Now is the time for Walmart to strike at Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime has been an enormous influence on e-commerce, but this online juggernaut is beginning to show cracks. Now is the time for arch-rival Walmart to swoop in with a Prime-like offering that strikes at the weaknesses Amazon has introduced into its formidable loyalty program: price, a lack of focus, and competing subscription services. Here’s the problem. Amazon has invested in its Prime program continuously, adding feature after feature in an obvious bid to make the service appear as valuable as possible. But while these additions are superfluous to many a user’s needs, everyone pays for them whether they’re used or not. That’s part of the strategy, of course — if you know your customer won’t stop paying for a subscription, you can use that to squeeze the life out of other subscriptions they might pay for, and redirect that money to yourself. Prime Video and Music, for example, are
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EBay paid $573M to buy Japanese e-commerce platform Qoo10, filing reveals

EBay is a very distant second behind Amazon when it comes to e-commerce sales in the U.S., but abroad — and in particular in Asia — it is willing to invest to grow its footprint in a targeted way. In February, eBay paid a total of $573 million to acquire Qoo10, a Japanese sales platform, according to the company’s quarterly earnings filing. In more detail, the deal consisted of $306 million in cash and the relinquishment of about $266 million in shares in Giosis, a pan-Asian e-commerce marketplace business originally founded as a joint venture with Korea’s Gmarket. Qoo10, which claims two million shoppers, was originally part of Giosis. The acquisition is similar to a deal eBay did in Korea in 2001 when it purchased Internet Auction Co and linked the Korean service up to its global network of buyers and sellers. That integration has been successful, and
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Walmart acquiring Shopify is no longer a laughable idea

As competition between Walmart and Amazon intensifies, the acquisition of Shopify’s merchant marketplace, may be the boost that the Walton family’s juggernaut needs to move ahead. In May this year, Amazon published its small business impact report in which it disclosed that there are 20,000 small and medium sized businesses that make a million dollars or more in sales on its platform Amazon boasts about 5 million third-party sellers on its marketplace today, with an estimated 100,000 sellers hopping onboard every month. At 100,000 sellers a month over the next 5 years, there could be an estimated 11 Million sellers on Amazon’s marketplace by 2023. E-commerce intelligence firm Marketplace Pulse estimates Amazon’s Gross Merchandise Volume or GMV for 2018 at $280B, set to triple over a 5-year
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That $20 Wyze Cam now works with Alexa

The Wyze Cam has long been a strong contender for the best deal in connected home security. I haven’t actually tried the thing out, but Greg was “surprisingly impressed” with his hands-on time with the 1080p camera. That’s probably enough in and of itself to justify the $20 price tag.

Now the dirt cheap camera’s getting some added features courtesy of a software update. Starting today, owners of the Wyze Cam v2 and the $30 Wyze Cam Pan will be able to use Alexa to summon live video feeds on the Echo Show, Spot and through the Fire TV Stick (using the voice-enabled remote). Sorry, no luck for those who picked up the first gen device. Hope that $20 camera is working out for you, otherwise. 

The feature is available this week as a free update to the Alexa app. Wyze joins Ring, Arlo, Nest, and Canary, along

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Amazon’s new AR Part Finder helps you shop for those odd nuts and bolts

Got an odd screw, nut, bolt, washer or fastener you need to buy more of, but have no idea to how to find the right one? Amazon’s AR “Part Finder” can help. The company has rolled out a new feature on mobile that lets you point your camera at the item in question, so Amazon can scan it, measure it, then direct you to matching items from its product catalog. The company didn’t announce the feature’s launch, but confirmed to us it was rolled out to all users a couple of weeks ago. The feature takes advantage of the iPhone’s camera and its augmented reality capabilities to measure the object in question – a process it walks you through when you first launch “Part Finder” by tapping the Camera button next to the search box in the Amazon app. This is the area where Amazon has added a number of
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Hyundai teams up with Amazon to offer virtual showroom

Next time you’re grabbing a new charging cord on Amazon, you might be tempted to grab a new Hyundai as well. Hyundai announced today a partnership with Amazon to create a digital showroom to allow customers to compare pricing and reviews, book a test drive and find a dealer in their area to purchase the car (no, you can’t order them directly from Amazon — yet.) “The car industry is changing, and customer demands and expectations around a frictionless, efficient and transparent experience are key drivers,” Dean Evans, Hyundai Motor America CMO, said in a statement. The digital showroom will be incorporated into Amazon’s Vehicle section, which Amazon launched in 2016 for customers to browse automobile makes and models, from Tesla cars to vehicles from Toyota. But, while some of these vehicle profiles are lacking in detailed pictures or model information, Hyundai has created a more robust experience.
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The best Amazon Prime Day deals you can still grab

Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch may earn affiliate commissions. Read Wirecutter’s continuously updated list of deals here. Amazon Prime Day this year, despite its slow start, broke records and boosted the fortunes of its competitors. And now that it’s over, we found some deals you can still take advantage of. Asus ROG Swift PG279Q 27 Inch Street Price: $740; Deal Price: $690 A new low price on our gaming monitor pick for Nvidia graphics card users. While it only beats our previous low by a few bucks, this monitor has been stubborn about sticking to $740. The Asus ROG Swift PG279Q 27
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Prime Day boosted other large retailers’ sales by 54%, says report

Amazon’s Prime Day again broke records this year, but the sales holiday also boosted sales across the broader U.S. e-commerce industry. According to Adobe Analytics data released this morning, larger retailers – meaning those with over a billion in annual revenue – saw a 54 percent increase in sales on Prime Day, compared with an average Tuesday. This is attributed to increased conversions on their own sites, Adobe says. Though not highlighted in Adobe’s report, Target announced that its one-day sale held on Tuesday was the biggest online shopping day of 2018, in terms of both traffic and sales. “Millions” of guests shopped its site, and “millions” of orders are now being fulfilled, it said. Of note, 90 percent of those online orders are being fulfilled by Target stores – a different model than Amazon. eBay, however, can’t comment on the results of its Prime Day sale, as it’s
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What Amazon lost (and made) on Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day is over, and what a ride it was this year. Widespread technical glitches in the first hours of Amazon’s massive annual Prime Day promotion cost the e-commerce giant an estimated $1.2 million a minute, according to One Click Retail founder Spencer Millerberg.

The total loss is difficult to nail down, in part because the exact span of the outage varied. But the data analytics firm says the outage, which included a broken landing page and links that sent potential customers to an error page, appeared to be concentrated on the East and West coasts of the U.S. for about 75 minutes. That puts Amazon’s loss in sales at about $90 million, an estimate One Click Retail based on 1P sales from 2017.

Another estimate from discount site Lovethesales.com put Amazon’s loss at more than $99 million, Bloomberg reported.

And yet, Amazon contends that these
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Amazon’s Prime Day again became the biggest sales day in its history

Prime Day has once again broken records. Despite serious glitches at its start, Amazon announced this morning that Prime Day 2018 grew to become the biggest shopping event in its history, beating out Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and the previous Prime Day 2017. Of course, this year’s Prime Day was longer – a full 36-hours, in fact. And while Amazon did make its comparisons to other sales holidays over the same period of time, it’s not quite the same thing to compare a shorter sale to a longer one. (Last year’s Prime Day was 30 hours, for example.) Still, it’s a remarkable showing on Amazon’s part. So much so that Amazon has taken the unusual step of actually providing some numbers around how much people bought. Though it still declines to talk sales dollars, as per usual, it did say that Prime members worldwide purchased over 100 million
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Amazon’s Show Mode Dock makes the Echo Show mostly unnecessary

Google gave us a hardware blitzkrieg at CES. Among other things, the company announced a new smart display category, aimed at taking on the Echo Show through sheer, brute force. The new Show Mode Dock isn’t a direct response, but it’s a clever one.

Two years ago, Amazon introduced Alexa for the Fire tablet line. Last year, the feature went hands-free. In June, all of those additions finally paid off with the addition of Show Mode for the Fire HD 8 and 10, along with the dock, which effectively turns the tablets into an Echo Show. It’s a perfect bit of stream-crossing synergy for the company.

When I met with Amazon prior to release, I asked if the company was afraid of cannibalizing the Show. They seemed unconcerned. Not surprising, really. Hardware has always been secondary to its strategy. The more Alexa devices in the world, the better. That’s

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Amazon’s EC2 gets faster processors, new high-memory instances

It’s a big day for Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing service today. Not only can you now run EC2 inside a Snowball Edge device, but the company also announced a bunch of new EC2 instance types in the cloud. Thanks to these new instance types, developers now have access to a new instance type (Z1d) with custom Xeon processors that can run at up to 4.0 GHz, as well as new memory-optimized instances (R5) that run at up to 3.1 GHz and that feature up to 50 percent more CPU power and 60 percent more memory than their predecessors. There are also some bare metal variants of these instances, as well as an R5d version that features local NVMe storage. As Amazon’s Jeff Barr notes in today’s announcement, these new instances types were made possible by AWS’s Nitro system, which allows the company to combine the various
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With its Snowball Edge, AWS now lets you run EC2 on your factory floor

AWS’s Snowball Edge devices aren’t new, but they are getting a new feature today that’ll make them infinitely more interesting than before. Until now, you could use the device to move lots of data and perform some computing tasks on them, courtesy of the AWS Greengrass service and Lambda that run on the device. But AWS is stepping it up and you can now run a local version of EC2, the canonical AWS compute service, right on a Snowball Edge. With that, you can now take one of these devices, put it right on your factory floor and run all of your standard Amazon Machine Images on it. That cuts down on bandwidth because you can either handle all of the processing on the device or pre-process it before you send it on to the cloud. And to manage it, you simply rely on the regular AWS management console (or
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Walmart enlists Microsoft cloud in battle against Amazon

Once a seemingly unstoppable retail juggernaut, Walmart’s been scrambling to define its digitally in this Amazon-defined era. This morning, the company announced that it’s struck a five-year deal with Microsoft, Amazon’s chief cloud competitor.

