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Nielsen, MyWebGrocer enter alliance to measure online supermarket sales

BY Allison Cerra

ORLANDO, Fla. — Nielsen has teamed up with a provider of digital grocery tools and a grocery media network to offer consumer packaged goods companies a view into consumers’ online supermarket purchases.

As part of its partnership with MyWebGrocer to measure U.S. online supermarket sales, Nielsen said that it has acquired a license to MyWebGrocer’s e-commerce sales information, aggregated from 60 U.S. supermarket retailers. Through this license, Nielsen will utilize its Online Basket View provide regular insights on online supermarket shopping sales, including online shopping basket purchases, for its retail clients included in the MyWebGrocer network.

Nielsen Online Basket View insights are slated to be available to CPG manufacturers in third quarter 2011, Nielsen said, noting that it plans to measure approximately 30% of all online U.S. supermarket sales. Currently, no aggregate reporting of actual online supermarket sales data is available in the industry, the company said.

"We’re making it possible — for the first time — for CPG companies to understand online shoppers with the same rigor we apply to offline shopping analytics," Nielsen strategic initiatives president John Burbank said. "We can share our insights into what decisions and purchases shoppers are making online, where and when."

Added MyWebGrocer chief strategy officer Alec Newcomb, "Online and offline, consumer shopping behaviors are converging. At MyWebGrocer, we connect shoppers to retailers and brands, and Nielsen’s expertise in what consumers watch and buy makes it a natural organization for us to work with so we can help CPG companies understand their impact in the digital shopping channel."

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Digital coupon wave: Clipping to surfing

BY Jim Frederick

Couponing is digitizing.


Although printed circulars remain the workhorse of the nation’s coupon distribution system, a growing share of the coupons consumers are handing cashiers are emerging from online distribution sources and are being printed out at home. A smaller but growing segment also is being handled exclusively through electronic means via smartphones and mobile technology.


“[One]-third of consumers are actually shopping online to find coupons … from [sites] like Groupon or SmartSource, or from a manufacturer’s site,” said Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends for SymphonyIRI Group. “And … a small portion of the population is using iPhone apps to get coupons.”


In its Digital Coupons Trends Report for 2010, Coupons.com noted that more than $1.2 billion in digital coupons savings were issued in 2010, representing a 41% growth over the year before. “Compared to growth metrics for coupons distributed in newspapers of 7%, digital coupons dramatically outpaced the growth of their newspaper counterparts,” the company noted.


“Digital couponing has been the growth engine of the couponing industry for years, before this extreme couponing phenomenon,” asserted Coupons.com founder and CEO Steven Boal. “It was shifting to digital before the recession hit. That may have accelerated it, but the shift was already taking place. All the growth in couponing is happening digitally.”


The Nielsen Co. agreed — to a point. “While newspaper inserts are still the primary method of coupon distribution [89%] and redemption [53%], Internet redemption growth has skyrocketed, rising 263% in 2009,” the research giant noted. 


“And while clipping continues to be a primary means of distribution, manufacturers and retailers launched new ways to get coupons into consumers’ hands, such as printable coupons on the Internet, in-store kiosks and discounts linked to frequent shopper cards via smartphones and computers, negating the need for a paper coupon at all,” Nielsen added. “In short, it is easier than ever to distribute and use coupons, and this convenience is also a key driver of redemption growth.”


Coinciding with the shift toward electronic coupons has been a steep and long-lasting decline in the number of circulars distributed via newspapers. Sunday newspaper deliveries to U.S. homes peaked at more than 63 million in 1993, but that number is back down to about 40 million newspapers each Sunday, Boal said. “The only real change to take place in that industry over the last decade has been the shift to digital,” he told Drug Store News.

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A slow ride on the Walmart Express

BY Mike Troy


BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The new small-format Walmart Express stores that opened earlier this month are an interesting concept with intriguing growth potential. But for the time being, and possibly for much longer, competitors need not concern themselves with the small stores.


At least that’s what Walmart wants the marketplace to believe following the opening of the first few of the 15,000-sq.-ft. stores earlier this month in northwest Arkansas.


The product mix is squarely in Walmart’s sweet spot of food and consumables, and from a shoppers’ perspective, the store experience is consistent with the look and feel of a supercenter. Investment analysts and media were given a preview tour of the stores prior to the company’s June 3 shareholders’ meeting, which led to inevitable speculation around how many of stores the company could open and the time frame in which it could open them.


If Dollar General can open 625 new stores annually, which it is doing this year, what would Walmart be capable of?


If a comparable or even greater rate of growth is in the cards, Walmart executives made it clear it will be years before a rollout occurs, with the greatest near-term opportunity being further supercenter expansion.


During a meeting with analysts after touring the Walmart Express, Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., said, “I hope you didn’t take the tour of small stores as an overemphasis on small stores. The supercenter is and will remain our best growth vehicle. The returns on the supercenter are better than anything else we’re building.”


With supercenters as the company’s primary driver of domestic growth, Walmart Express isn’t even the next concept in line, according to Simon. That concept would be the Neighborhood Market, recently rebranded as Walmart Mart, which measures between 30,000 and 40,000 sq. ft.


“That has been a format we’ve been building over 10 or 12 years now, and in the last two or three years have gotten it to be a really good return vehicle for us,” Simon said. “We reported in the first quarter that that format is delivering positive comps in the 4% range, and [we] are very happy with what it’s doing from a sales and a productivity standpoint.”


Even Walmart Stores president and CEO Mike Duke sought to temper expectations around the expansion potential of the Express concept after an analyst raised the issue of how it would take thousands of the small stores to move the needle on financial results given Walmart’s size. Duke agreed and reminded attendees at the meeting that the smallest of the company’s small formats is a long-term project.


“If you look at the way Walmart has built formats in the [United States], we’ve been patient,” Duke said, referring first to the supercenter development and then the initial Neighborhood Markets. “I wouldn’t be counting on in the near term a great deal of impact from the very small stores,” Duke advised analysts.


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