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Shoppers Drug Mart loyalty program celebrates 15 years

BY Michael Johnsen

TORONTO – Shoppers Drug Mart is celebrating the 15th birthday of the Shoppers Optimum loyalty program with a huge outdoor party at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Shoppers will be invited to join the party and step inside a life-size Shoppers Optimum confetti globe for a chance to win prizes, including an all-inclusive sun-filled vacation. 
 
Visitors will also enjoy live entertainment (aerialists), birthday treats (popcorn and confetti cupcakes) and receive a birthday loot bag.
 
The Toronto event is a preview to Shoppers Optimum's 15-day national celebration (#15DaysofHappy) that runs from Oct. 10 to Oct. 24 with in-store promotions and contests to win products, points and luxury vacations from Sunwing and Royalton Luxury Resorts.
 
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Walmart to host ‘America’s Biggest Health Fair’

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is planning to hold what it said will be “America's Biggest Health Fair” across 4,400 locations on the afternoon of Oct. 10, the company announced Tuesday. Given Walmart's expansive reach and the number of complementary health screenings being provided, the company expects to uncover as many as 3,000 cases of diabetes over the course of the day and 7,000 incidences of high blood pressure.

“Customer behavior is changing,” Michelle Gloeckler, EVP consumables and health and wellness divisions and U.S. manufacturing lead for Walmart U.S., told journalists Tuesday morning. “Customers are taking an active role in their personal health, researching things online and overall, wathching for ways to live better.”

On Oct. 10, Walmart will provide free blood glucose, blood pressure, vision screenings and product samples. In addition, more than 10,000 of Walmart’s pharmacists will offer immunizations in select stores. Walmart expects to see record-breaking numbers during the single-day health fair, with hundreds of thousands of screenings and immunizations projected.

In addition to screenings and immunizations, Walmart will have Jackson Hewitt licensed insurers on hand at some 250 locations to help customers identify the best insurance plans for them, whether they are shopping for a plan in a Health Exchange or looking for their best Medicare option.

The customer open enrollment program, Healthcare Begins Here, will be available Oct. 15, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016 in more than 2,400 Walmart stores, online and via phone.

Walmart last year launched its program with DirectHealth.com to launch Healthcare Begins Here, an in-store program designed to educate customers on health insurance options. DirectHealth.com, an online health insurance comparison site which is an independent licensed health insurance agency, will provide a resource that brings Walmart customers unprecedented access to health insurance information and enrollment support.

“What we're seeing is enormous payer interest and support around [health insurance education],” Marcus Osborne, VP third party contracting at Walmart, said. “Consumers who aren't happy with their health plan selection because they didn't have all the information up front is bad for the health plans and their brands. A consumer who is better informed about their health … that puts them in a better position to better leverage their health plan to improve their health. We have gotten enormous support from the health plans and [this] will improve our ability to partner with them in the future.”

To help customers manage their health whenever and wherever they are, Walmart has also revamped its Health & Wellness page on Walmart.com to focus on solutions that highlight products across multiple categories.

“We have a long history of making healthcare more affordable and accessible for our customers,” Gloeckler added. “Our $4 prescription program changed the industry and drove down healthcare costs. Our Care Clinics and Vision Centers are creating new price positions for retail health services and giving communities expanded access to services they need to live healthier lives.”

In addition to its health care efforts, as the nation’s largest grocer, Walmart is working to make healthier food accessible and affordable. Last year, according to the company, customers saved more than $1.09 billion on fresh fruits and vegetables and Walmart exceeded its goal of opening 275 – 300 stores serving designated food desert areas a full year ahead of schedule.

Today, Walmart says it offers more than 1,700 organic products, nearly 10% of which are organic produce items, and brings customers new, healthier options by working with national brands and innovating within its own private label assortment. 

In 2011, Walmart set out to reduce the sodium, added sugar and industrially produced trans fats in its private brands, including Great Value, as well as national brands. Through 2014, the company has reduced added sodium in the foods sold in its stores by 16%, reduced added sugars by more than 10% and now less than 6% of its products contain industrially produced transfats.

If successful, Walmart will host its second "America's Biggest Health Fair" in January, Gloeckler said.

 

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Survey: Shoppers turn to Amazon first for pricing

BY Gina Acosta

NEW YORK — A Survata study commissioned by BloomReach reports that in a survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, 44% bypass the entire Internet and go directly to Amazon.com first to search for products, compared to 34% who use top search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!.

This means that Amazon's dominance in the record-setting $300 billion U.S. e-commerce market continues to rapidly grow over its competitors. As recently as 2012, Forrester found that only 30% of consumers research products on Amazon.com first.

"Amazon has turned a slow-bleed of search engines' and retailers' e-commerce importance into a gushing wound," said Joelle Kaufman, head of marketing and partnerships for BloomReach. "Search engines like Google have done their part by making product discovery and search intuitive, convenient and seamless; but if retailers want to slow Amazon's dominance, then they must integrate technology that creates frictionless experiences for their customers across channels. Amazon has a commanding lead, but retailer personalization and brand experiences can power a counterattack." 

Retailers are faring worse, with only 21% of consumers saying they'd start their product search at a specific retailer’s website. In addition, consumers are overwhelmingly being influenced by Web personalization technology; 87% said they'd specifically buy from the company that best predicts their intent and suggests products intuitively over all others.

Amazon has invested heavily in and touted its advanced algorithmic recommendation capabilities, and today a colossal 75% of consumers feel that no other online retailer can personalize experiences better than the company, with its nearest competitor Walmart.com registering 9% followed by eBay at 8%. 

However, while Amazon advances the battlefield on one front, the traditional allies of retailers – the search engines – have inadvertently squeezed retailers from the other front.

BloomReach also studied consumer attitudes toward shopping on smartphones – compared to digital marketer perceptions and strategies. Conducting research on products and prices is the main reason (47%) people shop on smartphones, and almost half of those researching are specifically "showrooming" while in store.

Yet with mobile search traffic surpassing desktop for the first time in the U.S., 81% of consumers say that laptops/desktops still are the preferred way to make purchases, and 64% said the challenges of smartphones (smaller screens, typing) negatively affected their willingness to purchase.

"People don't think 'Now I'm going to shop on my phone; now I'm going to shop on my laptop; now I'm back on my phone.' They just shop," said Kaufman. "But marketers often painfully approach omnichannel personalization in this way – siloing data and chalking every solution up to a responsive-design problem. Marketers are ignoring the 25x mobile-influence factor, inaccurately thinking that 'omnichannel' and 'personalization' are mutually exclusive."

This study was unveiled one year after BloomReach released a similar study of UK consumers and marketers, finding that 82% of UK consumers thought Amazon was the best at personalizing.

Get more information about the study at bloomreach.com.

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