Retail role play

Retailers and brands have both seen a tremendous shift in traditional retail dynamics, with merchants and marketplaces increasingly ceding control of the online and in-store shopping experience to the brands themselves. Democratizing access to data through new verticalized tools, however, represents a unique opportunity for retailers to leverage this trend by further transforming the retail dynamic and changing their role in the process.

Marketplaces and third-party sellers have always represented a kind of data “blind spot” for brands. Both provided little visibility on customers and even less control over customer experience or satisfaction.

Verticalized tools that provide new levels of data access are changing all that. For example, b8ta is offering a Retail-as-a-Service model and software platform to brands and retailers to better manage and analyze their in-store experience. Companies like Chatter Research are capturing real-time customer feedback that can be integrated side-by-side with POS data to further improve store performance. Solutions like these enable both parties to collaborate and give brands a unified omnichannel strategy. It also provides retailers with a unique opportunity to rethink their purpose and elevate their value proposition within the retail ecosystem, while also expanding margins and driving potential new revenue streams.

Brands already own the entire customer experience through their O&O stores and e-commerce sites. Amazon has also started providing access to more robust customer and sales information through their API. This has encouraged brands to build internal expertise while increasing their desire to have greater insight into — and control over — the sales process. The impetus now is on third-party retailers and marketplaces to provide similar (or better) opportunities and insight to match what O&O and e-commerce sites now provide.

The democratization of data access is a rare bit of good news.

Retailers are already shifting their focus to product discovery, search and transaction. They are more focused on ensuring a positive, in-store user experience — from processing a transaction (the global retail automation industry is expected to reach $21 billion by 2024) to finding and purchasing the product and accelerating conversions. These shifts, coupled with increased data visibility and analysis, fundamentally alter the value proposition for the retailer.

Platforms — like the above-mentioned b8ta and Chatter Research — allow retailers to capture data and provide it to brands so that they can ultimately be smarter about marketing and promoting through tracking customer visits, interactions and transactions. Soon, smart retailers will leverage this data access to an even greater degree, as brands increasingly rely on third-party retailers/marketplaces to grow their sales and market share. Retailers will sell it directly to brands using data marketplaces or use it to negotiate more favorable terms with product supply.

There are derivative benefits for retailers, as well. As more verticalized tools are deployed and adopted by both brands and retailers, they will continue to marry transactional data with user behavioral data while mapping consumer identification to brand marketing activity. Once the data is properly analyzed it will increase not only revenue per square foot but product margins in physical stores, as well, by helping retailers identify and recover lost sales. It also will lead to incremental investment by brands in shopper marketing, transforming advertising into selling.

The data holistically makes retailers stronger.

As merchants and third-party sellers struggle to reverse years of decline, the democratization of data access is a rare bit of good news. It changes the economics for all stakeholders involved, alters the roles of brands and merchants and creates new, much-needed monetization opportunities for retailers. Unlocking the value of data and empowering brands with it allows retailers to focus on where they can make the highest impact. While roles will change, data connectivity will ultimately strengthen partnerships and improve outcomes for all.

Revel Partners has published a white paper on retail, the brand-direct economy and the impact of data on retail efficacy and consumer satisfaction. To view it in its entirety click here.


Source: Tech Crunch

Final tickets to our 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party

One of Silicon Valley’s most fun and enduring traditions — the 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party — takes place on July 25. If you don’t have a ticket yet, know this: We just released the last batch of tickets. Once they’re gone, that’s it. No party for you. Don’t miss out on a night of fun and opportunity — buy your ticket today.

The Park Chalet, San Francisco’s coastal beer garden, provides a picturesque setting (ocean views anyone?) for a casual evening celebrating the early-startup spirit. Hang out and enjoy local craft beer, cocktails, delicious food and great conversation with other fearless tech entrepreneurs.

TechCrunch parties provide a relaxed way to connect and network, and they’re known as a place where startup magic happens. Who knows? You might meet your future co-founder or funder. Aaron Levie and Dylan Smith, founders of Box, met one of their first investors at a TechCrunch party.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to chat up an investor since our lead VC partner, Merus Capital, will be in the house, along with August Capital, Battery Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Data Collective, General Catalyst and Uncork Capital.

