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Walmart launches ’12 Days of Giving’ Facebook campaign

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Monday that it has kicked off its "12 Days of Giving" campaign, awarding over $1.5 million to nonprofits that were nominated by Facebook users. By the end of the campaign, 145 grant recipients in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, will be honored. Twenty-five nonprofits that have stepped up to fight hunger are receiving a total of $130,000 on the first day of giving.

Walmart’s 12-day call for submissions resulted in more than 5,400 nominations from Facebook users who shared photos and short descriptions of a nonprofit’s impact in its local community. A panel from the Walmart Foundation reviewed submissions and selected winners with a focus on organizations that are providing basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing and baby supplies.

"The response to our campaign was incredible – the organizations selected and the extraordinary people behind them are rising to the occasion, using their time and talents to make an impact in their local communities," said Julie Gehrki, senior director at the Walmart Foundation. "The selected nonprofits reflect some of the most pressing issues facing our country today.”

In total, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are providing more than $19 million in grants this holiday season.

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Market Track: November 2011

BY CSA STAFF

The Holiday Shopping Season got off to a fast start with sales numbers increasing by 6.6% compared with last year, according to Shopper Trak. Promotional activity started earlier than usual and helped shoppers stay in the know as to where they could find the best deals. Leading up to Black Friday, increases were seen in print for both page counts and circular drops in many instances. In digital there were increases in volume and frequency of online, email and social promotions.

Some increased the number of circulars while others went up in page counts, and a few of them stayed the course with what was done in 2010. What was unusual is that some of the retailers chose to significantly reduce the size of the circulars that dropped post Black Friday. This may have been in response to the 2010 weekly sales patterns, the focus on Cyber week or simply a way to enable more promotions before Black Friday.

Lowe’s dropped bulkier inserts when compared with last year. November, 2010 they did not focus much on Black Friday, only one eight-page circular was dropped on the day before Black Friday. However, this year they published a two-page circular on the Sunday before Black Friday and another 12-page circular was dropped a day before Black Friday.

Best Buy, which did not change its advertising strategy in terms of timing their insert drop, did change its focus from ‘Thanksgiving’ last year to ‘Doorbuster’ aiming more towards Black Friday. In addition to this it also made its insert bulkier in comparison to previous year.

Safeway started advertising Thanksgiving much earlier than last year. Its first Thanksgiving flyer was dropped on Nov. 2 this year almost two weeks earlier than previous year.

In 2010, Sears had started advertising Christmas in November, while this year it was more focused on Black Friday and Thanksgiving.

Macy’s East added eight extra pages to their insert this year compared with a 72-page flyer last year dropped on the day of Thanksgiving.

JCPenney may not have increased page counts, but it did distribute more circulars than last year with a 28% jump in the number of circulars they dropped compared with last year.

Home Depot, Kroger and Walgreens were among the few retailers showing decline in both flyers as well as number of pages per flyer.

Home Depot flyers were focused mainly on the Holiday theme. Number of pages were comparatively less than last year.

Walmart chose to put more emphasis on its Black Friday promotions earlier in the month, issuing its multi-page toy circular one week earlier this year while decreasing the number of pages that were in the circular that was published immediately following Black Friday.

Kroger’s advertising strategy has been different for various markets, during the Thanksgiving week the flyer themed ‘Thanksgiving’ was dropped in only select markets like last year.

It’s important to note a number of factors that should be considered when examining the number of inserts and pages retailers send into the marketplace. Market Track’s granular level of data reflects regional versioning and market specific differences. This is accomplished through an extensive collections process, including physically obtaining the ads from the various markets in which they are distributed. In the instance that retailers send additional circulars to a limited number of markets, Market Track’s information reflects these nuances through numbers with decimals (for average number of inserts per market) and odd numbers (for average number of pages).

