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Mobile Search Service

BY CSA STAFF

Lifestyle apparel retailer Metropark is reaching out to consumers in a digital way. The retailer has teamed up with NearbyNow to offer a service that allows shoppers to search for products and check inventory from the Internet, or during their shopping trips via their mobile phones.

“Shoppers call our service ‘Google for malls’ because they can search every brand, product and sale at the center. They also can check inventory and reserve products to pick up. Once in the mall, we use mobile phones to direct shoppers to retailers,” said Scott Dunlop, CEO, NearbyNow, Los Altos, Calif.

To date, some 200 malls nationwide have gone live with NearbyNow. All retailers in a participating mall are given a free listing in the online directory. But retailers who choose to sign on, such as Metropark, are charged a fee to receive a premium listing which lets customers call up images of products and also provides more detailed information. Participating retailers can also choose to send promotional messages and advertisements to mall shoppers via their mobile phones.

To activate the service while at a mall, customers enter a mall-specific code (such as “VF” for Westfield Valley Fair) to the code NEARBY. To alert shoppers to the service, participating malls display informational signage, which includes the texting code, on the mall directory and in other key areas.

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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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