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Walmart announces next-day delivery on 200K+ items in select markets – TechCrunch

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This month, Amazon announced it’s investing $800 million in its warehouses and delivery infrastructure in order to double the speed of Prime shipping by reducing it to only one day. Now Walmart is following suit with a one-day shipping announcement of its own. The rival retailer says it will begin to offer free, NextDay delivery on select Walmart .com orders over $35 — without a membership fee.

This offer will initially be available to customers only in Phoenix and Las Vegas beginning on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, and will then expand to customers in Southern California over the next few days. The rollout will then continue “gradually” over the months ahead, with a goal of reaching 75% of the U.S. population — including 40 of the top 50 U.S. metros — by year-end.

Today, Amazon Prime covers more than 100 million items, which are available for two-day shipping to Prime’s more than 100 million subscribers. To make an inventory of that size available for one-day shipping is a massive investment on Amazon’s part.

Walmart, on the other hand, is starting smaller. Its NexDay delivery will be available as a standalone, curated shopping experience where customers can browse up to 220,000 of the most frequently purchased items.

This includes things like diapers, electronics, toys and household needs, and soon more. Everything in the cart has to be NextDay-eligible and total more than $35 to qualify. The cut-off times for the order will vary by location, Walmart says. Orders will be delivered primarily by national carriers, and in some cases, regional carriers.

This more limited focus in terms of inventory (for now at least) makes NextDay more of a competitor to Target’s Restock than to Amazon one-day Prime ambitions, as — like Restock — it requires a $35 minimum order. Restock, though, has customers “filling a box” with items and is largely focused on day-to-day shopping. Meanwhile, Walmart’s NextDay selection is wider than Restock’s some 35,000 items. (However, ahead of Walmart’s announcement, Target pushed out news that its same-day “Drive Up” curbside service had now expanded to over 1,250 U.S. stores.)

Walmart’s focus on matching Amazon’s efforts — but with a different set of conditions and “without a membership fee” — is now par for the course.

For example, Walmart in early 2017 first announced it would begin to offer free, two-day shopping on more than 2 million items with no need for a membership — as long as orders totaled $35.00 or more. The retailer had been trialing such a sped-up shipping system for years — starting with a test of its answer to Prime back in 2015. Dubbed ShippingPass at the time, the program initially began with 1 million items and three-day delivery, then was lowered to two days while the number of eligible items doubled. 

This past October, Walmart expanded two-day shipping to its Marketplace sellers, as well.

Now, it’s focused on one-day. Walmart says this is not in response to Amazon’s news, but rather had plans already in progress.

“We can offer fast, convenient shipping options because we’ve built a network of fulfillment assets that are strategically located across the U.S. We’ve also done extensive work to ensure we have the right products in the right fulfillment centers based on where customers are located and what they’re ordering,” said president and CEO of Walmart E-Commerce, Marc Lore.

Lore had sold his e-commerce startup Jet.com to Walmart for $3 billion in 2016. While it lives on as a more urban-focused delivery service, its influence on Walmart’s broader e-commerce efforts — particularly around delivery logistics — is seen in these expanded efforts to improve delivery times that also reduce costs while keeping prices low for consumers. Jet, for example, had offered credits to consumers who bought their items from the same nearby warehouse. That’s not entirely different from what Walmart NextDay is doing.

As Lore explains, NextDay is affordable for Walmart.

“Our new NextDay delivery isn’t just great for customers, it also makes good business sense. Contrary to what you might think, it will cost us less – not more – to deliver orders the next day,” he says. “That’s because eligible items come from a single fulfillment center located closest to the customer. This means the order ships in one box, or as few as possible, and it travels a shorter distance via inexpensive ground shipping. That’s in contrast to online orders that come in multiple boxes from multiple locations, which can be quite costly.”

Forrester analyst Sucharita Kodali suggests a bit more caution. She agrees that having another place to get overnight shipping is a win for consumers, but there could still be challenges.

“I think that makes sense theoretically, but whether or not they can make the economics work depends on the quality of the assortment and how many people actually use it. Also, I don’t know how easily it scales,” she says.

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White House adds ASL interpreter to press briefings on YouTube

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The Biden administration has made White House press briefings more accessible for people who are deaf or have trouble hearing. If you head over to the official White House channel on YouTube, you’ll now be able to watch these press events with an American Sign Language interpreter, something Press Secretary Jen Psaki says is intended to improve accessibility.

The ASL interpreter was introduced with the White House press briefing on January 25; you can head over to the White House YouTube channel to watch the entire session yourself or check out the related snippet in the video below.

