CES: Keynotes Address 5G, AI, Robotics, Pandemic, Security

CES 2021 was the first-ever all-digital version of the annual confab produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). This year’s show featured nearly 2,000 companies and more than 100 hours of conference programming. Despite its new virtual format, CES offered compelling keynote addresses by top executives from major companies such as AMD, Best Buy, General Motors, Microsoft, Verizon and Walmart who discussed plans for new products, services and business models, in addition to an array of changes underway designed to address a world facing a pandemic. Continue reading CES: Keynotes Address 5G, AI, Robotics, Pandemic, Security

All-Virtual CES 2021 Focuses on Innovation Despite Pandemic

The sprawl of CES, typically measured in millions of square feet of exhibit space, multiple venues, and hundreds of thousands of attendees, now spans the globe as the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) sets “the global stage for innovation” in an all-digital format when it opens its four-day run on January 11. However dispersed, CES Week will still be the focal point for the consumer technology sector and trends will emerge, even if news and product announcements will originate from both CES events and individual company presentations. Continue reading All-Virtual CES 2021 Focuses on Innovation Despite Pandemic

E-Commerce Takes Center Stage as Top Retail Trend in 2020

In 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce went mainstream, with Amazon and Walmart earning top spots as retail’s biggest successes. According to GroupM, e-commerce will grow by “low-double-digit percentages through the next six years,” even after social distancing rules abate. In addition, new services are being offered. Amazon opened its first Fresh grocery store with smart shopping carts and introduced prescription delivery and a hand-scanning payment option. Walmart introduced Walmart+, its membership program and partnered with Shopify and TikTok. Continue reading E-Commerce Takes Center Stage as Top Retail Trend in 2020

Walmart and TikTok Team Up for Shopping via Live Streaming

Walmart and TikTok partnered to create a shoppable one-hour live-stream event let week — the Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular — that allowed TikTok creators to feature Walmart fashion items that users can buy without leaving the app. This is the first time that TikTok has hosted such a shoppable live stream in the U.S. Following the event, the items will continue to be featured and available for sale on Walmart’s TikTok page. Walmart is not sharing revenues with TikTok. Meanwhile, Instagram is also bringing shopping to Reels. Continue reading Walmart and TikTok Team Up for Shopping via Live Streaming

Amazon to Surpass Walmart as Top Global Private Employer

Amazon is on track to become the world’s largest private employer within two years. The company has added 427,300 more employees between January and October this year, for a total workforce of 1.2+ million around the world. Two years ago, its workforce was less than 650,000 people. The National Retail Federation reported that sales at Amazon, the top e-commerce player, will grow by as much as 30 percent compared with last year’s holiday season. The company has earmarked $500 million for employee holiday bonuses. Continue reading Amazon to Surpass Walmart as Top Global Private Employer

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

Government Extends Deadline for ByteDance to Divest TikTok

Although ByteDance’s TikTok missed a Thursday deadline to complete its deal with Oracle and Walmart, the Commerce Department did not enforce the shutdown order, citing last month’s preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone. That suit was brought by three TikTok stars who charged that the government exceeded its authority by threatening the “robust exchange of informational materials.” President Trump initiated the effort to get TikTok to divest itself of its U.S. operations based on national security concerns. Now the deadline has been extended to November 27. Continue reading Government Extends Deadline for ByteDance to Divest TikTok

TikTok Popularity Surge Continues as U.S. Ultimatum Looms

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for more time to work out the preliminary deal to sell its U.S. operations to Oracle and Walmart. November 12 is the deadline for the deal to be completed. The company also stated it had been in discussions with the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), but “feedback had stopped” in recent weeks despite the approaching deadline. App Annie reports that TikTok’s substantial growth is expected to continue throughout 2021. Continue reading TikTok Popularity Surge Continues as U.S. Ultimatum Looms

Private 5G Networks Bring Services to Rural U.S., Companies

Private 5G networks are being built across the country, mainly intended to connect machines rather than smartphones. This follows in the footsteps of utility companies, retailers and large enterprises that once built their own private 4G networks. Private networks are more readily customized and can offer better reliability and security than Wi-Fi over large areas. In rural Wisconsin, for example, WiConnect is benefitting from 5G to keep its 1,400 households connected to a broadband network that’s faster than ever before. Continue reading Private 5G Networks Bring Services to Rural U.S., Companies

WhatsApp Debuts Disappearing Messages, Expands in India

In response to the pressure for privacy on social media apps, Facebook-owned WhatsApp debuted a setting to automatically delete messages after seven days. This is intended to make users feel more secure in communicating one-on-one and in group chats. As WhatsApp product manager Zafir Khan noted, “records of most in-person conversations don’t exist forever, so conversations on WhatsApp shouldn’t have to either.” He added that, nowadays, people are “using WhatsApp messaging for very deep and intimate conversations.” Continue reading WhatsApp Debuts Disappearing Messages, Expands in India

Comcast, Walmart Discuss a Potential Smart TV Partnership

Comcast and Walmart are discussing a partnership whereby the former would develop smart TV software, and the latter would promote the TVs, possibly under its own brand Onn, and get a share of recurring revenues. The TVs would be manufactured by a third party. Comcast, whose software would aim to help consumers navigate streaming apps, would be able to market its TVs nationwide. The Comcast sets would put it in competition with Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, the dominant players in streaming platforms. Continue reading Comcast, Walmart Discuss a Potential Smart TV Partnership

Walmart Opens Test Stores to Advance E-Commerce Goals

Walmart is transforming four of its stores into test labs to find the best ways to transition them into online fulfillment centers for e-commerce. Two of the stores are near its Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters, and the locations of the second two will be announced at a later date. Employees at these so-called laboratories will rely on digital tools and try out different strategies to integrate the company’s e-commerce and brick-and-mortar sides. The company’s online sales almost doubled during Q2, which ended July 31. Continue reading Walmart Opens Test Stores to Advance E-Commerce Goals

Quibi Shutters Video Platform That Targeted Mobile Viewers

After launching only six months ago, Quibi is shuttering its doors. According to sources, Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg called investors to give them the news. As a startup, Quibi raised $1.75 billion but, since its debut, failed to sign up subscribers, garnered low download numbers and faced a well-funded lawsuit from interactive video company Eko, which claimed credit for its video streaming technology. Quibi also contended with the coronavirus pandemic while promoting a mobile platform. Katzenberg envisioned Quibi as “quick bites” of 5- to 10-minute videos formatted for the mobile screen. Continue reading Quibi Shutters Video Platform That Targeted Mobile Viewers

Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

Alibaba Group, China’s most valuable company with a market capitalization of $800+ billion, is paying $3.6 billion to gain more control of Sun Art Retail Group, which operates 480+ large supermarket stores. As in the U.S. and elsewhere, COVID-19 has seen many consumers shift to online shopping for food and other essentials. In 2017, Alibaba acquired a 36 percent stake in Sun Art for about $2.9 billion. With the latest purchase, Alibaba will own about 72 percent of the company and is positioned to compete with Walmart. Continue reading Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

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