Report: Walmart, Target, CVS Health tops in chemical safety
A new report reveals that some big retailers are cracking down on toxic chemicals in consumer products, while others are serious laggards.
The report, by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, is the first major evaluation of the United States’ largest retailers’ safer chemicals programs. Of the eleven retailers evaluated, three retailers — Walmart, Target and CVS — were found to be setting the pace for the entire sector by making meaningful progress toward safer chemicals and products. The three chains received the highest grades and have developed and made public the most robust safer chemical management programs during the past three years, according to the report.
Retailers were graded on a scale of 0 to 130 points, and a corresponding letter grading scale was developed to match the points. Grades were assigned based on publicly available information concerning retailer policies and self-reported information concerning retailer practices. Walmart scored highest, with 78.5 points (B), followed by Target (76.5, B) and CVS Health (53,C). Amazon scored the lowest, with F grade and 7.5 points.
The report details improvements made to Target’s chemical policy over the past year, including the addition of cosmetics to the categories of products covered by its policy and the expansion of the list of chemicals subject to its policy to include chemicals banned in cosmetics in the European Union and Canada.
In addition, Target significantly improved its evaluation of suppliers’ transparency practices, and added new criteria pushing suppliers to publicly disclose their fragrance palette, allergens in fragrance, and nanomaterials, the report said.
The report also reveals that CVS Health has become the first pharmacy chain in the country to become a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project. Additionally, CVS Health has pledged to publicly disclose its restricted list of chemicals in 2017.
To see the full “Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals,” report, click here.
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IDC Retail Insights: Top 10 Predictions for Global Retail
The need for digital transformation, more integrated IT and operations, business security, and rethinking the future of work are among the themes that dominate IDC Retail Insight’s top 10 predictions for worldwide retail 2017.
While the predictions largely focus on the near- to mid-term (2017–2020), the impact, in some instances, will be felt for years to come, according to IDC. Most of the predictions refer to a continuum of change within the wider ecosystem of the retail industry and global economy.
Below are IDC’s top 10 predictions:
1. By 2019, digital transformation Investments will triple, drawing funds away from store capital and profoundly changing the retail industry;
2. In 2017, no less than 40% of new retail applications purchased will be deployed in the cloud to speed and secure business objectives.
3. By 2018, 30% of major retailers will adopt an omnichannel digital B2B2C commerce platform, improving customer experience, process efficiency, and inventory management;
4. A surge in cybersecurity breaches will result in a 20% escalation of spending on managed services by 2018;
5. Retail mobile enablement will triple mobile investments in 2017 and double spending on wireless infrastructure through 2019;
6. Intelligent assistants will become a must-have app in 2017 and support shoppers' "jobs to be done" in context-aware omnichannel conversations by 2018;
7. By 2019, robotics and IoT technologies will increase in-store, in-warehouse, and in-distribution center productivity by 1.5x for early adopting retailers and by 3x for later adopters;
8. By 2019, 20% of major retailers will use augmented reality to enrich the product selection experience and convert shoppers to buyers three times faster
9. By 2018, retailers will pursue alternatives for secure networks that protect data and eliminate or lower fees; and
10. By 2019, artificial intelligence will change how 25% of merchants, marketers, planners and operators work, improving productivity by 30% and key performance indicators by 10–20%.
"Retailers must recognize and drive digital transformation,” said Leslie Hand, VP, IDC Retail Insights. “Retailers dealing with legacy, disconnected, and siloed systems have latencies and speeds that cannot support modern commerce, nor do most of the legacy systems allow retailers to quickly launch the types of services that customers today are expecting. At a time when customer expectations are rising and customers are more digitally fluent and digitally equipped than ever before, customers are expecting that their shopping experience will be easy, convenient, frictionless, and available anytime everywhere."
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Website Accessibility and the ADA: The Clear and Present Dangers
In 1990, the United States Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide protections and accommodations for the millions of disabled Americans. Perhaps the most ground breaking impact of the ADA is enumerated under Title III which states that “[n]o individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.”
