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28
Feb

Customer, Value, Service

Though CVS Pharmacy was originally founded under the name “Consumer Value Store,” recent CEO Tom Ryan has come to consider the company name to stand for “Customer, Value and Service.” Twice this semester, I have had experiences that embodied this mantra. The most recent (this past weekend) reminded me of my prior encounter, which prompted me to write this blog post.

During my quick trip to the Barracks Road CVS this past weekend, I was picking up a birthday card and decorative bag for my baby cousin’s birthday. As I was checking out, the cashier asked me if I knew the price of the bag because the tag had fallen off. I hadn’t looked at the price so I couldn’t tell him. Instead of making me go back and find out, or making me wait while he did it, he decided to just charge a little over a dollar for it (though it probably cost more) because I “seemed pretty cool.” Given the fact that I was in a rush to get to my cousin’s house, I was grateful that he made my shopping experience as efficient and convenient as possible.

Like I said, this reminded me of another time I had great customer service at CVS in the beginning of the month. I went to the Barracks Road CVS to get my passport photos taken for my GIE visa applications. It was my fault for not checking in the store, but I later realized when I got home that they only gave me 2 copies even though I ordered 4. Though they didn’t charge me for 4 copies, I was annoyed that I had to go back and get my photos taken and ordered again. For convenience’s sake, I went to the CVS on the Corner the next day since I was there already and ran into some friends who were also getting their photos taken. The employee told us a sheet of 2 photos was around $10, whereas every additional copy was only a couple cents each. Obviously, I was frustrated that I had to pay $10 again for 2 small photos. The CVS employee heard me explain to my friends why I had to come back and get more, and she asked if I had my receipt from the previous day’s purchase. Luckily, I did, so she told me she’d only charge me the couple cents per photo if I promised to use their CVS next time for my photo needs.

While the employee maybe shouldn’t have explicitly stated her expectations of my reciprocation, I still appreciated her effort to provide me with a positive customer service experience and add more value to my relationship with CVS. From these two experiences, I definitely got a better sense of the company’s dedication to Customers, Value, and Service, and will continue to patron their stores because of it.

28
Feb

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

FORT WORTH (AP) – RadioShack Corp. is ending an agreement to run mobile phone centers in Target Corp. stores.

The Fort Worth-based electronics company in 2010 struck that deal to operate Target Mobile, for in-store contracts and sales of mobile phones and accessories.

RadioShack said Monday that it has been renegotiating the terms of its relationship since October to make it profitable for both companies. But an agreement was out of reach, and it will end the contract in April.

A representative for Target couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

RadioShack has suffered from eroding profits for several years and in September announced the departure of CEO James Gooch.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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28
Feb

Freedom is Everyone's Business

This is a story that hits close to me and is worth the slight departure from normal blogging that I do here.
Its another in a string of sad days for this once great and thriving company. I have very fond and deep feelings for this company that allowed me to earn my stripes as a Mgr and helped me grow so much as a person.

But RS is dying a horrible slow death. A 68% drop in share price in a yr. A yr that saw most stks rise 10-20%. Once thought of as a main cog in retail electronics, RS is now a seldom thought of store of last resort.
Instead of kids saying “Neat a cool gift” now you see they say to themselves, “You got me something from Radio Shack?”

Production identification and the brand has been a double edged sword for RS. Like most box…

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28
Feb

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

FORT WORTH (AP) – RadioShack has lost $63.3 million in its fiscal fourth quarter — pressured by weaker mobile sales.

The struggling Fort Worth-based electronics chain said Tuesday it’s looking to rebuild amid fierce online competition.

RadioShack earlier this month named former Walgreen Co. executive Joseph Magnacca as its new CEO. Magnacca took over from James Gooch.

RadioShack’s loss amounted to 63 cents per share for the three months ended Dec. 31. A year earlier it reported net income of $11.9 million, or 12 cents per share. Revenue declined 7 percent to $1.3 billion from $1.39 billion.

For the year, RadioShack Corp. lost $139.4 million, or $1.39 per share. The company reported net income of $72.2 million, or 70 cents per share, in the prior year.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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28
Feb

Google Retail Stores?

