MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Wal-Mart – 1 in 3 consumers will shop ‘Super Saturday’

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – “Super Saturday,” the Saturday before Christmas (Dec. 20), looks to be a super day for retailers. According to an in-store customer survey conducted by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Dec. 13, 36% of consumers plan to shop that day.\

Nationwide, 42% of customers conduct the majority of their Christmas shopping in December. Top purchases for last-minute holiday shopping trips include gifts like toys and electronics (23%), groceries for holiday meals (22%), stocking stuffers (21%), holiday-party items (17%) and alcohol (17%).

Wal-Mart stores will continue to receive merchandise until Dec. 24. The retailer is also creating designated areas near the front of its stores with popular last-minute gifts such as stocking stuffers, gift sets and gift cards. Customers can also choose to order online by Dec. 23 and receive free same-day pickup in stores on Dec. 24.

“Over the past few years, we’ve noticed a trend in customers waiting until the last minute to finish their shopping,” said Scott McCall, senior VP of merchandising for Wal-Mart U.S. “While many customers start their Christmas shopping in November, the majority don’t put their lists away until Dec. 24.”

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News

McDonald’s reaches out to customers via beacons

BY Dan Berthiaume

Columbus, Ga. – McDonald’s franchises in Columbus, Georgia are integrating Bluetooth beacon technology from beacon solution provider Piper to deliver coupon offers, timely alerts, employment opportunities and customer surveys right as customers enter the establishments.

Piper, a San-Diego based beacon solutions provider, partnered with McDonald’s to develop a custom mobile app for the franchises to deliver coupons directly to customers who opt in via their smartphones once they are in a close geographic proximity to the restaurant. Through Piper’s platform, customers can also personalize the types of messages they receive, to help discover deals that are most relevant to them, while blocking out messages that are outside of their interests.

During the initial four-week launch, customers who had the Piper app installed were prompted to save an Apple Passbook offer to their device. This offer is also visible and redeemable with Piper’s Android app. Participating stores are generating strong response for the advertised offers through both mobile and signage, showing more than 18,000 offer redemptions for the promoted items featured (McChicken sales increased 8% and McNuggets increased 7.5% from the previous month).

Employment inquiries and customer service issues are directed via automated text messaging to a responsible party who is able to respond before a customer leaves the restaurant.

“Everyone is looking at their phones, Millennials especially, and that’s where we’ve decided to engage,” said Jack Pezold, an owner and operator of McDonald’s franchises. “We know our customers and Piper’s beacon solution allows us to cater to their tastes, preferences and behaviors, making it easy for them to get more value and enjoyment out of their McDonald’s experience.”

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FINANCE

Rite Aid beats Street with Q3 earnings

BY Dan Berthiaume

Camp Hill, Penn. – Rite Aid Corp. beat Wall Street expectations with net income of $104.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2015, a 46% increase from $71.5 million the same period a year earlier. The improvement in net income resulted primarily from an increase in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) and a lower last out, first in (LIFO) charge, partially offset by a higher loss on debt retirement.

Revenues increased 5% to $6.7 billion from $6.4 billion, primarily driven by a 5.4% jump in same-store sales. Based upon strong quarterly results, Rite Aid raised its guidance for fiscal 2014. Net income is expected to be between $315 million and $370 million, while sales are expected to be between $26.25 billion and $26.4 billion. Same-store sales to range from an increase of 3.75% to 4.25%.

"We are pleased with our results for the third quarter,” said Rite Aid chairman and CEO John Standley. “Our focus on expanding our health and wellness offering and delivering a higher level of care to the communities we serve drove our strong same-store sales, prescription count and gross profit.”

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