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Report: Glitch eliminates food stamp limits in La. Wal-Mart stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – A computer glitch reportedly eliminated limits on the debit card limits of food stamp recipients in some Wal-Mart stores in northern Louisiana on Oct. 12. According to Reuters, managers of Wal-Mart stores in Springhill, and Mansfield, La., called local police when large numbers of shoppers began coming in and purchasing huge volumes of products on electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards that had no credit limit.

The glitch resulted from a power outage at Xerox, which operates EBT processing systems under contract from the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. Spokespeople for Wal-Mart and Louisiana state officials told Reuters that Xerox is responsible for the incident, while Xerox said it has a documented process for retailers to follow in the event of an EBT outage.

Although Wal-Mart had the right to stop accepting EBT payments until the problem was fixed, store managers who called corporate headquarters were reportedly told to keep accepting them. Other area grocery stores reportedly stopped accepting EBT payments during the glitch. Shoppers who used their EBT cards beyond normal credit limits did not break any laws and it is currently unclear how much extra money was spent or whether Wal-Mart, Xerox or both will cover the cost.

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Duane Reade launches Facebook photo contest for Halloween

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Duane Reade is running a three week, omnichannel social media marketing campaign to raise awareness of Duane Reade brand hosiery products. The "Boo-tiful Legs" Halloween contest calls for entrants to upload their original photos wearing Duane Reade brand hosiery with their Halloween costume, via a Duane Reade Facebook page FanGate, through Nov. 3.

Initiatives to create and foster interest along with engagement in the contest are integrated, using multiple digital marketing platforms, including incorporating participation from costume designer Mandi Line, via the contest hashtag #DRLegCandy content aggregation. The content will be prominent on the Duane Reade website, QR code mobile landing page, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest channels; path-to-purchase posts and syndication by Duane Reade VIP bloggers; the publishing of photos submitted by entrants via the campaign hashtag #DRLegCandy; in-store signage, in-store radio announcements and POS flyers in all Duane Reade locations.

The general public and "Boo-tiful-Leg" contestants will be able to join the #DRLegCandy Twitter Party on Oct. 16. Participants will engage in conversation around costumes and have a chance to win up to $500 in Visa prizes. A t the end of the three-week contest, users will select entrants by "liking" those photos. Voting will commence on Nov. 4, and end Nov. 8.

"The ‘Boo-tiful Legs’ Facebook campaign allows our customers to engage in a seamless journey, incorporating Halloween shopping ideation and their ultimate costume experience; all while connecting with Duane Reade on strategic digital, social media and in-store platforms in a relevant and fun way," said Calvin Peters, PR & digital communications manager of Duane Reade.

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Survey results show shopper frustration with self-service checkouts

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bay Shore, N.Y. – One-in-three shoppers have walked out of a store without buying the goods they intended to because of a bad experience with a self-service checkout, according to a new survey from queue management company Tensator. With 84% of respondents admitting to needing staff assistance when using a self-service, nearly 60% of customers actually prefer using more traditional staffed checkouts, the company said.

Other survey findings include:

  • Over 40% of respondents cited technical glitches as the most annoying aspect of self-service checkout.
  • More than half of the shoppers questioned believe that the transaction time at self-service tills is actually slower than manned checkouts.
  • Over 50% of consumers complained that they weren’t sure where the queue started at self-service payment points.

“This research makes very interesting reading against the backdrop of growing online retail sales, where queuing and the checkout experience is so different,” said Cathy Barnes, professor of retail innovation at Leeds Metropolitan University. “Shops need to pay increasing attention to the experience they provide in store to ensure they do not drive consumers away to competitors or other channels. The results show that there is significant dissatisfaction with both queuing and current self-service till systems and there is a real opportunity for innovation in this area.”

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