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Report: Rite Aid ordered to pay $800,000 settlement

BY Staff Writer

New York — A San Diego judge ordered Rite Aid Corp. and its California subsidiary Thrifty PayLess Inc. to pay $800,000 to settle a complaint alleging false advertising, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors claimed Rite Aid led consumers to believe they would pay less for items bought using the company’s Wellness Card, the report said. However, they were given a coupon and told it was for a future purchase that would expire and was subject to other restrictions.

According to the prosecutors, the stores also refused to redeem gift cards with a balance of less than $10 for cash, as required by California law.

Rite Aid said in a statement it will remedy the situation.

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Giant Eagle promises to keep same prices through holidays

BY CSA STAFF

PITTSBURGH — Giant Eagle is looking to ease the fears of consumers concerned about risig food costs by promising not to raise prices on hundreds of items through the holidays.

"Increases in commodity costs for corn, wheat and soybeans continue to contribute to rising food prices, and are compounded by additional factors such as fluctuating energy costs and drought," said Giant Eagle SVP marketing Lisa Henriksen. "Our Low Price Lock program will help Giant Eagle customers manage through this uncertainty during the holiday season, and make it easier to plan gatherings and budget-friendly meals with prices on many popular everyday and seasonal items locked, or in some cases reduced. Our Low Price Lock is yet another way for consumers to save by shopping at Giant Eagle."

The Low Price Lock item list includes a combination of national brands such as Heinz, Jif and Pillsbury alongside Giant Eagle brand products from many store departments including meat, produce, deli, dairy, grocery, seafood, bakery, frozen and prepared foods, and health and beauty items. Even prices on flu shots and a popular cell phone have been locked, through Jan. 2, 2013.

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And the most passionate presenter award goes to…

BY CSA STAFF

Neil Ashe, president and CEO of global e-commerce was clearly the most excitable person on stage Wednesday at Walmart’s 19th annual analysts’ meeting. And for good reason.

Walmart created its global e-commerce group two years ago and Ashe joined the company back in January. Wednesday was his first opportunity to participate in the company’s annual analysts’ meeting and he made the most of it, slipping in a first ever reference to Walmart’s online revenues that now total $9 billion.

Ashe appeared giddy as he described how Walmart’s unique strengths – a global network of 10,000 stores, 200 million customers weekly and a commitment to building a next generation global technology platform – position the company to gain a disproportionate share of a worldwide e-commerce marketplace McKinsey & Co expects to reach $1.3 trillion by 2015.

"It is a fascinating opportunity that we are uniquely positioned to take advantage of," Ashe said, later adding that he is focused on "how do we do it differently and better than anyone in the world."

Of course, any of his predecessors could have said the same thing over the course of the past decade, but the big difference between then and now is Walmart has shown through its internal actions and acquisitions that it is serious about more aggressively pursuing the e-commerce opportunity. Accordingly, Ashe reeled of a list of recent initiatives and accomplishments in the area of e-commerce, multichannel and social media. He described Walmart’s 22 million Facebook fans and an innovative social media contest called "Get on the Shelf," that allowed Facebook fans to vote for products they wanted to see offered at Walmart. He talked about how the company is leveraging advanced analytics to glean new insights from Twitter and Facebook data streams.

The company’s @Walmartlabs innovation engine within the global e-commerce group built a new product search engine called Polaris that is improving the conversion rate of searches. A pay-with-cash feature was added that allows people to order online and have product delivered to their home after they pay at a local store. Originally intended as an offering for the unbanked, a surprising revelation has been that many of the transactions are completed in store with a credit card. And, the company is already operating successful and rapidly growing food delivery operations in the United Kingdom and Shanghai.

Perhaps the most intriguing development to date however is a pilot program involving same day delivery of popular products in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The program leverages Walmart stores in those markets by using them as fulfillment centers with UPS executing deliveries of orders placed before noon.

According to Ashe, with 4,000 points of contact throughout the U.S. the service is something Walmart is uniquely capable of executing and he described the company’s store network as the envy of the e-commerce world.

"Walmart is going to win in ecommerce by being Walmart," Ashe said.

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