Amazon Adds a “Dash” of Convenience with New Magic Wand

“In the last two months, Amazon has spotlighted two new products that allow shoppers to add items to their shopping list without ever typing anything into a search bar. This isn’t a coincidence. The most recent one is Amazon Dash — a thin, wand-like device, revealed on Friday, that includes both a microphone and a barcode scanner. Speak into it or scan a box of cereal or pack of toilet paper to automatically add that product to your AmazonFresh shopping list. For now, it is available only on a trial basis to Amazon customers in San Francisco and Los Angeles who pay for Amazon’s new Prime Fresh membership, which includes grocery delivery.” [Source: Recode]

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How to FedEx a Panda

For the past five years, Dave Lange has handled all FedEx shipments that require a chartered plane, coordinating deliveries of the big, weird, and extra important. His techniques put your stamps and envelopes to shame.

Popular Science: When the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago renovated in 2008, you flew its seven whales to a host aquarium. So how does a whale travel?

Lange: Each one is in a metal container, which has a sling, where the whale sits. The box isn’t completely filled with water; there’s just enough to keep the animal moist.

PS: If you’re moving many animals together on a plane, how do you decide where to put each one?

[Continue reading at Popular Science]

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Neiman Marcus Blends In-Store and Online Teams

“Neiman Marcus has reorganized its management ranks to reflect the merging of its merchandise and planning organizations for both stores and online into a single team. Jim Gold widens his responsibilities and becomes president and chief merchandising officer of Neiman Marcus. Gold, who joined the company in 1991, was president over all stores in the Neiman Marcus Group.” [Source: Dallas Morning News]

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Square Market Now Accepts Bitcoin

“Square today announced it has added support for paying with Bitcoin. As a result, buyers can now use the digital currency to purchase goods and services on Square Market, which allows sellers to create an online storefront with online payment processing. The mobile payment company promises the experience won’t feel any different for sellers and they “don’t have to change a thing, except potentially expecting new trailblazing customers and more sales.” In other words, Square wants them to be able to offer Bitcoin as a payment option without any headaches.” [Source: The Next Web]

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Zappos Labs Provides Customers with Shopping Recommendations on Instagram

“That’s 23 million images associated with what people are wearing, said Will Young, director of Zappos Labs, during SXSW last week. (Zappos Labs is the San Francisco-based experimentation and innovation arm of e-commerce site Zappos.) “We looked at [those figures] and asked as a retailer how do we be a part of that?” The answer? His team recently launched a pilot project on the platform called “Next OOTD.” Very simply, followers are invited to post a selfie along with the hashtag #nextootd. Those who do will receive a personalized shopping recommendation based on their Instagram from Zappos in return. Zappos is of course a company that prides itself, and has become known, for customer service. (Its longest ever phone call was nine and a half hours — and celebrated for that fact, Young revealed.) He said the company is constantly trying to think of lots of different ways to take that service to the next level.” [Source: Fashionista]

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Pinterest Takes Aim at Online Ads

Having succeeded in making scrapbooking a Web craze, Pinterest Inc. now has a new goal: to reinvent online advertising.

The four-year-old digital scrapbooking website is preparing to launch ad sales in the second quarter with a bold pitch. Rather than Web ads that urge people to “click here!” or “buy now!,” Pinterest wants to make artful Web ads that people actually love.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]

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Google Ramps Up For Expansion of Home Delivery Service

“When Google started testing a free same-day shopping delivery service in San Francisco last year, industry observers were surprised by the company’s foray into a notoriously tricky and decidedly low-margin real-world business. Others raised their eyebrows when orders of one or two items, such as toothpaste or a can of soda, sometimes arrived in a bag big enough to hold a week’s worth of groceries. It was a rookie mistake, one that underscores how Google is wading into unfamiliar territory — a business, now contested by seasoned hands Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc. that claimed many victims during the first dotcom boom.” [Source: Reuters]

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Walmart’s New Online Tool Allows Shoppers to Compare Prices with Competition

“The ‘Every Day Low Price’ king is trying to shake up the world of pricing once again. Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that it has rolled out an online tool that allows shoppers to compare its prices on 80,000 food and household products to those of its competitors. The world’s largest retailer began offering the feature that’s called “Savings Catcher” on its website late last month in seven big markets that include Dallas, San Diego and Atlanta.” [Source: USA Today]

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