Press Secretary Psaki noted that the interpreter is joining the sessions virtually. The ASL is provided as a picture-in-picture view overlaid onto the main video. Users who have trouble hearing also have the option of turning on YouTube’s captions feature to read the transcription (though at this time, they don’t appear to have been added; captions are available on older videos, however).

In a statement kicking off today’s session, Press Secretary Psaki said:

As a part of this administration’s accessibility and inclusion efforts, starting today we will have an American Sign Language interpreter for our daily press briefings … The president’s committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just, and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families.

This is one of the multiple changes we’ve seen arrive in the early days of the Biden administration. A few days ago, the White House website was refreshed for the current administration, adding some accessibility features like a dark mode and font size adjuster.

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Researchers find four big reasons people become digital hoarders

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Hoarding is a behavior that’s difficult to miss — it often involves filling one’s home and other spaces with a huge number of items that end up having a major impact on the hoarder’s life. Less visible is the growing issue of ‘digital hoarding,’ an activity that involves amassing huge amounts of digital content that one may find difficult to part with.

Unlike typical hoarding, digital hoarding is the activity of collecting a large amount of digital data without deleting content over time. This amassing of information may be deliberate, such as for archival purposes, but in other cases may be more passive, with someone merely growing their data over time by failing to regularly delete it.

This can include, for example, downloading huge collections of images with the idea that they may be useful one day; in other cases, someone may never delete their emails, ending up with an inbox containing thousands or tens of thousands of messages that are hard to sort through. According to a new study, digital hoarders can be split up into four different categories.

The four types of digital hoarders fall into one of the following categories: anxiety, disengagement, compliance and collection. Perhaps the basic of the four is the compliance category, which refers primarily to workplaces in which policy or practices result in employees retaining large amounts of digital data, such as old emails and spreadsheets.

While this category isn’t as much of a big deal at the personal level, the researchers point out that it may end up being a problem for companies, particularly if they were to suffer a data breach. Following the compliance category are the collectors — the users who behave in a way that could be defined as hoarding, but without the anxiety, disorganization, or company orders that motivate other types of digital hoarders.

Rounding out the categories are disengaged and anxious digital hoarders, which refers to people who amass large amounts of digital clutter due to being unorganized or worried that deleting data may end up getting rid of something that will be important in the future. The researchers note that companies may be able to reduce digital hoarding by reassuring employees about which information can be safely deleted, but more research is necessary to determine which strategies may help reduce overall digital hoarding behavior.

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New iPhone 6 throttling lawsuit gives Apple fresh headaches in Europe

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Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit over iPhone throttling, with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s owners in Europe seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages over how the Cupertino firm dealt with degrading batteries. The tweak, pushed out in iOS 10.2.1 back in 2017, quietly capped the maximum performance of several older iPhone models, after Apple realized that they could otherwise crash if demanding apps were run.

The problem, it turned out, came down to the natural degradation of lithium-ion batteries. Over time, they’re unable to hold the same level of charge and thus deliver the same peak voltage: if the iPhone’s chipset demanded more power than the older battery could provide, it could crash and reboot.

iOS 10.2.1 fixed that by secretly throttling maximum CPU performance on phones like the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus with older batteries. However Apple then faced accusations that it was intentionally limiting how fast those iPhones could run, in the hope of pushing battery replacements or driving upgrades to newer models.

Class-action suits in the US followed, with Apple paying up to $25 per iPhone in an American settlement – though not admitting any actual wrongdoing. However new cases have been filed in Europe: most recently in Italy, TechCrunch reports, but in Belgium and Spain back in December 2020. A fourth suit is expected to be added to the list, as owners in Portugal lend their voices to the complaints.

The Italian class action lawsuit is a familiar one. According to local consumer protection agency Altroconsumo, Apple is guilty of planned obsolescence in how it handled iOS 10.2.1. As with the US case, it argues that Apple’s motivation in making the changes was to seed dissatisfaction with otherwise functional iPhones, and encourage upgrades to newer models.

The lawsuit is seeking 60 million euro ($70m) in compensation, or roughly 60 euro ($70) per iPhone owner enrolled in the case. iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone 6s Plus owners are invited to participate.

Apple released iOS 11.3 in 2018, with a toggle switch to control what had until then been automatic throttling behavior. Owners could check the current health of their iPhone’s battery, and then choose whether to override the CPU control. The company also offered subsidized iPhone battery replacements for those with impacted devices, bringing the price down to $29 from its usual $79.

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