Today in Retail: Overstock CEO Wants to End Returns; Party City Looks Ahead to Festive 2022

Party City

Today in retail, Target is increasing its starting hourly pay to $24 in some markets, while eBay could soon accept cryptocurrency. Plus, Etsy picks up a $4 million tab for Ukrainian seller fees.

eBay Could Announce Decision on Crypto Payments March 10

Global eCommerce marketplace eBay could make an announcement about its plans to accept cryptocurrency payments during its March 10 Investor Day 2022, according to a report in TheStreet. CEO Jamie Iannone told TheStreet “we’re going to go deeper on all of these things—payments, advertising, our focus categories.”

eBay processes $85 billion in payments volume directly on its platform, which “gives us the ability to open up new forms of payment,” said Iannone. eBay recently accepted Google Pay and Apple Pay, as well the BNPL option Afterpay in Australia “that appeals to Gen Z.”

Overstock CEO: More Photos, Videos, Metaverse-Like AR Needed to Cut Furniture Returns

Overstock CEO Jonathan Johnson told PYMNTS it’s still “a pain in the tush” for customers to return furniture or other unwanted items. The best solution to the costly returns problem, he said, is to avoid them in the first place.

Overstock includes as many photos and videos as possible with items it sells and retains customer reviews, even when they’re less than complimentary about the product they received.

It’s important to make the return process easier in terms of self-processing, repackaging and labeling, but Johnson believes that stopping returns early before they start as the best way to go. The company is exploring the addition of augmented reality technology to stop returns from happening altogether.

Etsy Wipes Out $4M in Ukrainian Seller Balances

Crafts-focused marketplace Etsy has wiped out all balances owed by sellers in Ukraine on its platform, totaling almost $4 million in listing fees, transaction fees and more, as the country is in under attack by Russia.

It’s the latest step by big business to respond to Russia’s attacks on the Ukraine, which has also included Airbnb offering free short-term housing to refugees fleeing Ukraine.

“The events unfolding in Ukraine weigh heavily on us all,” wrote Etsy CEO Josh Silverman in a blog post Monday (Feb. 28) explaining the company’s decision. “Being part of a community means that when one part is suffering, the rest of us must step up and offer our support.”

Party City Focuses on In-Store Experience, Customer Engagement

Party goods company Party City said its commitment to enhancing its in-store experience for customers helped it meet fourth-quarter expectations, and it plans to ramp up customer engagement as party planners shop for goods this year with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions beginning to go away for good.

Most states have dropped or lowered mandates related to large gatherings, meaning big parties are coming back this spring after being largely shelved since the pandemic swept around the globe starting two years ago.

Party City CEO Brad Weston said in the company release Monday (Feb. 28) that he expects a return to pre-pandemic foot traffic and party planning this year.

Retail Wage War Escalates as Target Offers $24/Hour in Competitive Markets

Target on Monday (Feb. 28) said it’s planning to boost starting wages in tight labor markets to as much as $24 per hour and allowing new employees who work 25 hours or more at its 1,900 stores to become eligible for the company’s health benefit policy sooner than in the past.

Target implemented a $15 base rate for employees in 2017. Chief Human Resource Officer Melissa Kremer said the upgraded wages and benefits will cost Target $300 million this year.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but California and Washington, D.C. have increased their base rates to $15 an hour this year, with a handful of other states, including New York and Connecticut, stair-stepping up to that level over a period of years.