Home » Latest News » E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Jun 17): Amazon Invests $230M in AI Startups, McDonald’s Seeks New Drive-Thru Tech

E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Jun 17): Amazon Invests $230M in AI Startups, McDonald’s Seeks New Drive-Thru Tech


Walmart Reintroduces No Boundaries Fashion Brand

Walmart is revamping its No Boundaries fashion brand to attract younger consumers. The brand now features new fabrics, styles, and designs, while maintaining affordable prices, especially for the back-to-school season. The new collection will be available online and in two physical stores starting July 16, with 80% of the 130 items priced under $15. Sizes for women range from XXS to 5X, and for men from XS to 3X. Walmart will promote the brand through various social channels and the virtual platform Roblox.

US Online Grocery Sales Decline

According to Brick Meets Click and Mercatus, US online grocery sales in May 2024 fell to $6.8 billion from $6.9 billion in May 2023. The decline is attributed to a drop in pickup orders, which saw a 3.9% decrease to $3.3 billion. Despite a 3% increase in monthly active users, order frequency and average order value slightly decreased. Home delivery sales rose by 9% to $1.3 billion, benefiting from promotions by Instacart and Walmart.


TikTok Tests Image Search Feature in E-commerce

TikTok is testing a new image search function within TikTok Shop, allowing users in the US and Southeast Asia to find products by uploading or taking photos. This feature aims to capture more market share from Google in the search domain. Users can discover similar items to their images on TikTok Shop, enhancing the shopping experience. TikTok’s popularity as a search engine has grown, with over 40% of Americans using it for searches and 20% of Gen Z favoring it over Google.

TikTok Shop Gains Traction in Beauty Sector

Reports from Dash Hudson and NielsenIQ show that TikTok Shop is rapidly becoming a major player in the beauty retail market. It is now the ninth largest online beauty and health retailer in the US and the second largest in the UK. Since its launch, TikTok Shop has allowed brands and influencers to sell products directly through video links, driving significant engagement and sales. However, the surge in demand can overwhelm small businesses, and TikTok’s future in the US remains uncertain due to potential regulatory challenges.

Brazil’s E-commerce Market Growth

Brazil’s e-commerce market reached 185 billion reais ($34.5 billion) in 2023, more than doubling from 70 billion reais in 2018. Perfumes and cosmetics led online orders, followed by home decor, health foods, and beverages. Electronics accounted for 31% of sales, with fashion products at 27%. Despite challenges like complex tax policies and high costs, Mercado Livre remains the leading platform, and the Pix instant payment system has modernized transactions. Brazil’s e-commerce market is expected to grow by 14% annually until 2026.

Meta Introduces Shopping Features on Messenger

Meta has launched new shopping features on its Messenger app, starting in Thailand, in partnership with Shopee. The new functionality allows Shopee sellers to sync their products with Messenger, providing a seamless shopping experience for Thai consumers. Meta’s latest data shows high satisfaction among Thai businesses using Messenger for customer communication. This move aims to compete with TikTok’s growing influence and boost Meta’s ad revenue. Additionally, Meta is testing a live shopping tool and an AI assistant to enhance the shopping experience.


Amazon Invests $230M in AI Startups

Amazon has announced a $230 million investment in AI startups worldwide to accelerate the development and application of generative AI technologies. The investment, in the form of AWS credits, will support 80 early-stage startups, providing up to $1 million each. Additionally, AWS will offer its robust cloud computing platform and machine learning tools to help startups build and optimize their AI models. This strategic move aims to maintain Amazon’s competitive edge in the rapidly evolving AI sector.

Meta to Use Public User Data for AI Training, Allows EU Opt-Out

Meta has announced plans to utilize public user data for training its AI systems while providing an opt-out option for users in the European Union. This move aims to enhance the capabilities of Meta’s AI models by leveraging vast amounts of publicly available information. However, due to privacy regulations, EU users will have the ability to opt-out from having their data used in this manner. Meta’s decision reflects its broader strategy to integrate AI more deeply into its services while navigating the complex landscape of data privacy and regulation.

Security Robot Maker Acquisition Expands Company Focus to AI

A leading security robot manufacturer has been acquired, signaling a strategic shift towards AI and advanced analytics. This acquisition will enable the company to integrate AI-driven solutions into its security offerings, enhancing capabilities such as real-time threat detection and autonomous response. The move is part of a broader trend in the security industry towards leveraging AI to improve efficiency and effectiveness. With this expansion, the company aims to provide more sophisticated and comprehensive security solutions to its clients.

McDonald’s Drops IBM’s AI Order Tech, Seeks New Drive-Thru Tech

McDonald’s has decided to discontinue its use of IBM’s AI-powered order-taking technology, opting to explore new solutions for its drive-thru operations. This decision comes as part of McDonald’s ongoing efforts to enhance customer experience and operational efficiency. The company is now seeking alternative technologies that can better meet its needs for speed, accuracy, and integration with other systems. McDonald’s continues to innovate in its drive-thru services, looking for ways to leverage technology to streamline operations and improve service delivery.

OpenAI Expands Healthcare Push with Color Health’s Cancer Copilot

OpenAI is partnering with Color Health to launch the Cancer Copilot, an AI-driven tool designed to support cancer patients and their healthcare providers. This collaboration aims to leverage OpenAI’s advanced language models to provide personalized guidance and support throughout the cancer treatment process. The Cancer Copilot will offer insights, answer questions, and help patients navigate their treatment options, enhancing the overall care experience. This initiative marks a significant step in OpenAI’s efforts to apply its AI technology to the healthcare sector, aiming to improve patient outcomes and support clinical decision-making.

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