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eBay reports strong Q4 quarter; Carl Icahn looks to spin off PayPal

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — eBay posted a profit of $850 million, compared with earnings of $751 million a year ago, for its fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2013, while revenues rose 13% to $4.5 billion, fueled by strong mobile results. In reporting its results, the company also said it has received a proposal from activist investor Carl Icahn seeking to spin off PayPal as a separate company.

The company’s Marketplaces and PayPal units achieved record mobile results overall in 2013, each exceeding $20 billion in mobile volume. Mobile users represented 40% of eBay’s 36 million new users and accounts in 2013.

“We feel good about our performance and strong finish in the fourth quarter, with the holiday shopping season clearly showing how online, mobile and other omnichannel commerce capabilities are changing how consumers shop and pay,” said eBay CEO and president John Donahoe.

The company’s total mobile commerce volume grew 88%, with eBay reaching $22 billion and PayPal hitting $27 billion in 2013. And mobile added more than 14 million customers.

PayPal delivered a strong fourth-quarter performance with accelerating momentum in its merchant services business. Revenue increased 19% in the quarter. PayPal gained 5.2 million active registered accounts in the quarter and ended the year with 143 million, a 16% increase.

eBay said that activist investor Icahn has nominated two of his employees to its board of directors along with the non-binding proposal for a spinoff of its PayPal business into a separate company. The notice stated that companies controlled by Icahn had, earlier this month, acquired shares and derivative securities that give him an economic interest of approximately 0.82% in the company.

eBay’s board said it believes the company and its shareholders are best served by the current strategic direction of the company and does not believe that breaking up the company is the best way to maximize shareholder value. As part of eBay, the company stated in a press release, PayPal is able to leverage the company’s technology capabilities, commerce platforms and relationships with retailers, brands and large merchants worldwide. Payment is part of commerce, and as part of eBay, PayPal drives commerce innovation in payments at global scale, creating value for consumers, merchants and shareholders, the company said.

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Wawa expands APT relationship to optimize merchandising strategy

BY Staff Writer

New York — Convenience-store operator Wawa will license Applied Predictive Technologies’ (APT) merchandise optimization software, adding to Wawa’s current long term licenses for APT’s Test & Learn management system and Market Basket Analyzer. Wawa will leverage the merchandise optimization solution to maximize profitability of space and merchandise assortment plans, assess the impact of each merchandising change, and fine-tune merchandising strategy across more than 600 locations.

“Licensing APT’s Merchandise Optimization has enabled us to drive significant margin increases by reallocating our space in numerous categories, and to rapidly transition from analysis into implementation,” said David Prevost, director of space planning & merchandising at Wawa. “By rolling out the optimal merchandising strategy on a store-by-store basis, we are able to capture significant additional value across our network.”

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CVS’s digital strategy pays off

BY CSA STAFF

Mobile is changing the way in which customers manage their drug store needs whether it be filling a prescription, accessing health resources or buying products, and CVS is aiming to take the lead in today’s digital space with a slew of innovative offerings that are yielding some significant results.

“As a pharmacy innovation company, we are committed to empowering our customers on their path to better health and have put in place an integrated digital strategy to help us serve those customers even better, across all channels and touch points. Delivering a superior mobile experience for CVS is a key part of that strategy, since we know our customers are digitally savvy,” said Brian Tilzer, SVP and chief digital officer, CVS Caremark.

In the last year, traffic on the CVS mobile site and app increased 250%, as consumers increasingly embrace digital and the company continues to enhance its mobile suite to serve as an extension to its bricks-and-mortar stores.

“Our own data shows steady increases in the number of customers turning to digital tools. Traffic to CVS.com increased 75% from 2012 to 2013,” added Tilzer. “Last year, there were more than a million customers each month that visited CVS.com from a tablet, and that number continues to grow, particularly on mobile devices and tablets. In fact, we saw a large number of our customers transition to mobile this past year; the proportion of our overall traffic originating from mobile devices jumped from 30% in 2012 to more than 50% in 2013.”

Clearly, the increase demonstrates how customers have come to use mobile as an effective way to manage their pharmacy retail needs whether it be filling prescriptions (37% of digital refills are mobile), accessing health resources or performing shopping-related tasks such as buying products and managing their ExtraCare coupons and rewards.

Throughout 2013, the pharmacy retailer worked to enhance and expand its mobile and digital offerings. Among its newest introductions, noted by Tilzer:

  • The new Family Vitamin Center. This new health hub on CVS.com is designed to help take the confusion out of the vitamin aisle and features an interactive questionnaire and guidance tools that provide personalized supplement recommendations identifying which options are best suited to address personal wellness goals or health conditions.
  • A Drug Information Center designed to empower users by offering detailed information on prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins and supplements.
  • An iPad app designed as a 3-D rendering of the store for intuitive navigation. It has such pharmacy features as voice-activated prescription management and an ExtraCare section that lets shoppers browse available coupons and rewards and digitally send them to their ExtraCare cards with the swipe of a finger.
  • A mobile Drug Interaction Checker that was integrated into its mobile retail app. With the app, customers can manage, refill and view prescriptions, redeem savings and rewards, shop, upload photos and more.

Looking ahead, the pharmacy retailer will continue to focus on its digital strategy to deliver a differentiated customer experience.

“In 2014, mobile remains an important part of our digital strategy and we will continue to focus heavily on retail and pharmacy capabilities as well as integration across the enterprise, making it easier for our customers to engage with at any moment and most importantly to help our shoppers lead healthier lives,” Tilzer said.

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