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BY CSA STAFF

SOCIAL NETWORKING: Facebook introduced a new shopping service that allows users of the social-networking site to share personal purchase information—from product reviews to discounts—with their friends. Facebook plans to track the online shopping behavior of its members and allow marketers access to the accumulated data.…Loop’d Network, a social-media platform exclusively for online sports communities, launched a new online social community for Pacific Sunwear of California. On Loop’d Network, www.pacsunteam.com will offer sponsorship opportunities to amateur surfers, skaters and snowboarders, and provide a forum for them to interact with other athletes, fans and enthusiasts.

MORE WEB 2.0: Brookstone is developing an online 3-D representation of one of its 300 stores. The virtual store closely resembles what one might see in the Second Life simulated world and allows users to move freely through an animated space. When shoppers pause in front of a product in the 3D store, an item description appears, along with a link to a checkout page. The link brings customers to a checkout page on Amazon.com, which is a marketing partner of Brookstone. … Best Buy introduced a subscription-based online video-sharing service that allows customers to upload, store and share home movies, videos and blogs online. The Best Buy Video Sharing solution was created in partnership with U.K.-based Mydeo, which provides streaming-video hosting for home and business users. Best Buy will take a minority stake in Mydeo, but terms were undisclosed. Plans start at $6.97 for 100 minutes of video hosting and video lengths up to 30 minutes each.

INDUSTRY CHATTER: Days before the launch of its first U.S. store, Tesco opened the doors of the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market chain on the Internet. The U.K.-based grocer provides a tour of its first U.S. store in a video posted on www.freshandeasy.com/blog.

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CompUSA may get a new look

BY CSA STAFF

ADDISON, Tx. After opening a new format store last month, CompUSA may be changing the format of its other stores, depending on customer demand and product interest.

According to reports, the elements found in the prototype store, located in Texas, will be incorporated into other CompUSA locations across the United States.

The nearly 7,700 square-ft. relocation site includes an Apple shop featuring Mac computers, iPods and Apple accessories, and a full-length LCD TV wall.

Additional expansions include extended gaming, which includes an entire wall devoted to the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 gaming platforms, plus a PC gaming setup to test equipment and play new titles.

While businesses can get their share of support with a specialized services section, all consumers can visit the store’s redesigned IT support area.

“This new store aligns CompUSA’s vision to better serve its three core customers, the technology enthusiast, educated professional and small and medium businesses,” said Gabriela Villalobos, the retailer’s sales and operations evp.

CompUSA announced in April that it would narrow its focus to three core customer groups rather than try to serve a mass audience.

The move was part of a comprehensive restructuring, initiated last February, that included an overhaul of senior management and the closure of half its store base as the privately held chain looked to improve sales and profitability.

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Walgreens withdraws from CVS provider plans

BY CSA STAFF

DEERFIELD, Ill. After many months of talks over low and below-market payment rates by CVS Caremark for four prescription plans, Walgreens has withdrawn as a pharmacy provider from the plans.

Patients affected include members of prescription benefit plans managed by CVS Caremark for ArcelorMittal, Johnson Controls, Progressive Casualty Insurance and Wisconsin Education Association Trust.

Most of the affected members live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Trent Taylor, president of Walgreens Health Services, the managed care division of Walgreens, released the following statement:

“This is not where we wanted negotiations to lead,” he said. “We’re sorry that our pharmacy patients and CVS Caremark’s clients are caught in the middle, and we’ll do all we can to ensure a smooth transition for our patients to another pharmacy. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work on resolving this issue with CVS Caremark.

“Leaving a benefits plan is an extraordinary step for us, but it demonstrates how extraordinarily low our payments were from CVS Caremark. We can’t continue accepting reimbursement rates that are drastically below market, while offering patients needed special services such as 24-hour pharmacy access and drive-thru pharmacies.”

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