Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

To better compete with Amazon, Walmart is reinventing itself from a big box retailer into a tech powerhouse, starting with the 2016 purchase of Jet.com. Other recent deals in this vein include a partnership with Alphabet’s Waymo to provide rides to and from its stores; Uber, Lyft and Postmates deals for grocery delivery; and another with Japan’s Rakuten for Kobo e-readers. Last month, Walmart switched its cloud operations to Microsoft Azure and Office 365 and inked a five-year deal to work with Microsoft on AI projects. Continue reading Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

Amazon to Launch Small Delivery Companies for ‘Last Mile’

Amazon is expanding its package delivery business in an interesting way: it’s inviting interested parties to form small delivery companies of up to 100 drivers and to lease between 20 and 40 Amazon vans. In this way, Amazon can quickly expand its “last mile” delivery network into turf now dominated by FedEx and United Parcel Service. The company says it is merely responding to the need to handle an increasing number of orders on its platform; analysts estimate that more than $4 of every $10 spent online is on Amazon. Continue reading Amazon to Launch Small Delivery Companies for ‘Last Mile’

Facebook Monitors Advertisers via Customer Feedback Tool

Facebook is introducing a new feature that will allow users to leave feedback after buying products from advertisers on its site, with the goal of cracking down on businesses that sell shoddy goods or don’t deliver them promptly. In addition to this new tool, Facebook is also warning e-commerce companies that get large numbers of complaints, to allow them to improve. If the companies do not clean up their act, says Facebook, it will constrain the number of ads they deliver and could ban them. Continue reading Facebook Monitors Advertisers via Customer Feedback Tool

Smart Speakers Could Become Centers of Retail Ecosystems

Consumers buying smart home and other Internet of Things devices don’t often understand the wider implications of their purchases. The tech companies building these devices are creating ecosystems that could, among other things, determine the future of retail. For example, buying a smart speaker to play music will likely become the consumer’s “access point” for a range of services, including shopping options. Consumers opting into one company’s products may be unknowingly opting out of other companies’ offerings. Continue reading Smart Speakers Could Become Centers of Retail Ecosystems

Walmart in Talks to Buy Into Indian E-Commerce Site Flipkart

Walmart is negotiating to acquire a majority stake in Flipkart, India’s leading e-retailer; sources say the deal could “be announced soon” although “exact terms are not yet final and the talks are fluid.” Flipkart would be valued at $20 billion, according to two of the sources, and Walmart hopes to purchase at least a 60 percent stake in the company. Although buying a majority stake in Flipkart would open up a vast new market for Walmart, which is in heated competition with Amazon, some analysts say the move is risky. Continue reading Walmart in Talks to Buy Into Indian E-Commerce Site Flipkart

Amazon Launches In-Car Delivery, Testing Privacy Boundaries

Amazon is rolling out an in-car delivery service that allows its delivery drivers to deposit packages in the trunks of specific vehicles. That’s similar to the feature introduced last year that lets drivers drop off packages inside customers’ homes. Taking another step into its customers’ lives is a risky move in an atmosphere where privacy concerns are paramount. Still, Amazon vice president of delivery technology Peter Larsen says customers “love features like keyless guest access” and that “in-car delivery … gives customers that same peace of mind.” Continue reading Amazon Launches In-Car Delivery, Testing Privacy Boundaries

Amazon’s Vision: Whole Foods as Urban Distribution Centers

After acquiring Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, Amazon.com Inc. has been working to more deeply integrate its new physical grocery stores into its online retail business. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has a vision that ties together the physical and the digital. Currently, the company is searching for larger Whole Foods locations to serve as grocery stores that double as urban distribution centers to enhance the efficiency of online order deliveries, according to a source close to the project.

