Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

Blockchain sessions and projects still abound at CES this year, but the bloom is definitely off the rose. At last year’s sessions it was standing room only, but this year it was no problem finding a seat. Given that cryptocurrencies are down 82 percent since last year at this time, I guess it’s no surprise. The good news, however, is that with a lot of the hype and “quick buck” mentality deflated, there’s a lot of good work and investing still being done. Unlike last year, which was one ICO announcement after another, this year was much more subdued and focused on products that address real business needs. Continue reading Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

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

Retailers Use Apps, Social Media to Reach Children, Preteens

Children and preteens are shopping online, and retailers are advertising directly to them. Retailers are leveraging Snapchat, YouTube Kids and other mobile apps to target children and preteens more likely to be on their smartphones, tablets or laptops than watching television. Nine-year-old Isabella Colello described how she shops online and puts items in her cart, which her father can browse through and purchase — or not. “It’s so much better than going to the mall because there aren’t that many places to shop anymore,” she said. Continue reading Retailers Use Apps, Social Media to Reach Children, Preteens

PayPal to Acquire European Payments Startup iZettle for $2.2B

PayPal plans to make the largest purchase in its history: $2.2 billion for Stockholm-based financial tech startup iZettle. The purchase puts PayPal in thousands of brick-and-mortar retail shops around the world, and sharpens its rivalry with Square, which focuses on small businesses with physical locations. Dubbed the “Square of Europe,” iZettle produces technology and devices that allow almost half a million businesses in a dozen European countries, Brazil and Mexico to accept credit cards. Continue reading PayPal to Acquire European Payments Startup iZettle for $2.2B

Amazon’s Plan to Lure Retailers to Amazon Pay via Discounts

Sources say Amazon is making a move that threatens PayPal and banks that issue credit cards: passing discounts it gets on credit-card fees to retailers that use its online payment service. In doing so, Amazon is sacrificing short-term profitability to boost the fortunes of its payments system. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Visa, Mastercard and payment processors First Data and Stripe Inc. partake in the $90 billion per year swipe fee industry, about 2 percent of a typical credit card purchase or 24 cents for debit. Continue reading Amazon’s Plan to Lure Retailers to Amazon Pay via Discounts

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

Expanded Pinterest Tagging Feature Enables In-App Shopping

Pinterest has introduced a new feature that makes it easier for users to buy items in the photos pinned on the social platform. “Shop the Look” lets Pinterest users click on items in the photos to buy them or, if the items aren’t for sale, see similar items that can be purchased through the network. Brands or Pinterest employees can tag the items in question. The company previously offered “buyable pins,” which allowed users to make purchases, but only on a single item per pin. With the new feature, a user can buy multiple products in the same pin. Continue reading Expanded Pinterest Tagging Feature Enables In-App Shopping

Amazon’s Prime Day Sales Surge 30 Percent Over Last Year

According to e-commerce giant Amazon, yesterday’s Prime Day sales from third-party merchants were up 30 percent over last year’s event, driven by international demand. The statement was made at 3:00 pm Eastern Time during the company’s day-long promotion designed to attract more subscribers for its $99-per-year Amazon Prime membership. Once the total numbers are in, Amazon anticipates “a record day for small businesses and sellers.” Last year’s event was criticized after deals ran out too early. “The company this year offered more deals and deeper inventory,” reports Bloomberg. “It relied on thousands of third-party merchants who sell goods on Amazon and give the company a cut of each sale to boost the number of deals.” Continue reading Amazon’s Prime Day Sales Surge 30 Percent Over Last Year

Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

Google launched a pilot for Hands Free, a mobile wallet application that allows a buyer to use her phone for purchases without taking it out of her purse. The pilot, conducted in the southern San Francisco Bay area, is available in a few stores and designated McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations. The cashier’s system can detect the user’s phone; to close the transaction, the user asks to pay with Google and gives her initials to the cashier. The cashier can also detect if the user is the same person in the Google profile. Continue reading Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Apple, Google and Samsung are all vying to dominate the nascent mobile payments market sector. Samsung, a newcomer to the competition, has already signed up five million U.S. users, who have racked up $500 million in transactions since launching in September. Apple Pay is estimated to have 12 million monthly users and Android Pay has five million. Still, adoption of mobile payments hasn’t caught fire yet. Not all retailers accept mobile payments, which also require later-generation phones. Continue reading Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Picking Up Online Orders at Stores a Hassle for Customers

The “click-and-collect” method of shopping is not as easy as it sounds. This type of shopping allows customers to place orders online and pick up their purchases at a physical store just a few hours later. However, one study found that 60 percent of these orders were not completed correctly on Cyber Monday. Some stores made customers wait for more than an hour, gave customers the wrong item, or simply had to cancel orders because the store ran out of stock. Continue reading Picking Up Online Orders at Stores a Hassle for Customers

Walmart Reinvents Its Digital Operations to Overcome Amazon

Walmart Stores, with chief technology officer Jeremy King leading the charge, is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul of its digital operations. The goal is to create a digital presence as powerful as its brick-and-mortar one and, in the process, break Amazon’s record of successfully squelching most traditional retailers online. To do so, Walmart has invested serious resources into its effort: 15 acquisitions, 3,600 new hires and billions of dollars in the project code-named Pangaea, named after the pre-historic supercontinent. Continue reading Walmart Reinvents Its Digital Operations to Overcome Amazon

Cyber Monday Sets Sales Records, Mobile Shopping on Rise

While retailers have extended their special online deals before and after Cyber Monday this year, yesterday’s sales are still poised to break records. Adobe reports that by 10:00 yesterday morning, shoppers had already spent a record $490 million. When the numbers are finalized, Adobe predicts the day will represent the biggest e-commerce day on record with $3 billion in sales. Mobile shopping is also on the rise; Adobe notes that 41 percent of shopping visits originated on smartphones and 12 percent from tablets. Continue reading Cyber Monday Sets Sales Records, Mobile Shopping on Rise

Retailers and Banks Battle Over Adoption of Chip Technology

With the introduction of credit cards with an embedded security chip, the banking and retailing industries are battling over issues of security, fraud and the cost of adoption. For years, European banks have issued credit cards with both the chip and a PIN; U.S. banks are foregoing the PIN and relying solely on the chip and an in-person signature. Retailers argue they are absorbing the high cost of adopting the chip technology and paying interchange fees, without reaping any of the benefits of lower fraud. Continue reading Retailers and Banks Battle Over Adoption of Chip Technology

Facebook Expands its Shopping Options with Dedicated Feed

Facebook is focusing full-bore on shopping with an array of new features. But the most prominent is a new Shopping feed that aggregates posts and photos from different retailers for specific products. The Shopping feed is being tested as a way to pull out all the products being showcased by retailers on their own Facebook pages. Facebook is also allowing retailers to host entire product catalogs on Facebook pages — what the company is calling “immersive ads” — as opposed to sending users to a mobile browser. Continue reading Facebook Expands its Shopping Options with Dedicated Feed

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