Disney+ Subs Get Early Access to Exclusive Holiday Shopping

The Walt Disney Company has begun mixing-in shopping opportunities among Disney+ streaming content. U.S. subscribers with Disney+ profiles verified as 18 and older will have first crack at new products from franchises including “Frozen,” “Star Wars” and “Black Panther.” Included among the items are a light saber ($250 to $400) and apparel ($27 to $100). After the limited Disney+ window closes on November 8 the goods will be made available to the general public for purchase. Disney is reportedly also considering an experiment with early access to new theme park rides. Continue reading Disney+ Subs Get Early Access to Exclusive Holiday Shopping

Gen Z Turning to TikTok and Instagram for Search and News

TikTok is at the center of yet another attention-grabbing trend: Gen Z has begun using it as a search engine, edging out Google. TikTok says a third of its billion or so global users are Gen Z, and these 10-to-25-year-olds are now using the short-form video platform for more than just entertainment and are increasingly turning to it as a source of information. Meta Platforms’ Instagram is also making a strong showing among information seekers in Gen Z — an important demographic among advertisers, as they are still forming brand loyalties and shopping habits. Continue reading Gen Z Turning to TikTok and Instagram for Search and News

Amazon’s New Alexa Developer Tools Target Interoperability

Amazon just debuted new Alexa features including one that simplifies coordinating multiple voice assistants on a single device using Agent Transfers (AT) and Amazon’s Universal Device Commands (UDC). Using UDCs, Alexa will be able to act on instructions; for instance, saying “Hey Sonos, turn up the volume” to get results for devices with Sonos Voice Control. ATs enable Alexa to transfer requests it can’t unilaterally fulfill — like “Place an order on Uber Eats” — to other assistants that can. Amazon outlined its AT and UDC plans in a white paper on design recommendations for the Voice Interoperability Initiative (VII). Continue reading Amazon’s New Alexa Developer Tools Target Interoperability

U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

U.S. tech execs are experiencing app envy, with companies from Uber to PayPal and billionaires Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey setting their sights on building one-size-fits-all “super apps” to rival Tencent’s WeChat in China and SoftBank’s LINE in Japan. Where typical apps are built to do one thing really well, so-called super apps are generalists, which in theory means people will use them more often. Spotify and Snap have also expressed interest in super solutions, which have been popular in Asia since 2020 and are sparking new interest in the West. Continue reading U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

YouTube Adds ‘Green Screen,’ Most-Played, Gifting Features

YouTube is amplifying shopping features, adding an effect that lets creators use other backgrounds for shorts and offers a new monetization opportunity through gifting subscriptions. YouTube teased upcoming features that it claimed would make it easier for viewers to discover and buy from brands. At its Brandcast event in New York City, the Google unit touted new ways to engage shoppers, users and advertisers. One new feature allows two creators to simultaneously go live and co-host a single shopping stream, the idea being to double the audience for such events by drawing the fanbase of both creators. Continue reading YouTube Adds ‘Green Screen,’ Most-Played, Gifting Features

Google Shopping Adds Analytics Tools, Trusted Store Badge

Google Shopping is introducing new tools to help merchants and brands improve online sales performance. A Shopping Experience Scorecard will provide retailers the opportunity to earn a “Trusted Store” badge. In addition, Google is offering data analytics, including a conversion rate measurement tool, a price comparison feature and shipping and return overview pages. Since revamping its market portal as Google Shopping in 2019, the company has been trying to make it easier for users to “research and buy” using Google Search. Continue reading Google Shopping Adds Analytics Tools, Trusted Store Badge

Study Finds Consumers Embraced Voice Shopping Last Year

Voice shopping over smart devices rose to 45.2 million in 2021, a 120 percent increase in three years, reflecting a 30 percent compound annual growth rate according to Voicebot Research, which tracks use of voice-assisted devices. The analytics firm found that 20.5 million U.S. adults had used voice to shop for a product at least once in 2018. That figure rose to 45.2 million in 2021. However, the firm found that general-use smartphone voice assistants — such as those from Apple (Siri), Amazon (Alexa) and Google — declined 2.8 percent among U.S. adults in 2021. Continue reading Study Finds Consumers Embraced Voice Shopping Last Year

