U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

According to a new study from Country Financial, a majority of U.S. consumers are sharing their login info for mobile, shopping and streaming accounts, but are not necessarily sharing the tab. The study found that overall, 74 percent of consumers say they share accounts for Airbnb, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and Uber with their family members and friends (and, in some cases, even their exes). However, more than 36 percent of those who freely share their accounts also indicate that they do not share the monthly costs of those accounts with others. Continue reading U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Instagram plans to debut a standalone Shopping app, a move that could rival Pinterest and Wish. Ahead of the move, it is adding a shopping tab to the Explore page, which will allow users to look through a dedicated feed of merchandise from a wide range of vendors. Those sellers will be able to add stickers to their Stories for the first time, letting consumers shop from the Stories feed by tapping on the product. With this feature, shoppers will let people consider possible purchases before heading to the seller’s website. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Explore Shopping Tab, Stickers for Stories

Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

A new Adobe Analytics survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers has found that voice assistants and smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Adobe predicts that following the next holiday season, almost half of U.S. consumers will own a smart speaker. The market has grown about 15 percent in less than one year; more than 32 percent of consumers now own a smart speaker. People are most commonly using such tech to play music, check weather forecasts, set alarms/reminders as well as obtain directions, check sports scores and traffic, and ask fun questions. Continue reading Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

New Features Make it Easier to Run Ads on Google Services

Google launched four new ad products to automate the process of buying ads and create a central marketing hub for Google. Via an integration with Shopify, Google now runs shopping ads on its site and enables advertisers to buy these ads directly through Shopify, a move that helps both companies fend off rival Amazon. The new ad products allow marketers to set a goal and then pursue it with ads across Google Search, Google Maps, YouTube and the Internet. Google ads head Sridhar Ramaswamy describes it as a “one-stop shop.” Continue reading New Features Make it Easier to Run Ads on Google Services

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’

Brand Strategy for Mobile Apps Is Crucial, Tricky to Manage

Brands need an app strategy, say the experts. Shoppers, especially millennials, are increasingly purchasing goods through their smartphones. Forrester Analytics reports that smartphone purchases in 2018 will reach $118 billion, up from $13.4 billion in 2013. But to be successful with an app, the brand needs to ensure that its performance is superior, as users will quickly rid themselves of apps that are slow, push too many notifications, do not offer exclusive sales or promotions or have a confusing layout. Continue reading Brand Strategy for Mobile Apps Is Crucial, Tricky to Manage

Google Plans to Invest $550 Million in China Retailer JD.com

As part of its efforts to expand in Asia and compete with Amazon, Google is investing $550 million in Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com. The partnership will include the Google Shopping advertising platform promoting JD.com products, which should help the Beijing-based Jingdong (formerly 360buy) reach beyond China and Southeast Asia markets to the U.S. and Europe. Google has been ramping up investments across Asia. The company recently invested in Indonesian ride-hailing company Go-Jek, and is reportedly considering an investment in Indian e-commerce upstart Flipkart. Continue reading Google Plans to Invest $550 Million in China Retailer JD.com

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

Payments Feature Could Make Instagram a Commerce Player

Instagram has quietly introduced a native payments feature that allows users to make purchases without having to leave the photo- and video-sharing app. Once the user registers a debit or credit card and creates a security PIN, native payments are possible through a select number of partners. Facebook-owned Instagram is testing the waters with the ability to book appointments and reservations via businesses such as salons or restaurants, but also envisions the ability for users to purchase movie tickets directly through the app in the future. Continue reading Payments Feature Could Make Instagram a Commerce Player

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

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 Will Raise the Price of Prime Membership Next Month

Amazon announced that it plans to raise the price of its annual Prime membership from $99 to $119 in the U.S. The move marks the first increase since 2014 when the shipping and entertainment membership program cost $79 per year. New subscribers will pay $119 a year starting May 11, while the new fee will apply to current members beginning with renewals on June 16. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently revealed that Prime has more than 100 million global members. The company surprised investors this week with news that it had more than doubled its quarterly profits to $1.6 billion. Continue reading Amazon Will Raise the Price of Prime Membership Next Month

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 Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Amazon is introducing the $80 Echo Dot Kids Edition with FreeTime services. Intended for children ages 5 to 12, the modified Echo Dot features a brightly colored, protective rubber case; kid-friendly content from the likes of Audible, Disney and iHeartRadio; and parental controls such as time limits, activity review and content filtering. Users can wake up to alarms based on characters from Disney, Nickelodeon and others. The speaker, which is available for pre-order and starts shipping May 9, includes the same two-year replacement guarantee that Amazon rolled out for its Fire tablets for kids. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

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