Touchless transit payments increased 187% since April: Visa

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Visa released new data on Thursday that found contactless transactions for transit fares increased 187% through the end of June, up from an all-time global low in April. The company now works with more than 500 cities globally to implement or expand contactless payment solutions.

To further engage in this trend, Visa announced a new global partnership agreement with Cubic Transportation Systems to “enable the delivery of next generation fare payments and new mobility solutions to Cubic’s customers based on Visa’s global payment standards and frameworks,” according to a company press release.

Visa also announced a milestone of 150 total partners in its Visa Ready for Transit certification program, up from 100 partners in October 2019. The Visa Ready for Transit program fosters collaboration with fare system solutions providers and consultancies to simplify transit agencies’ implementation of contactless fare systems.

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Japanese robot to clock in at a convenience store in test of retail automation

TOKYO (Reuters) – In August, a robot vaguely resembling a kangaroo will begin stacking sandwiches, drinks and ready meals on shelves at a Japanese convenience store in a test its maker, Telexistence, hopes will help trigger a wave of retail automation.

Following that trial, store operator FamilyMart says it plans to use robot workers at 20 stores around Tokyo by 2022. At first, people will operate them remotely – until the machines’ artificial intelligence (AI) can learn to mimic human movements. Rival convenience store chain Lawson is deploying its first robot in September, according to Telexistence.

“It advances the scope and scale of human existence,” the robot maker’s chief executive, Jin Tomioka, said as he explained how its technology lets people sense and experience places other than where they are.

The idea, dubbed telexistence, was first proposed by the start up’s co-founder, University of Tokyo professor Susumu Tachi, four decades ago.

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DoorDash inks deal with Walgreens to provide over-the-counter medicine and snack deliveries

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Walgreens signed a similar deal with Postmates in April

DoorDash announced that it’s introducing on-demand delivery services from Walgreens to provide “everyday essentials” to your doorstep. Customers in Atlanta, Chicago, and Denver can now order over 2,300 items from the pharmacy chain, including over-the-counter medication, groceries, snacks, and beauty products. DoorDash and Walgreens did not mention whether users can also have their prescription medication delivered, so you’ll probably still need to go to the store for that.

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Amazon is rolling out grocery carts that let shoppers skip checkout lines, bag their groceries and walk out

Amazon launching smart grocery carts that track shoppers’ items

Amazon is launching smart shopping carts at its Woodland Hills, California, grocery store in 2020.

Dash Carts are embedded with cameras, sensors and a smart display that automatically track a shopper’s order.

Similar to Amazon’s cashierless Go stores, Dash Carts allow shoppers to avoid checkout lines as they exit the store.

Amazon is launching shopping carts that track items as shoppers add them, then automatically charges them when they remove the grocery bags, allowing them to skip the checkout line.

The Dash Carts will roll out at Amazon’s new Los Angeles-area grocery store, which is slated to open this year, the company announced Tuesday.

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Resale market expected to be valued at $64 billion in 5 years, as used clothing takes over closets

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A ThredUp warehouse.

KEY POINTS

  • The secondhand apparel market is valued at about $28 billion today and is forecast to reach $64 billion within the five years, according to a new report by ThredUp and GlobalData Retail.
  • “Resale is here to stay,” said ThredUp co-founder and CEO James Reinhart. “The next question is who wins and who loses.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic upending much of the retail industry and putting a damper on apparel sales, the secondhand clothing market is expected to boom, according to one online resale marketplace.

The secondhand apparel market is valued at about $28 billion today and is forecast to reach $64 billion within five years, ThredUp said in its annual report, which is completed in a partnership with the third-party research firm GlobalData Retail.

It said the resale market grew 25 times faster than the overall retail market last year, with an estimated 64 million people buying secondhand products in 2019.

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The pandemic is doing to credit cards what iTunes did to CDs

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Mastercard’s head of digital solutions says the pandemic has forced many consumers to reconsider how they think about paying for things, and thinks many of those changes will last.

Mastercard’s head of digital solutions explains how the pandemic has upended the way we buy.

How many times have you used your credit card since the pandemic started?

In just a few months, the pandemic has upended the way that many people are paying for things. People who rarely bought things online are now ordering all their groceries via Instacart, and the few times they’ve gone outside they’ve likely also turned to digital and contactless payment methods. Much of that behavior is likely to stick around once life returns to normal, according to Jorn Lambert, Mastercard’s EVP of digital solutions.

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Nuro partners with CVS Pharmacy to deliver medicines using its autonomous vehicle

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Nuro is partnering with CVS Pharmacy to deliver medicines using its autonomous vehicle.

