Home » Latest News » E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Apr 18): Amazon’s Prime Membership Peaks, TikTok Faces Legislative Challenges

E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Apr 18): Amazon’s Prime Membership Peaks, TikTok Faces Legislative Challenges

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Amazon: Prime Membership Reaches New Heights 

As of March, Amazon Prime subscriptions in the US have hit a new record of 180 million, marking an 8% year over year increase. Currently, 75% of US consumers are Prime members. Despite growing competition from platforms like Walmart, TikTok Shop, and Temu, Amazon’s rapid delivery capabilities continue to draw consumers. This growth comes after a plateau during the pandemic, affirming consumer belief in the value of a Prime membership. Analysts predict Amazon’s subscription service revenue will grow by 12% to $10.8 billion by March 31. 

TikTok: Legislative Hurdles Intensify 

After delays in the Senate, the US House of Representatives is pushing for action on a new bill targeting TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to relinquish ownership. Proposed by House Speaker Mike Johnson on April 17, the plan is expected to swiftly become law. This move could combine the “Ban or Sell TikTok” bill with fast track legislation supporting Ukraine and Israel. The bill extends ByteDance’s divestiture deadline to one year, aimed at withstanding legal challenges. However, this specific targeting faces opposition in the Senate and concerns about free speech and potential court challenges.

Walmart: Launching New Data Services 

On April 17, Walmart announced the introduction of Walmart Luminate Insights Activation, a new data service merging Walmart Connect and Walmart Luminate to aid suppliers in driving sales across channels. This service allows suppliers to pinpoint business issues and accurately target audiences using Walmart’s extensive customer data. With 90% of US households shopping at Walmart annually, this initiative offers suppliers key insights into product trends and category performance. The service, piloted last year with a few suppliers, is set to be available to all subscribers by the end of this year, providing crucial holiday sales data and strategic planning for 2025.


Lazada: Expanding Payment Options with CIMB 

Lazada, owned by Alibaba, has partnered with CIMB Bank to introduce a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) service on its platform, expanding payment options and promoting digital payments in the Philippines. The flagship BNPL product, LazPayLater, will allow users to access credit payment services conveniently within the Lazada platform. With CIMB’s underwriting capabilities, LazPayLater aims to attract about 500,000 new users in the next six months. This partnership aligns with the Philippines’ central bank strategy to digitize 50% of retail transactions, enhancing secure and convenient transactions for eligible Lazada users.

Kaufland: Changes in Seller Fees 

German online marketplace Kaufland has adjusted its seller fees, with increases in categories such as household electronics, now rising from 7% to 13%. The fee adjustments come as Kaufland plans expansions into Poland and Austria by late summer. Notably, fees in nearly all categories are lower in Poland, suggesting a strategic pricing model to attract sellers in new markets.

Italy: E-commerce Growth Continues  

Italy’s e-commerce sector reached a turnover of €80.55 billion in 2023, up 27.14% from the previous year. The Italian online marketplaces experienced a significant 28% increase in turnover, with the travel and tourism sector seeing a 42% rise in online sales. Despite economic pressures, such growth highlights the robustness and expanding footprint of e-commerce in Italy. 

Germany: High Rate of Online Returns 

In Germany, 11% of online purchases are returned, largely due to issues with fit or damage. Younger Germans tend to return items more frequently than older demographics. Efforts to minimize returns are ongoing, with e-commerce platforms increasingly integrating digital tools like AI-based shopping assistants and virtual fitting to reduce return rates.


Google: DeepMind’s BillionDollar AI Commitment 

Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google’s DeepMind, announced at the recent TED conference a $100 billion investment in AI technology development. DeepMind, acquired by Google in 2014 for over $400 million, combines machine learning with neuroscience to develop advanced general purpose learning algorithms. This announcement coincides with rapid AI investments by competitors like Microsoft, which plans to build a “Stargate” AI supercomputer in collaboration with OpenAI for $100 billion. Amazon also plans to spend $150 billion on global data centers over the next 15 years, underscoring the escalating AI arms race.

Mistral AI: Europe’s Answer to OpenAI  

Europe’s version of OpenAI, Mistral AI, is reportedly raising funds at a valuation of $5 billion. Founded in May 2023 by ex employees of Google DeepMind and Meta, Mistral AI has only recently begun generating revenue but has already secured significant investments, including $15 million from Microsoft in February. This funding supports the provision of Mistral AI’s latest language models on Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, marking it as the second company after OpenAI to offer large model services on Azure. 

OpenAI: Expansion into Tokyo 

OpenAI has opened a new office in Tokyo, marking its first expansion into Asia. Led by former AWS executive Tadao Nagasaki, this move includes the release of a GPT-4 model optimized for Japanese, significantly enhancing text generation speeds. This strategic expansion aims to harness Japan’s global leadership in technology and innovation. 

Jeff Bezos: AI for Climate Initiative  

Jeff Bezos has launched a $100 million AI challenge through the Earth Fund, seeking solutions for climate change and biodiversity conservation. The initiative aims to spur collaboration between environmental groups and AI technology providers, with a focus on sustainable proteins and optimizing power grids. This marks a significant investment in leveraging AI for environmental challenges. 

Meta: Introducing New AI Model  

Meta has released its latest AI model, planning to enhance functionalities across its platforms including Instagram. This new model aims to refine and extend the capabilities of Meta’s AI tools, indicating a significant push to integrate AI more deeply into social media experiences and potentially rival other major AI-driven platforms.


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