MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Simon launches ‘concierge bot’

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Simon is debuting a new type of concierge — one that never calls in sick.

The mall owner launched a chatbot designed to deliver customers at its 208 North American centers useful information as they shop. Described as the industry’s first enterprise-wide bot, the artificial intelligence-based technology is available through Facebook Messenger, and provides store and restaurant information, hours of operation, special events, daily promotions and a list of available amenities.

“Our concierge bot is another example of our ongoing efforts to enhance the shopping experience at our centers,” said Mikael Thygesen, chief marketing officer for Simon, and head of its innovation efforts. “Millions of Facebook Messenger users now have access to a broad set of information about their favorite center.”

Simon’s concierge bot also provides personalized recommendations specific to the shopper’s mall of choice. Customers can also access tailored lifestyle content based on the solution’s ‘Simon SAID’ service — Simon’s fashion, beauty and dining publication.

“Simon is connecting the real world with the digital world, through the latest mobile messaging technologies,” says Christian Brucculeri, CEO of Snaps, which helped developed Simon’s concierge bot. "Simon is at the forefront of the messaging evolution and an innovator in the mall technology space. We look forward to adding more capabilities and intelligence to this bot over the coming months.”

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ECOMMERCE

Online giant explores ‘mobile’ drone launch pad

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon has lots of ideas about how drones can improve package deliveries, but they also need supportive facilities and operations.

In hopes of getting the ball rolling, the online giant has filed a patent application for “ground-based mobile maintenance facilities for unmanned aerial vehicles.” Simply put, these hubs would be dedicated to accommodating, loading, launching, receiving and maintaining the delivery drones.

According to a patent filing, which was recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Center, intermodal vehicles could be linked to locomotives, container ships, road tractors or other vehicles, and equipped with systems for loading one or more items onto the aerial vehicle. These hubs could also launch or retrieve drones while the vehicle is in motion.

The application also defines how these hubs will help maintain the delivery devices. For example, drones may be loaded with replacement parts and/or inspection equipment. They could also be configured to conduct repairs, servicing operations or inspections on drones within the intermodal vehicles while the train, ship or another hosting vehicle is in motion, according to the filing.

Amazon is not the first company to explore the concept of mobile hubs or launch pads. In February, UPS tested a program in Lithia, Florida, that launched an “octocopter drone” from atop of a UPS package car. The device was programmed to autonomously deliver a package to a home, and then return to the vehicle while the driver continues along the route to make a separate delivery.

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ECOMMERCE

Report: Online giant operates 19 private-label brands

BY CSA STAFF

Amazon has a stronger foothold in the private-label market than some may realize.

Besides its AmazonBasics house line, which includes small items from iPhone chargers, to batteries, power strips, the online giant is selling products across a wide array of categories. Specifically, Amazon features approximately 19 company-owned brands that are exclusively available on Amazon, reported Quartz.

According to the report, the lines span men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, men’s shoes, cosmetics, tools, tech accessories, fresh and frozen food, lingerie and underwear, baby goods, consumer goods, linens, spare parts and furniture. However, only one brand — Pinzon, a bedsheets and towel brand — reveals that it’s an Amazon product. The only indication that these other “secret” brands might have an affiliation with Amazon is that they are “exclusively for Prime members.”

Amazon also has at least 10 more trademarks in the works — meaning other private label lines may be on the way. These include household goods, leather goods, baby products, car products, makeup, motor homes and music services, the report said.

According to Quartz’s list, there are also trademarks for handbags. Products under this pending trademark could coincide with Amazon’s new private label shoe and handbag line. Called The Fix, the line comprises trendy designs, including satin slides, colorful sneakers and mules, studded flats, and floral-embellished boots, among other looks.

To read more, click here.

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