No TechCrunch event would be complete without exciting startups showcasing their tech and talent.

Here’s the when, where and how:

  • When: July 25 from 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Where: Park Chalet in San Francisco
  • How much: $95

As always, you have a chance to win great door prizes, including TechCrunch swag, Amazon Echos and tickets to Disrupt San Francisco 2019.

The 14th Annual TechCrunch Summer Party takes place on July 25, and this is the last ticket release. Don’t miss out on a convivial evening of food, drink, connection and possibility in the company of your entrepreneurial peers. Buy your ticket right here.


Want a free ticket to Disrupt SF?

Volunteer for the Summer Party and work with the TechCrunch team for a few hours. Sign up to volunteer here.


Source: Tech Crunch

Amazon Prime Day sees competition from more than expected number of retailers

Amazon’s Prime Day continues to gain competition from rival retailers piggybacking on the annual event with their own sales. Ahead of this year’s Prime Day, RetailMeNot had forecast that this year’s sale would see competition from 250 retailers. Today, the firm upped this figure to over 300, saying it found that more retailers than earlier estimated have decided to run their own counter-sales.

As of 9 AM on the second day of Prime Day — Tuesday, July 16, 2019 — RetailMeNot says it has counted over 300 unique retailers running Prime Day-related offers. This is up from the 275 retailers it had uncovered yesterday afternoon, and up from the 250 it had forecast.

For comparison’s sake, Prime Day 2018 saw competition from 194 retailers; the year before that, just 119. And only 27 retailers ran counter sales back in 2016.

The rival sales come from retailers both large and small and are targeting online shoppers with aggressive deals, flash sales, free shipping offers, and other promotions. These sales extend across all categories and retailer segments, the report also notes.

Free shipping — which is one of Amazon Prime’s biggest draws — is a common offer from the Prime Day rival sales. Retailers are either lowering their free shipping minimums or touting free shipping “with no membership” needed, to counter Amazon’s plan to woo subscribers to join its free shipping service and perks program, Amazon Prime.

Many retailers are also using messaging that includes words and phrases that appeal to e-commerce deal hounds, like “Cyber” (13% of retailers used) or “Black Friday” — e.g. “Black Friday in July” — which 32% of retailers used. But even more are directly copying from Amazon, as 38% used the word “Prime” in their messages to consumers.

Some retailers even went for clever variations on the word “Prime” itself — like Joann Fabric’s “Primo Days,” for example. Meanwhile, ULTA’s deals on beauty primers were referenced as “up to 50% Off Primer Days” while West Elm noted several “Reasons to Love West Elm, (Primarily) Today.”

Already, the e-commerce market in the U.S. is feeling the impact from Amazon’s sale. According to Adobe, large retailers have already seen a 64% increase in their e-commerce revenue, compared with a typical Monday. It also predicts Prime Day 2019 will push total U.S. e-commerce sales to over $2 billion, when it all wraps.

Whether or not the sale is still paying off for Amazon as expected with all this new competition remains to be seen, however.


Source: Tech Crunch

Facebook reportedly hasn’t contacted the regulator it says will oversee Libra’s privacy and data security

A Swiss regulatory agency that Facebook executive David Marcus said in Congressional testimony would be responsible for overseeing data and privacy protections for the company’s newly launched cryptocurrency, Libra, has not been contacted by Facebook, according to a report.

CNBC is reporting that the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, who Marcus said would oversee data protections for its cryptocurrency in his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, has yet to hear from the company which is depending on it for oversight.

In a statement provided to CNBC, Hugo Wyler, who’s the head of communication at the FDPIC said:

“We have taken note of the statements made by David Marcus, Chief of Calibra, on our potential role as data protection supervisory authority in the Libra context. Until today we have not been contacted by the promoters of Libra… We expect Facebook or its promoters to provide us with concrete information when the time comes. Only then will we be able to examine the extent to which our legal advisory and supervisory competence is given. In any case, we are following the development of the project in the public debate.”

