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Survey: Online shoppers more conscious of their security

BY Dan Berthiaume

LONDON — Fifty-four percent of online shoppers feel that they are more conscious of their security online compared to 12 months ago, following a string of high-profile security breaches at various international retailers and brands. Of the 2,000 online consumers surveyed as part of EDigitalResearch's and IMRG's EcustomerServiceIndex, half 50% felt that retailers should be doing more to keep them safe online, especially in the wake of yet more data and security breaches in 2014.

While a handful of consumers think that reminders to update passwords and security notifications would be helpful, the majority of respondents feel that it is up to retailers to invest in stringent security and privacy policies to keep customers safe when shopping online.

Of the 2,000 online consumers surveyed, almost 1-in-4 (24%) have (or have a family member who has) been a victim of a fraudulent transaction online in the past. However, a significant percentage of those surveyed were not aware of basic security measures, such as regularly updating their passwords. Less than half (43%) said that they update their passwords every three to six months, while 6% of those surveyed were not aware they could do this. Similarly, just 69% use different passwords for different sites, and 5% of online consumers were unaware that this is a possibility.

"It is clear from our latest set of results that security really has become a crucial factor in the online customer journey for consumers,” said Derek Eccleston, commercial director at EDigitalResearch. “Onus from consumers is very much on retailers to invest in and improve their security measures for their online customers — more than two-thirds (67%) expect organizations to contact them immediately (within six hours) by email or phone if security had been breached and it leads to a potential loss of data."

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Loblaw Q2 results beat expectations

BY Vivian Gomez

BRAMPTON, Ontario — Despite a still-challenging economic climate, Loblaw’s profit in the second quarter beat analysts’ expectations, and was bolstered by strong sales in its recently acquired Shoppers Drug Mart.

Sales at the pharmacy and beauty retailer, which contributed to Loblaw’s net sales for the first time this quarter, accounted for more than a quarter of the food retailer’s total sales of C$10.31 billion in the quarter.

"The second quarter of 2014 marked the opening of the next chapter for Loblaw, combining the number one food retailer in Canada with the number one pharmacy and beauty retailer," said president and executive chairman Galen G. Weston. "For the balance of the year, we expect to continue to improve our competitive positioning, advance our businesses and realize material synergies related to the transaction."

Loblaw’s revenue for the quarter was C$10.31 billion, an increase of 37.1% compared to the prior-year quarter. Excluding Shoppers Drug Mart, revenue increased by 2.4% compared to last year’s quarter.

Retail sales growth was 37% compared to the prior-year quarter. Excluding Shoppers Drug Mart, retail sales growth was 1.6% and same-store sales growth was 1.8%. Retail same-store sales growth was positively affected by approximately 0.1% due to the shift in the timing of Easter.

Shoppers Drug Mart sales were $2.7 billion during the quarter. On a same-store basis, Shoppers Drug Mart sales increased 2.5% over last year’s second quarter. On a same-store basis, pharmacy sales increased 2.5% and front store sales increased 2.4% over the prior-year quarter.

The company realized net synergies of approximately $8 million in the quarter associated with the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart.

With the upgrade of its information technology infrastructure, the company expects to complete the conversion of its corporate grocery stores to a perpetual inventory management system in 2014. The implementation of a perpetual inventory system, combined with visibility to integrated costing information provided by the new IT systems enables the company to estimate the cost of inventory using a more precise system-generated average cost.

In the last 12 months, the company opened 22 corporate and franchise stores and closed 12 corporate and franchise stores, resulting in a net increase of 0.4 million sq. ft., or 0.8%. During the second quarter, Shoppers Drug Mart opened two new drugstores and closed five smaller pharmacy format stores.

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FDA approves GSK’s Flonase as an OTC treatment

BY Ryan Chavis

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — GlaxoSmithKline on Thursday announced that the Food and Drug Administration has approved Flonase Allergy Relief (fluticasone propionate 50 mcg spray), as an over-the-counter treatment for temporary relief of the symptoms of hay fever or upper respiratory allergies.

Around 50 million people in the United States suffer from nasal allergies, and in 2010, Americans with allergic rhintis spent approximately $17.5 billion on health-related costs, according to GSK. Additionally, they lost more than 6 million work and school days and made more than 16 million visits to the doctor.

“With the significant number of allergy sufferers in the United States and a considerable number of those unsatisfied with their current treatments, we believe the wide availability of Flonase Allergy Relief over the counter is great news for these individuals," said Colin Mackenzie, president of Consumer Healthcare North America at GSK. "GSK has a strong heritage — 40 years — in discovering and developing respiratory treatments used by patients worldwide.  We are proud of our track record of successful Rx-to-OTC switches, which over the years have significantly improved access to important medicines for our consumers.”

Flonase Allergy Relief will be available over-the-counter in early 2015.

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