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Walmart, SymphonyIRI to introduce Customer Advantage platform

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO — Just days after announcing a cooperation agreement with Nielsen, Walmart has entered a new relationship with SymphonyIRI Group, through which the two will develop a solution that supports the retailer’s customer-centric initiatives.

Walmart and SymphonyIRI Group said their next-generation, Web-based shopper insights and collaborative planning platform — called Customer Advantage — will deliver unique, custom, Walmart-focused shopper insights, while supporting Walmart’s collaborative planning process by providing a dedicated shopper insights portal of user-friendly, customizable reports shared between Walmart and its supplier partners, SymphonyIRI said.

The solution, which contains many custom features, is designed to enable manufacturers to better understand the evolving needs of Walmart’s customers and allow the retailer and its supplier partners to share the same custom knowledge.

“The Customer Advantage solution identifies and sizes opportunities among shopper segments, trips and categories that will better enable Walmart and its supplier partners to grow their businesses through a deeper understanding of our customers,” Walmart EVP global customer insights Cindy Davis said.

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Walgreens positions itself as ‘healthcare oasis’ by combating food deserts

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — While Walgreens is not alone in its pledge to serve up food oasis stores across urban deserts peppered by supersize-me fast food joints and convenience stores, the Chicago-based chain certainly has made the greatest commitment. In addition, Walgreens is serving up some pretty extensive access to health care along with their focus on “fresh.”

(THE NEWS: Walgreens signs on to develop more food oasis stores. For the full story, click here)

Fielding “fresh” at the local pharmacy may be the drug channel pursuit-du-jour, but there is more here than simply selling more food in more drug stores. It’s about tackling obesity. It’s about addressing diabetes. It’s about educating people on ways to eat heart healthier. It is, in essence, about a healthier community.

“Make no mistake about it — this is a really big deal,” First Lady Michelle Obama said during the press conference commending the multitude of retailers who have so far made a commitment to build and grow healthy food offerings across the poorer inner-city neighborhoods. “The commitments we’re announcing [today] have the potential to be a game-changer for kids and communities all across this country,” she said.

Walgreens certainly recognizes that game-changing potential with its 1,000-food oasis pledge. Beyond familiarity with optimizing the front-end sales floor of a smaller footprint, Walgreens has an additional edge over its corporate retail counterparts — Take Care Health practitioners and pharmacists who aren’t hidden behind sand dunes of value deals or supermarket aisles. Walgreens represents greater access to healthcare beyond fresh fruits and just-picked vegetables. That’s why drug stores, not just Walgreens, can win with “fresh.” Because if they do it right and leverage the pharmacy, the pharmacy becomes more than that place where you “pick up your pills.” It becomes a total wellness destination; or in other words, a “healthcare oasis.”

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Whole Foods launches charity to help kids get healthy food

BY DSN STAFF

AUSTIN — Whole Foods Market announced that it has launched the Whole Kids Foundation, a charitable organization that will provide children with access to healthy food choices through partnerships with schools, educators and organizations.

According to Whole Foods. Whole Kids’ first initiative will be the Whole Kids Garden Grant Project, a program that will enable schools to help build children’s relationships with food through the power of gardening. All schools and garden-related nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply this fall for grants to support the implementation or expansion of on-campus teaching gardens.

"We are excited to formalize our commitment to improving childhood nutrition and wellness through our new foundation," said Walter Robb, Whole Foods Market co-CEO and Whole Kids Foundation board chairman. "By collaborating with schools and parents, we believe we can increase fruit and vegetable consumption both at schools and at home, and [can] make a significant contribution in the fight against childhood obesity."

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