Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

When the U.S. shut down in March, people went online to shop. Adobe’s Digital Economy Index reported that U.S. e-commerce skyrocketed 49 percent in April, compared to the baseline period in early March. Some e-commerce companies have become stronger during the shutdown. But buying patterns have been volatile, with the latest uptick sparked by government stimulus checks that were sent out April 11. Many experts believe that consumer habits are changing in ways that will continue beyond the threat of the coronavirus. Continue reading Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

All around the globe, from China to Israel to the U.S., robots and drones are delivering everything from groceries to medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic without the threat of transmitting COVID-19. In Sacramento, for example, startup Nuro’s R2 robots are delivering personal protective equipment, clean linens and food from a supply depot to a field hospital. But, as many businesses and governments are eager to use robots, the startups that make them are challenged to ramp up production to meet demand. Continue reading Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During 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

Kickstarter Becomes First Major Tech Company to Unionize

In a narrow vote, Kickstarter employees decided to unionize, joining the Office and Professional Employees International Union and becoming the first time a well-known technology company has done so. Although there has been a growing movement among white-collar tech workers at such companies for unionization, this organizing has also been a source of tension and conflict. In general, tech workers have also become more vocal over issues from fulfilling government contracts and climate change to sexual harassment. Continue reading Kickstarter Becomes First Major Tech Company to Unionize

Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Walmart launched Delivery Unlimited, which offers consumers a subscription grocery delivery service for $98 per year or $12.95 per month, with a 15-day trial period. Per-order fees run $9.95 or less. The new subscription service is priced competitively, with Shipt and Instacart charging $99 per year. Prime Now costs $119 per year, but touts all of the benefits of Amazon Prime, including fast shipping and streaming media content. Target, which bought Shipt, now offers shoppers same-day delivery and a first-time $9.99 per order fee.

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Amazon’s Vision: Whole Foods as Urban Distribution Centers

After acquiring Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, Amazon.com Inc. has been working to more deeply integrate its new physical grocery stores into its online retail business. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has a vision that ties together the physical and the digital. Currently, the company is searching for larger Whole Foods locations to serve as grocery stores that double as urban distribution centers to enhance the efficiency of online order deliveries, according to a source close to the project.

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Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Amazon is introducing home delivery of Whole Foods products through the company’s one- and two-hour Prime Now delivery service. Initially, the program will launch for neighborhoods in select Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach areas, but Amazon plans expansion throughout the year. While the company has not offered details on the expanded rollout, it’s worth noting that it took less than three years for Prime Now to reach more than 50 global markets. However, the company’s own grocery delivery arm AmazonFresh scaled back delivery in some areas last year. Continue reading Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Walmart, Target to Compete with Amazon’s Grocery Delivery

Now that Amazon has entered the U.S. grocery market, offering home delivery, other companies selling food are stepping up their operations. Walmart is doing so by experimenting with delivery and, more importantly, launching curbside pickup. Target just acquired startup Shipt, which delivers groceries on the same day an order is placed. Traditional supermarkets are also battling startups such as meal-kit company Blue Apron and organic vendor Thrive Market. Amazon, however, remains the giant to beat. Continue reading Walmart, Target to Compete with Amazon’s Grocery Delivery

Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Online retail giant Amazon.com announced it plans to acquire Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion. Organic grocer Whole Foods, founded in 1978, has more than 460 locations, but has been facing increased competition from large chains such as Walmart that have introduced more natural and organic products. The Austin, Texas-based company built its brand on premium service and generally higher prices. This approach may mark a change for Amazon, which has built much of its business on lower prices. Whole Foods will continue operating under its existing brand and CEO John Mackey will remain in his position. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Walmart Evolving its Supply Chain with Uber, Lyft and Drones

Later this month in Denver and Phoenix, Walmart will launch a pilot project, in partnership with Uber and Lyft, to deliver groceries to homes. Other companies that have competed in this area include Instacart, DoorDash, the U.S. Postal Service, Uber and Amazon, all of which vie to establish accounts with retailers and restaurants. Walmart is also testing a delivery service with its warehouse company Sam’s Club in Miami, using startup Deliv, which also handles same-day deliveries for Kohl’s, Macy’s and others. Continue reading Walmart Evolving its Supply Chain with Uber, Lyft and Drones

Quip Launches New Desktop Version of its Productivity Software

Quip, a company founded by Google vets Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs, recently released its mobile creation and collaboration tool for desktop computers. The toolset enables users to connect desktops and mobile devices to the cloud for a version of distributed computing, usually the purview of large data centers. Part of an emerging trend to use as much computing as possible, Quip’s solution has similarities to Amazon’s Silk browser in the Kindle, which has features of local and cloud computing. Continue reading Quip Launches New Desktop Version of its Productivity Software

Will Google Shopping Express Compete with Amazon Prime?

Google has begun testing its own e-commerce site called “Google Shopping Express,” with same-day delivery from stores like Target, Walgreens and Walmart. The site is expected to offer a $64 annual deal, compared to competitor Amazon Prime’s $79 service. Google’s Tom Fallows, an e-commerce product manager, is reportedly running the project, and the company is currently working with personal delivery and online services. Continue reading Will Google Shopping Express Compete with Amazon Prime?