TIME Retail

Staples Estimates Hackers Breached 1.16 Million Credit Cards

Internal investigation finds traces of malware infecting sales systems at up to 115 locations

Staples confirmed on Friday that suspicious cyber activity, first spotted in September, was most likely a malware attack that may have breached 1.16 million credit cards.

A preliminary investigation found evidence of malware installed in the point-of-sales systems at 115 locations. The malware may have given hackers access to cardholder names, credit card numbers and verification codes. The breaches began in late summer and continued until the retailer detected and removed the malware in mid-September.

The company said that affected customers could request free identity protection services and would not be held liable for fraudulent charges.

TIME technology

Amazon Is Now Delivering to New Yorkers in Less Than an Hour

Getting batteries — or tens of thousands of other daily essentials — just got a bit easier

If you live in Manhattan, getting batteries — or tens of thousands of other daily essentials — just got a bit easier, and you don’t even have get off your couch.

Amazon announced today the launch of Prime Now, a one-hour delivery service for customers who are members of Amazon’s Prime service. Using a smart phone app, members of the service will be able to get items such as “paper towels, shampoo, books, toys and batteries” delivered within one hour, according to a company news release.

One-hour delivery will cost $7.99, while those who are a bit more flexible can get two-hour delivery for free. The service is available seven days a week between 6 a.m. and midnight.

“There are times when you can’t make it to the store and other times when you simply don’t want to go. There are so many reasons to skip the trip and now Prime members in Manhattan can get the items they need delivered in an hour or less,” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said in a statement.

Prime Now is powered by Amazon’s growing network of fulfillment centers. It is launching in parts of New York, and will be available in other cities next year.

Major retailers are battling to improve their delivery times. Earlier this week, Amazon extended the deadline for placing Christmas orders to this Friday. Walmart, meanwhile, announced today that shoppers could place an order on Walmart.com up till Dec. 23 and get free pickup in stores on Christmas Eve.

Who knows what these deals will mean for the companies’ margins, but the deals are definitely good for one group: holiday shopping procrastinations.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Retail

Walmart Must Pay $188 Million to Settle Claims of Cut Rest Breaks

The company said it may appeal the decision

Walmart has been ordered to pay $188 million over claims by employees that the company regularly cut their breaks for meals and rest. The payment would be a settlement for a class-action lawsuit that went all the way to the Pennsylvania Supereme Court. The ruling would hurt Walmart’s earnings, the company said, by reducing its profits from continuing operations by 6 cents per share. Wal-Mart said it may appeal the decision.

The lawsuit involved 187,000 Pennsylvania-based Walmart employees. They worked at the retailer between 1998 and 2006.

[Reuters]

TIME Retail

These New Banks and Businesses Are Now on Apple Pay

TD Bank, Staples are among recent additions

The reach of Apple Pay continues to extend. The mobile payments system that launched on the iPhone 6 will be supported by ten additional banks starting Tuesday, including TD Bank North America and Commerce America Bank, according to the New York Times. Apple Pay will now support about 90% of credit card purchase volume in the U.S., up from 83% when the service launched in October.

Apple has also quietly been adding retailers to its roster of partners post-launch. Staples now supports Apple Pay at its physical stores, as does Winn-Dixie. The tech giant hasn’t released any firm numbers about the use of Apple Pay since announcing that 1 million credit cards were activated on the service in its first 72 hours. However, individual retailers have hinted that the service is seeing wider adoption than previous mobile wallets. McDonald’s, for instance, said in November that 50% of its tap-to-pay transactions are now made using Apple Pay.

[New York Times]

MONEY Shopping

3 Scary Smart Ways Stores Use Your Personal Information

man handing credit card
Robert Hadfield

Shops are saving all your details so they can sell you even more.

Retailers want to get to know you. This should come as no surprise — we’ve all seen how our Internet search history and purchases affect the online ads we see — but it’s just as important for bricks-and-mortar stores to understand their customers.

It’s all about marketing. Whether you like it or not, retailers want you to see sales, deals and new products you’ll be interested in, and the only way they’ll know your preferences is by tracking them.

