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Survey: Showrooming may not be driving as many consumers to Amazon as everyone thinks

BY Michael Johnsen

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In a survey of more than 6,200 consumers collected during the peak holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Amazon scored highest among 25 of the top mobile commerce companies in terms of customer satisfaction, according to a report released Tuesday by ForeSee. 

"The mobile platform is maturing much faster than the PC platform. We see it in the rate of consumer adoption, and fortunately we are seeing it in how well the top retailers are adapting to multichannel consumers who are embracing yet another powerful tool," stated Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. "But retailers shouldn’t get too comfortable because change is just about the only thing you can count on. Consumers expect retailers to provide a consistent and seamless experience, regardless of the channel."

The study also investigated the role and impact of mobile on "showrooming" — the practice of examining merchandise in a traditional brick-and-mortar retail store only to shop online for the same item, often at a lower price. The results are surprising, Freed noted. While nearly 70% of survey respondents reported using a mobile phone while in a retail store during the 2012 holiday season, most of those consumers (62%) accessed that store’s site or app. But the competitive threat of showrooming still exists, as 37% reported accessing a competitor’s site or app.

"Customers are using their mobile phones as integrated parts of their shopping experience," noted Eric Feinberg, senior director mobile at ForeSee. "Mobile is the ultimate companion channel, making showrooming as much of an opportunity as it is a threat. Retailers need to engage their customers equally well through all channels, especially through mobile sites and apps, or risk losing customers and sales to competitors that do a better job of meeting their needs."

Overall, the report — titled the "ForeSee Mobile Satisfaction Index: Holiday Retail Edition" — found that consumer satisfaction with the mobile retail experience is improving, as the index climbed two points since last holiday season to 78 on a 100-point scale.

Amazon tops the list at 85, with Apple (83), and QVC (83) close behind. Rounding out the top five are NewEgg (80) and Victoria’s Secret (80). The retailers with the biggest improvements over time include Target (+5), Victoria’s Secret (+5) and Barnes & Noble (+4).

Other key findings included that at the aggregate level, customers rate their traditional Web experiences (79) very similarly to their mobile experiences (78). But at the individual company level, satisfaction varies between retailers’ websites and mobile sites. And while only 6% reported visiting the company’s website, mobile site or app via mobile phone as their first step while shopping, they are a very satisfied group (80).

  

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I.D. Systems upgrades vehicle management system at Walgreens

BY Michael Johnsen

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — I.D. Systems on Tuesday announced that Walgreens will be implementing I.D. Systems’ PowerFleet wireless Vehicle Management System to help secure, track and manage high-value enterprise assets. 

"Walgreens is a longtime customer that has established our wireless VMS technology as a best practice for safety, cost reduction and productivity optimization," stated Ken Ehrman, I.D. Systems’ president. "We are particularly excited about introducing Walgreens to our new analytics platform, which is designed to improve the speed and quality of business decisions and shed light on the outcomes of those decisions."

The new system will be deployed on hundreds of material-handling vehicles across multiple distribution centers in the United States. Walgreens originally implemented I.D. Systems’ wireless technology in 2003 and is systematically upgrading more than a dozen of its facilities to the current generation of PowerFleet VMS.

Included in the upgrade is implementation of I.D. Systems’ new analytics software — a set of software tools that gives executives and facility managers a single, integrated view of asset activity across multiple locations. Walgreens management expects that I.D. Systems Analytics will enable deeper insights into — and help optimize — industrial vehicle performance across its distribution network, the company stated. 

 

 

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Parsing FDA’s new Rx-to-OTC switch initiative

BY Jim Frederick

Heads up practicing and soon-to-be-licensed pharmacists! More than ever, the Food and Drug Administration will soon need more of your help.

The FDA is now mulling a vastly accelerated campaign to shift a slew of prescription medications like statins to over-the-counter status. If the initiative succeeds, it could spawn an explosion of Rx-to-OTC switches affecting a broad range of prescription products generating an estimated $35 billion or more in annual sales, as well as giving patients, government health agencies and health plan sponsors one more reason to turn to pharmacists for their expertise and patient access.

That’s according to a newly released study from Francesco International looking at the new Rx-to-OTC switch paradigm under consideration by the FDA. In a Feb. 8 report, Drug Store News cites the Francesco study’s prediction of a potential boom in OTC sales that could result if the agency’s plan to push many prescription drugs into non-Rx, widely-available status, goes through.

More importantly, according to the report, the FDA “has been looking at ways technology and pharmacists could be employed to ensure that patients taking drugs new to the consumer health space take them appropriately.”

Besides statins, the agency’s accelerated switch pathway could also put some meds for conditions like hypertension, COPD and benign prostate hyperplasia within easy reach of Americans, according to the Francesco report. Citing the study, DSN senior editor Michael Johnsen observes, “Enabling access to OTCs through technology or consults with retail pharmacists and clinicians could bring prescription-only medicines like statins into the mass market.” Other potential switch candidates identified by Francesco in the report include medicines for hypertension, benign prostate hyperplasia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and erectile dysfunction.

Pharmacists already do a lot to counsel patients on OTC medicines. What impact do you think OTC status for some of these prescription-only drug classes would have on patients and your own practice?

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