Home » Latest News » E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Jun 18): Best Buy Restructures, Austrian Online Shoppers

E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Jun 18): Best Buy Restructures, Austrian Online Shoppers

Hallstatt in winter


Amazon Labor Union Joins Forces with Teamsters 

The Amazon Labor Union (ALU), representing the first organized Amazon warehouse workers in the U.S., has voted to affiliate with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. With 98% of ALU members in favor, the partnership aims to strengthen bargaining efforts for better working conditions. This unionization move is expected to pressure Amazon to negotiate, as the ALU continues to seek a contract. The Teamsters’ support could provide significant leverage in future negotiations with Amazon.

Amazon Fined $5.9 Million for Violating California Labor Laws 

California’s labor regulator has fined Amazon nearly $6 million for 59,017 violations of the state’s Warehouse Quotas law at two Southern California facilities. The law mandates disclosure of productivity quotas to employees and prohibits unsafe work practices. Amazon’s peer-to-peer evaluation system was deemed non-compliant, prompting the fines. The company plans to appeal, arguing its performance expectations differ from fixed quotas.

Best Buy Restructures Workforce Amid Strategic Shifts 

Best Buy has implemented a new round of layoffs and business restructuring, targeting in-home sales positions known as designers. Remaining designers are reassigned to in-store roles, and pay structures for consultants have been adjusted. The company confirmed these changes but did not disclose the number of affected employees. Despite the workforce reduction, Best Buy continues to advance its use of AI for customer support and order processing.

Milamiamor’s Success on TikTok 

The American health supplement market is thriving, with Milamiamor’s 15-day colon cleansing capsules dominating TikTok’s bestseller lists. This small Texas-based company, founded by Wael and Jennifer, leverages targeted marketing towards younger consumers. Their strategy includes influencer marketing, low pricing, and extensive use of social media to maintain top positions on sales charts.

Home Depot Acquires SRS Distribution  

Home Depot has agreed to acquire SRS Distribution Inc. for approximately $18.25 billion, expanding its services for residential professionals. This acquisition will enhance Home Depot’s ability to serve roofing contractors, landscape designers, and pool contractors. The integration of SRS’s network will significantly broaden Home Depot’s product offerings and market reach.


Austrian Online Shoppers Mainly Buy Cross-Border

Online spending in Austria has grown by 5%, reaching 10.6 billion euros, with over half of the expenditures going to foreign webshops. The Austrian Handelsverband describes this as a dramatic trend, noting that 54% of online purchases are made from international retailers. This shift is attributed to younger consumers seeking lower prices abroad. The trade association is advocating for fairer competition and regulatory adjustments to support domestic businesses.

Tesco Reports Q1 Sales Growth

UK retailer Tesco announced a 3.3% increase in sales for Q1 of the 2024 fiscal year, reaching £15.3 billion. Same-store sales grew by 3.4%, with significant contributions from new own-brand products. Tesco continues to emphasize value, product quality, and service, driving brand recognition and customer satisfaction.

Skims Expands to Physical Stores 

Kim Kardashian’s Skims brand is transitioning from online-only to physical retail, opening 5 permanent stores across the US. These stores will offer a minimalist shopping experience with a focus on women’s wear initially, followed by men’s collections. This move marks a significant milestone in Skims’ growth, enhancing customer accessibility and brand presence.


Amazon Tests Facial Recognition at UK Train Stations

Amazon’s Rekognition software has been tested at eight major UK train stations to enhance security. The trials, conducted over two years, received positive feedback for improving safety by detecting incidents like trespassing and theft. The technology also monitors crowd levels and assesses passenger emotions, though its implementation raises privacy concerns. Future deployments will likely connect to dedicated networks for enhanced security.

Retired Army General Joins OpenAI to Lead Cybersecurity Efforts  

General Paul M. Nakasone has joined OpenAI’s board to oversee cybersecurity. Formerly leading the U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA, Nakasone will help ensure the safe and beneficial development of artificial general intelligence. His appointment follows OpenAI’s identification of influence operations using its models, highlighting the importance of robust cybersecurity measures.

Google DeepMind and Harvard Develop AI-Powered Virtual Rat  

Researchers from Google DeepMind and Harvard University have created an AI-powered virtual rat to study movement. Published in Nature, the study shows the AI’s neural activity closely mimics that of real rats, providing insights into motor control. This advancement could revolutionize understanding of brain functions and aid in developing more sophisticated AI systems.

Nvidia Becomes World’s Most Valuable Company

Nvidia has surpassed Apple and Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable company, with a market valuation of $3.34 trillion. This rise is fueled by the AI boom, as Nvidia’s chips are crucial for training AI algorithms. The company’s revenue surged to $26 billion in Q1 2024, reflecting high demand for AI processing power. Nvidia’s dominance in the AI chip market is expected to continue driving its growth.

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