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Walgreens bids adieu to ‘Be well’ catchphrase

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Cashiers at Walgreens are no longer required to bid farewell to each customer with a "Be well," according to a report Wednesday in The Chicago Tribune, though a focus on exemplary customer service is still in order. 
 
"[The send off] accomplished its goal of reinforcing our branding," spokesman Michael Polzin told The Tribune. "We'll continue to build our relationships with customers in other ways."
 
Citing a memo sent to Walgreens employees earlier this week, The Tribune reported that Walgreens employees are encouraged to learn their regular customers by name and greet their customers as it comes naturally. 
 
 
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Sterne Agee: DG COO Todd Vasos strong candidate for CEO

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Current Dollar General COO and Longs Drug Store veteran Todd Vasos is a likely candidate to succeed DG CEO Richard Dreiling, suggested Sterne Agee analyst Chuck Grom on Friday in a research note following a day of meetings with the leading dollar store retailer. 
 
While Dollar General hasn't tipped its hand as to who the successor may be — the announcement is expected in April, Grom noted — Vasos is a very familiar, and capable, candidate he said. "We believe Vasos’ experience leading the day-to-day blocking and tackling across the Dollar General organization make him an enviable candidate," Grom wrote. 
 
Grom disclosed that the three-person selection committee is comprised of Bill Rhodes, CEO of AutoZone and another Longs Drug veteran; Warren Bryant, former CEO of Longs Drug; and Mike Calbert, a former KKR partner. Grom expects the CEO transition to be smooth, which sets Dollar General up for success with both significant organic expansion opportunities and a more positive consumer outlook on the horizon. 
 
"The key sound bite from the meeting – 'There is no doubt the consumer is feeling better today' – sums up an extremely upbeat trip down to Goodlettsville," Grom said. "A good proxy for the strengthening consumer has been the improvement on the non-consumable side as of late, particularly the women’s apparel business. As a result, the company is beginning to layer in more SKUs on the discretionary side (i.e., housewares, home, domestics, apparel) to capture this sales (and margin) opportunity."
 
Grom noted that there is plenty of room for expansion in the U.S. marketplace, with more than 13,000 opportunities across the nation. "With peers Family Dollar and Dollar Tree likely to undergo a multi-year consolidation period (i.e., re-bannering, closing, fixing), it’s our view that DG sees this an opportunity to ramp growth – capturing better sites and market share along the way," Grom suggested. Dollar General has plans in place to grow square footage by roughly 6% in fiscal 2015 with some 730 new stores. Appoximately 900 additional new store openings are being targeted for fiscal 2016.
 
In addition to seizing an opporunity to grab the best dollar channel corners as Dollar General's chief competitor Dollar Tree/Family Dollar focuses on consolidation, Grom noted that the re-bannering of the merging dollar channel entities "should create another sales opportunity for DG, as more stores transform from Family Dollar into Dollar Tree locations, where the SKU overlap with Dollar General is significantly lower."
 
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Walgreens still targeting retail’s best corners with mobile strategy

BY Michael Johnsen

 
 
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Years ago, Walgreens had a penchant for staking their store-development flag on the best retail corners across America on their way toward more than 8,200 locations. And they're still at it. Only this time, America's best retail corners are just a click away. 
 
In its heyday, the distance between Walgreens and its customers was measured in miles and minutes, noted Joe Rago, Walgreens director mobile innovation program, in a recent presentation at the Walgreens-sponsored Evans Data Developer Relations Conference. Today, that distance is measured in inches and instants as more and more shoppers transact with Walgreens over their smartphones. These are very valuable shoppers he noted, spending six times as much per year with Walgreens as compared to those customers who only walk through one of Walgreens' 8,200 doors.  
 
And the volume of Walgreens shoppers connecting to the Chicagoland retailer grows by leaps and bounds each year — in 2009 less than 1% of Walgreens online interactions were traced to mobile. Today, more than 60% of Walgreens' online traffic is done on a smartphone. 
 
Walgreens is the leading brick-and-click retailer when it comes to apps, according to the Internet Retailer App Index, Rago noted in his presentation.  
 
"We recently took a quick jump to the Palo Alto/Bay Area and sponsored the Evans Data Developer Relations Conference," Drew Schweinfurth, Walgreens developer evangelist, wrote in a blog on Thursday describing the presentation. "There, we witnessed a plethora of developer evangelists and developer relations program managers across a variety of companies and industries. … Other than blowing minds and changing perspectives of Walgreens, [Rago] also received some great feedback on things to look forward to in our program."
 
In addition to posting Rago's presentation deck (embedded above), Schweinfurth also posted his presentation on "Trying New Things and Onboarding Developers" on his blog
 
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