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Amazon is reportedly testing its cashier-less technology in larger stores at The Wall Street Journal / The Verge. “The WSJ says that Amazon has improved the software in those (smaller) stores since they’ve opened, but apparently the technology still has trouble in those “bigger spaces with higher ceilings and more products,” according to the WSJ’s sources.” Read more | WSJ article (subs.)


BATTERY BUMMER – Where are the drones? Amazon’s customers are still waiting at AP. “Frank Appel, the CEO of DHL’s parent company, Deutsche Post AG, said “over the next couple of years” drones will remain a niche vehicle and not widely used. He said a big obstacle is battery life. “If you have to recharge them every other hour, then you need so many drones and you have to orchestrate that. So good luck with that,” he told The Associated Press.” Read more


At Lowe’s, the Ellisons walk a fine line by Sarah Nassauer & Suzanne Kapner at Wall Street Journal. “Mr. Ellison, 53 years old, said he leans on his wife’s judgment, adding that his career “really is both our careers.” “There is no one that I count on more for candid, blunt advice and opinions,” he said…At Penney, Sharyn Ellison’s involvement rankled some employees, who spoke among themselves about how they felt Mr. Ellison placed her opinions ahead of their professional expertise.” WSJ subs.


Retailers Are Testing Facebook-Style Shopper Profiles to Battle Amazon by Olivia Carville at Bloomberg. “Chatbots are increasingly ubiquitous and getting better at holding a meaningful conversation with customers. And behind the scenes retailers are training customer-support people to act more like traditional salespeople with the expertise once available only at top brick-and-mortar establishments.” Tiered subs.


……has built a 300-person team of project experts…Paid on commission and expected to hit monthly sales targets…Cameron Ellingsen, a project expert for four years, says he has considerable autonomy but avoids the hard sell.


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UK retailer Ted Baker to investigate company culture of hugging at Reuters. “An online campaign claiming to represent over 200 employees has called on the company to end “forced hugging” and “a culture that leaves harassment unchallenged”. Read more


Walmart is rolling out 360 autonomous floor-scrubbing robots in some of its stores in the U.S. by the end of the January at MSN. “The robots, which look like a cross between a miniature Zamboni and a motorized wheel chair, already scrub floors at airports in Seattle, San Diego, Boston and Miami.” Read more


The company behind Walmart’s pickup towers has developed a self-driving car that delivers packages by Hayley Peterson at Business Insider. “The car, called Lotte, is a robotic courier. It autonomously transports packages to homes and businesses and uses a robotic arm to place the packages in a pickup locker. Eventually, it will be able to deliver packages to mailboxes and pickup towers as well.” Pics/Read more


They thought they’d die trapped in a parking lot. How 150 survivors of California’s deadliest fire made it out alive at LA Times. Tiered subs.


KEEP ‘EM GUESSING – Amazon Christmas tree order kept buyer guessing on delivery date by Joan Verdon at North Jersey Record via USA Today. “Two days before Thanksgiving I got an Amazontext on my phone telling me the tree would be delivered Nov.  27. One day before Thanksgiving Amazon sent a new alert with a new, later delivery date of Dec. 3. On Saturday, Nov. 24, out of the blue, I received a text on my phone telling me to expect the tree that day.” Read more


Cash-strapped states turn to legal marijuana for tax revenue, but some say they’re not charging enough at CNBC. Read more


ARBITRAGE – Man made $2500 in a day buying Monopoly for Millennials at Walmart and selling them online at Boing Boing. “It’s $55 at Amazon, but WalMart had it for just $20…The Bearded Picker went from store to store buying every box and selling them online. All he had to do was iterate the “available” count on his third-party seller listing at Amazon…” Read more


Ikea Will Open Its First U.S. City-Center Store in Manhattan at CNN. “…it will open up a 1,600 square-foot showroom on Manhattan’s Upper East Side next spring…The store will carry a limited assortment and won’t feature restaurants. Most of the items will only be available for delivery.” Read more


An exclusive look inside Google’s in-house incubator Area 120 by Harry McCracken at Fast Company. Read more


Nestlé Pays Only $200 to Take 130 Million Gallons of Michigan’s Water by Julia Zorthian at Fortune. “The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will decide upon Nestlé’s application to increase the amount it takes, but opposition is rising in the meantime, the New York Times reports.” Read more


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