Sam's Club
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Sam’s Club launches free shipping, simplified membership structure

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Sam’s Club is making changes as it looks to compete head-on with rivals Amazon and Costco.

The warehouse club chain is rolling out free shipping on “most of the items” sold online, including nearly every Member’s Mark private-label item, with no minimum purchase required, the retailer said in a blog on its website. The news comes one month after the retailer abruptly closed 63 stores, and said some of the shuttered locations would be turned into fulfillment centers.

Sam’s Club also added that its efforts will be supported by tighter supply chain operations. The company is on track to open its first e-commerce fulfillment center in Memphis, Tennessee, with the first packages expected to ship in early spring.

Looking ahead, the retailer plans to bolster this network “in the back-half of the year,” with more distribution centers. Other regions being considered for fulfillment centers include Texas, Central Florida, the Mid-Atlantic, Southern California, Chicagoland, and the Northeast.

“Our Memphis center will teach us a lot as we build out this new e-commerce supply chain,” Jamie Iannone, CEO, SamsClub.com and executive VP of membership and technology, said in the blog.

These new distribution centers will be augmented by up to 12 of the closed locations that will be converted into regional e-commerce fulfillment centers.

Sam’s Club is also “simplifying” its membership structure. Going forward, there will be two levels of membership: Club and Plus. Club (formerly Sam’s Savings) will be $45 a year, and Plus will be $100 annual fee. The company is also lowering the fee for additional Club memberships to $40.

These rates take a direct hit at Amazon, which charges $99 a year for its Prime membership. However, Sam’s Club’s new shipping program does not offer free two-day shipping.

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Walgreens Flu Index heat map indicates season slow down

BY Michael Johnsen

Oklahoma City continues to top the Walgreens Flu Index for the week ended Feb. 10, Walgreens stated Wednesday, followed by the Dallas area and Knoxville, Tenn. The most gains in flu incidence were found in the Newport News area of Virginia and Tennessee markets Nashville and Memphis.

But strictly judging by the coloring of Walgreens’ heat map, which last week was a sea of mostly oranges and reds, the national incidence of influenza illnesses may have reached its peak. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the percentage of doctor’s visits attributed to influenza-like activity topped out at 7.7%, which is the highest since the 2003/2004 season.

The top 10 Walgreens designated market areas with flu activity for the week ending Feb. 10 were:

  1. Oklahoma City;
  2. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas;
  3. Knoxville, Tenn.;
  4. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, N.M.);
  5. Tyler-Longview (Lufkin & Nacogdoches), Texas;
  6. Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas;
  7. Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Ark.;
  8. Montgomery-Selma, Ala.;
  9. Tulsa, Okla.; and
  10. Shreveport, La.

The top 10 markets by flu activity gains for the week were:

  1. Nashville, Tenn.;
  2. Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va.;
  3. Memphis, Tenn.;
  4. Evansville, Ind.;
  5. Omaha, Neb.;
  6. Shreveport, La.;
  7. Reno, Nev.;
  8. Youngstown, Ohio;
  9. Anchorage, Alaska; and
  10. Louisville, Ky.

The Walgreens Flu Index is a weekly report developed to provide state- and market-specific information regarding flu activity, and ranks those states and markets experiencing the highest incidences of influenza across the country. The Flu Index provides insight by showing which cities or metropolitan areas are experiencing the most incidences of influenza each week based on Index methodology. The data does not measure actual levels or severity of flu activity.

The Walgreens Flu Index is compiled using weekly retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide, including Walgreens locations in Puerto Rico. The data is analyzed at state and geographic market levels to measure absolute impact and incremental change of antiviral medications on a per store average basis, and does not include markets in which Walgreens has fewer than 10 retail locations.

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Dollar General, Nielsen strengthen strategic partnership

BY DSN STAFF

Dollar General and Nielsen are looking to take their professional relationship to the next level. The retailer announced that together, both companies will broaden the application of Nielsen’s insights and solutions, to better support Dollar General’s strategic initiatives and in-market activation.

“We highly value our relationship with Nielsen and the work we do together to help Dollar General customers save time and money, every day,” Jason Reiser, chief merchandising officer at Dollar General, said. “Through data-driven decisions, our work with Nielsen has allowed us to stay laser-focused on our business goals, turn information into action and fuel our success in today’s complex retail environment.”

Throughout the past 14 years, the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based retailer has looked to Nielsen as a trusted partner to support its merchandising and marketing initiatives, which have driven the company’s growth in the marketplace, the company said.

“We are proud of our long-standing partnership and look forward to expanding our relationship to support Dollar General’s continued growth and evolution.” Jeanne Danubio, EVP of retail for lead markets at Nielsen, said.

This expansion of services strengthens Nielsen’s position as the analytics authority for dollar channel retail outlets as it currently covers metrics for 90% of the total U.S. dollar channel market, the company said.

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