Google Submits New Plan to Comply with EU Antitrust Order

In June, the European Union fined Google €2.4 billion ($2.9 billion) over the practice of favoring its own services through Google Search results. Now, the tech behemoth has said it has complied, submitting details of how it will end its anti-competitive practices. The European Commission gave Google until September 28 to stop the practices, after which the company would be fined as much as 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover, estimated at about $12 million per day, based on its 2016 turnover of $90.3 billion. Continue reading Google Submits New Plan to Comply with EU Antitrust Order

FTC Approves Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Market

Federal antitrust regulators approved Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market yesterday, shortly after Whole Foods shareholders voted to approve the deal. The $13.4 billion acquisition “will give Amazon a major brick-and-mortar presence with more than 460 stores in a huge retail category where success has eluded the company,” reports The New York Times. “Amazon has run an Internet grocery business, AmazonFresh, for a decade, but it accounts for less than a 2 percent share of total grocery spending in the United States.” The Federal Trade Commission concluded that the proposed merger would not harm competition. Continue reading FTC Approves Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Market

Numerous Brands Now Support Local Retailers Over Amazon

While Amazon dominates online retail sales, an increasing number of brands and manufacturers are fighting back by promoting local retail stores, establishing minimum advertised prices and providing new products to local stores first. Amazon says more than half of the products sold on its site come from smaller businesses, and that it helps them by providing access to its more than 300 million global customers. Amazon has also started to sell its own products; AmazonBasics, for example, sells numerous small items from iPhone chargers to batteries and washcloths. Continue reading Numerous Brands Now Support Local Retailers Over Amazon

Thousands of Applicants Line Up for First Amazon Jobs Day

Amazon is in the process of filling 50,000 positions — 40,000 of them full-time — for its fulfillment network, hiring people who will pack orders in warehouses and drive delivery trucks. Although the jobs are tough and relatively low-paying, thousands of people lined up to apply at a dozen locations for the company’s first Jobs Day on Wednesday. Many of the applicants hope that a foot in the door at the tech giant could lead to better compensated work in the future. Amazon’s non-union warehouse jobs pay $12 to $15 an hour. Continue reading Thousands of Applicants Line Up for First Amazon Jobs Day

Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Amazon added restaurant chain TGI Fridays to Amazon Pay Places, the tech giant’s new payments feature for its mobile app that allows people to make purchases in stores and restaurants. Amazon Pay Places is available for pick-up orders at a limited number of TGI Fridays restaurants on the East Coast, but will expand to additional locations. Amazon isn’t alone in pursuing digital payment features; Apple, PayPal, Samsung and others are also focused on such services for online and in-store purchases. Continue reading Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Amazon Spark: New Social Feed of Product Images, Stories

Now out of beta, Amazon launched a new social feature in the U.S. yesterday that is designed to return social activity surrounding products back to the Amazon site while hopefully improving product discovery for its users. Similar to the approach of Instagram’s shoppable photos, Amazon Spark allows users to post images, new ideas and related posts regarding products they find interesting. To foster social interaction, other users can respond with their own comments and “smiles” — Amazon’s take on “favorite” and “like” buttons. Continue reading Amazon Spark: New Social Feed of Product Images, Stories

Amazon Prime Members May Soon Top Pay TV Subscribers

According to new estimates from Morningstar, the number of Amazon Prime members may soon exceed the number of cable and satellite TV subscribers in the United States. Morningstar points to 79 million Prime members, up from 66 million at the end of 2016 (based on analysis of Amazon’s cash-flow statement). S&P Global projects 90 million U.S. households will pay for cable or satellite television this year. Recode reports, “According to these estimates, more U.S. households may have an Amazon Prime subscription than a pay TV subscription as soon as next year.” Continue reading Amazon Prime Members May Soon Top Pay TV Subscribers

Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

As a number of retailers go bankrupt due to the consumer migration to online shopping, mall owners are adjusting strategies to make their real estate and facilities more appealing. These changes have included turning malls into destinations, with everything from rock-climbing gyms and mini-golf courses to restaurants and bars. The major remodels will mean higher rents for new tenants but, even so, say the experts, it’s uncertain that the mall owners are taking into account the increased expenses of running large customized spaces. Continue reading Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners has agreed to purchase office supply retail chain Staples for $6.9 billion. Staples is another retailer that has been impacted by the growing success of Amazon and other online shopping services. Amazon, for example, has become a major competitor for corporate customers, while Staples’ overall sales have declined 6.1 percent over the past five years, according to ABC News. In 2015, Staples attempted to merge with Office Depot in an effort to stay competitive online, but last year the deal was blocked by a federal judge in response to a lawsuit initiated by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

A study conducted by New York digital ad agency 360i revealed that Google Home is six times likelier than Amazon Alexa to answer user requests correctly. However, consumers are much more likely to purchase the Amazon product than Google’s. Amazon currently dominates with 70 percent of the voice-controlled speaker market, says eMarketer. Amazon released its new Echo Show with interactive touchscreen this week, and according to one reviewer, it’s not much different from Android or Apple voice assistants. Continue reading Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

Antitrust Case: EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine

The European Union issued a record-breaking $2.7 billion fine against Google yesterday for violating EU antitrust rules. Margrethe Vestager, European commissioner for competition, announced that the seven-year investigation determined the U.S. tech giant had manipulated search results in order to place its own shopping service ahead of services offered by rivals, thereby creating an “illegal advantage.” Google now has up to 90 days to adjust its practices or potentially face additional penalties. The company is said to be considering an appeal. Continue reading Antitrust Case: EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine

Facebook, Google Debut Advertising, Online Tracking Tools

Facebook is testing Audience Direct, a self-service tool to help publishers sell video ads across websites and apps. Publishers list available video ad inventory, with prices, and marketers then log into the system and buy ad space, with Facebook’s massive database allowing them to choose the types of users they hope to reach. Meanwhile, Google is launching a new tool that will help advertisers track online views more closely, and learn if such views led to a retail store visit. Continue reading Facebook, Google Debut Advertising, Online Tracking Tools

FCC Chair Pai Begins His Promised Rollback of Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission has begun to rollback net neutrality rules established during President Obama’s time in office. FCC chair Ajit Pai, who leads the commission in creating new rules that will benefit mainly cable and wireless companies, argues that net neutrality rules have slowed down investment in broadband infrastructure. To prove his point, he cited a study showing that domestic capital investment among large ISPs has dropped 5.6 percent between 2014 and 2016, which he blames on heavy-handed rules. Continue reading FCC Chair Pai Begins His Promised Rollback of Net Neutrality

E-Commerce: Walmart Reports Major Growth in Online Sales

Walmart gained momentum in its fight against Amazon, with its online sales growing at its fastest clip in at least five years. Walmart reported a 69 percent increase in its e-commerce business in the first quarter of 2017. The growth seems to reflect concerted investment in online expertise and acquisitions. “All of a sudden, Walmart is the primary competitor to Amazon, as opposed to a fragmented cluster of people,” said Greg Portell, a partner at consulting firm A.T. Kearney. Continue reading E-Commerce: Walmart Reports Major Growth in Online Sales

EU Considers Implementing New Rules for Big Web Platforms

The European Union’s executive body may establish new rules to give a fairer shake to small businesses using popular Web platforms. Currently, the EU deems that platforms such as Google, Amazon and TripAdvisor set unfair terms for the small businesses that sell or promote products there. These businesses have been complaining to the EU about unilateral contract changes, no access to sales and customer data, below-par transparency regarding their rankings in search results, and no means to resolve disputes. Continue reading EU Considers Implementing New Rules for Big Web Platforms

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