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Staples expands Staples Connect

BY Dan Berthiaume

Framingham, Mass. – Staples and Zonoff are expanding the Staples Connect platform in stores and online, including new ecosystem device partners, support for additional wireless protocols, and the opening of a Manhattan in-store display. Companies announcing support for the 2014 expansion of the Staples/Zonoff ecosystem include Kwikset, Netgear, Radio Thermostat, Centralite, Withings, Waxman, Goji, Koubachi, and Rachio.

These join existing partners already available in Staples stores or online at Staples.com including Lutron, Philips, Linksys, Honeywell, First Alert, Yale, GE, D-Link, Cooper, Leviton, Schlage, Ecolink, Aeotech, Ivee and Doorbot.

The Staples Connect platform is also planning to expand support for ZigBee, Bluetooth and Insteon based products, which will join Z-Wave, Lutron ClearConnect and Wi-Fi as radios/protocols supported.

"Staples Connect is already the most aggressive and interactive retail initiative to bring the connected home and office to the mainstream consumer," said Peter Gerstberger, director, technology merchandise, new business development, Staples. "We look forward to continuing to expand the device support and system capabilities over the coming weeks and months."

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Report: Apple opens store on Chinese online marketplace

BY Dan Berthiaume

Cupertino, Calif. – Apple Inc. has reportedly opened a digital store on the Chinese online marketplace Tmall. According to the Wall Street Journal, the design of the Tmall digital store is similar to the design of Apple’s own Chinese e-commerce site.

Tmall is owned by Alibaba Group Holding Inc., which operates a group of e-commerce businesses that earn more than $170 billion annually. Tmall hosts more than 70,000 global retailers, including Gap and Nike. A Tmall spokesperson confirmed that Apple does have a digital store on the site while Apple declined comment.

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OSHA proposes $236K in safety fines for Forever 21

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited fashion retail chain Forever 21 for exposing employees to safety hazards at its stores in Paramus, N.J., and Manhattan. OSHA inspected both stores in July after receiving complaints alleging violations and proposed $236,500 in penalties.

Inspectors cited the company for four repeat violations at the Paramus store, including obstructed exit routes; a fire extinguisher that was not mounted and readily accessible; stored material that was not secured against sliding or collapse; and fluorescent lights that had no cover to prevent accidental contact or breakage.

Inspectors issued citations for two repeat violations to the Manhattan store, including obstructed exit routes and fluorescent lights with no covers. A serious citation was also issued because the store was not kept clean and orderly.

“It is unacceptable for Forever 21 to continue repeating these violations, which are common among retailers, and put workers at serious risk,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York. “Retail managers have a legal responsibility to inspect their stores, identify potential hazards and quickly eliminate them to ensure worker safety and health.

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