Drones Take on Essential Roles During Coronavirus Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, drones have been put to good use. In Florida, for example, UPS Flight Forward is delivering medicine from a CVS pharmacy to a nearby retirement community. As former roboticist Daniel Wilson, author of “Robopocalypse” put it, “the machines we’re used to fearing are uniquely well suited to swoop in and save the day.” Although drones have successfully shed some of their dystopian image, privacy advocates and others are still wary of their use by police for broad surveillance. Continue reading Drones Take on Essential Roles During Coronavirus Pandemic

Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

After prioritizing essential products, such as cleaning and healthcare items, Amazon is again allowing third-party sellers to ship non-essential products. Its refusal to accept shipments of such products frustrated its third-party sellers that form 58 percent of Amazon’s overall sales. Amazon, which will limit quantities of non-essential products, is hiring 75,000 more employees to keep up with demand. The company also asked new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery/pickup customers to join a waitlist. Continue reading Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

Amazon Offers Same-Day Shipping For Low-Cost Products

Amazon is stepping up its e-commerce domination with same-day shipping, even for products that cost less than $5, according to analysts at Edgewater Research. Rather than having to combine your “add-on” item to a larger purchase in order to reach a $25 minimum order to qualify for Amazon Prime shipping deals, the company is providing members with free same-day shipping, even if the only item is a $2 roll of dental floss. Amazon’s willingness to lose money on such a model illustrates its desire to compete with stores like CVS, Target and Walmart, where consumers often go for convenient purchases. Continue reading Amazon Offers Same-Day Shipping For Low-Cost Products

Amazon Eyes Low-Income Shoppers With PayCode Service

Amazon recently announced PayCode, a new pay-with-cash option for its online shoppers. The e-commerce giant’s service is the latest step in taking on low-price retail chains like Walmart. The move could help attract the 8+ million low-income households in the U.S. that do not presently have bank accounts, debit cards or credit cards. PayCode users can place an order on Amazon and then pay in cash within 24 hours at one of 15,000 Western Union locations. Amazon is also looking to expand its recently developed cashierless Go technology by bringing it to retailers such as movie theaters and airport shops. Continue reading Amazon Eyes Low-Income Shoppers With PayCode Service

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Partner on Healthcare

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are partnering to find a way to reduce healthcare costs for their U.S. employees. The companies are motivated by rising healthcare costs in the U.S., and their joint new company will target technological solutions for a simpler and more economical healthcare solution. They did not reveal, however, how much money they have committed to the effort or whether it would expand to include employees outside the U.S., but did emphasize the effort would not be a profit-making venture. Continue reading Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Partner on Healthcare

Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts

To succeed in countries where large percentages of the population do not have bank accounts, Amazon is launching Amazon Cash, a new service that allows users to add cash to their Amazon accounts without incurring fees. Otherwise, to make cash purchases, such customers would have to buy an Amazon Gift Card or purchase a prepaid card. To access Amazon Cash between $15 and $500, the user requests a barcode, accessed through Amazon’s website mobile app or via text message, which is presented to a participating retailer. Continue reading Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts

Retailers Block Apple Pay Despite Early Popularity with Users

Major stores including Walmart, Gap, Rite Aid and CVS will no longer allow the use of Apple Pay. Instead, these companies are trying to push their own app, known as CurrentC, which would enable customers to pay directly with their checking accounts. CurrentC would save the retailers money on credit card transaction fees, but consumers seem to have already adopted ApplePay. In the first 72 hours of the Apple Pay launch, the service registered one million credit cards. Continue reading Retailers Block Apple Pay Despite Early Popularity with Users

Amazon Growing, But Will Need to Fend Off Google in Retail

Back in 1990, Walmart suprassed Kmart in sales. In 1992, it passed up Sears. By 2011, it had higher worldwide sales than the combined total sales of the next six biggest retailers: Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Costco, Home Depot and CVS. That same year, Amazon was 15th on the list of top retailers. This year, it’ll likely end up in the 7th spot, just a few billion behind Target. But is Google stealing online retail from Amazon? Continue reading Amazon Growing, But Will Need to Fend Off Google in Retail

NFC App Review: Katie Boehret Offers Her Two Cents on Google Wallet

  • As reported on ETCentric yesterday, Google Wallet rolled out this week. The technology allows you to pay for products and services by merely swiping your phone over a “tap payment” terminal (only MasterCard PayPass-enabled terminals right now). While only the Nexus S 4G phone is currently supported, there will be more phones coming soon that include the NFC (near field communication) chip.
  • Reporting for All Things D, Katie Boehret took the mobile app for a test drive. “I’ve been trying Google Wallet in Washington, DC, and Palo Alto, California, and I find it delightfully easy to use,” she writes. “Though still in its infancy, it isn’t hard to imagine digital payments catching on and becoming commonplace.”
  • Boehret points out that only the Citi MasterCard can be added to Google Wallet for now, but a Google Prepaid Card can accept other credit cards, and Google says other cards are coming (the company is working with Visa, Discover and American Express).
  • PayPal and Square are working on their own digital-payment systems, both of which do not require the NFC chip, so they will work on many phones.
  • Beyond payment, Google Wallet will let you register your store loyalty and gift cards (expect to see this from the likes of CVS, Macy’s and American Outfitters); however, you cannot register forms of ID, suggesting that despite its ease-of-use, the app is not a replacement for your wallet.
  • “Google Wallet can’t hold your driver’s license or other official forms of identification, so even if it takes off and works everywhere, you’ll still have to carry your license with you,” concludes Boehret.