kearney partner Mike Moriarty said.

Understanding where along the shopping journey the store plays its most important role is a first step toward tracking engagement more effectively. The  four stages the report identified are: discovery, trial, purchase, pickup and return. Across all stages, seniors are the age group in the survey that most highly favors physical stores, while millennials tend to favor them least. There also are variations among the types of products favored in each stage.

Discovery is the stage that the store is least used among every age group, with less than half of Gen Xers, teens and millennials using stores to find items they’re looking to purchase. Fifty-five percent of baby boomers make their discovery in-store, as do about 60% of seniors. With discovery, the store factors in most heavily for those looking to purchase clothes and health and beauty products, and least among those looking to buy electronics.

The other stage that consumers don’t overwhelmingly favor the store is with pickup. Though almost 70% of seniors and 60% of baby boomers favor picking up items in-store, only about 55% of teens and Gen X do, and fewer than 50% of millennials want to pickup their items in the store and would prefer to have them delivered.

The highest-performing stage for the store is trial — customers want to test out products in a hands-on way that e-commerce sites don’t provide on their own. For each demographic in the report, more than 70% favor stores, with almost 80% of seniors, baby boomers and teens favoring stores to try out products. As is the case with discovery, health and beauty products are the top category that people like to test in store. Health and beauty products also are the category that factors highest into another category that favors stores — returns.

Brick-and-mortar stores are preferred by just about every demographic when it comes to returns — it’s even popular among customers who made purchases online.

The trip a customer makes to return a product is an especially fruitful one for both value creation and capture — about 20% of those returning products bought online end up making another purchase. Additionally, the category that most people return in store is health and beauty products.

When it comes to actually purchasing items, there are large disparities between demographics, with about 80% of seniors preferring stores, and only about 60% of millennials preferring stores to online.

Given all of the different roles that the store can play — and the fact that one-third of customers are using two channels simultaneously during a purchase — the report underlined the need to see digital and physical as going hand in hand.

“A strategy based on leveraging the appeal of the physical store supported by digital is the best formula for capturing the maximum number of sales, building sustainable customer loyalty and creating opportunities to cross-sell,” the report said. “Viewing retail strategy through the lens of two separate — and, at times, competing  — channels hinders retailers’ ability to create a seamless, end-to-end customer experience.”

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The next revolution in online retailing

BY Fritz Brumder

What if you could replicate the physical in-store experience on the Web? The concept sounds incredibly powerful. Retailers could connect product experts with key audiences to demonstrate and sell physical products, just like in store. The ubiquitous “Can I help you?” chat windows are a pale reflection, at best, of a truly interactive customer experience. It’s impossible to convey the intricate details that make a brand and its products unique in a text-only window.

What are the core components of the in-store brand experience? Certainly live interaction with knowledgeable staff is key. Social interaction plays into it too: There is energy and insight people draw from each other. Finally, there’s a visual element: Customers can actually see a product in action.

Surprisingly, creating such a live interactive product experience via the Web is starting to happen. Some retailers and brands are building their own microsites for this; others are tapping vendors that offer these features as part of a branded platform. Pottery Barn, for example, recently used the latter approach to host its first summer cocktail event using a real-time video+social platform called Brandlive. Hundreds of participating consumers had a chance to learn about and purchase products, as well as submit questions answered on the spot by product experts. The retailer is already planning more events.

Other retailers and brands are using these live Web-based events to sell products ranging from high-end boats and outdoor cameras to slow cookers and canning jars. But they’re not just selling the product, they’re selling the experience — the chance to examine products, interact with product experts and even socialize with like-minded folks in real-time. The more that experience is a reflection of the brand’s spirit, the stronger the customer connection.

The secret to that connection is live, interactive video with social integration built-in. These events are a natural evolution of omnichannel retailing, and it’s time to prepare for this next wave of real-time authentic engagement.

When online shopping began, it was basically an evolution of the paper catalog. Consumers were trained to expect product images and short descriptions, and now the web gave them even more information and selection. Awesome! Yet that was more than a decade ago. And while online retail technology has improved, the consumer experience hasn’t changed drastically in that time.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the next revolution in online retail involves the next generation of online video. The numbers tell the story. According to comScore, in December 2013, 188.2 million Americans watched 52.4 billion online content videos. A recent study from video marketing firm Invodo found that about 90% of consumers watch online videos, and online shoppers are nearly twice as likely to make a purchase than consumers who do not view video.

But simple video, like a YouTube clip, isn’t enough to sell an experience. Experienced shoppers are very particular about what matters to them. They want an interactive experience, and retailers need to scale their best product experts to demonstrate how products meet customers' needs.

What retailers need are product demonstrations for the digital generation. It’s likely that your online customers are already interacting via video; such applications as Skype, FaceTime, Snapchat and Google Hangouts have become popular methods for online communication. These interactive video+social microsites, on the other hand, extend that experience considerably, giving customer’s quality content and live access to the experts who know the products inside and out. And the results matter: Companies are getting two to three times traditional e-commerce conversion rates, quickly capturing the attention of such industry leaders as eBay, which also is experimenting with the approach.

Recently, retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. joined forces with adventure camera company GoPro to prelaunch an anniversary sale camera bundle. During this event, consumers received VIP treatment and special pricing. All it took was a branded Web page, affordable video equipment and the product experts. Both companies promoted the events through social media and email marketing. Once completed, the archived video was available for future sales promotions. While we will always have static catalog-like e-commerce pages, there is a growing swath of retailers, brands and consumers who seek something more: more interactive, more engaged, more authentic.

Fritz Brumder is CEO of Brandlive.

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