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Wal-Mart’s U.S. chief administrative officer to step down

BY Staff Writer

New York — Wal-Mart Stores on Thursday confirmed a report from the Wall Street Journal that its U.S. chief administrative officer, Tom Mars, will step down in March. The company did not give a reason for his departure.

Mars has been with the chain for more than a decade. He served as the chain’s general counsel from 2002 to 2009, and was involved in an investigation into bribery allegations regarding a Wal-Mart store built near the Mexican pyramids, according to company emails released in January by members of Congress, Reuters reported.

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Survey: Most online shoppers not deterred by higher shipping costs

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Whiting, Ind. — Research released Wednesday by CouponCabin.com showed that more than half of U.S. adults’ online shopping habits won’t be impacted by rising shipping costs.

According to the survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for CouponCabin.com, 51% of those polled said they are neither more or less likely to shop online, even with potentially increasing shipping costs. An additional 7% said they are more likely to shop online.

Of those who said they will continue to shop online, 73% said they will be more likely to shop online at a website that offers free shipping as opposed to one that doesn’t.

"Free shipping offers entice online consumers, but retailers may have more difficulty providing them as costs rise," said Jackie Warrick, senior savings advisor at CouponCabin.com. "To still present free shipping as an option, some stores may need to increase item prices to absorb the cost effectively. Regardless, budget-savvy consumers will seek out free shipping in as many ways as they can."

In addition to shopping on sites that automatically offer free shipping, most online shoppers search for free shipping coupon codes for their purchases. In fact, 77% of U.S. adults who shop online at all search for free shipping codes at least sometimes. Twenty-four percent indicate that they do so often, while 25% sometimes do. Twenty-three percent never or rarely search for free shipping codes when shopping online.

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Study: Grocers Publix, Trader Joe’s top experience rankings; Office Depot among most improved

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Waban, Mass. — Survey results released Wednesday by Temkin Group revealed that Publix and Trader Joe’s ranked the highest among 246 companies in terms of customer experience.

The 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings, which polled 10,000 U.S. consumers, were dominated by grocery chains and food purveyors. After Public and Trader Joe’s was Aldi, and rounding out the top 12 were Chick-fil-A, Amazon.com, Sam’s Club, H.E.B., Dunkin’ Donuts, Save-a-Lot, Sonic Drive-In, Little Caeser’s and Ace Hardware.

The five lowest scoring organizations were US Airways, Time Warner Cable, Days Inn, Empire BCBS, and 21st Century. The companies that made the largest improvement over 2012 were Citibank, TriCare, TD Ameritrade, Office Depot, EarthLink, Hardees and Regions Bank.

Temkin said in this year’s ratings, 37% of companies earned "good" or "excellent" scores, while 28% are rated as "poor" or "very poor." Companies with at least a "good" rating grew by nine percentage points since 2012 and by 21 points since 2011. Of the 203 companies that are included in both the 2012 and 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings, 57% firms had at least a modest increase.

"It’s wonderful to see that customer experience is improving, although many companies still have a long way to go," states Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group.

The survey examines customer experience across 19 industries: airlines, appliance makers, auto dealers, banks, car rental agencies, computer makers, credit card issuers, fast food chains, grocery chains, health plans, hotel chains, insurance carriers, Internet service providers, investment firms, parcel delivery services, retailers, software firms, TV service providers, and wireless carriers. It evaluates three areas of customer experience: functional, accessible and emotional.

Among other key findings:

  • RadioShack and Apple Store underperformed the retail industry averages;
  • Leaders in functional experience were Publix, Trader Joe’s and Costco;
  • The leader in accessible experience was Ace Hardware; and
  • The leader in emotional experience was Publix.

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