I read an interesting opinion article on how Google should open retail stores in order to successfully sell its hardware products. Here’s the link to the article:

http://investorplace.com/2013/02/why-google-needs-to-open-retail-stores/

It was interesting how the article claimed that there’s a growing trend of technology companies, such as Microsoft, opening stores in physical locations. This is obviously contrary to what we see today in different industries, where more companies are closing bricks and mortar stores due to competition from online companies such as Amazon. The author claims that Google’s increased involvement in hardware sales means that the company should look into physical locations so that customers can experience products. Through this, it is possible to gain more potential consumers if there are more opportunities to try out products. The author also emphasized how it is important that these physical locations give a good “in store” experience for consumers. And this made me think about today’s lecture and how for Walgreens, it is also important that the in-store experience makes it a differentiating factor for consumers. In regards to today’s lecture, pricing is just one attribute that can make something successful. What’s most important is looking at the bigger picture from the customer’s perspective.  I feel it is really important for physical stores to bring an experience that is not attainable through online shopping. The Apple Experience highlights how Apple retail stores do this successfully. And thus, in order for retailers to successfully compete with online players, it is important to not just delivery immediacy and similar pricing. It’s also important to create an environment that makes it more comfortable and appealing for consumers to stop by brick and mortar stores. This way, a company would be able to optimize its multi-channel retailing strategy, as evidenced through Apple and Microsoft.

27
Feb

Wasteful Chipotle

As a whole, Chipotle has pretty great customer service and, courtesy of Daniel’s recent post, takes advantage of the various customer touch points technology has provided them. However, I was less than satisfied during my most recent trip to the establishment. Trust me when I say that it wasn’t the flavor of my tasty burrito bowl (white rice, black beans, veggies, carnitas, mild, medium, and hot sauce, with lettuce and guacamole – YUM) that let me down, but rather the company’s regulation on incorrectly-made burritos/tacos/salads/bowls.

I was quickly scooted through the line as spoonfuls of good-ness piled onto my oh-so-perfect burrito bowl. My friend, however, got the short end of the stick. She had to patiently wait in line for the steak to be cooked and chopped before it could be scooped onto her burrito. She patiently waited for the steak to be ready as burrito upon burrito passed her by and employee after employee touched her burrito and constantly mistakenly pushed it forward thinking that it was just a plain veggie burrito. As she started seeing the light (the steak was being chopped and scooped into the container), an employee came over and plopped barbacoa onto her burrito after mistaking her burrito for the burrito of the guy right behind her. Now, instead of offering her that incorrectly-made burrito for free and then making her a new one with steak in it, he proceeded to say that he will TRASH that incorrectly-made burrito and then make her a new one. As she was constantly taught the value of food since a young age, she refused to let the employee trash the burrito and just told him to move her burrito along the line and ended up paying the $7.47 for a “customized” meal she wasn’t looking forward to.

Firstly, trashing a perfectly yummy, albeit incorrectly-made, burrito is simply a crime to humanity (especially since food is quickly becoming a scarce resource in this rapidly over-populating world). Secondly, Chipotle seems to have missed an opportunity to introduce a repeat customer to something new she might potentially like and maybe even get her to come more often and/or spend more. And lastly, the company could have gained a lot of “brownie points” from her for giving her a free burrito and making her a new one. What good is it for the company to just throw out perfectly good food? Giving her the free burrito would’ve made for great word-of-mouth buzz for the company, but now, they’re just known as wasteful (especially since a week earlier another friend had this exactly same thing happen to her and Chipotle threw out her burrito bowl and then started anew).

Chipotle, please stop being wasteful. I promise that I will love you even more for it.

27
Feb

#rtm Passe already?

This AdWeek article (http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/real-time-marketing-during-oscars-fails-deliver-much-brand-buzz-147552)  poses an interesting question: Is the real-time marketing (#rtm) strategy already past the prime of its relevance?

The phenomenon of brands using Twitter to capitalize on real-time events to promote their products started to create buzz only as recently as the Super Bowl. Nabisco’s Oreo brand tweeted during the infamous blackout, and the message was re-tweeted over 14,000 times. Those marketers trying to capitalize on the Oscars a couple nights ago were not as lucky: The top tweet from that night garnered only 700 or so re-tweets. The mild success of Oscars efforts has prompted some pundits to question whether #rtm is done before so soon.

While the results of the Oscars were not very promising, I do not believe that #rtm will not become irrelevant any time in the foreseeable future. First, the author’s  use of the Super Bowl as a benchmark for the Oscars is not exactly a fair comparison. The Super Bowl is a monumental marketing event that seems to set new records on Twitter volume every year, while the Oscars is a much more low-key event that stretches into later night hours. Second, Twitter by its nature is a very unpredictable medium. A tweet has to strike just the right chord to catch a great deal of momentum, and not every mass audience event provides the right circumstances for a marketing opportunity. Finally, #rtm is something that marketers has only just recently grabbed marketers’ attention. As they become more practiced with these events, the effectiveness of the #rtm efforts should increase significantly.

