MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

New app delivers instant mobile e-gift cards

BY Dan Berthiaume

Laguna Beach, Calif. – The new Wonder e-gift card app from Wonder Technologies Inc. is available free in the iTunes App store. Wonder allows consumers to instantly deliver e-gifts from participating retailers to anyone with an email address or mobile phone number.

The user links the app to a credit card via the app itself or Wonder website, and can select an amount and also include a personalized message. The recipient can accept the gift and send a thank you note immediately from their smartphone or computer. The Wonder e-gift card never expires. Once accepted, the recipient can redeem the gift when they want. Balances are visible on the app, and GPS reminders tell recipients when they are nearby the merchant for redemption.

Other features include the ability to browse a friend’s favorites, select from curated picks, and group gifting. The cards are securely stored in the cloud. Wonder can redeem e-gifts using existing payment systems, enabling retailers of all sizes to participate and have access to advanced market data. Wonder targets brick-and-mortar businesses in the restaurant, health & beauty, activity & events, shopping, and hospitality categories

“Wonder connects gift card buyers and recipients in a more thoughtful and meaningful way and offers the best redemption experience by simply swiping your credit card,” said Gerry Goldstein, CEO and co-founder of Wonder Technologies. “Only with Wonder can consumers conveniently give e-gift cards from any merchant in the U.S., whether it’s a favorite local boutique or a national brand.”

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REAL ESTATE

Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets plans 60 stores in five years

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets, a new specialty grocer format featuring value-priced healthy and organic offerings, announced Wednesday that it plans to open over 60 stores and create approximately 5,000 new jobs throughout the Midwest over the next five years. The company’s first store will open in Mt. Prospect, Ill., this spring, followed by eight more grand openings, spread out between Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, throughout the remainder of this year. The retailer will enter Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota in 2015.

"Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets will be a completely new grocery format for the Midwest," stated Chris Sherrell, president and CEO, Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets, and formerly CEO of Sunflower Farmers Market. "We’ve taken the experience of an outdoor farmers market and combined it with the convenience of a full-service grocery store. Shoppers will enjoy value priced natural and organic items throughout our store, making healthy food more attainable to the masses."

The heart of Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets’ 28,000-sq.-ft. stores will be produce, including locally sourced and organic fruits and vegetables. Additional features will include some 400 bins of natural and organic bulk items and small batch locally roasted premium coffee beans, a butcher shop featuring all-natural handmade sausage made daily in store, offering over a dozen varieties, and a Hops & Grapes department with an expansive selection of wine and local craft beers. Stores will carry more than 7,000 varieties of vitamins, supplements and natural body care products

For a complete list of the company’s store rollout, go to http://www.freshthyme.com/our-stores

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News

Costco in U.K. teams up with Hertz in van share

BY CSA STAFF

The Hertz Corp. and Costco in the U.K. have teamed up to bring short-term Hertz 24/7 van rental to Costco’s members.

The self-drive service operates at all 25 Costco warehouses in the U.K. Costco’s members can hire a van from the warehouse car parks to drive their purchased items home immediately.

"We have been growing our global van rental offering through Hertz 24/7 for over five years. Our Hertz 24/7 service enables Costco to provide its members with an attractive and efficient van delivery service. Hertz takes care of providing and maintaining the fleet and handling all customer transactions while Costco’s members can enjoy the convenience of taking their purchases home straightaway, rather than waiting for the goods to be delivered in the future,” stated Michel Taride, group president of Hertz International.

"Our agreement with Hertz 24/7 is another example of our dedication to improving member service, ensuring members can transport their purchases conveniently and at a low price. Given Hertz’s 24/7’s customer support network, combined with its solid reputation for reliability and experience of operating a large and strong van fleet across the U.K., I am confident that this agreement will further enhance the Costco member experience," added Sue Knowles, Costco’s marketing director.

Hertz 24/7 has also partnered with Ikea in the U.K. to offer customers access to van hire. Hertz 24/7 self-drive van hire is also available to customers of B&Q in the UK; Ikea, Castorama and the Casino supermarket chain in France; the DIY store Leroy Merlin and a number of Ikea stores in Spain; and Lowes DIY store in the United States.

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