Title III of the ADA by its very definition applies to “any place of public accommodation” and resulted in the enforcement of the Act against business establishments to implement accessibility standards to ensure equal enjoyment by disabled individuals. What ensued were a multitude of lawsuits where the ADA was used to ensure that retail stores, office buildings, and business establishments physically altered their structures to allow persons with disabilities equal and free access. While the ultimate ends to achieve accessibility was necessary, the means employed resulted in astronomical expenses in the form of construction costs, attorney fees and statutory penalties.
The accessibility standards under Title III have recently taken a new and dramatic turn. When the ADA was adopted, the advent of the Internet was in its early stages and the legislature did not contemplate or foresee the need to regulate the rights of individuals with disabilities to access commercial online websites.
The visually impaired were certainly at a disadvantage as the presence of online retailers became ubiquitous via the Internet. Invariably this led to the recent number of lawsuits filed against retailers with an online presence for violations of ADA Title III website inaccessibility.
Since January 2015, over 106 lawsuits have been filed in the Federal Courts alone. Recently, the courts have expanded the reach of Title III to retailer websites that offer and sell goods or services to the public. Equally, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it will issue formal regulations regarding website accessibility. The regulations will specially include requirements to allow website accessibility for the visually impaired.
Online retailers and commercial vendors face exposure to lawsuits filed by plaintiffs for violation of the ADA website accessibility. This litigation is exacerbated by the lack of clear compliance requirements, as there is no definitive case law or statutory interpretation, to guide the online provider.
Website Accessibility Litigation
Online retailers appear to be the new targeted industry for website accessibility lawsuits filed by “disability advocates" filed predominantly in California. Recent court decisions have provided some insight as to how the courts will rule on website accessibility cases.
In Davis v. BMI/BNB Travelware Company, the court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment finding that the online retailer’s website did not comply as a matter of law with the accessibility requirements of Title III of the ADA and California’s statutory counterpart, the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
In the March 21, 2016 ruling, the San Bernardino County Superior Court of California found “a [sufficient] nexus exists between defendant’s retail store and its website that directly affects plaintiff’s ability to access [goods] and services.” The plaintiff was awarded $4,000 in statutory damages and attorneys’ fees.
In National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corp., the United States District Court for the Northern District of California allowed a class action lawsuit to proceed, ruling that a website is a public place of accommodation and a retailer may be liable if its website is inaccessible to the blind. The plaintiffs are a class of blind individuals who alleged that Target’s online shopping website was inaccessible to the visually impaired. This lawsuit is ongoing and there has been no final determination by the court.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
The World Wide Web Consortium, which acts as the international standards organization for the World Wide Web, published level AA success criteria in the WCAG. The DOJ and Courts have used these guidelines as a means to evaluate the accessibility of commercial web pages for individuals who are visually impaired under the ADA. Accordingly, online retailers can look to the WCAG 2.0 for some guidance to ensure website accessibility for their respective websites.
The visually impaired individual typically has software which acts as a screen reader that converts text to audio. The WCAG 2.0 guidelines recommend that online retailers provide text alternatives for non-text content; such as providing text captions for multimedia that can translate photographs and videos.
The guidelines recommend making it easier for users to see and hear content, by using easy to read fonts and graphics and making text understandable. Additionally, it is recommended that websites include features that help users navigate and find content easily. Finally, to ensure compliance, the guidelines address the importance of maximizing the website’s compatibility with different types of user tools and software that visually impaired individuals employ to navigate websites.
The website accessibility standards, or the lack thereof, present a possible new legal frontier that will develop in the months and years ahead.
Daniel P. Schrader, at Walsworth, is a seasoned trial attorney with more than 26 years of experience litigating a variety of complex legal matters. Lisa M. Parrish is an associate Walsworth’s general litigation and asbestos groups.
Walsworth, with over 80 attorneys with offices in Orange, California, Los Angeles and San Francisco, is known for excellence in litigation and transactional matters.
Thank you Daniel, As far as learning ADA title III risks and needs, this article is such a wonderful resource, I would recommend those who come through this article, to get more familiar with the various methods of compliance, some are Manual and some are semi automated (as www.user1st.com).