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Industry News - October 23rd, 2009



Walmart Launches Game-Changing Cell Phones

Walmart recently announced it will offer a branded low-cost prepaid service, "Straight Talk," which could end up being the "tipping point for millions of consumers who are already considering moving away from expensive contract-based cell phone service," according to New Millennium Research (NMRC) executive director Allen Hepner.

Walmart will offer this service its "Straight Talk" prepaid wireless service at the $30 and $45 levels with average monthly contract plans reported to be about $81. More than 140 million U.S. contract-based wireless customers who use less than 550 minutes a month may now have even more reason to consider switching to a less expensive cell phone option, particularly in a changing environment in which plans for 1,000 minutes are available through Walmart for $30 per month, says Hepner.

The $30 plan (with 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts per month, mobile Web access and no-extra cost 411 calls, with no contract and no penalties) and the $45 plan (unlimited calling, texting, mobile Web and 411) that Walmart now offers under the "Straight Talk" brand are likely to play out as real "head turners": for consumers who associate the massive retailer with the experience of buying goods and services at the lowest possible price according to Hepner.

The NMRC published December 2008 and March 2009 public opinion survey projects that gauged the attitudes of U.S. phone consumers about contract-based and wireless cell-phone service.

Highlights of the March 2009 and December 2008 NMRC surveys include:

-Two out of five Americans with contract-based cell phones - are likely to cut back on their cell phones to save money if, as is widely expected, the economy gets worse over the next six months.

- 26 percent of consumers with contract-based cell phone service - are more inclined today than six months ago to look at a way to save money on your cell phone bill, such as by switching to a prepaid cell phone service.

- Of those Americans with cell phones, fewer than one in five (16 percent or nearly 29 million people) have a prepaid phone. Of the balance, 85 percent have postpaid/contract-based service where they pay a monthly fee.

For the full March 2009 and December 2008 survey findings, go to http://www.thenmrc.org.


Hugo Boss Adds Digital Displays to Promote Fragrance

Hugo Boss adds engaging digital displays and deploys GestureTek ScreenFX for Retail Mall Advertising. Over 70 head-turning special effects come included with the program along with interactive, customizable screen applications.

Hugo Boss turned to Trinanda Media, GestureTek's dealer in Brazil, to install motion-responsive interactive advertising signs in four São Paulo retail malls. The interactive gesture-control digital signs were used to promote the release of the perfume, Hugo Element.

The ScreenFX system is designed for use on retail screens and store windows because the camera is positioned behind the display, looking out at the surrounding environment. Using GestureTek's gesture recognition software, the ScreenFX system reacts directly to the movement of people nearby and responds with various changes to the interactive images and special effects


Mattel Launches Interactive, Social Shopping Destination

Mattel announces the launch of MattelShop.com, an online shopping destination that offers a complete selection of Mattel products, informative content, and an immersive social shopping experience.

"We have developed a unique online shopping destination that is playful, social and informative," said Chuck Scothon, General Manager & Senior Vice President, Mattel Digital Network. "The MattelShop.com serves as a research and shopping tool allowing parents, grandparents and gift givers alike to choose the best toys for children this holiday season."

The MattelShop.com features innovative tools including ShopTogether, a social shopping tool from DecisionStep that allows anyone to browse the site together with family and friends anywhere around the world. The ShopTogether feature allows shoppers to chat in real-time regarding the toys they like most, just like one would do on a shopping trip.

The site includes a complete catalog of Mattel's popular brands plus many other toys, games and licensed products. Shoppers can choose to shop by age, gender, play preference, or find the hottest new products on the big or small screen from Mattel's entertainment related portfolio.

MattelShop.com e-commerce innovations include:

Shop Together: MattelShop.com shoppers will be able to invite friends and family to browse the Web site with them, so they can see what products others are looking at and "talk" about them at the same time using real-time chat.

ConciseClick: When watching videos, this rollover-and-click technology provides a description, price and opportunity to drop products immediately into a shopping cart.

