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Smart phones may make for smart shopping, new survey finds

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Consumers see smart phones as future personal, coupon-clipping shopper assistants, a global survey released Monday by Accenture found. According to the survey, 79% of smart-phone users would find it useful to download money-off coupons to their phones, and 73% of those shoppers would be receptive to being pinged with instant money-off coupons as they passed by an item in a store.

It may become the new way for marketers who didn’t make the kitchen table shopping list to reach shoppers at the shelf. “Smart phones will permanently change the relationship between the store and the shopper,” stated Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s retail practice. “Today’s tech-savvy consumer wants a seamless shopping experience across store, mobile or online at a time that suits [him or her]. Ultimately, this trend will lead to a new definition of the store; purpose, place and size are all up for debate. Already we are seeing some shoppers treating stores more like a showroom to test products and then making their purchase online.”

The results of the survey indicated that smart phone technology is changing the relationship between customers and retailers. Many smart phone users said that they preferred using their mobile device rather than interacting with a store employee for simple tasks. According to the survey, 73% favored using their smart phone to handle simple tasks compared with 15% who favored interaction with an employee. Similarly, 71% favored using their smart phone to identify a store with a desired item in stock, while 17% would have preferred to get that information by speaking to an employee.

Almost half (48%) of conventional cell phone users planned to buy a smart phone in the next 12 months, the survey found.

Privacy, however, remained a key concern of consumers and could have a negative impact on the growing use of smart phones for shopping. More than half of respondents (54%) worried that using smart phones would erode their privacy. Among the other smart phone shopping concerns voiced — 59% of respondents feared losing the personal touch from store employees and 39% believed that products would get more expensive.

“The greater use of smart phones for shopping creates opportunities and challenges for retailers in equal measure,” Hoffman said. “Companies need to use all of their customer information to better understand how and when their customers want to engage with them, ask them questions or just check some basic product details. Only then can they deliver a personalized and enjoyable experience while lessening the risk of alienating customers through unwanted approaches.”

According to Andy Zimmerman, global managing director of mobility services at Accenture, these survey results are an early indicator that mobile applications will transform how businesses compete with one another and interact with their customers. "Companies that successfully integrate the location-based services, commerce, payment and other capabilities of the smart phone into their traditional businesses stand to gain significant competitive advantage over the coming years,” he said.

Among the survey findings:

  •  69% of smart phone users are aware of smart phone applications from large retailers, and 48% have downloaded at least one application;

  • 90% of consumers who have downloaded an application from a large retailer found it “very useful” or “useful”; and

  • 56% believed smart phones will make the shopping experience more enjoyable.

The full survey is available at Accenture.com/MobileRetail.

 

 

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CVS/pharmacy moves ahead with succession plan, Hank Mullany named president

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark announced on Friday that former Walmart North executive Hank Mullany will succeed Larry Merlo as president of CVS/pharmacy. The move is part of the corporate succession plan announced last May in which Tom Ryan will retire as CEO prior to the next annual meeting and Merlo will step up as CEO.

"Hank brings a wealth of experience to his new role and understands the many demands and challenges of the retail business. His expertise, along with his demonstrated ability to execute strategies and produce outstanding results, make him the right candidate to drive continued growth in our retail business and further our industry leadership for many years to come," Merlo stated.

Mullany has nearly 30 years of retail experience and a strong background in operations, finance and strategic planning. Previously as EVP and president of Walmart North, Mullany was responsible for the operation of 1,300 stores across 19 states. Earlier in his career, Mullany served in various senior management positions, including as president of Genuardi’s Family Markets in Pennsylvania.

"Hank is the right candidate to fill this role," Ryan stated. "His broad base of retail experience will further our mission to provide customers with expert care and innovative solutions. Hank’s proven track record as a leader will continue to set us apart in today’s competitive marketplace."

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Moving PSE to Rx-only in Mo. lacks fiscal sense

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The forward-looking vision employed by Gov. Jay Nixon in exploring “next steps” in fighting methamphetamine abuse before even the last step has been put into place and enacted is, in a matter of speaking, extremely short-sighted. It doesn’t even make fiscal sense, because the National Precursor Log Exchange will do more to curb many of the costs associated with fighting meth addicts without conversely increasing the costs associated with fighting a cold. And truth be told, there are probably a lot more stuffy heads in Missouri than there are meth addicts.

(THE NEWS: Missouri gov campaigns for Rx-only PSE legislation. For the full story, click here)

The costs associated with combating methamphetamine addiction are too large an issue not to influence some of these enforcement tactics. Because that’s what cutting off the source (PSE) to eliminate the problem (meth cooks) is supposed to do — reduce the number of meth cooks and thereby mitigate the exorbitant costs associated with fighting meth.

And those enforcement costs are significant. According to a Bureau of Environmental Health document, average meth lab cleanup costs in Oregon totaled $6,500 per 1,000 square feet of property, and that didn’t include the upfront assessment cost of $1,500. The Website of Nevada’s Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto, suggested actual total costs are far beyond calculation. Masto listed some 13 items that would have to be considered in tabulating such a cost, including the dismantling of those meth labs, the arrest, prosecution and housing/healthcare (by way of imprisonment) of any meth users and the assumption of care for any meth addict’s child.

That’s a good deal of budgetary line items that cuts across multiple state government disciplines — law enforcement, healthcare and social welfare to name a few.

The NPLEx solution helps identify those with a possible meth problem before they’re actually able to illegally convert that PSE into meth. Intercepting those PSE products before they reach that trailer park laboratory at the very least eliminates clean up costs. And that’s maybe the most controllable cost in the system, because making PSE products only available by prescription won’t reduce the number of meth addicts.

It’ll will only force them to go underground.

California can testify to that — before the practice of “smurfing” brought illicit PSE acquisition back to the states, drug dealers were sourcing bulk PSE from Mexico. It was when Mexico began cracking down on those bulk deliveries that stateside dealers domesticated the practice of smurfing.

Making PSE products available only by prescription would not only NOT mitigate enforcement/fallout costs, but also would significantly increase the costs associated with relieving the common cold. Adults average between two and four colds every year, and children between six and 10. If those patients actually did opt to go to the doctor for their sniffles, it both directly increases the cost of care (including those on the Medicaid rolls, incidentally) and indirectly impacts the quality of care as an already-overburdened doctor community will now have to squeeze cold patients into their schedules. 

And for those who didn’t opt to see a doctor, well they’ll either be less productive at work, or miss work or school altogether.

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