OPERATIONS

Endicia releases return shipping solution

BY Dan Berthiaume

Palo Alto, Calif. — Endicia, a provider of e-commerce shipping technologies and services, has released a solution called "Pay-on-Use Returns" exclusively for the United States Postal Service (USPS). Unlike traditional USPS labels, Endicia’s Pay-on-Use Returns shipping labels are not pre-paid.

Postage is only deducted if and when a return label is scanned into the mail stream. Endicia’s Pay-on-Use Returns service joins the existing suite of Endicia Returns solutions, which includes pre-paid USPS return labels and the recently released cross-border Canada Returns. The extended returns’ capability increases the functionality of Endicia’s shipping technology platform, enabling Endicia customers to manage end-to-end shipping labels for domestic and international destinations.

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Ulta Beauty looks good as weather no worry

BY CSA STAFF

With an 8.7% same store sales increase, the addition of 21 new stores, a burgeoning digital business and surging first quarter profits, Ulta Beauty demonstrated why it is one of the retail industry’s most compelling growth stories.

First quarter sales for the period ended May 3 increased 22.5% to $713.8 million thanks to the addition of 120 new stores since the end of the first quarter of 2013. The company also produced an 8.7 same store sales increase that came on top of a prior year increase of 6.7%. Profits increased 19.4% to $50 million and earnings per share grew 18.5% to 65 cents. The biggest surge came in the e-commerce area where comparable sales grew 72.3%, a figure distorted by growth coming of a small base the prior year.

“Ulta Beauty delivered strong sales and earnings growth in the first quarter,” said Ulta CEO Mary Dillon. “The team’s accomplishments included improving retail transactions which turned positive, driving continued momentum in our online business, successfully rolling out new brands, completing a smooth conversion of our loyalty program members onto one platform, and managing inventory very well.”

While the overall numbers were solid, Ulta did report that gross margins contracted to 34.5% of sales from 35% and the operating margin also contracted to 11.3% of sales from 11.6%. It also forecast second quarter same store sales may increase only 5% to 7% after advancing 8.4% the prior year.

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Ace Hardware polishes up on nail color with OPI

BY CSA STAFF

As the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the industry, Ace Hardware knows plenty about paint. But it turns out it may also know a thing or two about nail color. In the first-ever collaboration of its kind, Ace Hardware has partnered with nail lacquer brand OPI to create an exclusive color palette by Clark+Kensington, Ace’s premium paint line.

The new color palette will launch this month in more than 3,200 Ace Hardware stores nationwide and offer consumers the opportunity to adopt their favorite nail lacquer colors as part of their home décor.

"We are thrilled to offer women a unique way to extend their personal style into their decorating style through paint color," said Mary Rice, president and GM of Ace Paint. "The OPI Color Palette by Clark+Kensington was curated to encourage consumers to bring fashion-forward colors into their homes through the hues they’ve grown to love in the nail salon."

The OPI Color Palette by Clark+Kensington will launch with three collections made up of six OPI shades each, for a total of 18 new paint colors. Each of the OPI Color Palette by Clark+Kensington collections will also offer five coordinating Clark+Kensington colors, providing additional inspiration to homeowners.

"It was important for OPI to partner with Ace Hardware, a known industry expert in paint, to bring our iconic colors to life," said Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI co-founder and EVP. "The paint colors in the OPI Color Palette by Clark+Kensington offer a refreshing alternative to the home décor category and we’re excited to give our fans the opportunity to experience their favorite OPI colors in a new way. Clark+Kensington is now fashion’s favorite paint!"

Clark+Kensington, a premium line of paint+primer in one, is available exclusively at Ace Hardware. Launched in 2011, the paint line was introduced with an original palette of 120 colors. Last month, Ace introduced a new Clark+Kensington color palette featuring designer-selected hues that cover the entire color spectrum, along with tools to help homeowners select colors. The Clark+Kensington paint line and OPI Color Palette will be showcased within the newly designed, boutique style Ace Paint Studio.

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