Amazon Plans High-Tech Department Store Dressing Rooms

Amazon’s planned department stores will leverage technology to boost clothing sales. The company is testing concepts such as having customers use their phones to scan QR codes of apparel they’re interested in so employees can place the items in a dressing room. Customers could then request alternative items using a touchscreen that may prompt with additional suggestions based on their taste. Amazon is considering opening department stores next year, primarily as a way to sell clothing from Amazon’s private labels as well as select third-party brands that sell on Amazon.com. Continue reading Amazon Plans High-Tech Department Store Dressing Rooms

Amazon to Expand Physical Footprint with New Retail Stores

Amazon revealed its plans to open brick-and-mortar retail stores in the United States, with the first locations slated for California and Ohio. Amazon stores will be about 30,000 square feet smaller than most department stores, similar to smaller versions opened by Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. The stores will give Amazon another outlet to sell its electronics and private-label goods, but what other brands it might offer aren’t final. Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce contributed to the failure of malls and other physical stores. Continue reading Amazon to Expand Physical Footprint with New Retail Stores

House Calls for Regulating Use of Facial Recognition Software

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security has determined that the use of facial recognition software by law enforcement should be regulated. Subcommittee chair Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and top Republican Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) agreed that there should be “some kind of meaningful regulation and oversight of facial recognition.” Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that federal law enforcement agencies should do more to prevent facial recognition bias and misuse. Continue reading House Calls for Regulating Use of Facial Recognition Software

This Holiday Season to Feature Virtual Shopping Experiences

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed the holiday season in ways big and small. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is still on, but without spectators, just a sign of the times for the merchant evolving to a primary digital presence. Last month, two Macy’s stores, in Delaware and Colorado, became fulfillment centers rather than places to shop. Other retailers, among them Ralph Lauren, Gap and Clarins Group, are opening virtual stores that create a consumer experience; some are slated to stay online for months after Christmas. Continue reading This Holiday Season to Feature Virtual Shopping Experiences

Consumer E-Commerce Behavior Likely to Last Post-COVID

In a recent survey of consumers, McKinsey & Co. found that nearly 70 percent intend to continue buying online for store pickup, even post-pandemic. It concluded that, within three months, consumers adopted new c-commerce habits that otherwise would have taken ten years. During the pandemic, many more people were forced to try online shopping as well as other remote applications such as medical appointments or workout classes. As a result, all kinds of businesses added or expanded digital services. Continue reading Consumer E-Commerce Behavior Likely to Last Post-COVID

Amazon: Rising Revenue and Technical Operation Challenges

With the coronavirus pandemic spurring online buying, Amazon saw its revenue for the quarter ending March rise 26 percent from a year earlier to $75.5 billion — the highest ever reached for what is ordinarily Amazon’s slowest quarter. According to FactSet, profit fell 29 percent from a year earlier to $2.5 billion, disappointing analysts’ average estimate of $3.26 billion. Amazon hired 175,000 new warehouse and delivery employees, and chief executive Jeff Bezos told investors this is “the hardest time” the company has faced. Continue reading Amazon: Rising Revenue and Technical Operation Challenges

Amazon Reports Booming Sales, Profits, and Share Prices

Amazon broke previous records with its Q4 sales, and shares skyrocketed 10 percent in after-hours trading, adding $100 billion to its market value. Profits rose 8 percent to $3.3 billion during the holiday quarter, after suffering a 25 percent decline in Q3 due to the expenses of one-day shipping for Prime members. Q4 revenue rose 21 percent to $87.4 billion from the same period a year earlier.  A FactSet survey showed that earnings per share were $6.47 whereas analysts had predicted $4.04. Continue reading Amazon Reports Booming Sales, Profits, and Share Prices