Play Pattern Navigation: Shoppers can navigate the site based on child's play behaviors.

Shoppers can also become fans of the MattelShop.com on Facebook to get the inside scoop on what's hot for the holidays, follow the Mattel Shop on Twitter for updates and special promotions and subscribe to the Mattel Shop YouTube Channel to view product content.


United Natural Foods Optimizes Supply Chain Processes

United Natural Foods selects the Manhattan SCOPE supply chain process platform from Manhattan Associates to optimize its supply chain from planning through execution.

"Our supply chain transformation is driven by an overall goal of improving our service to customers while better managing inventory and ultimately the operating performance for our company, as well as our vendors and suppliers," said John Stern, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, UNFI. "In addition, a fully optimized supply chain will support our plans for growth over the next 3-5 years."

UNFI's Manhattan SCOPE portfolio selections include:
-Solutions from the Manhattan Distribution Management product suite will be implemented within UNFI distribution centers across the country.

-Solutions from the Transportation Lifecycle Management suite will optimize the logistics of delivering more than 60,000 products to more than 17,000 customers.

-Manhattan Inventory Optimization and Demand Forecasting solutions will replenish inventory and free cash flow while getting the right products to the right place at the right time.

-Solutions from Manhattan's Order Lifecycle Management suite will help enhance UNFI's industry-leading order fulfillment rate.

- Manhattan's Supply Chain Intelligence and Supply Chain Visibility applications will provide real-time insight into supply chain performance.


Mi Pueblo Food Centers Manage Labor, Sales with Workforce Central Suite

Mi Pueblo Food Centers, a California-based grocery chain, upgrades to version 6.1 of the Kronos Workforce Central suite. The new version will help Mi Pueblo further balance labor costs, variable staffing needs, and complex labor laws with customer loyalty, employee satisfaction, and profitability.

Mi Pueblo standardized processes with Kronos to improve organizational visibility and better manage labor to sales. Also, through biometric data collection terminals, Kronos enables the retailer to eliminate buddy punching (the costly act of employees punching in for one another).
By automating error-prone processes, including timekeeping, attendance tracking, and leave management, Mi Pueblo minimizes risks of non-compliance with federal, state, and union labor regulations including complex California meal and break laws.

The new version from Kronos offers hundreds of ease-of-use, integration, and deep functionality enhancements. Through integration with Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), the latest version of the Workforce Central suite helps Mi Pueblo transform enterprise data into critical information. Additionally, managers are able to analyze sales-per-labor-hour through seamless Microsoft Excel integration.

Workforce Central 6.1 also helps Mi Pueblo further simplify key HR processes of compensation planning, performance reviews, and employee training and development.

"At a time when we are rapidly expanding, it is a big bonus to have our critical workforce business processes completely automated and optimized with Kronos," says Hector Salas, vice president of human resources, Mi Pueblo Food Centers. "With the new version, we are looking forward to further improving productivity, customer service, and employee satisfaction. This aligns with our core values of care and respect for each employee that translates to a satisfying customer experience across our stores."


Rite Aid’s Inventory Reduction Initiative Cuts 13% of SKUs

Rite Aid has reduced its SKU count by about 3700 SKUs, or about 13 percent since launching its inventory reduction initiative last year. "I think we are through the steepest part of the inventory reduction," says John T. Standley, President, Chief Operating Officer of Rite Aid.

According to Standley, ongoing initiatives include the company's back-room inventory reduction program and its SKU optimization initiative.

"These two initiatives will provide some smaller more gradual inventory reduction over the remainder of the year and should help us put the disciplines in place to help keep our inventory under control going forward," says Standley.

Other initiatives that began last year and continue to roll out this year include more efficient transportation, routing, bi-weekly deliveries in 1800 low volume stores, a reduction in administrative headcount in its distribution facilities, lower fuel costs and lower product handling costs resulting from a significant reduction in inventory.

Also, the Bohemia Long Island facility and the Atlanta facility are now closed.


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