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Kohl’s bets big on beauty

BY CSA STAFF

Beauty and skin-care figure prominently in Kohl’s multi-year turnaround plan.

The retailer recently finished adding beauty departments to all its stores, the Dallas Morning News reported, and even managed to do it couple years ahead of schedule.

As part of its efforts, Kohl's is investing in its beauty staff, and brought some 1,200 store associates from across the U.S. to Dallas last week to attend classes held by 30 of its beauty vendors, according to the report.

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New online tax legislation proposed

BY Marianne Wilson

Various forms of online sales tax legislation have been introduced in Congress over the past 15 years but none have won passage. And now there is a new proposal.

The new draft online sales tax legislation was released Thursday by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte. His proposal, The Online Sales Tax Simplification Act of 2016, is aimed at addressing disparity in sales tax collection obligations between Main Street retailers and online-only retailers. It would allow states that take certain steps to require online sellers to collect sales tax.

“Retailers are pleased that the process is advancing and we look forward to an open debate in the House aimed at ensuring that all retailers can compete on a level playing field,” said Joe Rinzel, senior VP for government affairs, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). “Retailers have worked earnestly with chairman Goodlatte for several years to resolve this issue. While retailers welcome today’s action by the Chairman to move the process forward, we will continue to press for changes that achieve true parity at the point-of-sale.”

“We hope this move will bring the attention needed to get Congress to move forward in treating purchases made online the same as those made in local stores when it comes to sales tax collection,” said NRF senior VP for government relations David French. “The price advantage held by online sellers when they don’t have to collect sales tax has resulted in the shuttering of bricks-and-mortar retail stores in almost every community across the nation over the last few years. That cannot be allowed to continue.”

Under a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, online sellers can only be required to collect sales tax in states where they have a physical presence such as their headquarters, stores, offices or warehouses. The court held that sales tax laws are too complicated for a seller in one state to know how much tax to collect from a buyer in another state.

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Staples targets back-to-school needs with new app feature

BY Marianne Wilson

Staples wants to make back-to-school shopping virtually effortless.

The retailer announced a new beta test available on its mobile iOS app. Customers can now send a photo of their child’s back-to-school list via the Staples Easy System on the app and a Staples associate will populate the customer’s shopping cart with everything they need.

Parents can snap a photo of their back-to-school list, send it to a Staples associate via the Staples Easy System (on the app) and then be provided with the best product options within 24-48 hours. Once the list has been populated, customers can choose to buy now or customize their items in the cart, and if they want to pick up their order in store where available or have it shipped to them.

“We listened to customer feedback about their limited time for back-to-school shopping and delivered an experience utilizing the power of mobile,” said Faisal Masud, executive VP, e-commerce and customer experience, Staples. “This new experience enables us to do the hard work on behalf of our customers and we’re already seeing 10 percent of our iOS users interact with the chat feature on a daily basis.”

The new system uses computer vision, artificial intelligence, crowdsourced data, and mobile interfaces to enable this chat-based experience, which also makes it easy for customers to ask Staples for any changes or other service questions.

The beta test is now in effect for select customers, and has applications beyond just back-to-school shopping, as businesses can use the feature to snap a photo of their office or breakroom to get product re-ordering suggestions.

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