Tag Archives: ecommerce

Your Smile Pays for Shopping

By now, nearly everyone has heard about Amazon Go stores where shoppers can skip the check-out lanes and are automatically charged for what they purchase. But, Amazon isn’t the only company that offers stores without cashiers. The latest entry is from Alibaba at its new Futuremart store in Hangzhou, China. The store sells a wide variety of Alibaba merchandise. Customers enter the store using a facial recognition app and scan a QR code with their Taobao, Tmall, or Alipap apps so they can shop.

But wait – it doesn’t end there! The store also uses a facial recognition program – a “Happy Go” happiness meter – to measure how happy the shopper is right now. A big smile can earn discounts!

Similar to Amazon Go, at Alibaba, when leaving, facial recognition and RFID technology recognize the shopper and the items being purchased. Alibaba and Amazon may be in the forefront of the new shopping technology, but others are close behind. Panasonic is also working on an automatic checkout using a walk-through RFID solution at a store in Japan.

Go ahead and walk-through the store – but don’t forget to smile big!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Would they like to be able to shop without a cashier payment step? Why or why not?
  2. Discuss the new ways in which technology is impacting retailing, such as Amazon Go and Alibaba.
  3. Show Alibaba video: https://youtu.be/FGtRXi8eRKI
  4. Show Amazon Go video: https://youtu.be/NrmMk1Myrxc
  5. Show the Panasonic RFID video: https://youtu.be/VD_FJzio3wo
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team reimagine the shopping experience using technology. What are their findings? Will consumers accept these innovations?

Source: Brandchannel.com. Alibaba test smile-and-pay facial recognition shopping.

 

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Let Your Fingers do the Paying

Have you ever forgotten your credit/debit card or money when buying something? It’s certainly embarrassing for the consumer, and not only that, the retailer then loses the sale. Wouldn’t it be nice if one could pay by using a different form of identification? Well, there is a new possibility brought to consumers from Nets, a Nordic payment provider.

Nets has launched a service called ‘Fingopay’ – a biometric payment system that uses a consumer’s finger-vein reading system to access credit cards and PIN numbers, while still maintaining a person’s security. The system uses infrared lights to scan the consumer’s prints, creating a 3D map of the veins in the whole finger (not the fingerprint). This can be registered as a preferred payment method, linking the finger tips to the bank account. The biometric signature is a one-of-a-kind identifier. It can’t be stolen, forged, or damaged. If the vein print matches the registered pattern, the sale is made!

Fingopay is now in use at the Copenhagen Business School and at Brunel University in London. Readers are installed at points of sales in the campus store and cash-free transactions ensure that purchases can be made, even without wallets or phones!

Purchasing is now at your finger – really!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: How many have forgotten their wallets or id recently when trying to make a purchase? What happened?
  2. Show Fingopay’s Web site: http://fingopay.com/
  3. View the video on the site that shows how the system works.
  4. Another video on U.S. news: https://youtu.be/bwDvUolnf8Y
  5. Poll students: Would they use this system? Why, or why not?
  6. For all the objections to using the service, have teams of students develop promotional tactics that could counteract the objections.

Source: Trendhunter.com.

 

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Amazon Raises Price for Prime Membership

Pricing is a very strategic part of marketing. And, yes, we know that price is one of the four P’s and is usually referred to as a tactic. However, when an organization is setting strategic objectives, price is a critical factor to meeting the objectives. However, it is relatively rare for companies to increase prices. Consumers tend to balk at paying more for a product or service that they have had for years. Except it appears, when the company is Amazon, then customers go along with the increase.

Beginning in May, new subscribers to Amazon Prime will pay $119 per year for shipping and entertainment membership programs; existing subscribers will pay the new fee when renewing after mid-June. This is an increase of $20 per year (20%), but it is only the second time that the company has raised the price for Prime. In 2014, Prime cost subscribers $99 per year, and in 2005 when it launched, the price was $79 per year. (What may be more surprising about the move though is that the company announced that is has more than 100 million Prime members worldwide. Amazon had never previously reported the level of members.)

Why the price increase? Prime is expensive for Amazon to fund. Since 2014, the number of products available for free two-day shipping has increased from 20 million to more than 100 million. The company has a significant investment in its logistics network and costs of shipping continue to rise. In addition, Amazon has spent lavishly to acquire, and create, an extensive library of movies and TV shows that are included in the benefits of Prime memberships. Prime delivers value to subscribers beyond the two-day free shipping option.

Is Prime still worth the price?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Pricing is a complex topic. Discuss the six steps for pricing (determining objectives, estimating demand, determining cost/profit relationships, select price level, set list price, and make adjustments).
  2. Discuss the various pricing models in class: demand-oriented, cost-oriented, profit-oriented, and competition-oriented.
  3. For Amazon Prime, divide students into groups and have each group work on any/all of the six steps.
  4. When setting the price level, assign each team a different model to use (demand-oriented, cost- oriented, etc.).
  5. Debrief the exercise. Compare the various pricing models and discuss advantages/disadvantages of each.

Source: CNN Money, Recode, Washington Post, other news sources

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