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Walmart’s online ‘pay cash’ option helps deliver a tailored customer experience

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The news that Walmart now is offering cash payment options for online orders on its site in the United States is important for several reasons. Not only is Walmart the first major retailer to offer the service, but it also further illustrates that stores increasingly are just one slice of a larger, more connected consumer experience.

(THE NEWS: Walmart becomes first-ever retailer to launch online ‘pay with cash’ option. For the full story, click here)

As the article explained, a shopper places an order on Walmart.com and, during checkout, selects the "cash" option and a shipping preference. The customer receives an order number on the order confirmation page and an email receipt with the order number, and the item is then reserved in the system. The customer has 48 hours to take the printed order form to any cash register of any Walmart store or Neighborhood Market. Once cash payment is completed in the store and received, shipping then occurs via "Site to Store" or to a preferred address.

Pretty convenient, especially since Walmart said that most of its in-store transactions are paid in cash or cash equivalent, including debit cards.

The move is in line with the findings of the recent Deloitte study titled “The Next Evolution: Store 3.0,” which stated: “Retailers need to re-examine and reconfigure their talent, physical space and store operations to meet or exceed customer expectations. A strategy that aligns these dimensions and is enabled by the right technology solutions can help retailers deliver a tailored experience for their customers.”

While the study stressed that the retail store is not going away, it said that the store of the future, dubbed 3.0, is “an evolution, not a destination that draws on a retailer’s unique strategy and vision to chart a path for how to remain relevant in a constantly changing retail environment.”

Meanwhile, as further proof of the buzz around m.commerce is Kantar Media’s report of digital couponing events during first quarter 2012.

Kantar Media solution Marx found that key websites increased digital coupon events by 17.1%, compared with the year-ago period. The number of manufacturers distributing digital coupons on only retailer websites grew by 43.5% in the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2011, Kantar Media noted.

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NRF: FTC should move cautiously on mobile payments

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation on Thursday urged the Federal Trade Commission to move cautiously in establishing regulations for mobile payments and said any rules that are adopted should parallel those for the underlying form of payment and not be specific to the technology.

"Mobile technology and processes are just beginning to emerge and we won’t know which practices the public will like or what methods will provide new benefits until the technology begins to coalesce," NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. "The government should not impose regulations that would forestall yet-to-be-imagined advances and innovation in order to avoid potential ‘harm’ based largely on speculation."

According to Duncan, some of the best innovations on the Internet today might have been suspect a generation ago but today "are benefits few consumers would want to live without."

"Mobile might help retailers get to know their customers more like they knew their customers generations ago, and offer more personalized service," Duncan said, adding that federal officials need to address a number of issues including a definition of what constitutes a mobile payment.

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Albertsons LLC creates social and digital marketing team

BY Antoinette Alexander

BOISE, Idaho — Albertsons LLC is sharpening its focus on social media and digital marketing with the creation of a new social and digital marketing team that will be led by technology and social marketing expert Karl Meinhardt.

Meinhardt’s history in the technology side of grocery retail extends back to the first launch of Albertsons.com in 1998, where he was responsible for developing a first-ever Fortune 50 grocery e-commerce solution for Albertsons Inc. Meinhardt went on to found several startup companies in the foodservice and social gaming markets after leaving that role.
 
“As a founder of several start-up companies, Karl has a comprehensive understanding of information as a powerful source of service,” said Mike Massimino, Albertsons LLC’s VP center store. “Karl’s expertise of turning knowledge into a strategic advantage has assisted many organizations in their long term product and service goals, and his efforts to date with our social media endeavors have already established a firm foundation on which the rest of our social and digital marketing strategies will be built.”
 
The social and digital marketing team includes Jana Jeffery, digital community manager, with more than 18 years of experience as a marketing and technology professional for Fortune 100 companies and several emerging startups, and Elizabeth Perryman, digital content manager, who brings experience in public and media relations, having worked with companies throughout the Northwest. Combined, they bring 26 years of social, digital and marketing experience to the newly created team. They join Dan Mackay, director of web services, to form the company’s digital marketing team.
 
“Every company knows that they ‘should’ be using social channels to connect with customers, but only those with an acute understanding of their customer, and how to relate to and connect with those customers will be successful in engaging those customers in the social conversation,” Meinhardt said. “It’s an exciting segment of grocery retail marketing because the space is constantly evolving. Awareness, agility, and brand personality are the key factors of success in the ever-changing digital/social frontier. This team has the skill to deliver those and more.”

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