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New survey explores 2014 holiday gift card trends

BY Ryan Chavis

 

NEW YORK — First Data this week released a white paper analyzing the results from a nationwide gift card shopping survey, conducted through the course of the 2014 holiday season. The survey, conducted by Marketforce International, sent mystery shoppers into more than 650 stores across 63 retailers. The results are meant to provide insight into how retailers can implement successful processes that drive both loyalty and increased sales to gift cards, according to the white paper. 
 
Plastic still important
While virtual and mobile gift cards are gaining popularity, plastic still dominated the market. First Data noted that 98% of all gift cards sold in the United States in 2013 were in plastic form.
 
Assortment is key
Providing new assortments of cards to customers throughout the year is import to a successful gift-card program. The study noted that the holiday is the perfect time to introduce new graphics and designs that generate excitement and increase the desire to actually purchase.
 
Attributes
When shoppers were asked which grocery/pharmacy store-branded cards with special features appealed to them, “unique shape” and “unique material” came out on top, with “see-through” also proving a popular choice. 
 
Each mystery shopper that participated in the survey completed a questionnaire aligned with the seven vertical industries included in the study: specialty retail, department, discount, grocery/pharmacy, quick service, casual dining and petroleum/convenience. Mystery shoppers also provided feedback on signage, displays, card and carrier designs and promotions. 

To view the complete white paper, click here

 

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CVS Health announces two new clinical affiliations

BY Antoinette Alexander

 

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health announced on Tuesday it has entered into new clinical affiliations with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and Tucson Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., and its accountable care organization, Arizona Connected Care.

Through these clinical affiliations, CVS Health will provide prescription and visit information to the participating providers through the integration of electronic health record systems, which will help enhance clinical care for patients served by these affiliates. In addition, patients will continue to have access to clinical support, medication counseling, chronic disease monitoring and wellness programs at CVS/pharmacy stores and MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health.

"In this era of health care reform, we are pleased to work with these health care providers to develop collaborative programs that enhance access to patient care, improve health outcomes and lower health care costs in the communities they serve," stated Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer, CVS Health. "By integrating our electronic health records and information systems, we will collectively have a more comprehensive view of our patients, which can aid in health care decision making and help ensure patients adhere to important medications for chronic diseases."

Healthcare providers at the participating affiliates will receive data on interventions conducted by CVS pharmacists to improve medication adherence for their patients. The affiliation also encourages collaboration between the health care providers and MinuteClinic providers to improve coordination of care for patients seen at MinuteClinic locations. Physicians affiliated with the participating medical centers will collaborate with MinuteClinic nurse practitioners to work closely on joint clinical programs and care coordination activities. If more comprehensive care is needed, patients can follow up with their primary care provider and have access to the services at the medical center as appropriate. For those patients who do not have regular access to health care, MinuteClinic provides information to help patients in finding a primary care physician.

MinuteClinic, CVS/pharmacy and the participating medical centers will begin to work toward integrating EHR systems to streamline and enhance communication. This integration will include the electronic sharing of messages and alerts from CVS/pharmacy to the affiliates' physicians regarding medication non-adherence issues. In addition, MinuteClinic will electronically share patient visit summaries with the patient's primary care physician when they are part of a clinical affiliation and with the patient's consent. MinuteClinic will continue its standard practice of sending patient visit summaries to primary care providers who are not affiliated with one of these participating groups via fax or mail, with patient consent.
 
These new clinical affiliations bring the total number of health system and health care provider affiliations for CVS Health and MinuteClinic to more than 50 major health systems and healthcare providers across the country.
 

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Study: Mobile holiday traffic peaked Thanksgiving, hit low Cyber Monday

BY Dan Berthiaume

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Mobile traffic during the 2014 holiday season peaked on Thanksgiving (50% of online traffic) and hit a low point on Cyber Monday (30% of online traffic). According to the 2014 Online Holiday Shopping Trends and Traffic report from e-commerce solutions provider Akamai Technologies, Cyber Monday still proved to be the most popular shopping day of the season, with overall retail traffic peaking at almost 13 million page views per minute (V/PM).
 
This new high peak of page views per minute represents a 16% increase year-over-year from the 2013 holiday season record of 11.2 million page views per minute.
 
Other highlights from the report include:
 
• The Monday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 24) saw the fourth highest peak page views per minute – and a 100% year-over-year uptick in activity – suggesting that many consumers are browsing and shopping well before the usual popular shopping days.
 
• Most average peak browsing times shifted from 1 p.m. ET in 2013 to 9 p.m. ET in 2014. This may represent a move away from the lunchtime desktop searches to the adoption and use of smaller or more mobile screens for browsing in the evening.
 
 
In addition, Akamai saw the following retail security trends on Black Friday:
 
• During the 2014 holiday season, volumetric attacks decreased while application layer attacks increased.
 
• There was a 12% increase in the number of proxy addresses in use on Black Friday 2014, potentially pointing to more malicious attackers' attempts to hide among volumes of legitimate U.S.-based shoppers.
 
• Black Friday saw more than 2.5 times the normal number of Web application firewall (WAF) triggers, as measured against the 24-hour periods on the previous four Fridays.
 
• The most common attack vectors were cross site scripting and SQL injections.
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