“In newspapers, we would throw out these blanket ads, and there was so much waste,” said Ritchie Sayner, referencing pre-Internet marking strategies. He has worked for RMSA Retail Solutions, a retail consulting firm, for 35 years and has seen firsthand how direct marketing campaigns have evolved.

Most people know that retailers want their contact information — handing over your name, email address, ZIP code and phone number has become a somewhat standard element of the modern in-store transaction. It’s better than nothing, but a name and email address isn’t much of a customer profile. That’s the bare minimum. If they’re doing it right, a retailer is not only going to know your name and where you live, they’re going to keep track of how much money you spend, your favorite brands, your shoe size and pretty much anything else they can think of. Here’s what they use it for.

1. Clearing Out Inventory

Say you own a shoe store. You’re going through your inventory, and you notice you have three times as many women’s shoes in size seven than in any other size. Where are all the size seven customers? How can you get them to come into your store and solve your superfluous seven problem?

Simple: Send them an email. From boutiques to big-box stores, retailers are doing their best to build robust customer profiles so they can reach a specific group of shoppers when necessary. Sure, you could send an email to all the women on your mailing list, promoting a big weekend shoe sale, but the size nine ladies won’t be too pleased when they show up and all the great shoes are only available in sevens.

“They’re going to keep track of you by ‘She’s a size four, she buys this particular line,’” Sayner said. “If you buy on sale or if you buy at full price — they have more information about you than you’d probably like them to.”

2. Making You Feel Loved

Happy birthday! Enjoy a free cup of coffee. It’s your anniversary? Here’s a coupon for two meals at the price of one! Remember that time you bought something from us last year? It’s that time of year again! Here’s 30% off for nothing in particular — we miss you!

You may not love the idea of a company keeping a ton of information on you, but man, you love getting free stuff on your birthday. It’s like that free birthday cookie makes up for the hundreds of emails that business sends you every other day of the year. Retailers want details on who you are so they can appropriately reward you with freebies and discounts, in exchange for your loyalty.

3. Classifying You

It can be very difficult for a salesperson to get you to share your information — just think of how many times you’ve declined to give the cashier your email address when checking out.

“It’s really hard to do,” said Jason Becker, chief operating officer at RICS Software, a point-of-sale platform. “If you’re going to ask for a customer’s information, you have to give a good reason for why.”

That requires establishing a relationship. The salesperson has to treat you well and earn your trust. At the end, he or she can use your interaction to fill out a customer profile.

It’s funny, because for all the people skills it may require to develop the profile, the way it’s used is quite robotic. You’re no longer Jane who likes running, you’re a 35-year-old female marathoner who spends $300 on athletic gear every three months and replaces her running shoes every February.

“Most softwares also enable the retailer to classify that customer into a cohort, classify that type of runner into what type of runner or athlete that person is,” Becker said, speaking in general about POS systems. “It enables them (retailers) to market more effectively.”

A lot of that information is populated through loyalty programs or entered manually by the sales person, especially if you’re in a smaller store. Larger retailers may generate a customer profile with the information it captures when you swipe a credit card. It happens in many ways, through software of various sophistication levels, but you can confidently assume the stores you frequent have a sort of dossier on you.

For many consumers, that dossier is terrifying because of the slew of retail data breaches that happened in 2014. After having their credit cards compromised, their email addresses stolen and even their passwords cracked, it can be hard to trust a retailer, but it all comes down to what you’re comfortable giving up for a deal.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME Retail

Friday Is Amazon’s Free Shipping Christmas Deadline

Inside An Amazon.com Distribution Center On Cyber Monday
An employee stacks boxes filled with merchandise for shipment at the Amazon.com Inc. distribution center in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Don't miss these deadlines

The perils of shopping for holiday gifts online or sending packages too close to an impending birthday or holiday are well known. It’s all too easy to click ‘place order’ a day late and leave your Christmas stockings un-stocked because your order didn’t arrive on time.

Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, has a huge budget devoted to processing its holiday orders quickly this year. The company recently installed some 15,000 high-tech Kiva robots in its fulfillment centers to whisk items quickly into delivery, and last year, Amazon inked a deal with the U.S. Postal Service to offer Sunday shipping through the season.

