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Amazon.com introduces mobile POS device

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Amazon.com has entered into direct competition with digital payment providers Square and PayPal by releasing Amazon Local Register, a secure card reader and mobile app that allows retailers to accept credit and debit cards from a smartphone or tablet. Users create an account, purchase a $10 card reader, and download a free mobile app.

The card reader is available with free two-day shipping on Amazon.com. As previously reported in Chain Store Age, Amazon Local Register will be available for purchase at Staples retail locations nationwide beginning Aug. 19.

The Amazon Local Register card reader and free mobile app are compatible with a variety of smartphones and tablets, including Apple devices running iOS7, Kindle Fire tablets, select Android smartphones, and coming soon to the new Fire phone. Each customer’s first $10 in transaction fees will be credited back to the customer’s account once Amazon Local Register is in use, allowing customers to fully recoup the cost of the card reader. Money from transactions can be deposited directly into a bank account within one business day, or spent on Amazon.com within minutes.

Amazon Local Register customers will have access to the Amazon.com customer support team, as well as in-app tracking tools. Customers who sign up for Amazon Local Register before Oct. 31, 2014 will also receive a promotional rate of 1.75% per card swipe on all major credit and debit cards until Jan. 1, 2016.

“From clothing stores to contractors, food trucks to accountants, businesses and organizations using Amazon Local Register will enjoy industry-leading low rates, trusted and secure payment processing, and access to award-winning customer support,” said Matt Swann, VP of Amazon Local Commerce. “We understand that every penny and every minute counts, so we want to make accepting payments so easy and inexpensive that it no longer gets in the way of a business owner doing what they love – serving their customers and growing their business.”

Amazon.com also sells compatible POS accessories including cash drawers, receipt printers, smartphone cases and stands.

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Macy’s optimistic about omnichannel ahead of holidays

BY CSA STAFF

Macy’s tempered its full year sales forecast after solid second quarter results and growing optimism around omnichannel initiatives weren’t enough to offset a slow start to the year.

Macy’s said sales increased 3.3% to $6.267 billion and same store sales increased 4% during the second quarter ended August 2. Excluding sales in departments licensed to third parties same store sales increase 3.4%. Profits increased to $292 million, or 80 cents a share, from $281 million, or 72 cents a share.

Despite the solid growth in sales and profits, and positive comments about its omnichannel strategy, Macy’s got off to a slow start in the first quarter due to extreme weather. As a result, the company bumped down its full year same store sales forecast to a range of 2% to 2.5% from an earlier forecast of 2.5% to 3%. However, it kept intact its full year profit forecast for earning per share in the range of $4.40 to $4.50.

Macy’s chairman and CEO Terry Lundgren said the company’s showing in the second quarter was the result of a rebound in shopping activity once weather patterns normalized. The company also benefited from a shift in a major promotional event that fell into the second quarter.

“We are approaching the second half of 2014 with confident optimism in our business strategies, merchandise assortments and marketing plans, tempered with the reality that many customers still are not feeling comfortable about spending more in an uncertain economic environment,” Lundgren said. “Thus, we remain focused on outperforming our competitors through innovation in omnichannel, which has added new dimensions in how consumers can shop us and how our company can satisfy customer demand.”

Macy’s now offers shoppers the capability to buy online and pick up in store at all its locations, according to Lundgren.

“Moreover, our Millennial strategies have sharpened our merchandising and marketing to customers in the age range of 13 to 30. This has created new positive energy as our customers begin back-to-school shopping,” Lundgren said.

Macy’s ended the second quarter with 840 stores in 45 states.

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Jo-Ann Stores CEO resigns

BY CSA STAFF

Hudson, Ohio – Travis Smith has resigned as president and CEO of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. Until a replacement has been identified, Jim Kerr, executive VP and CFO, will serve as Interim CEO of the company, while continuing in his current role as CFO.

The board of directors is undertaking a comprehensive search to identify a replacement. In his role as interim CEO, Kerr will partner with Riddi Kline, executive VP of marketing and merchandising, and Tom Williams, executive VP of operations and HR, to manage the business.

Smith joined Jo-Ann in July 2006 and has served in various executive roles prior to being named CEO in August 2011. Smith oversaw marketing, merchandising, sourcing, inventory management, supply chain and store operations. He expressed goodwill in a public statement but did not identify what his next career move will be.

“I am proud of our accomplishments at Jo-Ann,” said Smith. “Together we have expanded the reach of Jo-Ann by growing the store base, investing in omni-channel initiatives, and improving the customer experience. I wish the company and its employees all the best as I pursue a new chapter in my career.”

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