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Rite Aid’s new e-nitiatives provide ‘Value’ for consumers

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. —Rite Aid last month significantly upgraded its online presence, with the ability for Rite Aid prescription-drug patients to refill a prescription online for pickup at one of their locations from either its homepage or e-commerce site, and launching a new online savings program—called Rite Aid Video Values—that features supplier video that Rite Aid customers opt in to watch in exchange for coupons for that particular product, as well as possible savings across the store.

“If you have a need for health-and-wellness support, we want you to be able to reach out and get it from Rite Aid no matter where you are,” Paul Zabroske, Rite Aid senior director of marketing, told Drug Store News—be that in a car, at home or even in the aisle. Consumer communication is gravitating toward online and social media, Zabroske said, and Rite Aid is positioning to be there. “We see that as the future, and that covers everything from traditional e-mail marketing through Facebook and Twitter, that social phenomena,” he said. “That is where we’re going.”

Rite Aid’s latest improvements across its online offerings represent an emerging realization among brick-and-click retailers—the online experience is yet another opportunity, another touch-point, to reach the customer. And the more often you “touch” a consumer with a brand message—in this case, “With us, it’s personal”—the more likely you are to capture that shopper’s loyalty. “We know that there are a large number of our in-store customers who are also online customers,” Zabroske said. But more than that, he added, the more interactions you have with your consumers, the more likely those consumers will engage your retail brand in the form of future transactions.

“We know already that a great number of in-store purchases…are researched online,” Zabroske said. “Our customers are looking for information, and [Rite Aid’s new online offering] is a very digestible, and frankly exciting, way to get that information.” And with the Video Value program, that customer thirst for information is complemented by those coupon offerings.

And Rite Aid’s just getting started, Zabroske said, noting that the chain is working on a number of e-nitiatives that are not ready to be announced. “We look forward to a lot of future growth moving forward,” he said.

“This launch of Rite Aid Video Values reinforces our commitment to customers and brands,” stated John Learish, Rite Aid SVP marketing in the announcement of Video Values. “It’s both a fresh offering for consumers and an accountable sales tool that allows brands to understand the direct impact their video has on sales.”

That’s really the beauty behind a program like this; it captures consumer demographics and then tracks which videos they watch, which coupons get printed and which coupons are redeemed. Rite Aid then can take those data-driven learnings and apply them to merchandising and marketing programs in store.

“The entire data side [of the equation] is actually a very important piece,” added Barry Soicher, CEO of AdPerk, the company that drives the site. And that data is available for review in real time, Soicher added.

What’s more, a consumer who opts into the Video Value program is a more-invested consumer who’s more likely to make a purchase, and conversion rates are “through the roof [close to 50%],” Soicher said. Another factor to consider is time spent, Soicher said.

“What we’re trying to do is build a recurring [experience] for the consumer, the retailer and the manufacturers to really share information and value,” Soicher added. It’s like a virtual circular, he said.

Early vendor participants of Rite Aid’s debut Video Value launch—there were 21 all told—included Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble and Wyeth, featuring such brands as Alavert, Aveeno, CoverGirl and Huggies. For the launch, there were 64 videos and 63 coupons totaling more than $135 in savings.

With regard to improved prescription-refill functionality, Rite Aid’s traditional homepage and e-retailing site now feature tabs where consumers can have their refills sent through to the Rite Aid pharmacy team of their choice from the convenience of their laptops as a part of a program called MyPharmacy.

And it’s more than just a point-and-click refill tool for consumers; they can track their prescriptions, seeing when the next refill is available and how many refills are left. Coupled with that refill offering are components around Rite Aid’s pharmacy services capabilities, such as reminder requests or automated courtesy refills, both tools that help improve pharmaceutical compliance. “All those [offerings] are decisions and actions consumers can take electronically,” Zabroske said.

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Stop & Shop to offer flu shots to customers

BY Allison Cerra

QUINCY, Mass. For more than twenty years, Stop & Shop has provided seasonal flu shots as part of its Health & Wellness initiative in a continuing effort to best meet the needs of its customersduring the cough and cold season. This year, Stop & Shop will offer seasonal influenza immunizations at a reduced price to Stop & Shop card holders in the pharmacy department beginning Sept. 11 through Nov. 26 or until quantities associated with this program last.

“As part of our continued commitment to provide value to our customers, Stop & Shop is offering seasonal flu shots for $20 when customers use their Stop & Shop card,” said Jim Wonderly, VP pharmacy operations for Stop & Shop. “Unfortunately, many Americans are foregoing medical care because of increased costs, and we want to do our part by offering affordable immunizations during these challenging economic times.”

Seasonal flu shots will be administered at a reduced price in most Stop & Shop stores starting Friday, expanding to all stores in October. Immunizations will be provided by certified and trained Stop & Shop pharmacists and through Stop & Shop’s partnership with Maxim Health Systems and their trained health care professionals. The cost of the seasonal immunization is $30, but customers with a Stop & Shop loyalty card can save an additional $10. Thus, the final cost to Stop & Shop customers, with the Card, is $20.

“Last month, we introduced millions of customers to the new Stop & Shop card along with a commitment to provide them with the best possible value,” said Stop & Shop EVP Jeff Martin. “With the savings Stop & Shop is offering on seasonal flu shots, we are demonstrating that ongoing value commitment as well as a commitment to the health and wellness of ourcustomers.”

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Louisiana seeks to curb methamphetamine abuse with new legislation

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Two government officials from Louisiana invited the National Association of Chain Drug Stores for a signing of a new law aimed at curbing methamphetamine abuse.

On Sept. 8, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Rep. Fred Mills invited NACDS, law enforcement and other select stakeholders to the Governor’s Mansion for a special signing ceremony for HB890 (Act 314). NACDS was instrumental in the negotiations and eventual passage of the new law which establishes a real-time pseudoephedrine reporting system once federal grants are secured.

The law also provides liability protections to pharmacy, and specifically states that no fees will be collected from pharmacies or pharmacists to operate or transmit the data to state police.

NACDS thanked both Gov. Jindal and Rep. Mills for initiating this important legislation, and for working with pharmacies to make it even better.

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