There’s no question shipping is squeezing the company’s finances: Amazon spent about $6.64 billion on shipping last year, but only took in about $3.1 billion in shipping payments.

Helpfully, Amazon has a way to make sure you get your online shopping done on time: a simple chart that tells customers when to buy Christmas gifts before it’s too late.

If you live in one of the contiguous 48 states, here are all the last days you can order a present from Amazon if you want to make sure it arrives before wrapping day (December 24).

Free Shipping (Non-Prime) — December 19

Standard Shipping — December 19

Two-Day Shipping — December 22

One-Day Shipping — December 23

Local Express Delivery — December 24

For Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, check out Amazon’s website.

As far as shipping other gifts to your relatives, the rules are a little more complicated because of all the parcel delivery services in the U.S. But no fear—TIME has compiled a list of handy deadlines for shipping gift packages via UPS, USPS and FedEx to friends and family in time for Christmas Eve arrival. A quick caveat: Unexpected weather and human error can always cause unexpected delays with any shipping service, so the earlier your order your gifts, the safer you’ll be.

FedEx

The last day to ship with FedEx via the standard ground shipping for pre-Christmas delivery is Wednesday, December 17.

For FedEx Express, the last day is Tuesday, December 23.

USPS

Do all your standard package shipping with the government-run postal service by Monday, December 15.

For sending greeting cards and priority mail, the last day is Saturday, December 20.

And for procrastinators out there, Priority Mail Express can be used until December 23.

UPS

For standard ground shipping with UPS, send all your packages out by Thursday, December 18.

For UPS 3 Day Select, it’s Friday, December 19.

For UPS 2nd Day Air, you have until Monday, December 22.

For UPS Next Day Air, rely on Tuesday, December 23.

And if things get really urgent and you’re welling to shell out the bucks, UPS Express Critical by December 24 will get the job done.

TIME Money

Amazon Pricing Glitch Loses U.K. Businesses Thousands

Some items were sold for as little as a penny

There’s more to being a successful retailer than keeping your buyers happy.

U.K. businesses that sell via Amazon.com’s local site are up in arms over a software glitch late Friday that led to their items being sold for as little as a penny. Some ended up out of pocket to the tune of up to $30,000.

The incident was down to a problem with a software tool developed by Derry-based RepricerExpress, which allows businesses to offer their goods on Amazon.co.uk.

The software automatically changes prices for the items on sale to guarantee that they stay competitive, but in this instance, it generated a self-reinforcing loop in which goods were automatically re-priced down to a penny.

One user complained on an Amazon bulletin board that stock worth $15,000 had been sold in this fashion within 40 minutes.

“Being they are not based in the US (sic) It takes away lots of options for us to recoup our loses,” the user wrote. “Last night I had to explain to my wife and 3, 4 and 5 year old that we could not take our trip to Disney in February.”

City AM cited one fancy dress company owner as saying her company had lost over $30,000 overnight.

Amazon said it was unable to cancel orders that had been dispatched and charged to customers, but another user on the bulletin board noted that it had been able to cancel those that weren’t slated for urgent shipping.

RepricerExpress chief executive Brendan Doherty said on the company’s website he was “truly sorry for the distress this has caused our customers,” and said Amazon had reassured him that sellers’ accounts wouldn’t be penalized as a result.

It wasn’t clear what degree of compensation would be available to the businesses that had suffered. RepricerExpress didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment from Fortune.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Retail

RadioShack Unveils a Cost-Cutting Plan As Its Losses Deepen

Net sales tumbled 16% due to fall in store traffic

Beleaguered electronics retailer RadioShack reported a wider third-quarter loss as net sales tumbled 16% due to store traffic declines and weakness in the mobility business. Here’s what else you need to know about the company’s earnings report.

What you need to know: RadioShack, which is in the midst of a high-profile tussle with loan providers, reported a 13% slump in same-store sales for the latest quarter, a decline that was mostly due to weakness in the postpaid mobility business. RadioShack attempted to strike a bullish tone by pointing out that the “retail segment,” the half of its business that isn’t mobility, has performed better in the third quarter and during the key Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But it is still troubling that RadioShack posted a double-digit drop in overall same-store sales, especially after larger rival Best Buy recently reported a surprise 2.2% increase in U.S. same-store sales for its latest quarter.

