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E-cig manufacturer says never mind the vapors

BY CSA STAFF

With usage of electronic cigarettes on the rise, a new study by e-cig manufacturer Mistic contends the majority of Americans are not opposed to second hand vapor.

The study, conducted by Harris Interactive, show that 63% of those surveyed said they would not be bothered by someone using an electronic cigarette in close proximity. The survey also asked Americans whether they would approve or disapprove of e-cigarette use at certain public places that typically ban smoking of traditional tobacco cigarettes. Of the Americans who had an opinion one way or the other, the survey found that 58% of respondents approved of allowing e-cigs to be used at sporting events, followed by malls (47%), restaurants and bars (45%), in an office (35%), on public transportation (35%), in a movie theater (29%) or on an airplane (26%).

Putting aside the self-serving nature of the results contained in Mistic’s 2014 American E-Cigarette Etiquette Survey, the research is hitting a marketplace in a state of flux. Usage of electronics cigarettes is on the rise and creating new sales opportunities for retailers in a category projected to reach $10 billion in sales by 2017, according to Wells Fargo. Mistic’s products are currently available at 40,000 stores and the company has an interest in ensuring “vapers” don’t come under the same type of restrictions as traditional smokers. Meanwhile, traditional cigarette smoking is at its lowest level in a half century. Major chains such as Dollar General and Family Dollar added cigarettes to their product assortments last year while those with more of a health orientation, such as CVS, recently announced plans to discontinue cigarette sales later this year.

“The electronic cigarette industry is growing rapidly here and around the world, and we want to be the first U.S. company to measure American attitudes on vaping,” said survey spokesman John Wiesehan Jr., co-founder and CEO of E-cig manufacturer Mistic. “Because the e-cigarette is a relatively new consumer product, there are a lot of questions about government regulation and whether these devices should be allowed in certain places. This survey serves as an important first step in setting the benchmark for public opinion.”

Given that E-cigs look similar to traditional cigarettes, the immediate reaction among some proprietors has been to ban usage of the products.

“The fact is e-cigarettes don’t possess any of the negative attributes commonly associated with traditional tobacco,” Wiesehan said. “There is no smoke, only vapor, and they don’t smell, they don’t invade clothes or leave ash or stubs. More importantly, many of the negative side effects associated with smoking are minimized by switching to e-cigarettes.”

Those things may all be true, but there are still plenty of people who would rather not be in the vicinity of someone puffing nicotine laced vapor from an electronic cigarette while shopping, dining out, watching a movie or taking in a game.

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Digital measurement firm names new CEO

BY CSA STAFF

ComScore elevated president Serge Matta to the role of CEO as the digital measurement firm reported recorded fourth-quarter and full-year results.

Matta fills the position occupied by Dr. Magid Abraham who along with Gian Fulgoni co-founded the company. Abraham will relinquish the CEO role and serve as executive chairman of the board of directors, assuming a position currently held by Fulgoni who will become chairman emeritus.

"This announcement represents the culmination of a thoughtful, multi-year succession planning process, and the board is confident that this is the right time to elevate Serge to the CEO role," said Abraham said. "The company delivered strong results in 2013, and we continue to enter into powerful partnerships that we expect to drive long-term growth and profitability, many of them conceived and driven by Serge. He has clearly demonstrated the strategic thinking, leadership ability, execution skills and client relationship skills to allow comScore to capitalize on the many exciting and transformative opportunities ahead of us. At the same time, I am excited to focus my energy and passion on driving innovation and product leadership."

Matta said he looked forward to working with Abraham and Fulgoni in his new role to position the enhance comScore’s position as a leader in digital media analytics and deliver superior value for our customers and shareholders.

Matta joined comScore shortly after the firm was founded in 1999 and since June of last year he served as president. Previously, he served as president of commercial solutions and prior to that role he oversaw comScore’s global telecom and mobile practice as president of comScore Mobile Solutions. He started his comScore career in product management where he acquired an understanding of comScore products and technologies. Prior to joining comScore, he was part of MicroStrategy’s consulting group.

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Overcoming the Challenges of Omnichannel Alignment

BY CSA STAFF

By Branden Jenkins, General Manager Retail, NetSuite

A retailer’s inventory is typically its top expense, and managing the right range of merchandise across channels and locations is a delicate balancing act. That balancing act only becomes more difficult when faced with today’s consumers who shop across multiple channels and have little patience for retailers who cannot meet the challenges of managing inventory and delivering real-time visibility across those channels.

That’s why it is critical for retailers to become seamless organizations. However, delivering on the omni-channel experience requires a single, integrated platform that can provide global inventory visibility along with seamless order management and fulfillment processes. Nearly two decades after the emergence of e-commerce, truly integrated “bricks and clicks” businesses are the exception and not the norm.

Retailers need to quickly accommodate customers who cannot find the size, color, or variation they seek in stock at a particular location if they want to save the sale. Many retailers cannot even locate alternatives without pulling associates off the floor to manually call other locations and warehouses, never mind being able to quickly and efficiently locate the right product and have it shipped to the customer’s home, work, or preferred retail location. In fact, today’s savvy, data-driven consumers can often find the same product somewhere else more quickly using their smartphones than a retail associate can by conducting their own search.

Retailers do have resources at their disposal to fulfill the omni-channel promise by taking a more sophisticated approach to managing and fulfilling these orders. Heavily stocked locations are prime candidates for fulfilling out-of-store and online orders, reducing the risk of later markdowns. Accepting returns at any location, regardless of the purchase channel, also greatly enhances the omni-channel experience for customers and creates additional opportunity to strategically restock high volume locations as goods flow back into the organization.

The command to ship products from any location and accept returns anywhere cannot be built on the back of outdated, batch-processed inventory systems, however. Customer databases that fail to connect the dots between in-store buyers and online shoppers are equally inadequate. A single data source, connected across ecommerce, point of sale (POS) and mobile devices and capable of quick, real- time access, is key to the omni-channel revolution.

Omni-channel strategies are not solely driven by technology, however, and effective merchandising backed by analytical tools is still vitally important. Business rules that not only minimize markdowns, but also keep vital loss leaders or frequently bundled products on store shelves are crucial for the long-term success of an omni-channel strategy.

In many ways, this is just another variation on a familiar industry refrain: Overcome inventory challenges or die. Without a modern, real-time and technologically advanced omni-channel strategy, satisfying customers is all but impossible.


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