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Retail sector’s success shows the importance of innovation

BY Alaric DeArment

Jobs data from the Department of Labor released Friday show that among the 165,000 jobs added overall were 29,000 in the retail sector, results that industry trade group the National Retail Federation heralded as possibly boding well for the economy in the future.

While the numbers themselves speak volumes, it’s important to consider some of the factors behind them that explain why the sector has thrived.

From omnichannel to new store formats to new products and ways of merchandising them, retailers have used a variety of innovative techniques to get customers to the store – whether physically or virtually.

During Sears Holdings’ annual shareholder meeting last week, chairman and CEO Edward Lampert touted the company’s investments in "integrated retail," such as online and mobile commerce and allowing customers to buy in-store and ship to their homes.

Convenience is also on the minds of supermarket operators, such as Ahold USA, which has been expanding its Peapod online grocery service and online ordering, as well as concepts like the virtual grocery stores at commuter rail stations in many major cities.

Another mass-merchandise chain, Target, partnered with the editors of Wired magazine to install Wired-branded displays featuring an assortment of products, including four available for the first time at Target, which has also been busy opening small-format stores for dense urban areas such as Chicago and San Francisco.

Walgreens has been opening Well Experience stores in major cities around the corner, creating a store that looks less like a traditional drug store and more like a small supermarket, convenience store and high-end cosmetics store rolled into one. Rite Aid has updated its Wellness store format with an even more modern look than the previous versions, while CVS has been opening Urban Cluster stores as well. All three formats are designed for the same purpose: keeping up with the times, catering to customers who are more urban, more refined in their tastes and more interested in taking responsibility for their health and wellness.

While its outside the pharmacy-retail space, Seattle-based men’s clothing store Hointer has turned the concept of omnichannel on its head by using robotics and mobile apps in the store.

Throughout the early half of the 20th century and well into the latter half, researchers at Bell Labs made a world of scientific and technological breakthroughs, without which many of the consumer products people take for granted today wouldn’t exist. Bell Labs is long gone, but it was a good example of the importance of innovation in a modern economy. Today, retailers are showing that to be true as well – and reaping the rewards for it.

 

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CDC: 4-in-5 Americans not meeting government’s Physical Activity Guidelines

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Only 1-in-5 U.S. adults are meeting both the aerobic and muscle strengthening components of the federal government’s physical activity recommendations, according to an article published Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as walking, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging, or a combination of both. The guidelines also recommend that adults do muscle-strengthening activities, such as push-ups, sit-ups or activities using resistance bands or weights. These activities should involve all major muscle groups and be done on two or more days per week. 

The report finds that nationwide nearly 50% of adults are getting the recommended amounts of aerobic activity and about 30% are engaging in the recommended muscle-strengthening activity.

"Although only 20% of adults are meeting the overall physical activity recommendations, it is encouraging that half the adults in the United States are meeting the aerobic guidelines and a third are meeting the muscle-strengthening recommendations," stated Carmen Harris, epidemiologist in CDC’s physical activity and health branch. "This is a great foundation to build upon, but there is still much work to do. Improving access to safe and convenient places where people can be physically active can help make the active choice the easy choice."

The report also found differences among states and the District of Columbia. The rates of adults meeting the overall guidelines ranged from 27% in Colorado to 13% in Tennessee and West Virginia. The West (24%) and the Northeast (21%) had the highest proportion of adults who met the guidelines. Women, Hispanics, older adults and obese adults were all less likely to meet the guidelines.

The data are based on self-reported information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual phone survey of adults aged 18 and older conducted by state health departments. 

 

 

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NCPA lobbies Hawaii governor to sign two ‘pharmacy-friendly’ pieces of legislation

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Thursday urged Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie to sign two bills into law that the association asserts will "protect patient pharmacy choice." One bill prohibits pharmacy benefits managers from using a patient’s medical health information to market or advertise to that patient, and the other bill specifies that an otherwise qualified retail community pharmacy that requests to enter into a contractual retail pharmacy network agreement shall be considered part of a pharmacy benefit manager’s retail pharmacy network for purposes of a beneficiary’s right to choose where to purchase covered prescription drugs.

"NCPA strongly supports these two key pieces of legislation as a means to protect the ability of patients to choose where they want to address their medication needs," stated Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO. "Some may wish to use mail-order pharmacies and can continue to do so under this legislation. But mail order is not for everyone, and patients should have the right to choose which type of pharmacy they prefer for their personal health needs," he said. 

"Patients should also be able to take care of their health needs with the knowledge that their personal medication records are secure and will not be used by large corporations to market a particular service or product," Hoey added. 

 

 

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