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Wal-Mart unveils futuristic truck prototype

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart showcased its futuristic truck at the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, Ky. The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience is a tractor-trailer combination that features leading edge aerodynamics, an advanced turbine-powered range extending series hybrid powertrain, electrified auxiliary components, and sophisticated control systems, developed in support of the company’s sustainability program.

In 2005, Wal-Mart announced its goal to double fleet efficiency by 2015 by delivering more merchandise while driving fewer miles on the most efficient equipment. Although the prototype currently runs on diesel, its turbine is fuel-neutral and can run on compressed or liquid natural gas, biofuels or other fuels. The prototype is the result of collaboration between Wal-Mart and vendors, including Peterbilt, Roush, Great Dane and Capstone Turbine.

“Wal-Mart is continually looking for innovative ways to increase our efficiencies and reduce our fleet’s emissions,” said Tracy Rosser, senior VP of transportation at Walmart. “The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience is a bold step in transportation technologies that, although not on the road in its current form, will serve as a learning platform for the future that will accelerate our progress toward our goals.”

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Sears debuts new omni-channel fast fashion format in April

BY Dan Berthiaume

Hoffman Estates, Ill. – Sears is launching Now + Here, a fast fashion shop available in Sears stores across the country, on Sears.com and Shopyourway.com, in the second week of April. The Now + Here shops offer a new shop environment with monthly deliveries.

The fully integrated retail experience extends online with access to exclusive content, including behind the scenes videos and fashion tips.

To celebrate the launch of Now + Here, Sears will host a virtual event, followed by a live fashion chat with celebrity Brooke Burke-Charvet at Searsspringfashion.com on April 14. Shoppers and members will be able to register at Searsspringfashion.com and invite their friends to the event that will include a virtual runway show experience, behind the scenes video, new product lookbook and live shopping of all the looks throughout the show. During the live chat, Burke-Charvet will share her best fashion tips, answer guest questions and offer style advice to registrants. Shop Your Way members will also get special access to view a unique style video created by Brooke. Live updates will be posted throughout the event on SearsStyle.com and Shopyourway.com.

"Today’s fashionista lives a digital lifestyle that is part of everything she does, including how she shops," said Shela Field, chief marketing officer of Sears. "Launching the Now + Here shop with a virtual fashion event not only gives her a front row seat to the launch, it takes her inside to experience and purchase the product in a whole new way. It also showcases our integrated approach and focus on shopping made fun and easy."

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Study: Amazon, Google among top brands

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Amazon.com and Google were among the biggest winners in the annual CoreBrand Top 100 Most Powerful Brands Rankings for 2014, both increasing in their rankings. Walgreens and UPS dropped 11 spots each.

The report ranks the top 100 corporate brands in terms of market reputation and awareness. Consumer-cyclical and consumer-staple brands represent 58 of the top 100 corporate brands, which CoreBrand says indicates that the most powerful brands have a strong connection to consumers.

In 2008, the average BrandPower of the top 100 brands was 65.7. That average dropped through 2009 and into 2010, bottoming out at 61.7, for a loss of four points or 6% in just two years. In recent years, brands have experienced a minor bounce back. In 2013, the average BrandPower was 63.6, gaining back nearly half of what was lost since 2008, which indicates that brands are breaking out of the doldrums that have held them back due to the economy.

"In 2013, we saw corporate brands break out of the funk they’ve been in since the 2008 financial crisis," commented James R. Gregory, founder and CEO of CoreBrand. "2012 was a slow year in regards to recovery, with the average brand ranking gaining only a fraction of a point. This year, we saw that number jump nearly a full point – in research terms, that is huge. As the economy continues to recover, we see that the business decision maker is regaining confidence in companies."

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