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Senate approves Internet sales tax; opposition looms in House

BY Marianne Wilson

Arlington, Va. — The U.S. Senate on late Monday approved the long-debated Internet sales tax proposal, known as the Marketplace Fairness Act, by a bipartisan vote of 69 to 27. The Obama administration has already endorsed the bill, but before it can become law it must be approved by the House, where Republicans are split on the bill.

The legislation would allow the 45 states (and the District of Columbia) that currently charge sales taxes to require large online retailers to collect tax on purchases made by their residents. While some House Republicans have expressed support for the measure, others view it another tax increase on consumers or express fear it would overburden Internet businesses in their states.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) issued the following statement in response to the Senate vote to pass the legislation, which it described as aimed at giving states the power – if they so choose – to better enforce their sales tax laws and to level the playing field for Main Street merchants.

The legislation, sponsored by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) Richard Durbin (D-IL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), passed the Senate by more than a two to one margin.

“The Senate’s overwhelmingly bipartisan passage of this legislation foreshadows the end of the special treatment of big online businesses at the expense of retailers on Main Street,” said Bill Hughes, senior VP for government affairs. “After such a resounding vote in the Senate, we look forward to a constructive debate in the House to level the playing field for all retailers this year.”

“For too long the Main Street retailers that are an integral part of their communities have faced tax rules that put them at a disadvantage to their out of state, online-only competitors. The Senate has voted to ensure that the market, not government, determines winners and losers,” Hughes continued. “We are confident the House will reach the same conclusion."

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Godiva strengthens its omni-channel position

BY CSA STAFF

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — Godiva has signed a new multiyear agreement with eBay company GSI Commerce, which will enable the global chocolatier to leverage GSI’s omni-channel commerce, multichannel retailing and digital marketing services.

Under the terms of the agreement, which extends their existing partnership, GSI will continue to provide fulfillment, order management technology and customer care solutions to the company. Additionally, GSI will now manage freight solutions and co-packing services in conjunction with Godiva’s internal team.

“Our brand is dedicated to delighting our customers and GSI is committed to helping us deliver on that promise with consistent excellence in fulfillment and customer service,” said Godiva CEO Jim Goldman. “Having a trusted partner that can help us grow our business and provide a superior quality delivery solution helps us maintain and evolve this important part of the Godiva experience.”

Godiva uses GSI’s ShipQuik program to seamlessly manage freight costs and resources, which ensures that every package arrives in premium condition. GSI’s co-packing services range from building baskets, towers and gift boxes with personalized messaging to tying custom ribbons on individual truffle boxes. GSI also manages Godiva’s corporate gifting and special events fulfillment program and provides front line customer care for sales and service issues.

“Godiva’s dedication to excellence directly aligns with GSI’s core purpose, which is to deliver an exceptional consumer experience,” said Tobias Hartmann, head of GSI global operations. “And when a world-class brand and its solutions partner have common goals, it’s a win-win situation for consumers.”

Godiva currently operates more than 500 boutiques in more than 70 countries.

GSI’s e-commerce services include technology, order management, payment processing, fulfillment and customer care, and are available on a modular basis or as part of an integrated solution. GSI’s marketing services combine digital marketing products and services, which include database management and segmentation, marketing distribution channels, a global digital agency to drive strategic and creative direction and an advanced advertising analytics and attribution management platform.

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Meijer’s Simply Give program raises $500K

BY CSA STAFF

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Meijer and its customers helped to raise more than $500,000 for food pantries throughout the Midwest. Customers donated $184,230 during the retailer’s Simply Give Double Match Days. Meijer double matched all donations made from April 12-13, bringing the total donation amount to $552,690.

"The tremendous generosity of our customers is an inspiration for us all, and we cannot thank them enough for their partnership," said co-chairman Doug Meijer. "Our Simply Give program, along with the double match efforts, really helps make a difference for our struggling neighbors."

Meijer began double matching customer donations on select days of its Simply Give campaigns to support Hunger Action Month and highlight its continuing commitment to hunger relief.

"This is a huge win for our food pantry partners, who aggressively engaged the community to help every $10 donation stretch even further," said Janet Emerson, EVP of retail operations. "It’s very rewarding to work with so many food pantries whose dedication to food-giving is 2unwavering."

Although the double match has concluded, customers can still donate to the spring Simply Give campaign, which runs through May 18.

The Simply Give program encourages customers to purchase $10 Meijer Food Pantry donation cards, located on kiosks near the checkout, which are then converted into Meijer gift cards and given to the local food pantry selected by the store. The program aims to replenish the shelves of nearly 200 food pantries in the retailer’s five-state region during each campaign.

Traditionally, Meijer seeds each Simply Give campaign with $100,000 in grocery gift cards that are divided among all the participating food pantries. For the second consecutive year, the retailer will contribute $1 million, or the equivalent of 6 million meals, to the program. To date, the Simply Give program has generated nearly $5 million, or about 30 million meals, since it began in November 2008.

The family-owned retailer based in Grand Rapids, Mich., donates more than 6% of its net profit each year to charities throughout the Midwest. With hunger as a corporate philanthropic focus, Meijer partners with hundreds of food banks and pantries through its Simply Give and food rescue programs. Meijer also supports education, disaster relief and health and wellness initiatives.

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