‘Watson’ is coming to a store near you

Friday in 5 – interesting news bits from around the supply chain horn, served up in one spot to keep you up to date.

Automation and artificial intelligence technology is rapidly changing the face of the retail store. This week saw innovation at the forefront, online sales exploding in popularity, and a shipping giant facing slower business than usual.

A.I. is no longer “the future”

Watson – the name of an artificial intelligence technology (AI) by IBM – is mainly recognized for its $1 million winning streak on “Jeopardy.” Several major retailers, however, from Macy’s to 1-800-Flowers.Com, are using or testing the supercomputer’s cognitive computing capabilities to predict (and serve) customer wishes. Staples has announced plans to implement Watson technology to bring to life its Easy Button. Using the technology, the button can now take Staples orders by voice, text, email, messaging app or mobile app. Read the Forbes article, Using Artificial Intelligence Both In Apps And In The Aisles, by Bryan Pearson to learn more.

Shop by phone, online AND in the store

With the announcement of Amazon Go – the grocery store that enabled shoppers to pick out and walk out with their items and automatically charging their Amazon Prime accounts, the future of retail looks to be automated. Rachel Arthur, in her Forbes article The Automated Future Of The Fashion Store: Where Self-Checkouts And Human Touch Collide, describes the growing potential ahead for the phone to control the entire commerce experience.

Online grocery sales continue to soar

Jeff Daniels, in his article for CNBC Online grocery sales set surge, grabbing 20 percent of market by 2025, writes that online grocery shopping could grow five-fold over the next decade, with American consumers spending upwards of $100 billion on food-at-home items by 2025. A report from Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen points out that the online channel is likely to capture significantly more market share in the decade ahead from the bricks-and-mortar stores.

Amazon still rules the online shopping world

Preliminary reports suggest the online retailer had another breakout quarte CNBC, Feb. 1, Amazon captured more than half of all online sales growth last year, new data showsr at the end of 2016. According to the receipt mining company Slice, which culled data from more than 2 million digital transactions, Amazon accounted for 53 percent of U.S. e-commerce growth in 2016. Krystina Gustafson breaks down the numbers in her CNBC article Amazon captured more than half of all online sales growth last year, new data shows.

Delivery companies feeling the weight of online shopping

You’d think the surge in online shopping would be a boon for delivery companies, but it’s not always a good thing. UPS’s brown trucks typically only drop off one package at a time when they deliver to homes and have to make more frequent stops, resulting in higher costs. The company reported weaker-than-expected earnings-per-share for its peak holiday quarter. Read Brooke Sutherland’s Bloomberg article, UPS’s Shipping Blues, to learn more.

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