Facebook’s attempted end-run around national monetary policy already has been criticized by lawmakers in the U.S. and around the world.

“With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users… Given the company’s troubled past, I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congres and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who heads the House Financial Services Committee, in a statement on the day Facebook announced its cryptocurrency.

Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, also had harsh words for Facebook and its planned cryptocurrency. “Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial stability,” Powell said last week.

Even Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, normally a proponent of laissez faire approaches to private enterprise, voiced concerns about Libra that seemed to echo Powell’s.

“Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cyber crime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs and human trafficking,” Mnuchin said in a press conference yesterday.

 


Source: Tech Crunch

Minecraft Earth starts rolling out in beta in Seattle and London

If you’ve been waiting to check out Minecraft Earth (Mojang’s Pokemon GO-style augmented reality reimagining of its hugely popular game Minecraft) good news: it’s starting to roll out to some people now.

The catch? It’s only available to a slice-of-a-slice of the world, at first.

After opening up a registration system for its closed beta just a few days ago, the company says that it sent out the first batch of beta invites this afternoon.

crafty

The beta is being rolled out on a region-by-region basis, with randomly picked players in Seattle and London getting access at first. Mojang says more cities should go live in “the next few days,” but doesn’t get any more specific than that.

It’s also worth noting that the beta is iOS only for now; Android support is on the way, but it won’t land until later this summer.

Our own Devin Coldewey went hands on with an early build of Minecraft Earth a few months ago – check out his first impressions here.


Source: Tech Crunch

Computing pioneer and LGBT icon Alan Turing will grace the £50 note in 2021

Alan Turing, one of the pioneering figures in modern computing, and also a tragic one in LGBT history, will soon appear on the U.K.’s £50 note. He was selected from a shortlist of scientists and bright minds so distinguished that it must have made the decision rather difficult.

The nomination process for who would appear on the new note was open to the public, with the limitation this time that those nominated were British scientists of some form or another. Hundreds of thousands of votes and nearly a thousand names were submitted, and ultimately the list was winnowed down to the following dozen (well, 14, with two pairs; descriptions taken from the Bank of England’s summary):

  • Mary Anning (1799-1847) – a self-taught palaeontologist known around the world for the fossil discoveries she made in her hometown of Lyme Regis.
  • Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1902-1984) – whose research revolutionised our understanding of the universe’s smallest matter.
  • Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) – who drove the discovery of DNA’s structure, a critical breakthrough in our understanding of the biology of life.
  • Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) – who made outstanding contributions to our understanding of gravity, space and time.
  • William (1738-1822) and Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) – a brother and sister astronomy team devoted to uncovering the secrets of the universe.
  • Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1910-1994) – whose research using x-ray crystallography delivered ground-breaking discoveries which shaped modern science and helped save lives.
  • Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) and Charles Babbage (1791-1871) – visionaries who imagined the computer age.
  • James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) – who made discoveries which laid the foundations for technological innovations which have transformed our way of life.
  • Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) – whose incredible talent for numbers helped transform modern mathematics.
  • Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) – who uncovered the properties of radiation, revealed the secrets of the atom and laid the foundations for nuclear physics.
  • Frederick Sanger (1918-2013) – whose pioneering research laid the foundations for our understanding of genetics.
  • Alan Turing (1912-1954) – whose work on early computers, code-breaking achievements and visionary ideas about machine intelligence made him one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century

Some of the best intellectual company conceivable, to be quite honest. Each of these people was enormously influential in their respective field, although as usual some didn’t get the credit they deserved while living.

Turing was of course an example of this. His work on codebreaking during World War II (alongside his many colleagues at Bletchley Park and beyond, naturally) contributed hugely to the Allied war effort by allowing them to secretly read Axis communications thought to be rendered unreadable by the ingenious Enigma system.

Part of that work, and Turing’s papers on general computing theory written at the time, laid the foundation for many of the concepts that underpin computational systems today. The modern computer is a collaboration among many people in many countries over several decades, but Turing was among the vanguard in theory and execution.

Unfortunately, not only was much of his work required to be kept secret for decades afterwards, limiting the knowledge of his accomplishments to a select few, but after the war he was later persecuted by the British government for being a gay man.