27
Feb

Why Google Glass is fascinating; Chromebook Pixel just puzzling

Why Google Glass is fascinating; Chromebook Pixel just puzzling

As the article’s title implies, Google seems to have struck a chord on potentially delivering real innovative value with its most recent teaser of Google Glass (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BTCoT8ajbI).  Although Glass has its skeptics, I believe that “augmented reality” (which adds to the user’s experience without obstructing it) is totally new value that many will pay top-dollar for (indeed, the Glass prototype is currently going for $1,500).  Sharing an experience with a friend in real-time – and watching their reaction in the corner of your eye, also in real-time – is something that has never been done before, and frankly sounds awesome.

Google’s latest notebook (Chromebook Pixel) however, just really seems to miss that absolutely essential function Rob Daley talked about.  What is a notebook, really?  A portable computer.  Now like all Chromebooks, the Pixel is purely cloud-driven, and so is basically a brick without an internet connection.  But with an internet connection, it is amazingly fast and functional while carrying around very little hardware, normally necessary for a traditional notebook (the Pixel has only 32 GBs of hard drive storage!).  But with a mere 5 hours of battery life, it’s not clear where all that saved space and computing power is going.  For a portable computer, the Pixel isn’t looking all that portable, and will likely convince few people to pony up at its current $1,299 price tag.

26
Feb

Hot Wheels Rolls Out Twitter-Enhanced Vending Machine

Hot Wheels Rolls Out Twitter-Enhanced Vending Machine

After last class’s discussion on Walmart Labs and its new initiatives, I found this article on a Hot Wheels vending machine to be interesting. Basically, people could tweet @HotWheelsCanada in front of a vending machine, which recognized their proximity through location software and then dispensed a Hot Wheels car. The machine helped create buzz for Hot Wheels and tripled its followers on Twitter.

The article goes on to say that these types of machines may become common place in Walmarts and Toys-R-Us stores, but most of all it argues that retail locations are going to become digitized whether it’s social-media-enhanced vending machines, product-info touch-screens, or other innovative uses of technology. It also demonstrates how social media is increasingly being used in marketing efforts and that there is a push to implement these sites in new and interesting ways.

26
Feb

Chipotle Customer Interaction

It seems like every Prof within McIntire has some sort of sponsorship from the local restaurants!  Over the past 6 months we have discussed McDonalds, Burger King, Chipotle, Arby’s, KFC, and so on and so forth.  By the end of any given class block it is common to hear “man, I am craving (fill in the blank) after that discussion” but sadly most of the stores are not within walking distance.  Luckily for me my office is right across from the holy grail of buritos: Chipotle!  After one of my notorious trips (which always turns into the envy of the office) I found myself idly reading the bag.  Chipotle publishes customer stories or short explanations of their company on the sides of the bag in stylized fonts and designs.  As I was looking at one side though I began to realize that it most certaintly was not in english.  Then I realized that I did actually recognize the words, though I knew I was comprehending a cohesive sentence.  Let’s see if you have any idea what it is:

photo (2)

Any ideas?

Well then it clicked in my mind that I recognize this from my work with website!  “Lorem Ipsum” is a block of non sensical words that are used to display fonts, designs and lay out for websites and other graphic design projects.  It is used to avoid the observer from getting caught up on the actual words and to instead see how the over all image appears.  So, while laughing to myself, I pulled out my smart phone to snap a picture (which you clearly already know) and sent it off to the offical Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) twitter account!  Basically I thought I had found a funny mistake, and that they must have simply forgotten to put in the actual text when they sent the bag design to production.

Here is where this suddenly becomes a relevant blog.  The Chipotle twitter account responded, not once, not twice, but three times!

photophoto (1)This is a prime example of a brand interacting with customers, but also a very interesting experience that had nearly nothing to do with their product.  They aren’t in the paper bag industry (assuming that is an industry to itself) or in some kind of comedy industry, yet Chipotle made an effort to not only be witty but interact.  Putting something like that on the side of the bag would only offer so many outcomes, one of which being what happened with me.  Instead of wasting the touch point that the bags create, the company was able to create additional value which in my mind only succeeds in putting them even higher on the food chain food chain (not a typo).

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