Who is cheaper: Costco or Amazon?
A new market study finds that Costco Wholesale Club's online prices are lower than Amazon's — and not by an insignificant amount.
A BMO Capital Markets report found that prices on Costco's web site for national brands are 19% lower than those on Amazon.com, MarketWatch reported. BMO compared pricing on 54 item basket.
BMO analysts believe Costco is positioning itself to capitalize on the "big opportunity" that it has online, according to the report.
To read more, click here.
Amazon re-launches Dash Wand — with new feature
Amazon is giving its Dash Wand a makeover — make that a “voice over.”
The online giant has upgraded its Amazon Dash Wand with its artificial intelligence-based Alexa functionality. Extending Amazon’s signature virtual assistant Alexa beyond the Echo home speaker offering, the Dash Wand is described as the smallest and most inexpensive Alexa-enabled device, according to Geek Wire.
The Amazon Dash mobile ordering device was first introduced in 2014. Amazon shoppers used the Wi-Fi-enabled kitchen assistant to scan item barcodes — a move that automatically created electronic shopping lists on Amazon’s web site. An embedded microphone also supported a voice-based search across more than 1 million items for sale on AmazonFresh and amazon.com.
The new gadget replaces the original Dash Wand, which is no longer available. Amazon Prime members can still scan item barcodes with the new version, or they can utilize Alexa and speak their orders into the device. The Dash Wand also helps users find recipes, convert cups to ounces, buy and reorder essentials, and find nearby restaurants among other functions, according to Amazon.
The Dash Wand is $20, but shoppers get a $20 credit for their next purchase made using the device. Customers that purchase the unit also get to try AmazonFresh free for 90 days. This service is normally $14.99.
Retailers getting serious about artificial intelligence
A new survey suggests that retailers are ready to invest in artificial intelligence and other new technologies.
Forty-five percent (45%) of retailers plan to utilize artificial intelligence within three years to enhance the customer experience, according to the BRP (Boston Retail Partners) 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey. Virtual reality is also in retailers' sights, with 34% of respondents saying they plan to deploy it within the next three years. Another 34% of retailers plan to implement augmented reality within the same time frame.
Additionally, 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty by improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across channels.
"Stores must now encompass both worlds – the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate – whether simply human or a combination of AI and human characteristics – married with the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world," according to the report. "The physical and digital worlds are forever intertwined as we look to the future."
In other key findings from the report:
•Most retailers have plans to implement new technologies to identify customers via their smartphones, mobile apps and other emerging technologies. Within three years, 59% of retailers plan to use Wi-Fi and 63% plan to use mobile apps to identify customers in their stores.
*Eighty-nine percent (89%) of retailers are now using social media comments as a critical customer satisfaction measurement.
*Sixty-seven percent (67%) of retailers are offering a consistent product offering across channels. But many are still struggling with manual processes, with 43% indicating the process needs improvement.
•Enhanced networks are a key requirement for a unified commerce environment, with 76% of retailers planning to enhance or replace their network within the next three years.