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Retailers charge that proposed Visa/MasterCard interchange settlement unacceptable

BY Michael Johnsen

Arlington, Va. — Retailers are up in arms over the proposed settlement filed in July of antitrust lawsuits filed by merchants against Visa, MasterCard and the nation’s largest banks. A total of nine associations representing a broad swath of the retail industry expressed their reservations to members of Congress on Thursday, charging that their interests were not represented and asking Congress to reject that settlement.

“The proposed settlement, which was negotiated by Visa, MasterCard and lawyers purporting to represent the merchant community, is one-sided and preserves the very anticompetitive actions that were the genesis of the lawsuits," the collective associations suggested. "Quite simply, the proposed settlement is a bad deal for merchants and their customers. While the card networks and their representatives have suggested it is a fait accompli, the growing objections from the merchant community foreshadow the fight that lies ahead as Visa and MasterCard attempt to force the terms of the settlement on nearly 8 million merchants.”

“Given the important oversight role of Congress and your continued interest in this important issue, we write today to urge you to reject the false claims from the card networks and their representatives. The proposed settlement does nothing to resolve the failures in the electronic payment market and continued Congressional involvement in these issues is imperative. We look forward to keeping you fully informed as the legal process moves forward and the chorus of objections grows,” the letter closed.

The letter was signed by the National Association of College Stores, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the National Cooperative Grocers Association, the National Grocers Association, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.

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Walmart moves up mobile rankings topped by you know who

BY CSA STAFF

Eighty percent of smarthphone users access retail content on their devices and Walmart is the third most popular destination, according to research from comScore Mobile Metrix 2.0.

The firm’s study found that 4 in every 5 smartphone users – 85.9 million in total – accessed retail content on their device in July. That figure is only going to increase, especially in the coming months as this year promises to be the most mobile Christmas yet.

Amazon sites led as the top retailer with an audience of 49.6 million visitors, while multi-channel retailers that attracted large audiences included Apple (17.7 million visitors), Wal-Mart (16.3 million visitors), Target (10 million visitors) Best Buy (7.2 million visitors) Ticketmaster (5.7 million visitors) Home Depot (4.4 million visitors) and Lowes (3.2 million visitors).

"With nearly 86 million Americans now shopping on their smartphones, this pronounced shift in consumer behavior is simply too large for retailers to ignore, with the future of their business depending on how well they adapt to the new environment," said Mark Donovan, comScore SVP of mobile. "But adapting isn’t always easy, especially when considering the complexity of the mobile environment, which requires optimizing the experience across multiple platforms and for both mobile websites and apps. The retailers who best understand how consumers are engaging in mobile shopping behaviors and design their strategies accordingly will be best positioned to capitalize on these shifting market dynamics."

As mobile becomes an increasingly important channel for retailers to reach current and potential customers, other companies are recognizing the opportunity smartphones present throughout the shopping process. Shopkick, a shopping rewards app that provides points for consumers who visit retail partners’ physical stores such as Target, Macy’s, Best Buy, etc., saw its mobile audience reach more than 4 million visitors in July, demonstrating one way consumers are turning to their mobile devices as part of their in-store shopping experience.

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Walmart won’t showroom Kindle anymore

BY CSA STAFF

Widespread media reports have Walmart discontinuing the sale of Amazon’s popular Kindle devices, which begs the questions what took so long and will we ever see a Walmart tablet.

Walmart’s decision to begin selling the Kindle was one of the more wrong-headed moves the company has ever made. A Kindle is Amazon’s version of a Gillette razor, essentially a device that provides consumers a portal to purchase Amazon’s other inventory, or in Gillette’s case, more blades. Target wisely gave Kindle the boot earlier this year.

Both companies had little to gain from selling the devices, especially as they and other retailers battle Amazon’s showrooming effect while pushing for federal legislation requiring the online retailer to collect sales tax.

Walmart’s sales won’t suffer by discontinuing the device and the best part for Walmart is it will no longer be inflicting pain on itself by enabling a competitor’s strategy. Instead, the potential exists for the company to develop its own device as part of a long term global ecommerce strategy. Why shouldn’t or wouldn’t the world’s largest retailer have its own device for customers to interact with the Walmart brand? It may sound crazy, but anything is possible considering how quickly the braniacs at @Walmart Labs built an all new search engine to power Walmart.com.

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