Continue reading Amazon’s Vision: Whole Foods as Urban Distribution Centers

Amazon Plans to Launch New Delivery Service for Businesses

Amazon plans to launch “Shipping with Amazon,” a delivery service that will start in Los Angeles and cater to the independent merchants that sell on its site. The company intends to expand the service to additional cities and businesses over time. But analysts conclude that Amazon would have to spend tens of billions of dollars, and buy thousands of trucks, hundreds of planes and create thousands of sorting centers to scale out to the national level and handle millions of packages daily. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Launch New Delivery Service for Businesses

Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Amazon is introducing home delivery of Whole Foods products through the company’s one- and two-hour Prime Now delivery service. Initially, the program will launch for neighborhoods in select Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach areas, but Amazon plans expansion throughout the year. While the company has not offered details on the expanded rollout, it’s worth noting that it took less than three years for Prime Now to reach more than 50 global markets. However, the company’s own grocery delivery arm AmazonFresh scaled back delivery in some areas last year. Continue reading Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Amazon Takes Control of Delivery, Cutting Out UPS and FedEx

Amazon’s quick delivery of groceries, cleaning supplies and other products is now expanding into a trial whereby consumers buy directly from merchants, with Amazon providing the latter with lower delivery costs, warehouse inspections, logistics software and recommendations. By doing so, Amazon shifts the burden from its own warehouses. In the process, however, it cuts out United Parcel Service and FedEx, both of which would have picked up the parcels from merchants’ warehouses and delivered them to customers. Continue reading Amazon Takes Control of Delivery, Cutting Out UPS and FedEx

Walmart, Target to Compete with Amazon’s Grocery Delivery

Now that Amazon has entered the U.S. grocery market, offering home delivery, other companies selling food are stepping up their operations. Walmart is doing so by experimenting with delivery and, more importantly, launching curbside pickup. Target just acquired startup Shipt, which delivers groceries on the same day an order is placed. Traditional supermarkets are also battling startups such as meal-kit company Blue Apron and organic vendor Thrive Market. Amazon, however, remains the giant to beat. Continue reading Walmart, Target to Compete with Amazon’s Grocery Delivery

Amazon to Debut New Delivery Service in 37 Cities Next Month

Amazon is introducing Amazon Key, a service that, via a smart lock and a security camera, allows its couriers to unlock the consumer’s front door and drop a package inside. Similarly, Latch, a startup that makes smart locks, inked a deal this summer with Walmart online shopping site Jet.com to pay for its locks to be installed in 1,000 New York City apartment buildings. Amazon Key, which starts at $250, is a kit that includes an Amazon Cloud Cam (available separately for $120) and a Yale or Kwikset smart door lock. Continue reading Amazon to Debut New Delivery Service in 37 Cities Next Month

Amazon Debuts B2B Version of its Popular Prime Membership

Amazon is following up the success of its Prime membership for consumers by launching a new Prime membership aimed at businesses. Investors worry that Amazon will wrest revenues from traditional industrial suppliers, much as it did with retail operations and bookstores among other businesses. For that reason, the news that Amazon now offers Business Prime Shipping had an immediate impact on WW Grainger, whose shares dropped as much as 4.6 percent, and Fastenal, whose stock dipped as much as 4.2 percent. Continue reading Amazon Debuts B2B Version of its Popular Prime Membership

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt has always wondered what it would be like to apply all his company’s technology to a city. The company’s founders got excited about the idea, and now it’s about to become a reality. Plucked out of half a dozen proposals, Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet subsidiary, will work with Canadian government officials and other technologists to develop 800 acres of waterfront property in Toronto, creating a potential model of the smart city and licensing its technologies to other cities. Continue reading Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Voice Shopping: Target Expands its Partnership With Google

Target announced that it is expanding its partnership with Google to cover a number of initiatives: consumers will be able to shop Target via Google Express home delivery (including by voice), Target’s REDcard payment card will be integrated into Google’s shopping platform, and new support for store pick-ups of purchases made through voice will be introduced. Amazon’s biggest rival Walmart announced in August that it would also team with Google for voice-based shopping efforts. The moves could help Google Home compete with Amazon’s Alexa-powered smart speakers. Continue reading Voice Shopping: Target Expands its Partnership With Google

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