Amazon Payments is Gaining Traction with Smaller Retailers

Since Amazon relaunched its online Payments business in 2013, more than 23 million customers have used their Amazon accounts to pay for purchases on other businesses’ websites. That’s a trade-off that Amazon is more than willing to make. Among those companies now accepting Amazon Payments are Southwest Airlines, Comcast’s GolfNow online tee-time booking site and online store Red Dress Boutique, which reports that within a week of adding Amazon Payments, 20 percent of its orders used it, surpassing PayPal. Continue reading Amazon Payments is Gaining Traction with Smaller Retailers

VR Faces its Moment of Truth as Headsets Become Available

Virtual reality is finally available for consumers. Oculus will ship the much-anticipated Rift VR headset next week, HTC will deliver its Vive VR headset one week later, and Sony is also readying the launch of its PlayStation VR headset. Although there are technical kinks to be worked out and business models to emerge, early signs that consumers want VR are positive. The Rift is back-ordered to July, the Vive to May, and, on Amazon, the PlayStation VR Launch Bundle pre-order sold out within minutes of going live. Continue reading VR Faces its Moment of Truth as Headsets Become Available

Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

Vizio is launching a SmartCast TV set and several soundbars and speakers, all based on Google Cast, the same technology as that company’s Chromecast streaming stick. With the SmartCast TV, the user can control streaming services directly from his or her phone, without a remote control. Vizio just introduced a companion Android app on Google Play that will allow volume control and other basic functions as well as a movie/TV show guide. One partner in the launch is Walmart’s video service Vudu. Continue reading Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Apple, Google and Samsung are all vying to dominate the nascent mobile payments market sector. Samsung, a newcomer to the competition, has already signed up five million U.S. users, who have racked up $500 million in transactions since launching in September. Apple Pay is estimated to have 12 million monthly users and Android Pay has five million. Still, adoption of mobile payments hasn’t caught fire yet. Not all retailers accept mobile payments, which also require later-generation phones. Continue reading Apple, Google, Samsung Battle to Dominate Mobile Payments

Amazon Doubles Market Value, Plans to Launch Music Service

Amazon’s growth is impressive — but it still, apparently, does not meet investors’ high expectations. With profits in Prime and Amazon Web Services, the company just delivered the largest quarterly profit in its 20-year history, but its shares plummeted 15 percent in after-hours trading, erasing more than $30 billion in market value. Shareholders were perhaps spooked by a 20.5 percent jump in operating costs, to $34.6 billion. Yet Amazon still out-performed other tech titans, including Alphabet, Apple and Facebook. Continue reading Amazon Doubles Market Value, Plans to Launch Music Service

Picking Up Online Orders at Stores a Hassle for Customers

The “click-and-collect” method of shopping is not as easy as it sounds. This type of shopping allows customers to place orders online and pick up their purchases at a physical store just a few hours later. However, one study found that 60 percent of these orders were not completed correctly on Cyber Monday. Some stores made customers wait for more than an hour, gave customers the wrong item, or simply had to cancel orders because the store ran out of stock. Continue reading Picking Up Online Orders at Stores a Hassle for Customers

Walmart Debuts Mobile Payment System, Wide Rollout in 2016

Walmart is debuting Walmart Pay, a mobile payment system integrated into its existing smartphone app, which has 22 million active users. The new system will roll out to the company’s 4,600 stores in early 2016. With Walmart Pay, the company is competing with Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay, neither of which have gained widespread traction. Based on QR code technology and near-field communication (NFC) technology, Walmart Pay’s success — or lack thereof — rests on the consumer experience. Continue reading Walmart Debuts Mobile Payment System, Wide Rollout in 2016

Amazon Debuts New Hybrid Prototype for its Prime Air Drones

Two years after it first announced its Prime Air drone project, Amazon has unveiled its latest UAV prototype, with plans to eventually deliver packages to customers in less than 30 minutes. In a video featuring former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson, a new hybrid design is introduced — a larger vehicle that is essentially part helicopter and part airplane. The drone can still take off and land vertically, but it can also shift to a horizontal flight mode with the capability of flying 55 mph for more than 15 miles. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Hybrid Prototype for its Prime Air Drones