About Market Track:

Market Track is a market intelligence firm dedicated to increasing customers’ returns on their promotional investments. Through innovative technology and marketplace expertise, it monitors and analyze over 200 U.S. and Canadian markets for every channel of trade in order provide retailers and manufacturers with superior tools to monitor promotional activity, support dynamic decision making and turn information into market intelligence. For more information, contact Market Track at 1.800.235.3781 or email [email protected].

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Don’t Let Credit Card Fraud Leave You With Only Coal in Your Stocking

BY CSA STAFF

By Greg Hammermaster, Sage Payment Solutions

According to a recent Forrester Research report, “U.S. Online Holiday Retail Forecast 2011,” online holiday sales will hit $59.5 billion, an increase of 15% year over year. Forrester estimates the growth will largely be attributed to the tight economy, as consumers look to the web for the best bargains.

And, according to Forrester, the surge will be furthered by the growing popularity and proliferation of web-enabled smart phones. While this spending increase may portend an economic recovery – a good thing, indeed – the bad news is credit card fraud is especially rampant during times when the overall number of credit card transactions increases exponentially.

Credit card safety is always important, but is particularly top-of-mind during the holiday shopping season.

While the traditional holiday shopping images are of beleaguered consumers running around town, hoping to procure that season’s coveted item, the season is increasingly about the click of the mouse. According to Shop.org’s eHoliday survey, consumers are planning to do 36% of their 2011holiday shopping online, compared with 32.7% in 2010.

What this eSales surge means
Unfortunately, online shoppers have become the target of choice for fraudsters, who send emails advertising the harder-to-get products. I suggest that consumers treat an unsolicited online offer much in the same way they advise their kids not to talk to strangers.

There will be an uptick in the number of scam email offers during the holiday season. One recent scam, according to Mashable, involved emails appearing to be from UPS, “telling the recipient that a package they sent has not been delivered and inviting them to click a ‘track package’ link,” which directed to infected sites, not the UPS site.

If you have not already done so, now is the time to sit down with your teenagers and older parents and discuss taking precautions in the online world, as well as on the street, due to the ease in which virtually anyone can open an account to accept credit cards on their mobile phone.

This year’s holiday shoppers will likely encounter more outlets with mobile phones and tablet devices processing credit cards. While a large number of legitimate businesses and charities are using mobile devices for accepting credit card payments, the fraudsters have had some time to study the broadly distributed mobile payment providers, so consumers should be cautious about giving their credit cards to quasi-looking businesses or organizations exclusively using mobile phones and tablets.

What the industry should do to protect consumers
Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is a requirement of all businesses interacting with credit or debit cards. Now is a good time for businesses who are not PCI compliant to get on board. For merchants, being PCI compliant is both an offensive and defensive strategy. A good offense is to shore up all security holes while a good defense is to have that PCI badge to mitigate the consequences of a breach. However, the real exposure is the merchant’s brand.

Consumers won’t be repeat customers if their credit card is compromised at a merchant’s store, especially if it is revealed the merchant is not PCI compliant. Now is a good time for merchants to work closely with their payment providers to work through the PCI questionnaire and use payment security software to scan their connected environment.

Whether merchants are PCI compliant or not, they can ensure all their points of payments are fully encrypted. End-to-end encryption is a technical term, which simply means the information being transmitted from one device to another is garbled bits of data that is extremely difficult to un-garble.

Merchants should check with their service providers to make sure any credit card terminals, e-commerce web sites, software applications and, yes, any mobile phones and tablets accepting credit cards are encrypted. Some mobile payment providers have mass-distributed, unencrypted solutions, so not all providers are equal.

With a bit of caution on the part of consumers, and protective measures on the part of merchants, credit card fraud should not keep any of us from having happy holidays.

Greg Hammermaster is president of Sage Payment Solutions, the payments division for Sage North America, where he is responsible for executive management for the company’s credit card processing operations in Virginia and check and ACH processing operations in Florida. His responsibilities also include payments process and data integration with Sage’s business software solutions. He speaks at payments industry conferences, and is currently on the board of Commercial Payments International.

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