Monthly Archives: June 2016

Shaping the Future of Ecommerce

Few industries are as competitive as ecommerce. Not only are online retailers competing with other online stores and brick-and-mortar locations, but also the overall noise that is the Internet. We live in a world where consumer attention span is getting shorter and shorter:40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and the average shopping cart is abandoned more than 68 percent of the time. I’m hard pressed to find an ecommerce site that is not constantly scrambling to engage more and drive more sales.

Technology is finally helping with those efforts in a big way. Artificial intelligence (AI), which has demonstrated its value in industries like marketing, healthcare and finance, is now making a splash in online commerce.

Antoine Blondeau, CEO of the world’s most funded AI company,Sentient Technologies, once said, “Five years from now, we’ll see AI take a bigger role in making decisions, creating pre-emptive solutions, and delivering insights. Society will become much more efficient as a result. Think logistics, ecommerce, healthcare, finance — in all these domains and others we will start to see massive gains from AI. We’ll be able to leverage AI systems to help get things to where they need to go faster and cheaper, we’ll be able to enable people to see and buy things they weren’t even aware existed or even knew they wanted.”

Here are three ways AI will impact ecommerce in the coming years:

Visual search.

Shoppers, say goodbye to impulse control. Software platforms that drive ecommerce websites are creating visual search capabilities which allow consumers to upload an image and find similar/complementary products. The visual search capabilities, particularly via mobile, “reads” the item for clues — color, shape, size, fabric and brand. This helps consumers to find exactly what they are looking for right away.

“In the age of Snapchat, Instagram, and the rapidly reducing attention spans of the digital age, AI-driven platforms will be essential to ecommerce success,” says Akash Bhatia, cofounder and CEO of Infinite Analytics, a deep machine learning and predictive analytics platform for retail.

A consumer doesn’t even have to be shopping to see something they would like to purchase — a new pair of Nike’s at the gym or a friend’s new dress — to easily find similar items on your ecommerce store.

Offline to online worlds merge.

These visual search capabilities can now create ties from online to offline like never before. As retailers redefine the way consumers engage with their brand, retail of the future will have more information about shoppers to improve their customer service, ultimately to create the opportunity to sell more items. The offline to online experience requires minimal steps to shop and purchase, providing a sense of autonomy to the consumer.

Best Deals on 4K Vizio TV

Entrepreneur has affiliate partnership with TechBargains so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

It’s Veterans Day and many retailers are using this as an excuse to release some of the deals they want to test on Black Friday. The team at TechBargains has found that many of the deals you see on Veterans Day can actually be just as good as you will find on Black Friday, especially on electronics. The only difference is you won’t have to suffer through Black Friday lines and you’ll be able to enjoy your Thanksgiving by buying now.

The Vizio M-Series is a well-reviewed TV from one of America’s favorite TV brands. Vizios pack a lot of value at a highly competitive price and the Vizio M-Series is one of their higher end models. It has a full-array LED backlight with local dimming for great picture quality, sharp 4K display resolution and even supports the new HDR format which you can immediately make use of on your PS4 or Xbox Ones. To top it all off they include a 6-inch Android remote that can be used to surf the web or stream. With the $250 Dell gift card you are paying about $550 which is a steal for a high-quality 4K TV.

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Dell Inspiron 17 5000 Intel Core i7-6500u Dual-Core 17.3″ 1080p Laptop $609 (Orig $931)
Use Code: SAVE270. If you need a larger laptop that has power, a good size display for productivity, and a powerful current generation i7 processor from Intel than the Inspiron 17 5000 is a great choice. The 1080p display will display sharp text and graphics. For those with small businesses or Windows power users this laptop includes Windows 7 Pro (with a license for Windows 10) for advanced features. At a price of $609 it’s an incredible value.

49″ LG 49LH5700 1080p LED Smart HDTV + $150 Dell Gift Card for $399.99 (Orig. $499.99)
If you wanted an inexpensive TV for Black Friday then look no further. LG is a well known brand and is generally overshadowed by their flashier cousin Samsung. LG is known for making quality electronics with a lot of features for very competitive price. At $400 you are unlikely to find a name-brand TV in the 50-inch size range for less. The included $150 gift card effectively discounts you under $300 which is a steal.

The Benefit of Private Cloud

Every headline-grabbing hack is a stark reminder that your data isn’t always safe in other companies’ hands — or clouds. One solution: Create, and manage, your own cloud using the ZeroStack Z-Block.

Step 1: Plug it in. The ZeroStack system is a box (yes, like on Silicon Valley) that can quickly plug into a company’s network, transforming the system into a web-accessible cloud computer. “Customers can deploy a cloud in less than an hour, instead of days or weeks,” says Ajay Gulati, cofounder and CEO of ZeroStack. The price starts at $5,000 per month.