The big number: RadioShack’s quarterly loss swelled to $161.1 million from a loss of $135.9 million a year ago. The company’s total liabilities are at $1.39 billion with total assets of just $1.2 billion (as of February of this year, the retailer had slightly more assets than liabilities). Fitch Ratings on Thursday said that RadioShack’s five-year credit-default swaps have reached their widest levels ever, and said “mounting market concern for RadioShack comes amid speculation over whether a failure to pay credit event has occurred.”

What you might have missed: RadioShack has been in trouble for quite some time, as it is on pace to report its third consecutive annual loss as the seller of mobile devices, accessories and other consumer electronics faces steep competition from larger rivals that sell the same products but typically with a wider selection. RadioShack CEO Joseph Magnacca on Thursday promised cost-cutting efforts that would boost earnings “by over $400 million annually,” including efforts to trim expenses at the company’s headquarters as well as close some locations. While cost-cutting is important, it is also interesting to note that RadioShack’s net loss for the first nine months of the current fiscal year already totaled nearly $400 million, and Wall Street analysts expect the company to lose more than $100 million in the key fourth quarter.

RadioShack is also finding itself distracted by an argument about the terms of a $250 million loan that was provided by Cerberus Capital Management and Harbinger Group. Magnacca earlier this month said that the lenders “have repeatedly blocked our efforts to accelerate and intensify our turnaround and make smart decisions for our business.” One area of contention: RadioShack has repeatedly requested that the lenders sign off on the closure of up to 1,100 stores, but hasn’t yet won approval for that move.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Retail

Supreme Court Rules Amazon Workers Don’t Have to Be Paid for Security Checks

Workers had argued that security screening lines amounted to extra work time

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that workers in Amazon’s warehouses don’t have to be paid for the time they spend waiting in security screening lines after their shifts end.

The 9-0 ruling reverses a federal appeals court ruling in 2013 which found that workers should be paid during the waiting time because the screenings were a necessary part of their jobs that benefited their employer, Mashable reports. But the Supreme Court said that because the security screenings were not part of the tasks employees had been hired to perform—picking up products from shelves in Amazon’s massive warehouses—workers did not have to be paid for the time spent in line.

“The security screenings at issue are noncompensable postliminary activities,” the Justices wrote. “The workers were employed not to undergo security screenings but to retrieve products from warehouse shelves and package them for shipment.”

Workers for Integrity Staffing Solutions, an Amazon contractor, had said they had to wait as long as 25 minutes in security screening lines after work before they could leave the warehouses. But an Amazon spokesperson said the screenings require “little or no wait.”

[Mashable]

MONEY Shopping

Controversial Abercrombie CEO Steps Down

Michael S. Jeffries, chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch.
Michael S. Jeffries, former CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch. Mark Lennihan—AP

The CEO who called his brand "exclusionary" and only for "cool kids" is retiring.

Michael Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, is retiring effective immediately, the clothing retailer announced on Tuesday.

Jeffries, who made headlines with tone-deaf comments about the company’s business practices, was relieved of his duties as chairman in January after investors became dissatisfied with his leadership.

Abercrombie stock—which rose more than 6% on the news—is down more than 60% from its highs in 2006-2007 and down almost 20% in the last year.

Jeffries, who during his 20-year tenure with the company turned it into a trendy powerhouse with more than $1 billion in sales, took heat in recent years for failing to keep up with “fast fashion” brands like Forever 21 and Zara and falling out of favor with its primary teen demographic. But the now-former CEO also tarnished the brand through a series of poorly conceived public statements and business decisions that alienated potential customers.

In an infamous 2006 interview with Salon, Jeffries bragged:

In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids… A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.

And:

That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.

That interview later resurfaced in 2013, along with news that Abercrombie was refusing to offer plus-size clothing, even as competitors like H&M began to make their sizing more inclusive. Together, the revelations caused renewed backlash against the brand.

According to the company’s announcement, a management team led by Executive Chairman Arthur Martinez will manage the company until a new CEO is appointed.

 

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