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e-commerce technology

Amazon Go is a go! Automated store opens to the public

Amazon Go
Amazon Go

Amazon has opened its highly anticipated automated store – Amazon Go – to the public, more than a year after it launched the pilot.

The Seattle-based grocery store has no cashiers on site, as well as no checkouts for shoppers to contend with. Instead they download the Amazon Go app and scan it on entry. From there they can simply walk out with products in order to activate automatic payment.

The idea for the store came five years ago at Amazon. According to Recode, Dilip Kumar, the Amazon Go technology chief who served for nearly two years as CEO Jeff Bezos’ technical adviser, asked the question: “What can we do to improve on convenience?” The answer consistently came back to solving the fact people don’t like waiting in line.

The resulting 1,800 sq ft space features special cameras, shelf sensors that track inventory and the company’s computer vision system. As a result, it knows when you have put something back down, comparative to when you’ve actually walked out with it.

This isn’t however a completely employee-free zone – various staff are on hand to help at the entrance and to restock the shelves.

Until now, only employees of Amazon were able to use the store, which is housed within the e-commerce giant’s headquarters. The concept was first announced in December 2016 but has taken over a year to be consumer-ready while various bugs were ironed out. It couldn’t previously cope when the store got too crowded for instance or when items were misplaced.

The company has yet to announce plans for further rollout or for a business model attached to it. It is imagined however, that Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology may be licensed to other retail partners down the line.

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business data digital snippets e-commerce Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: retail’s existential reckoning, Echo Dot is the Christmas best seller, bots on the rise

2017 was the year of retail’s existential reckoning
2017 was the year of retail’s existential reckoning

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the final fortnight of 2017.


TOP STORIES
  • 2017 was the year of retail’s existential reckoning [Quartz]
  • The Echo Dot was the best-selling product on all of Amazon this holiday season [TechCrunch]
  • Bots are about to get better at customer support than humans [Wired]
  • The last days of Colette [Garage]

BUSINESS
  • Retailers feel shoppers’ Christmas cheer [WSJ]
  • Jonathan Saunders steps down from DVF role [Guardian]
  • Meet Oscar Olsson, the mind behind H&M’s new brand for millennials [TheCut]
  • Reformation raises $25 million to fuel brick-and-mortar growth [BoF]
  • Clothing companies are trashing unsold merchandise instead of donating it [TheOutline]
  • With Phoebe Philo leaving Céline, what’s next? [BoF]
  • UK cotton back in production in Manchester [BBC]

MARKETING
  • Adidas brings all-star talent and tech to the table [BrandChannel]

E-COMMERCE
  • Prada launches e-commerce platform in China [Reuters]
  • The fake news of e-commerce [Racked]
  • There’s money to be made in returning e-commerce orders [LA Times]
  • What fashion brands can learn from Nike’s first six months as an Amazon partner [Glossy]
  • E-commerce company ThredUP rolls out AI-powered ‘goody boxes’ to rival discount clothing chains [AdWeek]

STORES
  • Walmart is developing a personal-shopper service for rich moms — and a store with no cashiers [Recode]
  • Sephora mastered in-store sales by investing in data and cutting-edge technology [AdWeek]

TECHNOLOGY
  • This is Magic Leap’s mixed reality headset [Engadget]
  • If the bitcoin bubble bursts, this is what will happen next [Wired]
  • Mall of America gets high-tech with chatbot and humanoid robots [Racked]
  • Ikea is stepping into virtual reality by creating a game for new store openings [AdWeek]
  • Beauty tech made major strides in 2017, and it’s only the beginning [Fashionista]

START-UPS
  • Target to buy Shipt for $550 million in challenge to Amazon [Bloomberg]
  • Meet the nanotech scientist who used her mad skills to build a better party clutch [FastCompany]
Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

Facebook is pushing the idea of “conversational commerce” hard

everlane

 

In what will come as little of a surprise, Facebook is backing the idea of consumers being able to shop directly through messaging apps.

Speaking at Retail Week Live, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said shoppers will be able to increasingly contact retailers and brands directly through Facebook Messenger, and use that conversation to order products instead of leaving to go to a website.

She referred to this as the next big digital retail trend, according to Drapers, and highlighted that 800 million people worldwide now use Facebook messenger and one billion use [Facebook-owned] WhatsApp.

“Six out of the top 10 apps in the world are messenger apps and it will not be long until brands are integrated into that space,” she added.

Indeed, stats released last year by Business Insider show that four of the biggest messaging apps have now met (and no doubt since overtaken) the number of people using the four biggest social media platforms.

 

Messagingvsocial

 

It’s on that basis Facebook Messenger is believed to be heavily following in the footsteps of its Chinese counterpart WeChat and aiming to become more than just a place for conversation, but for everything from banking, to travel, customer service, and yes, shopping.

It released its business offering on the platform in the US in 2015, with the likes of Everlane as launch partner.

Everlane shoppers can now receive updates about their order via FB Messenger rather than just email. For those wanting to, they can just leave it at that. For those more inclined, they can use the app to then spark up a conversation with the customer service rep on the other end of it. Given payment details are then stored, they can order anything they like through that discussion, but better yet, also receive personalised recommendations and the such like given their history is stored in that one app.

“It is instant communication and a different type of commerce. It allows shoppers to shop whenever they like,” said Mendelsohn.

At this point for Everlane, it’s reportedly still a human at the other end beyond those initial shipping updates, by the way. But the bigger part of this conversational commerce trend – a term first coined by Chris Messina, developer experience lead at Uber, in a must-read blogpost earlier this year – will be the role bots play to automate much more of that back and forth.

This is something WeChat is already heavily invested in, and others including Kik, Slack and Telegram all too. It’s also a step Facebook is rumoured to be announcing at its next developer conference in April.

As Messina wrote: “Computer-driven bots will become more human-feeling, to the point where the user can’t detect the difference, and will interact with either human agent or computer bot in roughly the same interaction paradigm.”

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Blocks social media

Burberry won in the Twitter stakes this #LFW

Burberry1

Burberry beat out Topshop on Twitter this London Fashion Week season thanks to the introduction of its #Tweetcam initiative.

The British heritage brand more than doubled the 8,000 tweets attached to its September show, hitting a huge 19,000 mentions between February 20 and 24, according to social analytics company SocialBro.

Its #Tweetcam campaign, which provided fans with a personalised, automated image live from the show in response to tweeting to the brand with the hashtag, generated 7,220 tweets alone.

Topshop meanwhile received 6,100 tweets during the same time period tied to both its show and its #livetrends campaign run in conjunction with Twitter.

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