Step 2: Control your data. Your cloud can be accessed from any web browser. Because ZeroStack uses your company’s own server, you can keep a watchful eye on your data instead of trusting your valuable information to somebody else’s server farm. And while this doesn’t make you hackerproof (it’s not magic), you won’t be suffering collateral damage when some bigtime hack hits a tech giant.

Step 3: Say, “Bye, IT guy.” Keeping a fully private cloud afloat typically requires specially trained IT teams. Not this one. “Our management software monitors the cloud for problems and fixes them automatically,” Gulati says. And should you need help, service and support from ZeroStack are included.

Predictions for the Trump

It’s a new world: Donald Trump’s world. As 2017 hits, we’re going to see the U.S. government’s attitude towards a range of technologies change, whether it be about a lighter touch on regulation or a harsher look at companies that import heavily from China.

I hate making stock predictions. I’m going to try to stick to what I think you should expect and do, as U.S. tech consumers, to prepare for 2017. For each prediction, I’m also trying to provide an action you should take to put yourself in the best position for the future.

1. Sprint and T-Mobile will merge.

Sprint’s stock jumped after the election on the assumption that Sprint and T-Mobile, which want to merge, will do so. The merger has been blocked so far by Obama’s team, and it has been widely expected that a Republican FCC will let it go through. There could be an announcement as soon as January.

While Trump has come out against the Time Warner/AT&T merger, he said he’s offended by media consolidation, not broadband consolidation; a pure wireless merger may not spark his ire.

The outcome will be the end of the current wireless price wars. As we’ve seen in Canada, countries with three major players, and no requirement to share networks with third parties, tend not to have aggressive pricing. We should expect to see wireless costs in the U.S. normalize at the AT&T/Verizon levels, bringing home more profits to investors in the combined Sprint/T-Mobile.

What you should do: Lock in a really good rate plan soon, because prices may go up. Study low-cost virtual carriers like Ting, Republic Wireless and Walmart Family Mobile, which may still offer deals.

2. Verizon 5G will be the next big broadband competitor.

This prediction wraps together a few elements. Republicans have been hostile to municipal broadband, and a key Trump adviser has indicated that he’s against “set-asides” in upcoming spectrum auctions, which would prevent Verizon from snapping up most of the available airwaves. All that said, the sleepy cable monopolies, with their constant rising prices, are still ripe for disruption. Verizon’s home 5G launch in 2017 will be boosted by big wins in upcoming spectrum auctions, giving you one more strong choice for home broadband going forward, and fulfilling the promise that Fios never did.

What you should do: Look for 5G home broadband promotions as soon as the service launches in your area. Switch back and forth between 5G and cable annually to keep the best promotional rate.

3. Apple’s prices will go up. Huawei and LeEco may be dead in the water.

Trump has expressed great displeasure at Apple manufacturing in China, but the company can’t move its giant operations, so it’ll just absorb any new tariffs into its pricing structure. Think of it as an extra $50 hit on Apple products. Meanwhile, Chinese firms that don’t already have a strong operation here — think Huawei and LeEco — will find few routes in. Motorola, now part of Lenovo, may also suffer. Americans looking for lower-cost phones will be able to turn to LG, made in US ally South Korea, and Blu, a U.S. company that manufactures in China but sells its products so inexpensively that a slight price hike won’t matter so much.

Commercial Markets Beckon

The fledgling drone industry is in the throes of change as weak consumer demand and falling prices drive startups to shift their focus to specialized business applications.

3D Robotics — an early drone startup that raised more than $125 million from investors — has seen its consumer business all but crash. This week, it unveiled a new commercial strategy, announcing a camera-equipped drone with imaging software designed for construction companies.

GoPro Inc. this week announced a recall of about 2,500 drones for a refund after just a couple of weeks on the market — some units had sudden power outages — and didn’t say when it would offer a replacement product. Europe’s Zano, which made mini-drones for consumers, shut down last year.

While many drone-makers overestimated demand from hobbyists, they now see big opportunities selling to businesses under newly relaxed U.S. regulations. Beyond flying robots, investors and entrepreneurs see especially strong prospects in software and services that can make aerial imaging useful for industries including insurance, construction, agriculture and entertainment.

Companies including Amazon.com Inc. and Zipline, a drone startup, are also aggressively developing drones for delivery.

Most startups vying to sell consumer drones, often used for racing or photography, have been stung by China-based DJI. The company has dominated by slashing prices. DJI discounted its popular Phantom 3 drone, for instance, to about $300 from nearly $1,000 at the beginning of the year.