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Sears Holdings enters the future of shopping with mobile walls

BY Gail Hoffer

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears and Kmart have entered the future of staying connected to consumers introducing mobile shopping walls in high-traffic areas.

The shopping walls, which will feature top toys that customers can purchase from their smartphones by scanning the products’ QR code, will be available in select malls across the United States, and, for Kmart only, in movie theater lobbies in major markets. Additionally, shoppers can find the Sears and Kmart mobile walls in airports in Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Puerto Rico, and at bus shelters nationwide.

“With the hectic holiday season, we know how important it is to make shopping as convenient as possible, which is why we are bringing the Sears and Kmart shopping experience to places that correspond with our customers’ everyday routines,” said Hugo Malan, SVP and president fitness, sporting goods and toys. “As more shoppers head online to do their holiday shopping, consumers are now able to be more productive during their wait time. For example, customers can literally do all their holiday toy shopping while they wait for the bus or a delayed flight home.”

Shopping for items via a virtual wall may be a new concept for Americans, but as Retailing Today pointed out in Walmart News Now issue in August, it already is a popular way to shop in Asian markets. For example, Tesco has developed an interesting shopper marketing solution that appeals to time-starved Korean commuters. To see how it works, check out the video here.

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Walmart denies exploring primary care healthcare platform

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — According to a request for information released Tuesday and reported by Kaiser Health News, Walmart is in the process of piecing together a comprehensive low-cost primary care healthcare platform.

However, Walmart later denied this report in a statement released to the public on Wednesday. "The RFI statement of intent is overwritten and incorrect. We are not building a national, integrated, low-cost primary care healthcare platform," stated John Agwunobi, SVP and president of Walmart U.S. health and wellness.

The request reportedly stated that, "Walmart intends to build a national, integrated, low-cost primary care healthcare platform that will provide [preventive] and chronic care services that are currently out of reach for millions of Americans."

Many of those offerings already are available at select Walmart locations that include a retail clinic partner. Several retail clinic operators already have begun incorporating more chronic disease state management and diagnostic services into their practice, where appropriate, according to a panel of retail executives hosted by the Convenient Care Association earlier this month. And many of those services are being ceded to the retail clinics by their healthcare system partners because of the healthcare cost synergies that can be realized.

Walmart spokeswoman Tara Raddohl earlier this week confirmed the proposal, Kaiser Health News reported, but declined to elaborate on specifics, calling it simply an effort to determine "strategic next steps."

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Winning with ‘Ideas’

BY Dan Mack

A few years back, The Economist stated that 70 percent of the value of a new car lies in intangibles. It is a great reminder that companies — and brands — are made up of impressions, insights and even ideas.

We are operating in an economy where most things can be copied, replicated and even stolen prior to the commercialization process even beginning. That is a frightening thought, especially for companies that invest only in research and development and are not adept at protecting their intellectual properties.  Innovation is vital to corporate health, but it is just as vital to redesign the corporate mindset and to stockpile and protect relevant intellectual properties that can be utilized with the most important strategic customers. 

More often than not, a winning organization — no matter the size — wins with ideas. They dig deep into their cupboards, and they pull out knowledge and insights or offer precise solutions to problems that their customers had no idea inflicted them. 

And how do idea companies position themselves versus their unknowing competitors?  We have noticed three consistent pillars of the top smaller and emerging companies:

  1. They set the rules of engagement in their industry and earn the role of opinion leaders with their customers and the influencers that support them.

  2. They transform the customer relationship from tangible products to intangible added value knowledge based services. They bring ideas to the relationship that transform their customer’s business.

  3. They design new value and stronger alignment with their top customers by 
co-creating solutions right alongside the customers. They create the next generation of innovation alongside their retail partners.

As most kids will tell you, the one who gets to the park first gets to pick the teams and set the rules. Whether we realize it or not, this same principle is played out daily in all forms of business and life in general. The principle is a variation of what is called social proof — as coined by social scientist Robert Cialdini.  Cialdini’s research shows that we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct.  The winning companies understand this principle and work very hard to earn the role of opinion leader or idea merchant in their section.

In other words, once someone of influence sets the norms and “divides up the teams,” it is very difficult to move the game to another park.  The winners make it a point to set the rules, and they set them in such a way that the rules benefit their business model and their positioning and the consumer.

Whatever the dynamic, once the rules of engagement are set, it is very difficult to change the game. To be clear, the rules of engagement can be shifted, but precedent supported with insights make it more difficult to change due to the power of momentum.

Once the ball is rolling, it is very difficult to stop. Whoever gets to the park first, with the most ideas set’s up the playing field. And that is a real home field advantage.

Ideas Differentiate
Most of us feel comfortable buying things. It can be a new car, music, clothes, property and even services.  Anytime we can see it, feel it and engage our senses, then we are OK purchasing it. But intangibles are a whole different game. We value things we can see, while we often underestimate or devalue the less tangible, including ideas, knowledge and insights.  

When I have to purchase legal advice, consulting direction or even training and development, I fall into the same trap. I want to make it a transaction versus realizing that I am actually acquiring something as valuable, if not more valuable, than a tangible product. Tangible things wear out; ideas can sustain and even transform a company.  In many ways, great ideas or intangible assets can transform a life, an organization and even a generation. 

And when you think about it, true loyalty occurs due to the intangibles of a product or service, not despite of them.

Tangible products provide tangible expected value, while intangibles or ideas can seem less valuable, but have the potential to unleash significant growth and business transformation. 

In fact, your company’s ideas may be as valuable as your products. 

What are you doing to create this type of position with your company?
 


Dan Mack is EVP strategic sales at The Swanson Group and managing director of Mack Elevation Forum. You can contact him at (630) 607-2774 or learn more at TheSwansonGroup.com or MackElevationForum.com.

MORE ARTICLES FROM DAN MACK >

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