 Starting this month, the “first-of-its-kind partnership” brings Nuro into the health space as the startup utilizes its fleet of autonomous vehicles to deliver prescriptions and essentials across three zip codes in Houston, Texas.

Pharma is the third industry sector in which Nuro will introduce its autonomous vehicles.

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How an Exodus from cities will reshape retail

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The work-from-anywhere revolution will accelerate the coming of a post-digital age for shopping, argues Doug Stephens of Retail Prophet.

Throughout history, cities have played a central role in the evolution of retail. From the grand bazaars of ancient times to the opulent department stores of the 1800s to the venture-backed start-ups of the 2000s, cities have offered the stage, the audience, and ultimately, the financial prosperity to power retail through the ages.

But in major developed economies like the United States, we are set to see an outbound migration from cities the likes of which we have not experienced since the 1950s. Just as the IBMs and Microsofts of the world did 40 years ago, migrating to the boundlessness of the suburbs, today’s corporate giants are rethinking location once again, except this time encouraging their employees to live and work wherever they like.

On May 21st, Facebook announced that it would give its employees not only the freedom to work from home permanently, but also to spin a globe and point to wherever they’d like “home” to be. Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge, “We’re going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale… I think we could get to about half of the company working remotely permanently.” That same day, Shopify and Twitter both made similar announcements. Shopify founder and CEO Tobias Lütke said he expects most of the company’s employees to choose the work from home option, adding: “The choice is really, are we passengers on this tidal wave of change? Or do we jump in the driver’s seat and try to figure out how to build a global world-class company by not getting together that often?”

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The rich have stopped spending and that has tanked the economy

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A worker paints over a Louis Vuitton storefront, boarded up after the coronavirus outbreak, on March 30 in San Francisco.

The wealthiest American households are keeping a tight grip on their purse strings even as their lower-income counterparts are spending a lot more freely when they emerge from weeks of lockdown. That decline in spending by the wealthy could limit the whole country’s economic recovery.

Researchers based at Harvard have been tracking spending patterns using credit card data. They found that people at the bottom of the income ladder are now spending nearly as much as they did before the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the stimulus checks went out, you see that spending by lower-income households went up a lot,” said Nathan Hendren, a Harvard economist and co-founder of the Opportunity Insights research team.

However, the wealthy are not matching them. “For higher-income individuals, that spending is still way far off from where it was prior to COVID and it has not recovered as much,” Hendren said.

That’s potentially crippling because consumer spending is a huge driver of economic activity. In fact, so much of the country’s economy depends on shopping by the top income bracket that the wealthiest 25% of Americans account for fully two-thirds of the total decline in spending since January.

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Facebook’s new AI tool will automatically identify items you put up for sale

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‘We want to make anything and everything on the platform shoppable’

Facebook is launching what it’s calling a “universal product recognition model” that uses artificial intelligence to identify consumer goods, from furniture to fast fashion to fast cars.

It’s the first step toward a future where the products in every image on its site can be identified and potentially shopped for. “We want to make anything and everything on the platform shoppable, whenever the experience feels right,” Manohar Paluri, head of Applied Computer Vision at Facebook, told The Verge. “It’s a grand vision.”

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Walmart is piloting a pricier 2-hour Express grocery delivery service

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Record usage of grocery delivery services amid the COVID-19 pandemic has led to delayed orders, fewer open delivery windows and, on occasion, an inability to even book a delivery time slot. Walmart now hopes to capitalize on the increased demand for speedier delivery with the introduction of a new service that allows consumers to pay to get to the front of the line. The retailer confirmed today it’s launching a new Walmart Grocery service called “Express,” which promises orders in two hours or less for an upcharge of $10 on top of the usual delivery fee.

The service has been in pilot testing across 100 Walmart stores in the U.S. since mid-April. Walmart says it plans to expand the service to nearly 1,000 stores in early May and it will be offered in a total of nearly 2,000 stores in the weeks after.

Some Walmart customers may have recently received a push notification alerting them to the launch.

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The pandemic is bringing us closer to our robot takeout future


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Starship

“We saw that business double overnight,” startup says of UK grocery deliveries.

On the morning of March 30, I set out from my home in Washington, DC, to the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. In only a few hours, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam would issue coordinated stay-at-home orders. But I was going to GMU’s campus to check out a new technology seemingly tailor-made for the moment—technology that could help people get food without the risks of face-to-face interactions.

Campus was eerily quiet; most students and staff had long been sent home. But as I approached a Starbucks at the northern edge of GMU, I heard a faint buzzing and saw a six-wheeled, microwave-sized robot zip along the sidewalk, turn, and park in front of the coffee shop. The robot looked like—and essentially was—a large white cooler on wheels. It was a delivery robot from Starship, a startup that has been operating on campus since early last year.

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