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Walgreens takes its circular digital with enhanced deals for multichannel consumer

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Friday announced it will publish a digital edition of its weekly advertising circular that will offer additional items through Walgreens.com and the company’s mobile applications.

The Sunday circular — read by more than 50 million consumers, according to Walgreens — also will get a new look and feel, designed to improve the shopping experience.

“This is the most dramatic refresh we’ve made to the weekly ad in more than two decades, delivering added value for our growing numbers of online and mobile customers, as well as a better experience for those who look forward to seeing it in print,” stated Joe Magnacca, Walgreens president of daily living products and solutions. “We’re giving people more convenient ways to shop and save, and this complements our multi-channel strategy by finding new and different ways to cater to today’s consumers.”

A recent Nielsen study found that more than 70% of shoppers expressed a desire for basic digital delivery of advertising inserts in the future. As traffic to Walgreens.com continues to grow, online views of the circular alone have increased more than 50% year over year, Walgreens reported.

“We know that for approximately half of the visitors to Walgreens.com, their next action is to go to one of our stores to shop,” Magnacca said.  “For our loyal customers who don’t use computers or the Internet, all of the items we feature online each week will also be specially-marked in our stores.”

The new design includes coupons grouped together by category on easy-to-find pages as well as sale items featured more prominently throughout. Walgreens has also added “QR codes,” enabling mobile users to quickly view more deals directly from a smartphone. Customers also can visit category-specific Walgreens websites highlighted in the ad or find additional bonus buys inside stores.

The online and mobile circular features hundreds of additional in-store offers, online exclusive pages and other “bonus buys.”  Online ads also allow for social sharing via Twitter and Facebook and the ability to create advanced shopping lists, among other features. Those who sign up to receive the weekly ad via email will receive it as a sneak peek, delivered on Fridays. Signup is available online at Walgreens.com/sneakpeek or in stores. Those who register will receive a $5 coupon, Walgreens said.
 
To view the new weekly ad, visit Walgreens.com/weeklyad.

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Fresh & Easy slated to open Sacramento stores

BY Allison Cerra

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Fresh & Easy is continuing to expand its reach by opening five stores in California’s capital.

The supermarket retailer made its foray into Northern California last year and now has more than 180 stores.

"We are absolutely thrilled to open our first stores in Sacramento," Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason said. "No one works harder to bring customers the freshest, best-tasting, and most affordable food than Fresh & Easy."

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2012 not looking good for consumer spending

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

NEW YORK — The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index continued on a downward trend in January, and consumer spending will face additional economic headwinds in 2012, according to Deloitte. The index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending.

"A sharp fall in real home prices primarily contributed to the decline in the Index," said Carl Steidtmann, Deloitte’s chief economist and author of the monthly index. "While initial unemployment claims ticked lower, real wages and the tax burden showed no improvement leaving little to offset the housing market’s negative effect on the Index."

Deloitte’s analysis of U.S. Commerce Department data indicates that the weakness across economic fundamentals over the past several months may continue and further crimp consumer spending in 2012.

Real incomes declined on a year-over-year basis for the fifth month in a row. While a social security tax cut boosted incomes in January 2011, incomes are set to continue falling without an additional cut this year.

New and existing home sales remain weak, and prices continue to decelerate. Current government proposals to improve the situation, even if approved, will take time to develop, implement and affect the housing market.

Tax increases at the state and local level are raising the overall level of taxation and reducing consumer purchasing power.

The index, which comprises four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — fell to 1.73 from a revised reading of 1.90 the previous month.

"The likelihood that consumer spending power will be further stretched this year puts a brighter spotlight on one area of retail — pricing," said Alison Paul, vice chairman and Deloitte’s retail & distribution sector leader. "While consumers may be price conscious, retailers need to pursue strategies that drive profitability, not just traffic and sales volume, while also taking into account broader economic events that affect their entire operation.”

A cross-functional approach that includes technology, store operations, inventory management, merchandising and marketing, said Paul, is necessary to develop an effective pricing strategy for a retailer’s multiple sales channels.

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