Amazon’s new acquisition becomes data breach target
Cyber-thieves have found their way into Whole Foods Markets’ payment network.
The natural foods grocer, which Amazon purchased for $13.7 billion in August, learned that payment card information processed at certain venues within some of its stores, such as taprooms and full table-service restaurants, has been breached. These venues use a different point-of-sale system than the company’s primary checkout systems.
The transactions seem to be contained among these Whole Foods’ entry points, as payment cards processed at the primary store checkout systems were not affected. Since parent company Amazon’s systems do not connect to those at Whole Foods, Amazon transactions also have not been impacted, the grocer reported.
“This is still noteworthy however, because it might be the first big ’traditional brick-and-mortar’ cyber-challenge that Amazon will need to overcome following its acquisition of Whole Foods,” Paul Martini, CEO of iboss told Chain Store Age.
Upon learning about the incident, the grocer launched an investigation. In addition to contacting law enforcement, Whole Foods is working with a leading cyber security forensics firm, and taking appropriate measures to address the issue.
The company’s investigation is ongoing, and it will provide additional updates as it learns more, Whole Foods said.
While most Whole Foods stores do not have these taprooms and restaurants, the grocer encourages its customers to closely monitor their payment card statements and report any unauthorized charges to their issuing bank.
“Retail chains are high-priority targets because not only do they give cyber-criminals easy access to financial information, but their networks are also are very distributed — with multiple locations, offices and often various different point of sale systems. This means attackers have multiple entry points to choose from,” Martini said. “Distributed networks like retail stores have very unique challenges, and you’re going to continue to see breaches like this unless the big chains get serious about preventing attacks.”
Study: Cash is still king for U.S. consumers
Despite the rise of electronic, mobile and contactless payments, physical currency remains a favored choice for consumers in the United States.
This was according to “In Cash Consumers Trust. But How Do Retailers Make it Pay?,” a report from cash technology solutions provider Glory. The study is based on responses from 1,500 consumers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
According to the study, 48% of consumers still use cash on a daily basis. Those aged between 16 and 44 are more likely to use cash on a frequent basis than older demographics aged over 45 (45% vs 42%, respectively).
Currently, 84% of U.S. consumers still like the option to pay by cash. And 63% feel it is the most secure way to pay — a factor that underlines the ongoing dominance of this payment method.
When it comes to new ways to pay, 61% of Americans trust cash more than mobile payments, and 55% favor it over payment cards.
Convenience also plays a key role in consumers’ choice of payments. For example, 87% of shoppers want the option to pay with cash in all transactions. This is backed up by the fact that 64% of consumers use cash the same amount or more than they did a year ago.
In terms of counterfeiting, less than half (44%) of those surveyed check to ensure their dollar bills and coins aren’t fake, while 46% would prefer to use cash in self-checkout locations. This suggests there is room for improvement in terms of cash management in retail environments to both identify cash correctly and also successfully automate unmanned environments which use physical money, according to the study.
“The role of cash as a trusted payment method continues to impact consumers’ choices when it comes to ways to pay,” said Joe Gnorski, Americas marketing VP at Glory. “While cash clearly has a strong place in shoppers’ hearts – and wallets – and will have for many years to come, it is still being handled inefficiently and insecurely within many retail environments.”
According to the study, having a choice between electronic or cash payment options is important to most consumers. This factor is forcing retailers “to invest more time and resources into making cash management work profitably for their organization, including enhancing the customer experience when it comes to cash transactions and using process improvements and modern technology to eliminate cash handling inefficiencies and errors,” Gnorski concluded.
Discount giant steps up hurricane relief efforts — again
Walmart is allocating more funds to hurricane relief.
The discount giant announced that it will donate another $5 million in support of Hurricane Maria relief. This is in addition to its previous commitment of $35 million in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The new funds will support organizations helping with local relief efforts in Puerto Rico. In addition, Walmart is championing its own programs to aid victims — including effected associates — on the island. For example, with a network of 45 retail facilities in Puerto Rico, including two distribution centers and a satellite headquarters, Walmart is providing associates disaster assistance along with their regular paychecks.
The retailer is also centralizing efforts through Walmart Emergency Operations Centers (EOC). In addition to operating 24 hours a day tracking storm impacts and supporting associates’ needs and well-being, the EOCs also facilitate store recovery, and support community relief efforts on the island.
Besides interacting with FEMA, the American Red Cross, and other partners, Walmart has also sent communications specialists, electricians and other skilled support teams to Puerto Rico to help stores and club locations recover quickly. These efforts have helped re-open approximately 20 stores and five club locations, along with nearly a dozen pharmacies, according to Walmart.
In addition, the discounter plans to continue opening facilities under limited hours and metered access, a move that will control lines and deliver more security for customers. To ensure these locations are well-stocked, Walmart is using corporate jets to deliver emergency insulin, while ships transporting other critical freight departed Florida earlier this week.
To date, hundreds of loads of water, emergency supplies and other needed resources, like generators, have been delivered over the last several days. More supplies will be sent before the end of this week, the company said.
Merchandise is being sent to both open stores and those that are able to accept deliveries safely.
“Our associates and friends in Puerto Rico are in significant need,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Walmart Stores, Inc. “We want to do all we can to help, not only with immediate hurricane assistance, but in the long term, knowing that there are many challenging days of recovery and rebuilding ahead.”