Walmart Reinvents Its Digital Operations to Overcome Amazon

Walmart Stores, with chief technology officer Jeremy King leading the charge, is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul of its digital operations. The goal is to create a digital presence as powerful as its brick-and-mortar one and, in the process, break Amazon’s record of successfully squelching most traditional retailers online. To do so, Walmart has invested serious resources into its effort: 15 acquisitions, 3,600 new hires and billions of dollars in the project code-named Pangaea, named after the pre-historic supercontinent. Continue reading Walmart Reinvents Its Digital Operations to Overcome Amazon

More People Shopped Online Than in Stores this Black Friday

Last week’s start to the holiday shopping season marked the most social on record with 1.4 million tweets during the week leading up to Black Friday. However, sales in retail stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday fell about $1.4 billion this year, with more consumers opting to pursue deals online. Black Friday saw a 14 percent increase in online sales over last year, for a total of $2.72 billion, while Thanksgiving online sales jumped 25 percent. Adobe estimates that shoppers spent $4.45 billion online Thursday and Friday combined. Continue reading More People Shopped Online Than in Stores this Black Friday

WalmartLabs Offers Its Open Source Cloud Platform to Public

WalmartLabs has upped its credibility as a technology provider and taken a swipe at Amazon by opening its OneOps cloud platform to all comers. The OneOps source code will be uploaded to code repository GitHub by the end of the year. By doing so, Walmart hopes to increase competition with Amazon Web Services and offer developers an option to AWS’ dominance. Walmart touts OneOps advantages as “cloud portability, continuous lifecycle management, faster innovation, and great abstraction of cloud environments.” Continue reading WalmartLabs Offers Its Open Source Cloud Platform to Public

Disney Movies Anywhere Service Goes Wide on New Platforms

Disney is expanding support for its cloud-based digital movie service on more platforms with the debut of new apps for Amazon Fire tablets, Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, and Microsoft Xbox 360. Apps for Android TV and Roku are expected in a few days. The Disney Movies Anywhere collection currently features more than 450 digital movies from Disney, Marvel and Pixar in addition to Star Wars and short form content. Its new app is now available to Amazon and Microsoft customers, the result of new partnerships between the studio and both companies. Continue reading Disney Movies Anywhere Service Goes Wide on New Platforms

Amazon Declares Prime Day Success in Sales, New Members

Amazon reports that Prime Day sales exceeded those on Black Friday 2014, the biggest Black Friday to date. Although many consumers mocked Prime Day online and in tweets, the sales event succeeded at drawing in more new members to the Amazon Prime subscription service that day than any other day in Amazon history, prompting Amazon to declare Prime Day an annual event. Walmart, which held its own online sales event to compete with Amazon, also declared a day of record-breaking online traffic and sales. Continue reading Amazon Declares Prime Day Success in Sales, New Members

Is a Price War Brewing Between Amazon.com and Jet.com?

Recently, Amazon has been offering discounts on sneakers and video games to its Prime members, prompting some industry watchers to predict an impending price war with discount shopping site Jet.com. Operating in private beta, the members-only Jet offers cheaper prices by lowering order fulfillment and shipping costs. The belief in the possibility of a price war is rooted in recent history: Jet was founded by former Amazon employee Marc Lore, whose previous company Diapers.com was the focus of a heated price war that ended with Amazon’s 2010 acquisition. Continue reading Is a Price War Brewing Between Amazon.com and Jet.com?

Free Shipping and Speedy Delivery a New Focus for Companies

In shipping news, retailers and tech companies continue to compete for consumers’ attention by offering fast and affordable delivery options. While Amazon, Google and others continue their plans for drone delivery — and companies continue to experiment with one- and two-hour delivery in major cities — recent news has surfaced that Apple is teaming with Postmates to offer same-day delivery of Apple Store items, Walmart is developing a new three-day shipping service, and Amazon is introducing free shipping on thousands of smaller goods. Continue reading Free Shipping and Speedy Delivery a New Focus for Companies

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