Home » Latest News » E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Jun 13): Jumia Expands in Africa, Mistral AI Secures Major Funding

E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Jun 13): Jumia Expands in Africa, Mistral AI Secures Major Funding

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FedEx Announces European Job Cuts

FedEx plans to lay off approximately 2,000 employees in Europe to address ongoing weak demand for freight services and reduce costs. The workforce reduction will affect logistics and commercial teams, with a phased implementation over 18 months. This restructuring aims to save $125 million to $175 million annually from fiscal year 2027 onwards. The layoffs are part of a broader cost-cutting strategy announced by FedEx, which includes reducing wages, restructuring operations, and closing facilities. Despite these changes, FedEx assures that customer service will remain unaffected.

Jumia Expands Operations in Africa

African e-commerce giant Jumia is set to open two new integrated warehouses in Nigeria and Morocco to support business growth and meet rising demand. The new facilities in Lagos and Casablanca cover 30,000 and 5,000 square meters, respectively. The Casablanca warehouse will house over 300,000 products, enhancing Jumia’s capacity to serve customers and expand its online product range. Equipped with advanced supply chain management technology, these warehouses aim to streamline order processing and ensure efficient product delivery. The expansion is expected to create over 100 jobs and strengthen Jumia’s leadership position in African e-commerce.

Shopee Faces Monopoly Probe in Indonesia

Indonesia’s competition commission (KPPU) has gathered evidence suggesting that Shopee monopolizes delivery services on its platform. During a recent hearing, investigators revealed that Shopee’s algorithms favor its own Shopee Express service over other delivery options. Users and sellers reportedly suffer losses due to this monopolistic practice, as they are forced to use Shopee Express. Additionally, Shopee is accused of discriminatory behavior in automatically activating certain courier companies while excluding others. The investigation has moved to the review stage, and KPPU continues to scrutinize Shopee’s practices.

Brazil Imposes New Taxes on Imported Goods

Brazil’s House of Representatives approved the “Mover bill,” introducing a new “shirt tax” on imported goods valued at up to $50, ending their previous tax-exempt status. Shoppers will also be required to pay state-level goods and services circulation tax (ICMS), ranging from 17% to 19%, following federal compliance remittance plans. This policy change affects popular e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Shein. The bill still requires presidential approval to become law, and the proposed tax rates have sparked public debate over their potential impact on consumer behavior and politics.

South Korean E-commerce Companies Cut Costs Amid Competition

Faced with intense competition from rivals like AliExpress and Temu, South Korean e-commerce firms are implementing cost-cutting measures to address severe financial losses. Lotte On, a subsidiary of Lotte Shopping, announced a voluntary retirement plan for employees to reduce expenses. Meanwhile, 11Street is relocating its headquarters to save on rent costs. Companies like SSG.com and Gmarket are optimizing logistics operations by partnering with CJ Logistics for efficient delivery services. These measures aim to improve profitability and prepare for industry challenges.


Mistral AI Secures Major Funding

French AI startup Mistral AI raised $645 million in a Series B funding round led by General Catalyst, with participation from Lightspeed, Nvidia, Salesforce, and Samsung Ventures. The funding includes €468 million in equity and €132 million in debt, bringing the company’s valuation to €5.8 billion. Known as the “French OpenAI,” Mistral AI has made significant strides in open-source large models since its founding. This funding will support further business expansion and innovation in AI technology. CEO Arthur Mensch emphasized the renewed investor confidence in Mistral AI’s unique approach and technological advancements.

Vodafone AI Expert on Effective Business Chatbots

Alex Choi from Vodafone emphasized the importance of data quality, personalization, and cost in developing effective business chatbots. Speaking at AI Summit London, he suggested not all businesses need advanced language models like GPT-4. Instead, techniques such as Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) can enhance chatbot intelligence by pulling relevant information from databases. Limiting user input to prevent bots from breaking and rigorous testing were also recommended. Finally, Choi stressed maintaining brand voice to avoid robotic responses.

AI Transforming Energy Generation

At AI Summit London, E.ON’s chief quantum scientist Corey O’Meara discussed using quantum computing to manage decentralized power grids. As renewable energy sources like rooftop solar panels become more common, integrating them into the grid exceeds classical computing capabilities. Quantum computing can optimize this integration and improve predictive maintenance for power plants. E.ON is developing a quantum-augmented anomaly detection algorithm that has shown better performance in some metrics.

NSA’s Paul Nakasone Joins OpenAI Board

OpenAI has appointed NSA Director Paul Nakasone to its board of directors. Nakasone’s experience in cybersecurity and intelligence is expected to bolster OpenAI’s governance and security measures. This move highlights the increasing collaboration between AI research entities and government agencies. Nakasone’s expertise will guide OpenAI’s efforts in developing secure and ethical AI technologies.

How Well Can AI Plan Your Trip?

The Wall Street Journal tested Google’s Gemini and ChatGPT for planning a trip to Boston. Both AI tools generated itineraries and restaurant recommendations, showing potential in travel planning. However, limitations were noted in their ability to personalize suggestions based on user preferences fully. As AI technology advances, its role in enhancing travel experiences is expected to grow. The test highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of current AI travel planners.

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