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WBA maintains W. Va. pharmacy network through Rite Aid transfer

BY Michael Johnsen

West Virginia public employees can continue using their neighborhood Rite Aid drug stores as their in-network pharmacy network after all 103 stores in the state were purchased by Walgreens in February. Under a recent agreement, these Rite Aid stores will remain in-network for West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency members as the stores convert to Walgreens pharmacies, Walgreens announced Monday.

“We look forward to welcoming West Virginia Rite Aid customers to Walgreens,” Paul Blankenship, regional vice president, Walgreens, said. “We’ve been a trusted brand since 1901 and we’re proud to serve West Virginia, as we expand our presence through convenient Rite Aid locations in communities across the state.”

In addition, while West Virginia pharmacy customers will see no interruption in service at Rite Aid locations, all 15 Walgreens stores in the state will also join PEIA’s pharmacy network effective April 1.

PEIA’s 160,000 members include state employees, teachers, employees of state colleges, universities and numerous local governmental agencies, as well as their dependents and retirees under age 65.

Nationally, 1,932 Rite Aid drugstores are being acquired by Walgreens. While external signage remains Rite Aid for the time being, stores will be converted to the Walgreens brand in phases over time.

The 15 West Virginia Walgreens stores that join the PEIA network on April 1 are located in Morgantown, Princeton, Beaver, Elkins, Martinsburg, Cross Lanes, Barboursville, Beckley, Huntington, Summersville, Bridgeport, Grafton, Charleston, Hurricane and Charles Town.

Rite Aid last week reported the successful asset transfer of more than 85% of the stores the company is selling to Walgreens Boots Alliance. As of March 2, Rite Aid has transferred 1,651 stores and related assets to WBA, and has received cash proceeds of $3.6 billion.

Rite Aid expects to complete the store transfer process in the spring of 2018.

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Keeping data safe: How retailers can better safeguard consumer information

BY DSN STAFF

Retailers’ role is expanding. Not only do they need to draw in customers with compelling products and offerings, but, in the 21st century, they also are wardens of terabytes of customer data — including credit cards and personal information, alongside their shopping behavior and preferences. Evident is looking to help minimize the risks that retailers take when acquiring sensitive customer data with its secure API that is used by such companies as TaskRabbit and Airbnb. Drug Store News spoke with Evident founder and CEO David Thomas about how it makes guarding personal data easier.

Drug Store News: Why is the need for cyber security increasing? What are the risks?

David Thomas: Money. Criminals can easily monetize the data they are stealing, either by leveraging it themselves for fraudulent activity or by selling it. Either way, they are getting paid. And, their opportunity is enormous because companies are handling and collecting more and more personal information. A hacker only has to find one vulnerability — one small lapse — and can potentially get access to volumes of sensitive personal data.

A security breach is a threat to both the business and the users who are impacted. The potential damage to a business’s reputation and credibility with its users is difficult to replace, no matter the scale or depth of a breach. The risk of a hack is no longer if, but when, making it critical for companies to prioritize and be proactive about security protocols now.

DSN: How does this impact the mass retail world?

DT: Retailers collecting even what seems like basic information, such as users’ email addresses or birth dates, are at risk of a breach, especially if that information is housed in one centralized database. This threat is only exacerbated when a business considers the amount of information they are collecting as part of the hiring process.

Fortunately, retailers don’t have to choose between collecting data that allows them to customize a user’s experience and the ability to protect themselves from a hack. There are more effective ways to share personal data between retailers and individuals without the risk and liability that currently exists today.

DSN: What can retailers do to minimize risks, and what are the costs associated with this?

DT: Retailers need to reevaluate the way they store and manage personal data. They can now acquire the verified personal data they need without having to hold or manage personally identifiable information, or PII, in one place. Any centralized database holding personal information will be vulnerable to a breach. The only way to prevent that is to find a streamlined solution that allows retailers to connect to the data that is needed to operate without requiring them to be responsible for holding and protecting that data within their infrastructure.

Traditional data management can be expensive when businesses consider the time and resources required to maintain and secure personal data. However, retailers can reduce their security costs by working with partners that minimize the amount of information that retailers are required to hold and manage.

DSN: What does Evident offer retailers, and how would the two work together?

DT: Our flexible platform allows businesses to acquire the data they need with less risk and friction. With regard to customers, Evident allows retailers to provide a more secure and customized shopping experience for their users. They also have the ability to verify and authenticate users more effectively, reducing the risk of fraud across their platform.

For hiring workers, retailers can create a process that gives them the verified information they need without requiring them to hold or manage sensitive personal data. We also enable companies to stay current in the verifications they have already completed. Companies receive alerts when something important changes in a user’s profile, ensuring access to the most updated data. And with connections to thousands of attributes, we help businesses scale more quickly, giving them access to all the verified information they need.

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The Exchange rolls out retail management program for vets

BY Michael Johnsen

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is helping veterans in the workforce reconnect with their military family through a special retail management training program, reaffirming the Department of Defense retailer’s commitment to hiring those who served.

The Veterans Retail Management Training program introduces Veterans to the business that drives the 122-year-old Exchange benefit. Participants in the immersive program receive two weeks of classroom training at the Exchange’s Dallas headquarters, learning about the organization’s enduring mission to take care of soldiers, airmen and their families.

From Dallas, Veterans are assigned to Exchanges across the United States for on-the-job training in main stores, Expresses, troop stores and Military Clothing stores, working alongside mentors in the field. Trainees who successfully complete the program are offered permanent positions.

The Exchange has offered retail management training for years but only recently developed a program focused solely on recruiting and retaining Veterans — a priority for the organization. Currently, eight Veterans are participating in the program, the second time it has been offered. A third class is planned for June.

“The Exchange is committed to extending career opportunities to our Veterans,” Tom Shull, Exchange director and CEO, said. “We are leaning forward to continue the tradition of welcoming home veterans to our ranks. They are a force multiplier to our efforts to deliver a customer experience authorized shoppers will find nowhere but their Exchange.”

Denise Evans, who served in the Army from 1981 to 1991, is looking forward reconnecting with the military by working at the Exchange. “I wanted to be somewhere I belong, where I can finish out my career,” said Evans, a program participant who is finishing her management training at Fort Belvoir. “The leadership here sees that I still have something to offer.”

Patrick Fatuesi, assistant store manager at the Sheppard Air Force Base Exchange, completed the management program in the fall. He spent 32 years in the Army, retiring as a sergeant major. His Army career, he says, prepared him well for leadership roles. “At the Exchange, you’re going to learn from the ground up — just like the military,” Fatuesi said. “This organization is giving us — veterans — a chance. It’s absolutely phenomenal.”

In 2017, the Exchange hired more than 1,200 veterans worldwide, and 11.5% of the Exchange’s workforce are veterans. In 2018, for the fifth consecutive year, the Exchange was named a Military Friendly Employer by Victory Media.

“The Exchange puts a lot of stock in hiring veterans,” Shull said. “Veterans understand what the Exchange means and what we do for those who serve.”

Hiring veterans and military spouses is one way the Exchange gives back to the military community. The Exchange has hired 1,000 Wounded Warriors since 2010 — second only to the Army.

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