The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Continue reading The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

Once Again, Prime Day Shatters Sales Records for Amazon

According to Amazon, this week’s Prime Day 2019 topped last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Despite competing discounts offered by eBay, Best Buy and Walmart, Prime members purchased more than 175 million products during the annual sales event. The tally is challenging to compare to previous Prime Day events since the e-commerce giant keeps expanding the duration of the sale (this year it was 48 hours, compared to 36 hours in 2018 and 30 hours in 2017). However, the event set a number of sales records, including new milestones for Amazon devices. Continue reading Once Again, Prime Day Shatters Sales Records for Amazon

Toshiba Fire TV Model Lowers Price Barrier for Dolby Vision

Amazon and Toshiba are launching a line of Fire TV Edition sets that include support for Dolby Vision. The 4K televisions, which will be sold exclusively through Amazon and Best Buy, come in a 55-inch model ($499.99) that is available today, followed by 43-inch ($329.99) and 50-inch ($379.99) models to be released on June 30. Dolby Vision’s HDR format is regarded as superior to HDR10 because it allows scene-by-scene adjustments to picture quality. The Amazon-Toshiba sets mark the first time that Dolby Vision will be available in more affordable Fire TV Edition models. Continue reading Toshiba Fire TV Model Lowers Price Barrier for Dolby Vision

Walmart Monitors Store Registers with AI-Powered Cameras

Walmart is leveraging computer vision tech by Ireland-based Everseen and several other companies in more than 1,000 of its stores to more closely monitor checkouts. The surveillance program is internally referred to as Missed Scan Detection, and uses AI-powered cameras to identify and correct problems such as errors, fraud and theft during the checkout scanning process at self-checkout registers and those run by cashiers. The National Retail Federation notes that U.S. retailers lost an estimated $47 billion in 2017 to such problems. Continue reading Walmart Monitors Store Registers with AI-Powered Cameras

Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

Apple and Best Buy announced the two companies are extending their partnership so that technicians can repair iPhones at any of the 992 Best Buy locations in the U.S. The companies also revealed that 7,600 Geek Squad techs are now certified for iPhone repairs using genuine parts from Apple. While Apple will continue to offer repairs at its own stores, the new deal should prove beneficial to iPhone users in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, since Apple does not presently have stores in these states. Continue reading Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

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.

Continue reading Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

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 Will Pay Employees to Quit, Start New Companies

Competing for delivery drivers in what The Wall Street Journal calls the tightest U.S. labor market in 50 years, Amazon is willing to pay its current employees to quit their jobs to start local package-delivery businesses in order to help the e-commerce giant with its ambitious delivery goals. In an increasingly competitive market, Amazon is looking to move away from depending on the U.S. Postal Service and other companies to make deliveries happen. Instead, Amazon announced plans to invite entrepreneurs of its own making into the mix.

Continue reading Amazon Will Pay Employees to Quit, Start New Companies

Walmart Offers Next-Day Delivery to Compete with Amazon

This week, Walmart announced that it will start offering free, next-day delivery on select online orders over $35 without any added membership fee. This announcement comes after a similar one from rival retailer Amazon just last month. Amazon, the lucrative e-commerce giant, announced that it is investing $800 million in its warehouses and delivery infrastructure with the goal of cutting the speed of its Prime deliveries from two days to just one. For now, Walmart’s quicker deliveries will only be available in select markets.

Continue reading Walmart Offers Next-Day Delivery 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

Walmart Plans to Launch Original Content For Vudu Service

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is known for selling many things, including TVs. However, it’s not typically known for what consumers watch on those TVs. That could soon change. This week, Walmart will unveil a sampling of a new slate of original programming to advertisers in New York with the goal of driving viewership to its Vudu streaming service. Unlike other streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, Walmart doesn’t plan to sell subscriptions. Instead, it wants to use shows to advertise products directly.

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PayPal Monetizing Venmo, Which Now Has 40 Million Users

PayPal Holdings’ Q1 earnings report revealed that 40 million people used its digital money transfer service Venmo in the last year, making it one of the most popular financial apps in the United States. Venmo is also growing dramatically in overall volume with the total number of payments made on its platform skyrocketing 73 percent to $21.3 billion in Q1 2019. Most Venmo transactions are between two people, with the company swallowing the processing fee. But PayPal prizes the app since a younger, more active cohort favors it. Continue reading PayPal Monetizing Venmo, Which Now Has 40 Million Users

Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Snap Inc. announced yesterday that its popular Snapchat app now features multiplayer games, starting with “Bitmoji Party” and five other titles. The move is an effort to compete in a new social space dominated by “Fortnite” in which real-time, multiplayer games also serve as online communities. Snap plans to work with game developers such as Zynga and ZeptoLab. The combination of gaming and social networking is on the rise. According to Epic Games, its “Fortnite” had 250 million players as of March, while Netflix recently suggested that it competes with “Fortnite” more than HBO. Continue reading Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Partnering with 23 brands, Facebook’s Instagram debuted an easy-to-use in-app checkout tool for U.S. users. Adidas, Burberry, Dior, Nike, H&M, Zara, Kylie Cosmetics and Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty are among the first retailers to sign on, with more to be added to the beta test throughout the year. Users in the U.S. will see the feature roll out over the next few weeks. Instagram head of product Vishal Shah noted that, “given that 80 percent of people follow a business on Instagram, the desire really is there to shop.” Continue reading Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Amazon to Launch Another Grocery Store Brand in the U.S.

Amazon plans to open dozens of grocery stores — distinct from Whole Foods — starting with Los Angeles and then in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington DC, and Philadelphia among other cities, said sources. The L.A. store is expected to open as early as the end of 2019, with others scheduled for early 2020. The name of the stores hasn’t yet been disclosed. The move is part of Amazon’s more recent focus on physical retail, especially grocery stores. Now traditional grocers will have yet more competition from Amazon. Continue reading Amazon to Launch Another Grocery Store Brand in the U.S.

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