CES: Fittingbox Demonstrates Unexpectedly Useful AR App

Sometimes you see a product idea that is so obvious you wonder why no one created it sooner. French company Fittingbox has developed an augmented reality app and a 3D model database that lets you try on new frames for eyewear without taking off your old glasses, so you can actually see what you look like as you try them on. Diminished reality is a subset of augmented reality focused on removing, rather than adding, elements of what you see and hear. The Fittingbox app uses the selfie camera on a smartphone to scan the face of the customer. It then recognizes and removes the wearer’s glasses from the 3D modeled image. Continue reading CES: Fittingbox Demonstrates Unexpectedly Useful AR App

Social Video App TikTok Makes Splash as E-Tailing Presence

TikTok made its shopping play this year, partnering with Shopify, then launching the TikTok World feature for creators and brands. The result has been items from clothes to cosmetics to tech accessories and household goods seeing sales boosts through exposure on the platform. The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt is said to have been viewed more than 7.4 billion times, and Amazon in May launched the category “Internet Famous: The Latest to Go Viral,” generously populated by products that “blew up” on the video-sharing service. Now brands are scrambling to leverage the social shopping made successful by TikTok influencers. Continue reading Social Video App TikTok Makes Splash as E-Tailing Presence

Pinterest TV Launch Focuses on Live Shopping with Creators

Pinterest is advancing its objective of becoming more than an image-sharing site by adding live shopping through an app called Pinterest TV that the company believes will help it become a creator destination. Pinterest TV will offer “a series of live, original and shoppable episodes featuring creators” streaming weekdays beginning November 8 on iOS and Android. Topics will span food, home, fashion and beauty. As part of the initiative, Pinterest is launching a virtual studio complete with producers who will help creators develop content, provide A/V support and become ready for live streaming. Continue reading Pinterest TV Launch Focuses on Live Shopping with Creators

PayPal Not Planning to Acquire Image-Sharing App Pinterest

Financial tech company PayPal clarified that it is not currently pursuing a deal to acquire image-sharing social platform Pinterest, shelving reports that surfaced last week, at least for the time being. PayPal stock rose approximately 3 percent while Pinterest shares fell 12 percent on news that the digital pinboard site was not being wooed to the tune of $70 per share, largely in stock, for a deal valued at roughly $45 billion. Assuming discussions were taking place, it’s hard to know if PayPal got cold feet, caving to a mostly negative market response, or decided now may not be the time to grow. Continue reading PayPal Not Planning to Acquire Image-Sharing App Pinterest

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

PayPal Launches Super App for Consumer Financial Services

PayPal has begun rolling out its new app, designed as a one-stop financial services tool capable of handling everything from direct deposit and automatic payments to peer-to-peer transactions, shopping and crypto capabilities. In addition, the company has announced PayPal Savings, offering high-yield accounts in partnership with Synchrony Bank. Shifting paychecks to PayPal is seen as a big step that can centralize consumer financial chores through the service, making it competitive with neobanks like Chime and Varo. PayPal now links to 17,000 billers including utilities and credit card firms. Continue reading PayPal Launches Super App for Consumer Financial Services

Twitter Rolls Out Latest Monetization Feature: ‘Super Follows’

Twitter debuted a new feature called Super Follows, which allows some users to make money by charging for access to subscriber-only content. Users who qualify for the program must be over the age of 18, based in the U.S. and have 10,000+ followers as well as having tweeted more than 25 times in the past 30 days. The payout, powered by payments platform Stripe, will range depending on the Super Follows price and number of followers who sign up. A user who charges $4.99 per month for Super Follows and has 2 percent of 13,000 followers sign up will make $900 a month. Continue reading Twitter Rolls Out Latest Monetization Feature: ‘Super Follows’

TikTok and Shopify Partner to Pilot In-App Shopping Feature

TikTok has introduced in-app shopping for the first time in a deal with e-commerce platform Shopify. Previously, users could shop on TikTok only by clicking ads. The move is designed to more seamlessly leverage the influencers aggregated on the meme-friendly video service. Participating Shopify merchants can now trick-out their profiles with shopping tabs that link to products like clothing, makeup and household products featured in TikTok content. Shopify is currently piloting the program with merchants including Kylie Jenner and expects to offer the feature to all e-commerce partners this fall. Continue reading TikTok and Shopify Partner to Pilot In-App Shopping Feature