Starbucks jumps on cryptocurrency bandwagon
A coffee giant’s new platform could help Bitcoin break through as a mainstream currency.
Starbucks Corp. is teaming up with Microsoft and global exchange company International Exchange to create an integrated platform that would enable customers to pay for orders with cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin. International Exchange is launching a new company, called Bakkt. Leveraging Microsoft cloud solutions, this global network will enable consumers and institutions to buy, sell, store and spend cryptocurrencies.
Starbucks plans to use the platform as an option for customers to convert their bitcoin into U.S. dollars, then digitally pay for purchases.
“Starbucks will play a pivotal role in developing practical, trusted and regulated applications for consumers to convert their digital assets into U.S. dollars for use at Starbucks,” said Maria Smith, VP, partnerships and payments for Starbucks. “As a leader in Mobile Pay to our more than 15 million Starbucks Rewards members, Starbucks is committed to innovation for expanding payment options for our customers.”
Starbucks did not reveal when it would begin converting the cryptocurrency. Additional details on the launch will be announced in the coming weeks, according to International Exchange.
Starbucks is not the first retailer to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. Overstock started accepting Bitcoin in 2014. In January 2015, the retailer installed a Bitcoin ATM at its corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City. The ATM allows the public to convert U.S. dollars to Bitcoin, and Bitcoin to U.S. dollars.
Amazon reports a loss for its first month Down Under
Despite visits from curious shoppers, Amazon’s Australian first month in business got off to a slow start.
The online giant, which debuted it Australian website on Dec. 5, reported a loss of almost A$9 million ($6.6 million U.S. dollars), according to Reuters, which cited corporate filings.
The weeks between the launch and December 31, produced more than A$6.3 million in direct sales versus total Australian retail sales of A$26.3 billion that month, the report said.
The results were filed in April, but they were not reported at the time, Reuters explained.
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Walmart pilots ‘first-of-its-kind’ robotics system
Walmart is adding a new member to its online grocery fulfillment team — but it’s not an associate.
Walmart is set to launch a pilot, in collaboration with start-up Alert Innovation, that uses “first-of-its-kind” automated technology to help associates fill online grocery orders faster than ever before. The system, called “Alphabot,” — developed specifically for the chain — will automatically bring items from storage to associates who will consolidate the items in the order.
The technology, which will launch by the end of the year, will be tested at a Walmart supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, coinciding with the store’s re-grand opening. A 20,000-sq.-ft. extension connected to the store will house the system, and also include a dedicated grocery pickup point with drive-thru lanes for customers.
Once Alphabot has finished picking merchandise, automated mobile carts will retrieve the items, which will be stored warehouse-style in the store’s new extended space, and deliver them to associates at one of four pick stations. Walmart personal shoppers will then pick, assemble and deliver orders to customers.
“The vast majority of grocery products we offer in-store will be fulfilled through this system, though our personal shoppers will still handpick produce and other fresh items,” stated Mark Ibbotson, executive VP of central operations, Walmart U.S., in a blog on the company’s website.
The robotic system will reduce the time associates spend walking the store aisles in search of products and fulfilling orders, Walmart said.
“With the aid of Alphabot, our associates will have more time to focus on service and selling, the two things they often tell us are the most enjoyable part of the job, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks,” Ibbotson said. “Although this is a small pilot, we expect big things from it.”
In addition to Alphabot, other new technology will be implemented in the remodeled store, including the chain’s pick-up tower for online orders and an automated shelf-scanner that helps identify out-of-stock items, incorrect pricing and missing labels.
Alphabot is not Walmart’s first foray into robotics. The discount giant is using a shelf-scanning robot at store-level to detect out-of-stock items, incorrect prices and wrong or missing labels.