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Walmart adds to employee learning opportunity

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart’s Lifelong Learning Program is getting a boost from a new partnership with educational technology and services company Cengage Learning.

Cengage Learning has partnered with Walmart to offer accredited high school diplomas and credentialed career certificates through Career Online High School (COHS). Part of Walmart's Lifelong Learning program, COHS is free for Walmart associates beginning on the first day of their employment. To date, more than 130 associates have received their high school diploma through COHS, with another 433 currently enrolled.

Walmart's Lifelong Learning program provides associates access to no-cost or low-cost education programs including ESL, high school, career certificates, and college credit for prior learning. The program is part of a strategy that integrates training, education, and workforce development efforts for associates.

Students have up to 18 months to complete the program and may be able to complete it in as few as six months by transferring previously earned high school credits. Once enrolled, the COHS program pairs each student with an academic coach. Classes are supported by board-certified instructors and students have 24/7 access to the online learning platform.

"One of the best ways to create opportunity in America is through access to education and training," stated Brian Poland, director of Walmart Lifelong Learning & Talent Development. "We believe a high school diploma paves the way for a better future – at Walmart or beyond."

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Study: Want to engage Gen Z? Here’s how

BY CSA STAFF

Shoppers age 14-19, known as “Gen Z,” are not as hard to reach as some retailers think.

According to a new survey of more than 2,000 U.S. Gen Z consumers from retail marketing firm Interactions, “The Next Generation of Retail,” although Gen Z is one of the most digitally-savvy generations, 64% prefer shopping in-store more than online. Three-quarters of respondents also prefer to shop at retailers that provide an engaging in-store experience. When it comes to a satisfying in-store experience, the top three components Gen Z looks for are a clean store, friendly and knowledgeable associates and a positive checkout experience.

Looking at the impact of cyberbreaches, the survey finds that 78% of respondents trust that retailers will keep their personal information safe. However, 59% avoid shopping at retailers that have been hit by security breaches in the past.

Gen Z grew up with social media, so it’s not surprising that almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents expect retailers to have a social media presence and 60% prefer to shop at retailers that engage with them via social media. Eighty-two percent of respondents state that the opinions of others on social media have influenced them to shop at a retailer they’ve never shopped at before.

When it comes to what this generation is sharing on social media as it relates to shopping, 65% said they’re most likely to share a product’s quality, followed by positive customer service (46%). Despite reports younger consumers shun Facebook, respondents use Facebook the most out of any social media site to research products before shopping (43%), engage with retailers or brands (43%) and post information about their shopping experience (42%).

However, text messaging is Gen Z’s most preferred method for communicating with retailers and brands, yet only 19% of respondents say they currently discover new products via text notifications from retailers.

In addition, three-quarters of respondents check a store’s app when they’re shopping for special offers before making a final purchase, and 75% would rather shop at a retailer that accepts mobile payments over one that doesn’t.

Other notable findings include:

· Eighty-nine percent of respondents say they are very price-conscious.

· Sixty-four percent of respondents prefer to pay with cash rather than credit or debit cards.

· Eighty-one percent of respondents are willing to switch from their favorite brand if they find a similar product at higher quality.

· Eighty percent of respondents are willing to sign up for loyalty cards in exchange for deals/discounts.

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Pet Supplies Plus heads west

BY CSA STAFF

Specialty pet retailer Pet Supplies Plus is entering three new states as part of an aggressive 2016 expansion plan.

The chain is entering California, Colorado and Oklahoma, as well as furthering its expansion in the states of New Jersey, Texas, Missouri, Iowa and Georgia. In addition, Pet Supplies Plus recently signed a deal to open 10 new stores in Kansas City, and is on target to open approximately 60 new stores by the end of the year.

Growth for the year will include 20 franchise deals for 55 new stores across the country signed in the first half of 2016. In 2015, Pet Supplies Plus signed 26 total franchise deals for 36 new stores.

To help accelerate Western growth and expansion, the retailer will be converting several Pet Extreme stores in California to Pet Supplies Plus establishments after acquiring the California-based 10-unit pet retail chain in fourth quarter 2015. Currently, Pet Supplies Plus operates more than 360 stores in 27 states.

“Consumers pumped more than $60 billion into the pet industry by the close of 2015, $2 billion more than 2014,” said David Leonardo, senior VP for franchising at Pet Supplies Plus. “With the spending came a drastic need for an increase in pet products and supplies stores across the U.S. The steady growth of the pet industry is credited to cognizant pet owners looking for natural products for their pets and an increase in the amount of households with pets, which is now roughly 75% of the country.”

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