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Walmart to build 115 new stores in China by 2017, upgrade 50 this year

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

BEIJING, China — Walmart Stores unveiled plans to countermand slowed growth in China with 115 new stores in the country by 2017 and creating some 30,000 jobs. The announcement adds about 35 new stores to the retailer’s building plans as Walmart previously targeted 480 total stores in China by 2016, up from around 400 now.
 
CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement that "China is a key strategic market for Walmart. Over the next three years we will increase investment across our diverse business operations in China.”
 
The 115 new stores are slated for Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan between 2015 and 2017; the company also announced it would invest $60 million to remodel more than 50 stores this year.
 
Walmart has faced slower growth in China’s challenging retail environment, recording a net sales decline of 0.7% for the quarter ended Jan. 31. The retailer has responded with plans to shutter some under-performing stores and ramp up its online grocery offerings via e-commerce arm Yihaodian.com and a new mobile app slated for the near future.

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Three industry titans recognized by NACDS

BY Michael Johnsen

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Tuesday evening recognized three industry titans – former Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson was awarded the Sheldon W. Fantle Lifetime Achievement Award and both David Heist, a Bayer executive, and Energizer's Lou Martire were awarded the Robert B. Begley Award. 
 
The Sheldon “Bud” W. Fantle Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 1989 to recognize exceptional accomplishments and contributions to the industry.  Chain pharmacy’s highest honor, it was renamed in 1996 in honor of Bud Fantle of People’s Drug Stores. 
 
“Greg Wasson is fully-deserving of this lifetime recognition award,” said NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson. “He has served the industry for more than 35 years with a strong commitment and passion for pharmacy, patients and customers.  I valued Greg’s astute industry vision when we worked together during his tenure as NACDS chairman. And tonight we congratulate him on this distinctive pharmacy honor.”
  
Wasson began his career as a Walgreens pharmacist in 1980 and over his nearly 35-years of industry served in several positions including president of health initiatives, EVP and president and COO. Following the completion of the global merger with Alliance Boots, Wasson retired as president and CEO in December 2014.  During his industry career he also served as chairman of the NACDS Board of Directors. 
 
The Robert B. Begley Award – established in 1980 – is named in memory of former NACDS chairman of the board Robert B. Begley.  It honors an individual who possess qualities of great personal warmth, generous spirit and long-time service to our industry.
 
“With combined experience that surpasses 75 years in the industry, David Heist and Lou Martire are true leaders who have set the bar high for the work they have done to further the industry,” said Anderson. “Their service, commitment and dedication are examples to those who will continue to serve the industry in years to come. We congratulate them on receiving the Robert B. Begley Award, and wish them well in their well-deserved retirements.” 
 
Heist, who has announced he will retire this May, has served 20 years as director of industry affairs and customer relations  with Bayer Consumer Care.  Prior to Bayer, Heist held sales and trade relations positions at companies including, SmithKline, Menley & James, Alco Standard, Vita-Fresh Vitamin Co and Mennen.  
 
Since his first day in 1972, Martire has served in various increased capacities with Energizer Holdings. He will retire this May following 42 years of service with the company. 
 
All three award recipients were recognized by their colleagues, friends and family at the NACDS Annual Meeting dinner and awards ceremony last evening. 
 

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Survey: 20% of Millennials don’t want to interact with cashiers during checkout

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

CHICAGO — Self-service kiosks got a nod from the Millennial generation, as a new survey released by location-based mobile platform Retale showed that 20% of Millennial shoppers don’t like interacting with cashiers at checkout.
 
The survey examined consumer self-service checkout (SSK) adoption and preferences among brick-and-mortar retailers, focusing on SSK experiences, and evaluating convenience, challenges and desired improvements.
 
Research highlights include:
 
• 85% of the 1,000 polled have used a self-service kiosk.
• 33% find that self-checkout is actually inconvenient, with scanning items the hardest part.
• 26% of Millennials want to use mobile devices (smartwatches, too) at self-service kiosks.
• 91% of Millennials have used a self-service kiosk versus 81% of those 35 and older.
 
Just 15% of shoppers have never used a self-service kiosk.  Of those who have, the most popular reasons for doing so were: “I have a limited number of items” (72%); “there was no line” (55%); “I prefer to keep my transactions and financial information private” (13%); and “I don’t like interacting with cashiers” (12%). Among Millennials, “I don’t like interacting with cashiers” was eight percentage points higher than the average (20%).
 
Two-thirds (67%) of all respondents said that self-service kiosks are convenient versus 33% inconvenient. Of the 67%, however, 41% said that, despite its convenience, the experience “could be a lot better.”
 
Across all respondents, 43% say that they often need help from an associate when using self-service checkout. Millennials were less likely to need support (37%) compared to those over 34 (47%).
 
The top challenges in using self-service kiosks include: scanning items (35%); entering coupons (24%); understanding the service screen (16%); paying with cash (15%); and entering product codes (14%).
 
When asked the number of products that they would feel comfortable checking out with via self-service, the majority (33%) selected five-nine. However, 26% said that they would be comfortable with 10-14 items while 24% would be comfortable with more than 15. Only 17% selected one-four.
 
Less than half (49%) want self-service kiosks at every store and 20% want the option to pay with a mobile device.
 
Despite current self-service checkout limitations, nearly half of all respondents (49%) would like to see more kiosks at every retail location to help streamline the checkout process. As the number of kiosks increases, a majority of respondents (53%) want at least one store employee overseeing kiosks to ensure devices are used smoothly; as well as limits on the number of items shoppers can pay for at each kiosk (32%).
 
When asked about the retailers that should add more self-service kiosks, 49% picked mass merchandisers, followed by supermarkets (46%), drugstores (42%), convenience stores (27%), department stores (24%), and specialty stores (24%).
 
Also, as technology advances, 20% of those surveyed wish to have the option to pay via a mobile phone or smartwatch at each kiosk. Among Millennials, 26% want to be able to pay at self-service kiosks using mobile devices versus 16% for those over 34.
 
“Almost a quarter of all Millennials use self-service kiosks to avoid any sort of interaction with cashiers,” said Pat Dermody, president of Retale. “As a result, there is a growing demand for more automation and innovation throughout the checkout experience, via integrations with smartphones, wearables and other mobile devices. This will add to the convenience factor that already appears to be key to the experience.”

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