Home » Latest News » E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (May 15): Walmart Restructures Workforce, Amazon Boosts Indian Investments

E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (May 15): Walmart Restructures Workforce, Amazon Boosts Indian Investments

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Amazon Makes a Bold Entry into Traditional Media at Upfronts

Amazon has taken a significant step into traditional media by participating in this year’s Upfronts, an annual event traditionally dominated by media giants like Disney and NBCUniversal. By introducing advertisements on its Prime Video platform, Amazon positions itself alongside digital and traditional media players, showcasing its broadening scope beyond mere digital advertising. With ad-supported options like Prime Video, Twitch, and Freevee, Amazon is expected to draw substantial ad revenue, potentially reaching $3 billion from U.S. markets this year alone. The company’s strategy includes leveraging its massive user base, offering targeted advertising based on extensive customer data, and enhancing its content offerings with high-profile sports broadcasts and original programming. Amazon’s move reflects its ongoing evolution and ambition in the advertising domain, aiming to create the world’s largest premium ad-supported streaming service.

Walmart Initiates Job Cuts and Calls Remote Workers Back to Office

Walmart is reducing its workforce and has asked most of its remote employees to relocate to its main offices in Bentonville, Hoboken, and the San Francisco Bay Area. This restructuring comes as part of cost-cutting efforts and a focus shift towards other operational areas. Despite the cutbacks, including the planned closure of new medical clinics, Walmart is allowing some degree of remote work, requiring employees to spend the majority of their time in the office. These changes reflect the challenging economic climate and rising operational costs that Walmart faces.

Home Depot Reports Decline in Q1 Sales Amid Economic Challenges

Home Depot has announced a decline in total sales for the first quarter of 2024, attributing the downturn to delayed spring starts and a significant slowdown in the real estate market. Despite this, the company saw a slight increase in online sales, which rose by 3.3% compared to the previous year. Physical store sales remained the predominant revenue source, even as the company streamlined its online returns process, with over 70% of online orders now returnable via self-service at UPS stores. Home Depot is aggressively targeting professional customers to bolster sales through its expanding network of distribution centers.

Sea Limited Reports Mixed Financial Results in Q1

Sea Limited started 2024 with a strong revenue increase of 22.8%, reaching $3.7 billion, but saw a decrease in adjusted EBITDA and a net loss of $23 million for the first quarter. The e-commerce platform Shopee, the digital entertainment arm Garena, and the digital financial services division SeaMoney all experienced growth. Despite overall revenue growth, Shopee faced an adjusted EBITDA loss due to seasonal sales cycles influenced by the Lunar New Year and Ramadan. SeaMoney’s performance was notably positive, with a 50.3% increase in adjusted EBITDA, driven by its consumer and SME credit businesses.


Amazon Invests Heavily in India Amidst Competitive Pressure

Amazon has committed an additional ₹sixteen point six billion ($198 million) to its Indian subsidiary, marking its second investment in five months. This move comes as Walmart recently invested six hundred million dollars in Amazon’s local rival, Flipkart. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has announced plans to invest an additional $15 billion in India by 2030, increasing Amazon’s total investment in the region to twenty six billion dollars, including significant contributions to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amidst this expansion, Amazon is also venturing into the Indian logistics sector with a new delivery service, Amazon Shipping, set to compete with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

US Intensifies Tariffs on Chinese Imports in Tech and Automotive Sectors

The United States has escalated tariffs on a range of Chinese imports, including electric vehicles, semiconductors, and solar cells, with rates on some products rising to as much as 100%. This increase, which affects $18 billion worth of goods, intensifies the trade conflict and affects a small portion of China’s total exports. The Chinese Commerce Ministry has criticized these measures, stating they contradict previous assurances by President Biden and harm bilateral relations. China has vowed to take decisive steps to protect its interests.

Amazon Lowers Commission Rates in Japan to Boost Low-Value Item Sales

Amazon Japan has announced a reduction in commission rates for low-value items to stimulate more competitive pricing and a broader product range from sellers. Starting 1st of June, the new commission structure will apply to all items priced below 750 yen, excluding categories like books and electronics. This strategy is part of Amazon’s broader effort to adjust commission rates across multiple regions, including the US and Europe, to enhance sales of low-value clothing items and support marketplace sellers.


Google Transforms Search with Generative AI at Google I/O 2024

At the annual Google I/O event, Google unveiled significant enhancements to its search capabilities through the use of generative AI, incorporating the advanced Gemini model to provide natural-sounding responses to complex user queries. This initiative, known as AI Overviews, has successfully been piloted in the U.K. and is now expanding to all U.S. users with plans for a broader rollout. The feature simplifies the search process by addressing multi-layered questions and providing cohesive answers accompanied by relevant links. Furthermore, Google has introduced enhanced search functionalities in Google Photos, enabling users to search their image libraries using conversational language. Project Astra, another ambitious venture, aims to develop a universal AI agent capable of performing diverse tasks, promising to integrate seamlessly into daily life through natural interactions.

Wayve Secures $1 Billion to Advance Self-Driving Technology

The London-based AI startup, Wayve, has successfully raised over $1 billion in a Series C funding round, marking a significant leap in developing its “Embodied AI” for autonomous driving. This record-breaking investment, led by major entities such as SoftBank, Nvidia, and Microsoft, signifies the largest funding received by a European AI startup to date. Wayve’s unique approach does not rely on mapping but focuses on integrating advanced AI directly into vehicles, aiming to handle complex, real-world driving scenarios better.

This AI technology allows vehicles to operate intelligently in unpredictable situations, often referred to as edge cases, where traditional autonomous systems might falter. Looking forward, Wayve plans to collaborate with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to embed its technology into mainstream vehicles, enhancing them from Level 2 to Level 4 autonomy, which includes full self-driving capabilities under specific conditions.

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