Walmart gets back in on the action
Action Alley — branded feature displays and four-sided fixtures in the main aisles — marked its return to all Walmart stores this past holiday season, and signified Walmart’s return to promotional intensity.
“Action Alley is a characteristic communication to our customers,” said Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO, last year. “It’s how we talk to them. Other competitors have other things — discount cards, loyalty cards, double coupons. For us, Action Alley is an important piece of who we are because it tells the customer what we believe is important, and it adds that element of excitement that says that this is a Walmart store.”
Action Alley proved to be a significant factor in Walmart’s increase of 8.2% in inventory for its fiscal year ended Jan. 28. Coupled with a similar return to increased assortments, these two initiatives contributed approximately 120 basis points of the total growth for the year, Simon told investors in February.
Max-Wellness has the answers to health
Max-Wellness, the unique health-and-wellness destination that made its debut in the Cleveland area in 2010, features “Max-Answers” information stations throughout the store. However, what really distinguishes these stations from typical mass-oriented information kiosks is their portability — the Web-based tablets can be picked up by a customer or Max-Wellness associate for use right at the shelf of interest.
The health tablet programming is driven by Aisle7, a company that specializes in providing consumer-friendly health resources at the point of sale. There also are some sections that have been customized by Max-Wellness. “We took 275 of the most common medical maladies, and we had a professional write the program,” Michael Feuer, Max-Wellness founder and CEO, told Drug Store News during a walk-through of the store last year. “So if you say ‘I played tennis last night and my knee hurts,’” a customer can identify solutions on the health tablet easily.
That Max-Answers knowledge base soon will be incorporated into the chain’s e-commerce site, Max-Wellness.com, which launched earlier this year.
USA Drug gets back in growth mode
There’s nothing like a recession for focusing merchants on what matters most. For USA Drug, that meant concentrating on core markets, cutting costs and recharging its image for down-home value, neighborly service and a broadly merchandised front end focused on local consumer preferences.
The company’s departure in March 2010 from Memphis, where it sold its Super D and Ike’s stores to Walgreens, may have been the tonic the company needed. USA Drug hit record profits in 2010, said president and CEO Joe Courtright, and quickly returned to growth mode. “This year, we have a goal of 20 pharmacy acquisitions,” Courtright noted. Another goal for 2011: the conversion of all 140 stores to ComputerRx, a new pharmacy automation system.
Like other pharmacies, USA Drug was snagged last year by what Courtright called the “deterioration in average prescription price, especially as a result of new-to-market generics.” But diabetic and Alzheimer’s medicines are continuing to drive sales, he added, and “we expect great prescription comps,” as well as “an increase in comp OTC sales of 4% to 5% for the upcoming year,” he said.