Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Next Tuesday, Facebook will begin the global rollout of a new tab in its main app called Facebook Shop, which allows users to browse product catalogs and buy items directly on the social media platform. The new feature, previously in beta with a small group of U.S. users, joins a similar feature launched on Instagram last month. Prior to Facebook Shop, businesses could add catalogs to their Facebook pages, but the new feature is a dedicated marketplace for multiple retailers. Instagram’s Checkout feature will also soon be broadly available. Continue reading Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Amazon Debuts Smart Shopping Cart for Simplified Checkout

Amazon unveiled the Dash Cart this week, a “smart” grocery shopping cart fitted with a touchscreen that can automatically detect the items placed in it. The shopper can then take the Dash Cart through a special lane to digitally check out via a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensors. The Dash Cart is the result of Amazon’s aim to apply everything it’s learned in building its Alexa-enabled products to create more convenience in the brick-and-mortar world. The Dash Cart will first be deployed in Amazon’s grocery store in Woodland Hills, a Los Angeles suburb. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Smart Shopping Cart for Simplified Checkout

Amazon Developing AI System for Trying on Clothes Virtually

At Amazon Lab126, researchers proposed three related AI algorithms to create Outfit-VITON, an image-based virtual try-on system for apparel. The algorithms could form the basis of an assistant to help a customer shop for clothes by describing a product’s variations, recommending items that go with the one selected, and synthesizing the image of a model wearing clothes to show how all the items work as an outfit. The algorithms will be presented at the annual IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR will be held virtually this year, June 14-19). Continue reading Amazon Developing AI System for Trying on Clothes Virtually

Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

Pinterest, the website and mobile app that describes itself as a “visual discovery engine,” showcased “Today,” a tab on the user’s Pinterest home page that features topics and ideas curated by Pinterest staff and trending pins selected by algorithms. “Today” is a response to changing customer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic. The platform’s global monthly active users reached 367+ million, up from about 300 million last September. During the last few months, searches and boards have both leapt up 60 percent compared to last year. Continue reading Pinterest Adds Today Tab for Topics, Shop Tab for Products

Amazon Takes Aim at Market Share Ceded Due to COVID-19

As online shopping skyrocketed during the COVID-19 shutdown, Amazon was overwhelmed with orders and its rivals saw an opportunity to grab market share. In the last quarter, Target’s online sales increased 141 percent, Etsy’s went up nearly 80 percent and Walmart’s rose 74 percent. Amazon, however, is regaining its footing by removing limitations of the products in its warehouses, offering promotions and, again, shipping more products in one-to-two days. It also plans to increase its Prime Air fleet to about 200 planes. Continue reading Amazon Takes Aim at Market Share Ceded Due to COVID-19

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 Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

On Monday, Amazon will introduce a new business unit, Just Walk Out, to sell the technology that makes its Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores possible, with a website launching on the same day. The company said it already has several signed deals, but would not be more specific. According to Loup Ventures, the market for retail stores without cashiers could grow to $50 billion. As Amazon vice president of physical retail/technology Dilip Kumar put it, “Do customers like standing in lines?” Continue reading Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

Google Appeals EU Fine, Argues Legality of Self-Preferencing

Google is trying to overturn three European Union antitrust rulings, claiming that it had no legal grounds for imposing $9+ billion in fines. The EU found that Google had abused its dominance over smaller competitors. Google attorney Thomas Graf told the five General Court judges that, “competition law does not require Google to hold back innovation or compromise its quality to accommodate rivals.” Although a verdict is expected early next year, its rulings can still be appealed at the European Court of Justice. Continue reading Google Appeals EU Fine, Argues Legality of Self-Preferencing

Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

Google has streamlined its Shopping desktop and mobile portals in anticipation of the holiday season and unveiled a fashion recommendation engine for Google Lens, its AI-enabled computer vision search tool. According to Google Shopping vice president Surojit Chatterjee, the redesign is aimed at making it easier for users to “research and buy” what they are looking for. A personalized homepage offers product suggestions, and new sections allow re-ordering. Also more prominent are links to “nearby and online” stores. Continue reading Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

Pinterest is now promoting itself as a “visual discovery engine,” where its 300 million global monthly active users can not only browse billions of images but also purchase the items they find there. For most of its users, Pinterest is a go-to place for home décor, gardening and personal style, allowing users to “pin” or post photos to create inspiration boards. According to Pinterest, its AI technology can accurately pinpoint 2.5+ billion objects in photos, millions of which can be purchased by clicking on the item. Continue reading Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

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

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

Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

According to a new report from research firm IDC, consumer interest has waned recently for smartphone-dependent VR devices, while tethered and standalone models are growing more popular. IDC surveyed 1,643 VR users across France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and learned that the number of “high-performance” VR headsets increased 60 percent from 2017 to 3.9 million devices in 2018. The study identified different categories of users, based on their amount of time spent with VR devices, including a “hardcore” group (12 percent) that spent 16 or more hours monthly with VR. Continue reading Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

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