Walmart to Test Retail Tech With Launch of Sam’s Club Now

Walmart is upping the ante with rival Amazon by opening a cashierless “Sam’s Club Now” store in Texas, vying with automated Amazon Go stores. Walmart is experimenting with the concept via its members-only Sam’s Club. According to Jamie Iannone, chief exec of SamsClub.com and executive vice president of membership and technology, the store is “very close to opening” and will be the “epicenter of innovation for Sam’s Club.” In the soon-to-open shop, users will rely on a new Sam’s Club Now app to scan items, and a staff member will scan the entire purchase before the user exits. Continue reading Walmart to Test Retail Tech With Launch of Sam’s Club Now

Pinterest Introduces New Features to Make Shopping Easier

In an effort to become more of a personal shopping assistant, Pinterest has introduced product recommendations with its new Product Pin system based on an individual’s tastes. It has also launched a shopping shortcut in the main home feed that provides easy access to a shopping-specific feed and list of shoppable Product Pins by holding down a Home or Style pin to access a shopping tag icon. Pinterest previously rolled out Buyable Pins for direct purchases through the platform in addition to other recommendation features such as Shop the Look and Lens that use machine learning and visual search. Continue reading Pinterest Introduces New Features to Make Shopping Easier

Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Walmart is partnering with MGM, which will create short-form original series for release in 2019, to help boost content on its ad-supported streaming service Vudu. The company also invested a reported $250 million in a joint venture with New York startup Eko, which produces so-called interactive stories in which viewers control the plots of commercials and TV episodes. This investment is believed to be the largest ever made in this particular storytelling niche that has interested creatives for years but never caught on. Continue reading Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Worker Shortage Behind Amazon Pay Raise to $15 Per Hour

On November 1, Amazon will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for all its U.S. employees, including part-time workers and those hired through temporary agencies. More than 250,000 Amazon employees, including those at Whole Foods and 100,000+ workers hired for the holiday season, will benefit from the boost. The company also stated it would lobby to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 per hour for almost ten years. Many interpret Amazon’s move as a response to a tightening labor market and political pressure. Continue reading Worker Shortage Behind Amazon Pay Raise to $15 Per Hour

Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Amazon has opened a brick-and-mortar retail store, dubbed Amazon 4-star, in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Amazon 4-star is so named because it will carry goods — starting off with consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books and games — that shoppers have rated with at least four stars, are sold by top sellers or are “new and trending.” This physical retail store joins Amazon’s 12+ bookstores and a few cashierless Go convenience stores, as well as the Whole Foods grocery stores it acquired. Continue reading Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Walmart is widening its VR-based employee-training program in the U.S., shipping four Oculus Go VR headsets to each Walmart Supercenter and two to smaller Neighborhood Market stores starting in October, for a total of 17,000 Oculus Go headsets by the end of 2018. The retailer first tried out VR for employee training a year ago, and is expanding it due to employee feedback that it boosted their confidence and familiarity with technology. VR software company STRIVR has created 45 activity-based modules for the employees. Continue reading Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Amazon’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

Amazon’s Prime program that offers two-day shipping to its 100 million members has become a standard that other retailers have struggled to meet. Last year, Target, Walmart and many Google Express vendors started offering two-day delivery, some of it free. The latest company to do so is Overstock.com, which claims it can reach 99 percent of the U.S. in two days from one distribution center in Kansas City, Kansas. In comparison, Amazon operates 75 fulfillment centers and 25 sortation centers. Continue reading Amazon’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

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

Cashier-Less Stores Use AI, Cameras, Sensors, Predict Theft

In San Francisco’s newly opened automated, cashier-less store, Standard Market, shoppers who download the app can browse the store’s 1,900 square foot space, pick items and leave. The system is automated via cameras on the ceiling that identify the shopper and her items. It’s just one of several such stores, including Amazon’s Go stores, and in Manhattan, The Drug Store from beverage brand Dirty Lemon. Even China has opened stores without cashiers. The technology behind them is different, but all of them are dealing with theft. Continue reading Cashier-Less Stores Use AI, Cameras, Sensors, Predict Theft

Amazon Grows its Ad Business With Sponsored Product Ads

To grow its advertising business, Amazon is now more aggressive with sponsored product ads, first launched in 2012. A product search will first show sponsored ads, taking up the whole screen above the fold (everything seen before the user scrolls) or, in the case of a mobile phone, the entire first screen. Those sponsored ads are followed by an ad for Amazon’s 365 Everyday Value brand, part of its Whole Foods purchase. The user has to scroll down halfway on the next browser page to find organic search results. Continue reading Amazon Grows its Ad Business With Sponsored Product Ads

Retailers Use Apps, Social Media to Reach Children, Preteens

Children and preteens are shopping online, and retailers are advertising directly to them. Retailers are leveraging Snapchat, YouTube Kids and other mobile apps to target children and preteens more likely to be on their smartphones, tablets or laptops than watching television. Nine-year-old Isabella Colello described how she shops online and puts items in her cart, which her father can browse through and purchase — or not. “It’s so much better than going to the mall because there aren’t that many places to shop anymore,” she said. Continue reading Retailers Use Apps, Social Media to Reach Children, Preteens

Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

To better compete with Amazon, Walmart is reinventing itself from a big box retailer into a tech powerhouse, starting with the 2016 purchase of Jet.com. Other recent deals in this vein include a partnership with Alphabet’s Waymo to provide rides to and from its stores; Uber, Lyft and Postmates deals for grocery delivery; and another with Japan’s Rakuten for Kobo e-readers. Last month, Walmart switched its cloud operations to Microsoft Azure and Office 365 and inked a five-year deal to work with Microsoft on AI projects. Continue reading Walmart Expands Offerings in Growing Rivalry With Amazon

Cloud Services and Advertising Push Amazon to Major Profits

Amazon posted $2.53 billion in profit for the first time, with the highest profit margin ever, the result of the company’s more recent service businesses, including cloud computing, advertising and other services for sellers. The Q2 profit compares to $197 million a year earlier, and represents three straight quarters of profits over $1 billion, forever changing Amazon’s former profile as a company that posts either red ink or bare bones income. Alphabet and Microsoft, however, still deliver much bigger profits. Continue reading Cloud Services and Advertising Push Amazon to Major Profits

Prime Day Breaks Records, Boosts Sales for Large Retailers

Amazon Prime Day — extended to a 36-hour period this time around — broke a number of online shopping records. According to Amazon, this week’s sale was the biggest shopping event in the company’s history, defeating Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and last year’s 30-hour Prime Day. While Amazon does not release specific sales figures, it noted that Prime members around the globe purchased more than 100 million products, while small and medium-sized businesses exceeded $1 billion in sales. In addition, Adobe Analytics reported that large retailers (those with more than a billion dollars in yearly revenue) experienced a 54 percent jump in sales as compared with an average Tuesday. Continue reading Prime Day Breaks Records, Boosts Sales for Large Retailers

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

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