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Costco gets down to business with SMB payments

BY Dan Berthiaume

Costco Wholesale Corp. is getting down to business on processing payments from small-to-mid-sized business (SMB) customers.

The wholesale chain is extending an existing relationship with payment processing solutions provider Elavon aimed at improving service and security for SMB members.

The payment processing program for Costco’s SMB members includes POS, mobile and e-commerce solutions, all of which adhere to EMV and PCI compliance requirements. Costco members can obtain program services online and in-store.

“Since 1997, Elavon has delivered exceptional value and service to members who use our payment processing as well as our other popular business products,” said Tom Padilla, assistant VP, Costco Services. “Our members will continue to benefit from our relationship with Elavon.”

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Study: Consumers not ready to pay with EMV

BY Dan Berthiaume

In the 1970s, Saturday Night Live had a cast of comedians that were called the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players.” In 2015, U.S. retailers have a cast of customers that could be called the “Not Ready for EMV Payers.”

According to a new survey from payment provider ACI, six in 10 (59%) of consumers have not yet received EMV-compliant, chip-enabled payment cards. And of the 41% who have received chip-enabled cards, 23% have not received any information from their banks or retailers about EMV. Sixty-seven percent of surveyed consumers do not understand EMV or how it will affect them.

EMV awareness, which does not connote understanding, shows interesting demographic trends, The age groups with the highest awareness is 55-to-64 (86%), even beating “digital native” 18-to-35-year-old millennials (80%). This is followed by 35-to-44-year-olds (75%), with awareness dropping to 66% among 45-to-54-year-olds and 65-plus.

While 55% of respondents with a household income of $100,000 or more per year have received chip-enabled cards, 80% of respondents with a household income less than $35,000 per year have not even received information on EMV.

Regionally, consumers in the Western U.S. who received chip-enabled card were most likely to think they did because of a data breach (25%), followed by consumers in the Northeast (17%), Midwest (10%) and South (7%).

Sixteen percent of respondents in the Northeast had requested chip-enabled cards, followed by consumers in the South (10%), West (8%) and Midwest (1%).

Retailers are even less ready for EMV than consumers, according to one recent study. Only 27% of U.S. merchants will be EMV-ready by the October 1st liability shift, down from the 34% estimated in March, according to a survey by The Strawhecker Group.

In addition, the most recent numbers announced by Visa indicate that less than one-fifth (18%) of their 720 million debit and credit cards as of July contain a new embedded chip and will be ready for the Oct. 1 EMV deadline.

See infographic for more insights:

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Macy’s begins huge holiday hiring push

BY Mike Troy

The workforce at Macy’s will swell by 50% in the coming month as the department store retailer looks to elevate service levels during the holiday season.

Macy’s said it plans to hire 85,000 workers, versus 86,000 last year, for temporary positions at its Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores, call centers, distribution centers and online fulfillment centers. The company had roughly 167,000 employees at the end of its fiscal year on Jan. 31, 2015.

"Macy's and Bloomingdale's customers have come to appreciate the higher level of our staffing and service throughout the Christmas and holiday shopping season, and our associates love the employment and income-earning opportunities at this very special time of the year," said Terry Lundgren, Macy's chairman and CEO. "We first offer our current associates the opportunity to work extra hours over the holidays, then supplement our ongoing workforce with seasonal hires. This enhanced staffing allows us to provide additional help to customers, whether they are shopping in stores or online."

Online is an area where the $28 billion department store retailer is looking to elevate its game again this year so a large number of positions are related to executing the company’s omnichannel strategy. For example, 12,000 of the 85,000 positions this year will be based in the company’s direct-to-consumer fulfillment centers compared to 10,000 of last year’s 86,000 temporary positions. The positions are located in large distribution centers in Goodyear, Arizona; Cheshire, Connecticut; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Portland, Tennessee; and Martinsburg, West Virginia, and in product-specific fulfillment centers in Sacramento, California; Stone Mountain, Georgia; Secaucus, New Jersey; and Joppa, Maryland.

The company is also ramping up customer service efforts via telephone, email and online chat by hiring 1,600 people at facilities in Mason, Ohio; Clearwater, Florida; Tempe, Arizona; and St. Louis. Last year, the company hired about 1,125 people at those same facilities.

"These seasonal positions represent much-needed jobs for America, and they fill an important niche in the employment spectrum. Especially at the holidays, we employ students working during break to help pay tuition, retirees seeking to remain active and individuals from many walks of life wanting to supplement their income. We are proud to offer them this opportunity to work in a fun, fast-paced and respectful environment," Lundgren said.

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