Black Friday Experiences New E-Commerce Sales Records

Online sales boomed this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with record-breaking $4.2 billion in purchases on Turkey Day, followed by $7.4 billion spent on Black Friday. Although this was a new high — up $1.2 billion from last year’s Black Friday — it didn’t meet Adobe Analytics’ prediction of $7.5 billion. Salesforce reported $7.2 billion in sales, even lower than Adobe’s numbers. Of those numbers, $2.9 billion in sales were conducted on smartphones that day. Top-selling electronics included Apple laptops, AirPods and Samsung TVs. Continue reading Black Friday Experiences New E-Commerce Sales Records

Retailers Push Loyalty Programs to Compete With Amazon

Last month, Amazon earmarked $800 million to guarantee one-day delivery for its Prime members. That’s another blow for U.S. department stores struggling to find ways to retain their customers against the Amazon onslaught. One important way they’ve done this is to focus on loyalty programs. According to market intelligence company Beroe, the U.S. loyalty program sector was worth between $27 billion and $55 billion in 2018 and is expected to continue to grow by 2 percent to 4 percent between then and 2020. Continue reading Retailers Push Loyalty Programs to Compete With Amazon

Amazon’s One-Day Shipping Plan Boosts Logistics Startups

Last month, Amazon made a pledge to spend $800 million in efforts to make next-day delivery the new standard. In turn, this put increased pressure on brick-and-mortar rivals like Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s and many others who are rushing to keep up. And it could mean big deals for the logistics companies that work with those physical retailers. As just one example, the Seattle warehouse space and online order fulfillment startup Flexe just announced a $43 million investment from New York firm Tiger Global Management.

Continue reading Amazon’s One-Day Shipping Plan Boosts Logistics Startups

Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

At the Microsoft Ignite annual IT event in Orlando, Florida this week, Microsoft announced it will soon debut a customer-service virtual assistant as part of its Dynamics 365 product line that will incorporate artificial intelligence. A user will be able to describe a problem in her own words, and the virtual assistant will answer by relying on user manuals, help documents and other materials. The customer can request a human, in which case the bot will assist the human customer service agent; a manager can view the result on a dashboard. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

As a number of retailers go bankrupt due to the consumer migration to online shopping, mall owners are adjusting strategies to make their real estate and facilities more appealing. These changes have included turning malls into destinations, with everything from rock-climbing gyms and mini-golf courses to restaurants and bars. The major remodels will mean higher rents for new tenants but, even so, say the experts, it’s uncertain that the mall owners are taking into account the increased expenses of running large customized spaces. Continue reading Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

MasterCard just added its digital wallet MasterPass to Facebook Messenger, which will let consumers easily place online orders on the service. MasterPass is already available with FreshDirect and Subway, but is in its early stages of rollout. In related news, PayPal Holdings, which last year said would unveil its payment services on Facebook Messenger, will now unveil it on Alphabet’s Android Pay. Visa and MasterCard are also focused on expanding the consumer and merchant use of their digital wallets. Continue reading MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

With Nine Retail Bankruptcies in 2017, Levels Approach 2008

So far this year, nine major U.S. retailers have declared bankruptcy, a rate disturbingly close to recessionary levels. Bankrupt retailers include Payless ShoeSource, hhgregg, The Limited, RadioShack, BCBG, Wet Seal, Gordmans, Eastern Outfitters and Gander Mountain. Another trend shows retailers that are hanging on to their businesses closing down stores in record numbers, with more than 3,500 stores expected to close in the next several months. J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s, and Sears alone will close more than 100 stores each. Continue reading With Nine Retail Bankruptcies in 2017, Levels Approach 2008

Amazon and Pinterest Challenge Google in Search Advertising

For years, Google dominated the search advertising market because two-thirds of all Internet searches are performed on the site. Now, Amazon is entering into the mix with new ad products that are competitively priced and bring consumers directly to the Amazon product pages. Pinterest also launched search ads last month that rely more heavily on images than Google’s text-based search ads. Advertisers believe players like Amazon and Pinterest could add much needed innovation. Both companies are trying to chip away at Google’s hold on the $37 billion market. Continue reading Amazon and Pinterest Challenge Google in Search Advertising