The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Location data has become big business. According to recent research from The New York Times, at least 75 companies receive reams of precise, anonymous location data from apps with enabled location services. Some of these companies state they track up to 200 million mobile devices, to collect such data, which they sell, use or analyze for customers such as advertisers, retail companies and financial outlets including hedge funds. The location-targeted advertising industry is valued at $21 billion this year. Continue reading The Industry Built Upon Analyzing, Selling Your Location Data

Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

To battle Amazon’s ubiquity and customers’ fickle loyalty, some retailers are testing the new Customer 360 software from Salesforce.com and Freshworks to improve their customer service. The software lets retailers build shopper profiles similar to Facebook to better understand what each customer wants and increase the odds that he or she will become more loyal to the retailer in question. Other strategies retailers are employing are the use of improved chatbots and better customer support training. Continue reading Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

In India, Facebook and Reliance Industries Limited, the latter headed by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, have teamed to encourage citizens to go online and join messaging service WhatsApp. India is already the world’s fastest growing Internet market, and the two companies have sent out marketing teams that use entertainment to educate and entice people to upgrade or sign up for the first time, offering cheap phones and rates with the Reliance Jio network as well as Facebook’s popular messaging service. Continue reading Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

NBCU Testing Machine Learning Tool for Better Ad Placement

NBCUniversal introduced its Contextual Intelligence Platform, a machine learning-powered tool that places ads in the most relevant spots across its many media properties. The tool examines program scripts, closed captions, and visual descriptions of the program and ads to find the best moment for an advertiser’s spot. The tool also relies on proprietary algorithms to gauge the emotionality of each scene. NBCU is beta-testing the system with three to five advertisers, and plans to release it in early 2019. Continue reading NBCU Testing Machine Learning Tool for Better Ad Placement

Nielsen and Microsoft Partner on Cloud-Based Platform for Data

Nielsen Holdings and Microsoft are partnering on a cloud-based platform, Nielsen Connect, to help retailers gain insights from its consumer and operational data related to, respectively, media/TV ratings, and purchases of consumer goods. Nielsen chief technology/operations officer John Tavolieri noted that, given the value of the data, the industry has thus far not found a good way to “unlock” it. Nielsen’s data will be loaded to Microsoft Azure where the latter’s AI tools and APIs will enable users to search. Continue reading Nielsen and Microsoft Partner on Cloud-Based Platform for Data

Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Seattle-based Amazon finally announced that it has selected two locations for its next major corporate outposts. Referring to the planned sites as headquarters, the company will eventually bring 25,000 employees to both Long Island City in Queens, New York and the Crystal City area in Arlington, Virginia, outside of Washington DC. Amazon also revealed plans to build a third facility in Nashville, Tennessee — an operations facility that will house 5,000 employees. The new headquarters are expected to cost $5 billion in construction and investments. Continue reading Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

To better compete with Walmart and Target for online holiday shopping, Amazon will offer free shipping without the $25 minimum purchase required of shoppers who are not Prime members. This first-time Amazon offer is good only in the U.S., and will be in effect from November 5 until Amazon can no longer promise delivery in time for Christmas, typically five to eight days. Also for the upcoming holiday season, Amazon plans to add 100,000 staffers, fewer than the last two holiday seasons, evidence that the company is successfully automating operations. Continue reading In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

Amazon Is Reportedly Splitting HQ2 Between Two Locations

Amazon has finally made a decision regarding its second headquarters, according to individuals familiar with the process. Following a yearlong search that involved numerous cities in North America vying for Amazon’s business, the company is reportedly planning to split the headquarters between two East Coast locations — the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in New York and the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia. While it already has more employees in the two regions than anywhere else outside of its Seattle home base and the Bay Area, Amazon is expected to have a total of 50,000 employees between the two locations once the headquarters are completed. Continue reading Amazon Is Reportedly Splitting HQ2 Between Two Locations

Intel, Tencent Partner on New AI Products to Advance Retail

Intel and China’s Tencent have partnered to create two AI-powered products. Announced at Tencent’s Global Partner conference, the two companies revealed DeepGaze, which uses artificial intelligence to track customers in brick-and-mortar stores, and YouBox, also designed for use in retail settings, an on-premises server that uses AI to input real-time feeds from up to 16 cameras. Both products were developed in Tencent’s YouTu Lab for computer vision research, and sport Intel’s Movidius Myriad chips. Continue reading Intel, Tencent Partner on New AI Products to Advance Retail

Walmart to Test Retail Tech With Launch of Sam’s Club Now

Walmart is upping the ante with rival Amazon by opening a cashierless “Sam’s Club Now” store in Texas, vying with automated Amazon Go stores. Walmart is experimenting with the concept via its members-only Sam’s Club. According to Jamie Iannone, chief exec of SamsClub.com and executive vice president of membership and technology, the store is “very close to opening” and will be the “epicenter of innovation for Sam’s Club.” In the soon-to-open shop, users will rely on a new Sam’s Club Now app to scan items, and a staff member will scan the entire purchase before the user exits. Continue reading Walmart to Test Retail Tech With Launch of Sam’s Club Now

Pinterest Introduces New Features to Make Shopping Easier

In an effort to become more of a personal shopping assistant, Pinterest has introduced product recommendations with its new Product Pin system based on an individual’s tastes. It has also launched a shopping shortcut in the main home feed that provides easy access to a shopping-specific feed and list of shoppable Product Pins by holding down a Home or Style pin to access a shopping tag icon. Pinterest previously rolled out Buyable Pins for direct purchases through the platform in addition to other recommendation features such as Shop the Look and Lens that use machine learning and visual search. Continue reading Pinterest Introduces New Features to Make Shopping Easier

Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Walmart is partnering with MGM, which will create short-form original series for release in 2019, to help boost content on its ad-supported streaming service Vudu. The company also invested a reported $250 million in a joint venture with New York startup Eko, which produces so-called interactive stories in which viewers control the plots of commercials and TV episodes. This investment is believed to be the largest ever made in this particular storytelling niche that has interested creatives for years but never caught on. Continue reading Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Worker Shortage Behind Amazon Pay Raise to $15 Per Hour

On November 1, Amazon will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for all its U.S. employees, including part-time workers and those hired through temporary agencies. More than 250,000 Amazon employees, including those at Whole Foods and 100,000+ workers hired for the holiday season, will benefit from the boost. The company also stated it would lobby to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 per hour for almost ten years. Many interpret Amazon’s move as a response to a tightening labor market and political pressure. Continue reading Worker Shortage Behind Amazon Pay Raise to $15 Per Hour

Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Amazon has opened a brick-and-mortar retail store, dubbed Amazon 4-star, in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Amazon 4-star is so named because it will carry goods — starting off with consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books and games — that shoppers have rated with at least four stars, are sold by top sellers or are “new and trending.” This physical retail store joins Amazon’s 12+ bookstores and a few cashierless Go convenience stores, as well as the Whole Foods grocery stores it acquired. Continue reading Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Walmart is widening its VR-based employee-training program in the U.S., shipping four Oculus Go VR headsets to each Walmart Supercenter and two to smaller Neighborhood Market stores starting in October, for a total of 17,000 Oculus Go headsets by the end of 2018. The retailer first tried out VR for employee training a year ago, and is expanding it due to employee feedback that it boosted their confidence and familiarity with technology. VR software company STRIVR has created 45 activity-based modules for the employees. Continue reading Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

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