Posts tagged with "CVS"

America faces baby formula ‘crisis’ as shortage worsens

May 11, 2022

Major U.S. pharmacies recently have restricted sales of baby formula in response to a spiralling shortage of the special milk. CVS and Walgreens are among the big pharmacy chains to have imposed limits on how many cans of baby formula customers can buy at a time, reports the BBC.

The shortages intensified after Abbott— which makes top brand Similac—shut a key factory and issued a recall in February after finding contamination in its supply.

Pressure is building on the Biden Administration to respond to the issue. Republicans—among them, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas)—have called it a “national crisis” that the White House must address.

Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut said she was concerned that the Food and Drug Administration , which regulates formula makers, had responded “far too slowly” to the issue; and to the reports of problems at the Abbott factory in Michigan, which remains closed.

Abbott—the main supplier of baby formula to many of the state government programs for low-income women and children—said it was working with regulators to get the plant re-opened.

The company has been sending extra shipments from a plant in Ireland to try to address the problem—expecting shipments from the country to double this year, it added.

“We know that our recent recall caused additional stress and anxiety in an already challenging situation of a global supply shortage,” the company said in a recent statement.

“We are working hard to help moms, dads and caregivers get the high-quality nutrition they need for their babies.”

As of 24 April, the average out-of-stock rate across the country had jumped to 40%, up from just 30% a few weeks earlier—and 11% in November, according to Datasembly. There were 26 states with out-of-stock rates higher than 40%—compared to just seven states three weeks earlier, it said.

Due to increased demand and various supplier challenges, infant and toddler formulas are seeing constraint across the country,” the major pharmacy chain Walgreens said in a statement, adding, “We continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands.”

Walgreens has limited families to buying three cans at a time—similar to other retailers. A 12.4 ounce can of formula typically lasts for about 15 bottles—or just a few days’ worth of supply.

Companies that produce items like baby formula—for which demand is typically steady over time—have trouble catching up when there is disruption, said Rudi Leuschner, director of the Masters in Supply Chain Management program at Rutgers Business School.

And as parents rush to buy as stories of empty shelves spread, that only makes the problem worse, he warned. “It’s not a situation where you can just snap out of it,” he said. “It was designed to run at one speed.”

While this year’s formula shortage may expose the fragility of the supply chain, it may not be enough to make a business case for backup inventories, Professor Leuschner added.

Overall, birth rates are falling, reaching the lowest point on record in the United States in 2020. Studies also have found that consumption of infant formula has been declining in favor of breast milk.

Research contact: @BBC

U.S. pharmacies to receive 1 million vaccine doses from Biden Administration next week

February 4, 2021

President Joe Biden will free up more doses of COVID vaccine for anxious Americans, his administration announced on February 2. The doses will be available at retail pharmacies nationwide by next week, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The push comes amid new urgency to speed vaccinations to the public, to prevent the spread of potentially more serious strains of the virus that has killed more than 445,000 Americans since the beginning of 2020.

Starting next week, 1 million doses will be distributed to some 6,500 pharmacies across the country, the White House said. The administration is also boosting by 500,000 the weekly allocation of vaccines sent directly to states and territories for the coming weeks, up to 10.5 million. It is allowing state and local governments to receive additional federal dollars to cover previously incurred expenses relating to the pandemic.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients announced the moves on a call with the nation’s governors Tuesday morning and then detailed them to the public in an afternoon news conference.

Drugstores have become a linchpin in the U.S. infrastructure for dispensing flu shots and shingles vaccines—and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly. “This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” Zients said.

“This is a critical step to provide the public with convenient trusted places to get vaccinated in their communities,” he adde, according to the Tribune.

The number of participating pharmacies and the availability of vaccines  are expected to accelerate as drug makers increase production. The White House said the ultimate goal was to distribute the vaccines through more than 40,000 pharmacies nationwide. State and local guidelines will determine who is eligible to get a shot at their neighborhood pharmacy. Availability will be limited at first.

“Getting it into pharmacies is a viable approach,” Dan Mendelson, founder of the health care industry consulting firm Avalere Health told the Tribune. “The pharmacies know how to move people in and out.”

Participating are major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, big box stores such as Walmart and Costco, and supermarket pharmacies. CVS said it will receive 250,000 doses initially, to be distributed to pharmacies in 11 states.

The pharmacy doses will be distributed to states by population, but a priority will be to get the vaccine to minority communities that have suffered a disproportionately high toll of disease and deaths from the virus, Zients said.

Walgreens said it was selected in part to “optimize vaccine access in medically underserved areas.”

The 1 million doses being shipped to pharmacies will be on top of the increased allotments to states over the coming three weeks.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Many happy returns: Retailers are ratcheting up the competition over fast, convenient delivery. Next up? Returns.

November 25, 2019

U.S. shoppers are starting to expect instant gratification. Buy something online and you’ll see it on your doorstep sooner rather than later. But when you want to return that item? Not so fast.

Now, The Chicago Tribune reports, a growing number of online retailers—from e-commerce giant Amazon to small apparel and footwear brands—are teaming up with brick-and-mortar chains to make returns less of a hassle; or at least no worse than the  transaction a customer would experience in a traditional store.

“If people can’t see it or touch it (when they first buy it), they want the option to return it,” Scott Rankin, principal at KPMG BrandVoice in the retail sector, told the Tribune. “Sometimes, they want to do it in a physical store because it’s just easier.”

The trend already is in evidence: Since early 2019, customers have been able to return many items bought on Amazon at any Kohl’s store. And delivery companies UPS and FedEx are partnering with chains like CVS and Walgreens to give shoppers more places to pick up and drop off packages.

