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Case versus ESI-Medco merger is still alive

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — If you have a glass-half-full perspective, then the court’s ruling to deny the proposed preliminary injunction to the Express Scripts-Medco marriage means none of this is over. The case still stands. However, the court has deferred the decision on the plaintiffs’ motion seeking a permanent injunction until after the court decides on ESI’s motion to dismiss the case altogether. That may mean a decision on that motion could come sooner than later, considering the plaintiffs requested an expedited discovery schedule with the first motion.

(THE NEWS: Report: Preliminary injunction to block ESI-Medco merger denied. For the full story, click here)

If you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, you’re really hoping the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh doesn’t chug the rest of that Kool-Aid. Because a dismissal of the case places the ESI-Medco merger one step closer to permanently consummating the pharmacy benefit manager merger. Should NACDS, NCPA and the nine individual pharmacies choose to appeal a dismissal, then the case would go across state to Philadelphia, where it would be heard by the Unites States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

In Philadelphia, at least, DrugStoreNews.com reader Kwconverse may have a posted question answered: "What ever happened to the laws our founding fathers set forth years ago? Have we become such a greedy society that it no longer matters what is best for the people that are insured, but what [matters is what] is best for the company?"

To weigh in on the conversation, click here.

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Walmart’s online ‘pay cash’ option helps deliver a tailored customer experience

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The news that Walmart now is offering cash payment options for online orders on its site in the United States is important for several reasons. Not only is Walmart the first major retailer to offer the service, but it also further illustrates that stores increasingly are just one slice of a larger, more connected consumer experience.

(THE NEWS: Walmart becomes first-ever retailer to launch online ‘pay with cash’ option. For the full story, click here)

As the article explained, a shopper places an order on Walmart.com and, during checkout, selects the "cash" option and a shipping preference. The customer receives an order number on the order confirmation page and an email receipt with the order number, and the item is then reserved in the system. The customer has 48 hours to take the printed order form to any cash register of any Walmart store or Neighborhood Market. Once cash payment is completed in the store and received, shipping then occurs via "Site to Store" or to a preferred address.

Pretty convenient, especially since Walmart said that most of its in-store transactions are paid in cash or cash equivalent, including debit cards.

The move is in line with the findings of the recent Deloitte study titled “The Next Evolution: Store 3.0,” which stated: “Retailers need to re-examine and reconfigure their talent, physical space and store operations to meet or exceed customer expectations. A strategy that aligns these dimensions and is enabled by the right technology solutions can help retailers deliver a tailored experience for their customers.”

While the study stressed that the retail store is not going away, it said that the store of the future, dubbed 3.0, is “an evolution, not a destination that draws on a retailer’s unique strategy and vision to chart a path for how to remain relevant in a constantly changing retail environment.”

Meanwhile, as further proof of the buzz around m.commerce is Kantar Media’s report of digital couponing events during first quarter 2012.

Kantar Media solution Marx found that key websites increased digital coupon events by 17.1%, compared with the year-ago period. The number of manufacturers distributing digital coupons on only retailer websites grew by 43.5% in the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2011, Kantar Media noted.

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NRF: FTC should move cautiously on mobile payments

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation on Thursday urged the Federal Trade Commission to move cautiously in establishing regulations for mobile payments and said any rules that are adopted should parallel those for the underlying form of payment and not be specific to the technology.

"Mobile technology and processes are just beginning to emerge and we won’t know which practices the public will like or what methods will provide new benefits until the technology begins to coalesce," NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. "The government should not impose regulations that would forestall yet-to-be-imagined advances and innovation in order to avoid potential ‘harm’ based largely on speculation."

According to Duncan, some of the best innovations on the Internet today might have been suspect a generation ago but today "are benefits few consumers would want to live without."

"Mobile might help retailers get to know their customers more like they knew their customers generations ago, and offer more personalized service," Duncan said, adding that federal officials need to address a number of issues including a definition of what constitutes a mobile payment.

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