Charged with indecent acts, he was subjected to mandatory chemical “treatment” for his sexuality: humiliating and unjust compensation for a man who saved thousands, perhaps millions, of lives and helped create the defining technology of the 20th century in the process. He was found dead in his apartment, having apparently committed suicide, on June 7, 1954.

He was officially pardoned in 2014 after years of consideration and outcry, especially following both the increasing visibility and action of LGBTQIA figures in the present/, and a resurgence of interest in Turing and his collaborators’ contributions to the history of computing and the war effort.

Even with such an extraordinary story, it must have been difficult to pick Turing out from the crowd of luminaries nominated alongside him. You can check out some of the people and thought behind the decision in this video put out by the Bank of England:

The note itself isn’t finalized, but it will resemble the top image. It uses the most famous image of Turing, and will feature notes from his papers and notebooks, a picture of the Automatic Computing Engine (an early digital computer), a quote and signature, and more. Should be a handsome little bill. You’ll see it in circulation starting in 2021.


Source: Tech Crunch

Why commerce companies are the advertising players to watch in a privacy-centric world

The unchecked digital land grab for consumers’ personal data that has been going on for more than a decade is coming to an end, and the dominoes have begun to fall when it comes to the regulation of consumer privacy and data security.

We’re witnessing the beginning of a sweeping upheaval in how companies are allowed to obtain, process, manage, use and sell consumer data, and the implications for the digital ad competitive landscape are massive.

On the backdrop of evolving privacy expectations and requirements, we’re seeing the rise of a new class of digital advertising player: consumer-facing apps and commerce platforms. These commerce companies are emerging as the most likely beneficiaries of this new regulatory privacy landscape — and we’re not just talking about e-commerce giants like Amazon.

Traditional commerce companies like eBay, Target and Walmart have publicly spoken about advertising as a major focus area for growth, but even companies like Starbucks and Uber have an edge in consumer data consent and, thus, an edge over incumbent media players in the fight for ad revenues.

Tectonic regulatory shifts

GettyImages 912948496

Image via Getty Images / alashi

By now, most executives, investors and entrepreneurs are aware of the growing acronym soup of privacy regulation, the two most prominent ingredients being the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act).


Source: Tech Crunch

UK-based women’s networking and private club, Allbright, raises $18.8 million as it expands into the U.S.

AllBright, the London-based women’s membership club backed by private real estate investment firm Cain International, has raised $18.8 million to expand into the U.S.

The company’s new round was led by Cain International and was designed to take AllBright into three U.S. locations — Los Angeles, New York, and Washington.

The company said that the new facilities would be opening in the coming months.

Coupled with the launch of a new networking application called AllBright Connect and the company’s AllBright Magazine, the women’s networking organization is on a full-on media blitz.

Other investors in the round include Allan Leighton, who serves as the company’s non-executive chairman; Gail Mandel, who acquired Love Home Swap (a company founded by AllBright’s co-founder Debbie Wosskow); Stephanie Daily Smith, a former finance director to Hillary Clinton; and Darren Throop the founder, president and chief executive of Entertainment One.

A spokesperson for the company said that the new financing would value the company at roughly $100 million.

The club’s current members include actors, members of the House of Lords, and other fancy pants, high-falutin folks from the worlds of politics, business, and entertainment.

The club’s first American location will be in West Hollywood, and is slated to open in September 2019. The largest club, in Mayfair has five floors boasts over 12,000 square feet and features rooftop terraces, a dedicated space for coaching and mentoring a small restaurant and bar.


Source: Tech Crunch

Paige details first AI pathology tech with clinical-grade accuracy in new research paper

Medical tech and computational pathology startup Paige has published a new article in the peer-reviewed medical journal Nature Medicine detailing its artificial intelligence-based detection system for identifying prostate cancer, skin cancer and breast cancer, which the company says achieves “near-perfect accuracy.” Paige’s tech, which employs deep learning trained on a data set of almost 45,000 slide images taken from more than 15,000 patients spanning 44 countries, is novel in that it can eschew the need to curate data sets for training first, which greatly decreases cost and time required to build accurate AI-based diagnostic tools.