Even some smaller online brands now offer in-store returns through Happy Returns, a California-based company that lets shoppers return items from more than 300 digital brands at more than 700 locations nationwide, mostly in malls and in cooperation with national chains like Paper Source and CostPlus World Market.

The Happy Returns service enables companies such as Revole, a women’s apparel brand, and Rothy’s , a footwear brand, to tout easy returns on their websites, The Chicago Tribune reports.

In-person returns with Happy Returns, Revolve’s website says, require “No receipt, return label or shipping box necessary! You just provide your email address or order number and your refund will be initiated immediately.”

In-person returns generally mean quicker refunds, which seems to be the biggest attraction for shoppers, Happy Returns co-founder and CEO David Sobie told the news outlet. But customers also like being able to skip the “arts and crafts project” of prepping items for shipment, he said. Happy Returns gives customers refunds on the spot— no box required.

For stores accepting other brands’ returns, it can be a way to get new customers in the door. Online retailers, meanwhile, know hassle-free returns can make customers more confident about clicking “buy.”

With the holidays fast approaching, in-store returns programs are about to undergo a major test, the Tribune says. U.S. consumers are expected to spend nearly $144 billion online this holiday season, up 14.1% from last year, according to Adobe Analytics.

And those same consumers will be sending millions of unwanted items right back.

In fact, UPS told the Tribune that it expects to handle a record-breaking number of returns this holiday season, with more than 1 million return packages expected to be shipped each day in December, peaking at an estimated 1.9 million packages on January 2.

As for the retail partnership, when they are fully rolled out, both UPS and FedEx said 90% of the U.S. population will live within five miles of a location where they can pick up or drop off a package.

Most of the packages people drop off are returns, and they generally choose the location that’s closest or has the most convenient hours, Scott Harkins, FedEx’s SVP of Customer Experience Marketing told the news out.

“Really, it just comes down to convenience,” Harkins said.

Research contact: lzumbach@chicagotribune.com

Who are ‘influencers’ and how do they get paid?

December 17, 2018

If you enter the hashtag #influencer on Instagram, you’ll quickly navigate to a page with nearly 10 million posts. But that’s only the tip of the influencer iceberg, so to speak. According to Mediakix, there will be 21.7 million brand-sponsored influencer posts on Instagram by the end of the year—and 32.3 million by the end of 2019.

From micro-influencers making $50 per post to Instagram superstars like singer Ariana Grande , who command half a million dollars per post, the Instagram influencer market runs the gamut in terms of following, audience, and engagement; and it has even the biggest brands buying in. AdidasSamsungAmerican ExpressMicrosoft, and many more are finding ways to partner with Instagram influencers to reach their audiences and create new ones.

But how do you get started? In the case of Amber Venz (#venzedits), who spoke to CNN for a December 12 report, by the time she was in high school, she was designing and selling jewelry. And by the time she was 23, Venz was running a website that showcased her work as a personal shopper

 “I posted three times a day, and it was like trend stories and sale alerts,” Venz told the network news outlet.

Within a few months, the site was generating so much buzz around her hometown of Dallas that The Dallas Morning News ran a full-page story about her site. “It said ‘Meet the Blogger… She is now doing all these services online for free.’ My blog actually became quite famous,” she says.

But the “for free” part irked her. According to the CNN rags-to-riches tale, Baxter Box (who was her boyfriend at the time and is now her husband) got her thinking about how she could make money from the “free” fashion and style tips she was offering on her site. That’s when they came up with RewardStyle, an invitation-only platform that allows fashion and lifestyle bloggers and influencers to make money from the content they post.

Created in 2010, the company website says, “RewardStyle influencers have exclusive access to an innovative ecosystem of monetization tools, a global network of 4,500+ retail partners, and tailored growth services-all designed to power the monetization of your content.”

Today, the website has formed a global community of more than 250 team members, 30,000 top-tier influencers, and 1 million brand partners across more than 100 countries.

“With a proprietary ecosystem of innovative technology, strategic growth consulting, global brand partnerships, and expansive consumer distribution, we’re doing more than just monetizing the industry—we’re defining it,” Venez claims.

Here’s how it works, CNN reports: Bloggers write a post or post a photo on social media and hyperlink to a particular brand or retailer’s web site. If a person clicks on the link and purchases the featured product, then the blogger gets a commission. Venz says the commissions vary depending on the brand, but are typically between 10% and 20%.

RewardStyle gets a cut as well, but Venz wouldn’t disclose how much the company makes each time an influencer helps make a sale. “Everyone only gets paid when a consumer actually makes a purchase and the retailer is paid. It is all commission-based,” she said.

“These are primarily women who love fashion or interiors or talking about their family or their fitness routines and they have attracted an audience that loves their point of view and comes to their content on a daily basis,” says Venz. “We’ve given them a way to monetize that.”

And 4,500 brands, including Walmart, CVS, Amazon and Gucci, also use the platform, which has racked up $3.8 billion in total sales since it was founded.

Despite the company’s success, Venz told the news outlet that wants to keep innovating. “We are not low on ideas. So the thinking that we’ve peaked early is honestly not something that’s crossed my mind,” she says.

In 2017, for example, the business introduced a consumer shopping app called LIKEtoKNOW.it. The app lets users take a screenshot of content anywhere on the internet created by an influencer. RewardStyle will then send them links to buy the products that appear in the screenshot. The app has 2 million users and has generated $210 million in sales for its retail partners so far.

“One of the things I love about RewardStyle is that it is empowering thousands of women to do the thing I always wanted to do, which was work in the fashion and media industry,” says Venz.

Research contact: @rewardStyle