TECHNOLOGY

Walmart’s Flipkart deal reportedly nears closing

BY CSA Staff

Walmart could be buying a controlling stake in Flipkart earlier than expected — way earlier.

The discount giant could reach a deal to become a majority stakeholder in Indian online marketplace Flipkart as early as next week or by the first week of May, according to Reuters.

Walmart has been negotiating with Flipkart for months, with plans to buy a more than 51% stake in the company. Initially, the deal was expected to close in June. However, SoftBank Group, which owns about a fifth of Flipkart through its Vision Fund, was unwilling to sell a part of its stake for the $10 billion to $12 billion that Walmart was offering, the report said.

Two sources told Reuters that the stalemate between Walmart and SoftBank has ended. Once the deal closes however, it could have a final valuation of at least $18 billion, the report added.

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One Click Retail: Amazon winning online grocery race

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is still in the “trial and error stage” when it comes to competing in the online grocery category, yet its efforts are capturing more wallet share.

The online giant’s grocery sales in the first quarter grew by nearly 50% year-over-year, an increase of over $200 million compared to the same period last year, according to “Amazon Grocery Q1 2018 Update: U.S.,” a report from One Click Retail.

“There is no question that Amazon is winning the online grocery race,” said Nathan Rigby, VP sales and marketing at One Click Retail. “While Walmart (Amazon’s top competitor) is actively improving their grocery delivery capa-bilities, that company only captured 9% of the online grocery market in 2017, half of Amazon’s 18% market share.”

Rigby said that Amazon is investing in grocery from numerous angles – Whole Foods, Amazon Go, Prime Now, Pantry – and regardless of what sticks and what doesn’t, “every quarter Amazon’s share of the online grocery sales channel is getting bigger.”

Coffee remains Amazon’s largest grocery category, and one of its strongest growers. Both coffee and the No. 2 category, cold beverages, grew by at least 40% year-over-year to earn more than $140 million in first quarter 2018. Together, these two categories more than quadruple the size of the third top category, snack foods.

Beverages have always been responsible for the bulk of Amazon’s Grocery volume. In the first quarter, they made up nine out of 10 bestselling items on Amazon, the study revealed.

However, not everything is growing for Amazon. Amazon Pantry sales are leveling out, with annual growth falling to 14% in the first quarter. Pantry, which packages everyday consumer packaged goods into a single box deliverable for a flat fee of $6, is also going through a change. In early March, Amazon announced that they will be repurposing Pantry as a subscription service, separate from Prime, for a $5 monthly fee.

Pantry sales are not insignificant. They hit $55 million for the quarter, albeit it is growing much slower than the rest of Amazon’s grocery category.

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The newest form of personal verification could be…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Consumers are ready to embrace voice recognition technology in personal authentication scenarios.

Not only does the vast majority (81%) of consumers believe there are benefits to using voice recognition as a form of personal verification, nearly half of Americans (48%) said they would be likely to use it in that context, according to a study from voice security and authentication provider Pindrop.

According to data, consumers may be interested in voice recognition due to their dissatisfaction with current verification methods used to protect their personal information. When accessing their accounts — including those they have with retailers — by phone, 28% of consumers find it burdensome to answer numerous identity verification questions. Nearly one in five (18%) get frustrated when they forget the answers to their security questions, and are locked out of their accounts.

The technology has not won over all consumers, however. For example, 61% fear the technology may not work well because of background noise, and 48% are afraid of voice spoofing, meaning their voice can be cloned and used against them. Meanwhile, 39% just don’t feel it is secure.

Forty three percent think the technology has difficulty recognizing accents, and 36%: believe they need to speak loudly and clearly for verification to be effective, according to data.

“We are ushering in a new era of passive voice authentication that will create opportunities for brands to interact with their customers,” said Scott Rose, senior VP of product, Pindrop. “As consumers go beyond their phones and increase interactions with voice activated devices, it is crucial not to confuse personalization with security and identification.”

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