Last February, Paige announced $25 million in Series A funding and a partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Center (MSK) to gain access to one of the largest single repositories of pathology slides in the world. MSK is also home to the lab of Dr. Thomas Fuchs, Paige’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, and possibly the world’s foremost authority in computational pathology.

Paige’s approach uses much larger data sets than are typically employed in AI-based diagnostics, but without the tight curation that focuses other efforts much more narrowly on specific types of cancer diagnostics. The result, according to the company, is not only better performance, but also a resulting system that is much more generally applicable.

Next up for Paige is to commercialize its technology, which is something it’s already pursuing. The work described in the article published in Nature Medicine has already been employed in technology currently under review by the FDA, albeit for a different final application than the ones described in the study published by the magazine.


Source: Tech Crunch

Dish’s AirTV launches an $80 streaming stick for accessing Sling TV, Netflix & broadcast channels

Dish is expanding its hardware lineup today with the launch of a new 4K streaming stick, the AirTV Mini, designed to make it easier for cord cutters to access its live TV service Sling TV, plus Netflix and over-the-air channels from one user interface. The Android TV-powered device is meant to complement an existing setup that already includes an OTA digital antenna and an AirTV WiFi-enabled network tuner, the company says.

For a limited time, new and existing Sling TV customers can get the latter two items for free — an AirTV Wi-Fi-enabled network tuner and an indoor antenna — by prepaying for 3 months of Sling TV’s service.

In addition, the AirTV Mini also includes support for 2×2 802.11AC Wi-Fi, a lost remote finder feature, support for Google Assistant and Google Play, as well as support for VP94K decoding, which allows you to watch YouTube or Netflix content in 4K.

airtv mini

The company has been offering streaming devices for a couple of years. Dish first unveiled its AirTV Player, a 4K media streamer set-top box, at CES 2017. In 2018, it expanded its hardware lineup again to include a new device just called the AirTV,

This year, it expanded its hardware lineup to include a new device, just called the AirTV, a networked TV tuner that streams local programming via Wi-Fi.

Despite the new AirTV Mini’s streaming stick form factor, it’s not meant to compete with rival streaming sticks like the low-cost Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku streaming stick or Chromecast in terms of price. Instead, it’s a $79.99 alternative to the $119.99 AirTV Player bundle — perhaps for someone who doesn’t care for the sort of Playskool-inspired design of the original streaming box, but still wants over-the-air channels, 4K support, and easy access to Sling TV and Netflix.

The remote for the Mini is improved as well, in a more typical shade of black instead of the AirTV Player’s white and blue design. It’s also a more standard length and width than the stubby and seemingly childish AirTV Player remote. And it still has dedicated buttons for Sling TV, Netflix, and Google Assistant.

row1 img large 2

Through the remote, users can issue voice commands to control their TV experience. For example, you can use voice search to find favorite shows and movies, or say things like “go to guide,” “show me my DVR” or “rewind 10 seconds.”

“The AirTV brand is committed to making local TV relevant and easily accessible to streamers,” said Mitch Weinraub, director of product development for AirTV, in a statement. “The AirTV Mini is a powerhouse streaming stick with more memory and a faster processor than anything else in the category. When combined with the AirTV network tuner and the Sling TV app, the Mini delivers a superior streaming experience, especially for Slingers who want premium features in a small package at an affordable price.”

The audience for this sort of product — or any AirTV device, for that matter — is fairly niche. While there’s certainly some demand for access to over-the-air programming among cord cutters, there are other solutions that don’t lock you into Sling TV, specifically.

For instance, you can easily switch to your connected antenna from a Roku TV or you could buy the (currently $179.99) Fire TV Recast, which offers a Fire TV interface plus access to stream and record from live TV with its built-in DVR. Neither the AirTV Mini nor the AirTV tuner come bundled with a DVR — you have to provide your own, and plug it into the tuner.

Overall, the solution makes sense for DIY’ers who also subscribe to Sling TV and prefer a Google Assistant-powered experience instead of Alexa.

 


Source: Tech Crunch