By Wares April 12, 2018 Industry news

Retail technology: Walmart looks to proliferate click & collect while opinions on Amazon both cool in the US and hot up in Australia...

Walmart ups stakes in click & collect - Described by the massive US retailer as "giant vending machines" Walmart is rolling out 500 more click & collect Pickup Towers for smaller purchases. The Towers now come with accompanying lockers for larger objects to help cope with the more than half a million orders which have been collected from the 200 Pickup Towers already in stores. Watch the video below and find out more here

RFID tags boost sales - The excellent Internet Retailing publication reports findings that Marks & Spencer and other retailers have been seeing significant sales hikes thanks to radio-frequency identification tags. The GS1 report Measuring the Impact of RFID in Retailing cites vastly improved inventory accuracy and stock availability as key drivers of the participating retailers' ROI. Find out more here

Amazon lapse a fall from grace? - RSR Research have been looking into Amazon using third party shippers for some Prime deliveries with less than optimal results. Amazon exposing itself to less than fully satisfactory third party help however is an opportunity for other retailers, says RSR's Paula Rosenblum, whose key outtake is this: "As Amazon falls to earth, the industry will find itself in a better position to compete." Find out more here

Need bricks & mortar but not at any cost? - If you're a brand that doesn't want to run its own bricks & mortar, a new initiative called "Built by b8ta" may be of interest. Built by b8ta leverages the b8ta ("beta") brand's experience with 78 of its own high-tech stores across the US (photo above), as well as its own back end systems and could offer savings of as much as 50% compared to doing it yourself. B8ta expects 10-15 brands to be rolling out stores under the programme across apparel, cosmetics and furniture. Check out Techcrunch's video below and find out more here

Amazon starts up “stage 2” in Australia - Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere, Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) is now live in Australia, enabling Amazon to pick, pack and ship a local retailer’s orders. Products are of course stored in the local Amazon Fulfilment Centre and are eligible for Amazon-fulfilled free shipping. Retailers are charged for storage space and the orders fulfilled, including the cost of shipping, with no extra charge for free Shipping on eligible orders. Perhaps the icing on the cake is that Amazon’s customer service team manages end user inquiries, refunds and returns for orders on products bought through Amazon Marketplace. Find out more here

Meet Vai – "Vai" (pictured right) stands for Virtual Assistant Interface and she started work last month at Auckland International Airport answering arriving international visitors’ questions. Vai was built using AI specialist FaceMe’s digital employee platform. With training, these “employees” can offer personalised service using natural language. Designed to aid customers navigate self-service tasks with voice, FaceMe’s avatar technology uses biometrics to learn human interactions and will interact accordingly to ease the customer’s experience. Watch the video below and find out more here

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