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Square increases access to omnichannel payment

BY CSA STAFF

Payments processing company Square is launching new APIs that will open its platform to seamlessly conduct transactions in-store or digitally.

A new e-commerce API will allow retailers of all sizes to accept payments for transactions on their websites. It provides a hosted Javascript library that embeds a secure credit card form on the page. A one-time use token encrypts the customer’s payment information as it travels to the retailer’s application server, which then sends the card notice and payment details to Square for processing.

Since the customer’s actual payment card data is never stored on the retailer’s site, hosted Square e-commerce transactions are PCI-compliant. The e-commerce API also offers features such as dashboard reporting and assistance from Square with chargebacks.

Square is also releasing a register API that allows retailers to build their own apps for in-store or mobile payment. Other APIs focus on areas including item and inventory management, sales reporting and analytics, and employee management.

Square does offer existing solutions that handle activities such as digital payment processing, but its new APIs allow retailers to take advantage of Square for e-commerce and other features without having to implement Square software. It also important to note that Square’s e-commerce API provides a seamless back-end that will help support omnichannel commerce.

The company is pursuing increased payment processing volume at the possible expense of software sales. Considering the glut of transactional solutions on the market, focusing on easy omnichannel volume growth may not be a bad idea.

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Sales at Claire’s fall in Q4

BY Gina Acosta

Claire's Stores blamed currency exchange rates and store cloures for its decrease in revenue in the fourth quarter.

The specialty retailer said that for the period ended Jan. 30, net sales were $402.6 million, a decrease of $9.8 million, or 2.4% compared to the fiscal 2014 fourth quarter. The company said the decrease was attributable to an unfavorable foreign currency translation effect of non-U.S. net sales, the effect of store closures, decreased shipments to franchisees and a 0.2% decrease in same-store sales.

For the full year, net sales were $1.4 billion, a decrease of $91.4 million, or 6.1% compared to fiscal 2014. Same store sales decreased 1.2% in fiscal 2015. In North America, same store sales decreased 0.1% in fiscal 2015 while Europe same store sales decreased 3%.

Adjusted EBITDA in fiscal 2015 was $217.3 million, compared to $248 million in fiscal 2014.

The company operates through its stores under two brand names: Claire's and Icing. As of Jan. 30, Claire's Stores operated 2,867 stores in 17 countries throughout North America and Europe, excluding concession store locations.

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Supplier survey bodes well for retail sales

BY Marianne Wilson

If the major suppliers of soft goods such as clothing and accessories to retail stores are a bellwether of the economy, then the coming months are looking to provide a jolt as 75% of these suppliers expect retail sales to significantly outpace the gross domestic product for the spring and summer shopping season.

That’s one of the major findings of a new survey conducted by Capital Business Credit.

According to the Global Retail Manufacturers and Importers Survey, the vast majority of those surveyed believe that 2016 will either be better (45.5%) than or the same (38.6%) as 2015. How much better? Seventy-five percent believe that retail sales will grow by 4% or more, outpacing core GDP growth.

"While retail sales for January and February were lower than initially anticipated, this hasn't seemed to deter retail suppliers' confidence or business activity," said Andrew Tananbaum, executive chairman, CBC. "In fact, nearly 90% of importers and suppliers are reporting reorders for the spring/summer shopping season.”

Retailers have become increasingly reticent to stock shelves if they do not believe products will sell or consumers will buy, according to Tananbaum, and the reorders mean that the major retail chains and individual stores are optimistic.

When it comes to orders that retailers are placing, the majority stated they have increased or stayed the same (78%). Approximately half (49.1%) indicated that they have increased.
Of those that stated orders have increased, one third indicated that orders increased between 7% and 10%, while 28.8% said that orders increased by more than 10%.

The Impact of the Chinese Yuan
Given that so many U.S. retail goods are produced in China, the devaluation of the yuan has been an important factor for importers and retailers to increase profitability while keeping prices low.

Half of respondents are considering increasing their Chinese production due to the strong dollar vs. the yuan. A third (37%) believe that margins may increase due to the lower cost to produce goods in China, however the majority (56.7%) do not think this will translate into lower consumer prices.

On the flip side, 71% believe that the strong U.S. dollar will impact foreign spending domestically.

"While the overall recovery from the great recession of 2008 has been sluggish, the low costs of goods produced in China has allowed the U.S. consumer to stretch their spending dollars and allowed retailers to keep costs down," Tananbaum concluded. "In our opinion, this is the first time since the recession that manufacturers, importers and other participants in the retail goods supply chain will have the opportunity to recover some of the margins they lost over the past decade."

CBC surveyed approximately 30 retail importers and manufacturers that supply approximately $800 million in goods at retail outlets throughout the United States. These wholesalers sell to all segments of the retail supply chain with the exception of the juniors market.

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