These sorts of partnerships are a regular occurrence for AWS — in fact, it announced one with Fortnite maker Epic Games, just this morning. The companies involved tend to put on a big show, in return for a discount on services, but Walmart and Microsoft are happily playing into the concept of teaming up to take on Amazon.

Microsoft’s certainly not making any bones about the competition. In an interview, Satya Nadella told The Wall Street Journal that the fight against Amazon “is absolutely core to this,” adding, “How do we get more leverage as two organizations that have depth and breadth and investment to be able to outrun our respective competition?”

Of course,

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Amazon Prime Day U.S. sales bigger than last year, despite site issues

Despite the massive glitches that prevented online shoppers from being able to browse and buy from Amazon’s Prime Day sale yesterday, the retailer is this morning claiming its Prime Day sales in the U.S. are “bigger than ever,” and grew faster than last year’s Prime Day within the first ten hours of the annual sales event. In addition, customers bought “millions” of Amazon devices, including Amazon’s top sellers Fire TV Stick, Echo Dot, Fire 7 tablet, as well as the Instant Pot 6 Qt, and the Lifestraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Amazon said. While Amazon doesn’t tend to reveal hard numbers, a third-party report from Feedvisor backs up Amazon’s statement to some extent, saying that online shoppers spent 54 percent more in the first three hours of Prime Day this year, than the first three hours last year, according to a report from Bloomberg. Amazon acknowledged the website’s
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Standard Cognition raises another $5.5M to create a cashier-less checkout experience

As Amazon looks to increasingly expand its cashier-less grocery stories — called Amazon Go – across different regions, there’s at least one startup hoping to end up everywhere else beyond Amazon’s empire. Standard Cognition aims to help businesses create that kind of checkout experience based on machine vision, using image recognition to figure out that a specific person is picking up and walking out the door with a bag of Cheetos. The company said it’s raised an additional $5.5 million in a round in what the company is calling a seed round extension from CRV. The play here is, like many startups, to create something that a massive company is going after — like image recognition for cashier-less checkouts — for the long tail businesses rather than locking them into a single ecosystem. Standard Cognition works with security cameras that have a bit more power than typical cameras to
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Prime Down: Amazon’s sale day turns into fail day

  • Update: Here’s how to get around Amazon’s error. Use smile.amazon.com. TechCrunch confirmed this workaround works.
It’s not just you. Amazon Prime Day started 15 minutes ago, and so far, it’s not going well for Amazon. The landing page for Prime Day does not work. When most links are clicked, readers are sent to an error page or to a landing page that sends readers back to the main landing page. Direct links to the product pages, either from outside links or the single product placement on the landing page, seem to work fine. I just bought this tent two weeks ago for $120. Some users are reporting errors when completing a purchase, too. This is a huge blow to Amazon and its faux holiday Prime Day. The retailer has been pushing this event for weeks and there are some great deals to be had. It’s not a
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Amazon puts its own devices on sale early for Prime Day

Amazon is kicking off today’s Prime Day a bit early. Although its annual sale technically begins at 12 PM PT / 3 PM ET this afternoon, it put its own devices on sale 12 hours early. The company is marking down its Alexa-enabled products like Echo, Fire TV, and Fire tablets, as well as its home security products like the Cloud Cam and more recently acquired Ring Video Doorbell. The retailer has also released a list of Prime Day deals, which encompasses other Amazon product discounts, as well as those from other manufacturers. This year’s Prime Day promises to be the largest yet, both in terms of the number of deals and the length of the sale itself, which has been stretched to 36 hours. Prime members will be able to shop over 1 million deals worldwide in an expanded number of international markets outside the U.S. That’s up
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ACLU calls for a moratorium on government use of facial recognition technologies

Technology executives are pleading with the government to give them guidance on how to use facial recognition technologies, and now the American Civil Liberties Union is weighing in. On the heels of a Microsoft statement asking for the federal government to weigh in on the technology, the ACLU has called for a moratorium on the use of the technology by government agencies. “Congress should take immediate action to put the brakes on this technology with a moratorium on its use, given that it has not been fully debated and its use has never been explicitly authorized,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel, in a statement. “And companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and others should be heeding the calls from the public, employees, and shareholders to stop selling face surveillance technology to governments.” In May the ACLU released a report on Amazon’s sale of facial recognition technology to different law enforcement
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