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Retailers go all out for omnichannel

BY Alaric DeArment

Google has officially unveiled its testing program for Google Shopping Express, its new online delivery service in the San Francisco Bay area, signing up with retailers like Target, Walgreens and Raley’s to allow customers to receive items directly from store shelves at their homes within a day.

The program has been widely described as an effort by Google to compete with e-commerce giant Amazon, but what sets Google Shopping Express apart is its sourcing partnership with brick-and-mortar retailers, particularly Target, which itself has made significant investments in omnichannel retail, most recently with its purchases of two online cooking-equipment retailers. As a whole slew of developments over the past couple of weeks has shown, omnichannel is becoming a key component of many retailers’ business.

The trend touches drug stores, mass merchandisers and supermarkets alike. CVS recently launched an app for the Apple iPad that features a 3-D "virtual store," allowing access to pharmacy services, ExtraCare, the photo center, MinuteClinic and departments where they can shop. Walmart has expanded its "Scan & Go" mobile-checkout program to 70 stores around Atlanta and Bentonville, Ark. And Ahold USA has recently expanded its Peapod online grocery service with new pickup points in New York and other cities, not to mention its mobile shopping displays at commuter rail stations; Target installed similar displays in December during the holiday season, such as one at a Philadelphia bus stop.

Omnichannel is making enough noise that mobile device manufacturers have taken notice as well: Samsung’s Galaxy S4 phone includes a device that converts barcodes, coupons and loyalty cards into a beam of light that can be read by standard laser barcode scanners, without any changes to existing point-of-sale technology.

So what does this all mean for brick-and-mortar stores?

According to recent surveys by AccentHealth, nearly half of surveyed smart-device owners have retail apps, and 91% of those using mobile devices in-store compare prices online or at other stores while shopping. This type of phenomenon has led to concerns about customers "showrooming" — looking for items in brick-and-mortar stores only to buy them for lower prices from a competing online retailer. But a February survey of 6,200 consumers by ForeSee found that while 70% of respondents reported using a mobile phone in a retail store during the 2012 holiday season, 62% of them accessed that store’s site or app, while 37% reported accessing a competitor’s site or app.

What this all says is that far from being intimidated by omnichannel, retailers are embracing it in all kinds of new and innovative ways.

 

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Reports: Walmart considers customer-to-customer delivery service

BY Jason Owen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — As Reuters reported yesterday, Walmart is considering a new delivery system that would have in-store customers deliver packages to online buyers. The delivering customers would receive a discount off their shopping bills.

Although Walmart says the idea is in the very early stages, the move is seen as another attempt in the brick-and-mortar store’s competition with online retailer Amazon, which is toying with the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar store.

Earlier in the week, Walmart announced plans for a new digital locker service that will allow customers who order online to have those items held at one of about a dozen Walmart stores until shoppers pick them up. The company also has been testing Walmart Go To, a home delivery service with a small fleet of its own delivery trucks in several metro areas, since last October.

 

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Price Chopper wellness program wins Vermont Worksite Wellness Award

BY Jason Owen

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — “Well@Work,” Price Chopper Supermarkets’ wellness program managed in partnership with MVP Health Care, has won the Gold Level Worksite Wellness Award for 2012 from the Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the company announced today.

“At Price Chopper, we’re committed to helping people feed and care for themselves and their families. Giving our teammates access to the best fitness and nutrition information and programs encourages them to work toward their own best health, which in turn, inspires them to share useful and valuable information with our customers,” said Mona Golub, Price Chopper’s vice president of Public Relations and Consumer & Marketing Services..”

“Our Well@Work program, in partnership with MVP, equips our teammates to lead by healthy example. We are so pleased to be recognized for these efforts by the Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and look forward to many more years of healthy initiatives for our Vermont customers and teammates,” Golub said.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin presented the award to the Golub Corporation, the parent company of Price Chopper Supermarkets, at the 2013 Worksite Wellness conference in Burlington, VT on March 27.

In existence since 2006, Well@Work — developed, operated and evaluated by MVP in close collaboration with Price Chopper — aims to create a workplace culture of wellness through mechanisms designed to measurably improve employee health. The program includes a dedicated intranet site, health initiatives such as an annual customized weight loss challenge, monthly wellness workshops, fitness discounts for participants, online tools and a regular educational newsletter.

MVP helps Price Chopper support the program through strategic guidance, environmental and organizational policy updates, population health management consultation and interest and satisfaction surveys.

The program has yielded positive results since its inception, including a 129% increase in the number of employees eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and a 46% increase in employee perception of how committed Price Chopper is to the health and wellness of its workers.

2012 marks the fourth year that Well@Work has received recognition from the Vermont Governor’s Council, and the second year in a row the program has received a Gold Level distinction.

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