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.
Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen won’t have a dedicated slot
Samsung will be unveiling its most powerful Galaxy in two weeks but that won’t be a smartphone as some might have hoped. Samsung’s most powerful Galaxy phone, however, might come earlier in July but it’s already proving to be a mixed bag. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 will, of course, be interesting because of its expected support for the S Pen but it might not have a silo similar to the Galaxy Note it will replace this year.
The story will almost be like the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the first in the Galaxy S series to support the Wacom-powered Samsung stylus. It didn’t have a slot inside the phone to stash the S Pen inside and had to be bought separately. Samsung recommended some cases for making sure the S Pen didn’t get lost, something it will reportedly do with the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
According to the report hailing from South Korea, Samsung was still trying to make room for the S Pen inside the Galaxy Z Fold 3 until last month. It finally decided against it for two reasons. One is to ensure that the foldable phone will be as water and dust resistant as possible. This is definitely critical considering how the first Galaxy Fold easily broke when the minutest of particles entered its hinges.
The other reason might come as a disappointment, though, as Samsung reportedly ran out of space for the S Pen silo inside the phone. That’s despite rumors that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will have a smaller battery and a smaller internal screen than its predecessor. Hopefully, we’ll find out the reason for that in three months.
Samsung will reportedly offer a specialized case for keeping the S Pen, which would probably be a good idea anyway to protect the Galaxy Z Fold 3. That said, it might also ruin the otherwise luxurious appearance of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, at least based on renders, but it at least gives people the option of how they want to use the device.
Chrome 90 makes HTTPS the default, brings AV1 codec for video chats
The Web has definitely become a very different place compared to just a few years ago. Security has always been a consideration but never has it been more critical than these days when more people work at home with less than secure Internet connections. That same change in work situations has bumped up the need for WebRTC, a technology that already existed long before video conferencing was hip. Addressing both those concerns, Google is releasing Chrome 90 in an attempt to make working for home more secure and less stressful.
Google has been crusading around HTTPS or HTTP Secure even before the current pandemic hit. Using its clout as the maker of the world’s most used web browser (something that raises anticompetitive red flags), Google has been pushing site owners to use HTTPS by favoring the encrypted connection when using Chrome. As of Chrome 90, any address entered into the browser’s address bar will automatically default to HTTPS unless you specify the protocol explicitly or are working on localhost.
Beyond just being more secure, Google argues that this change of default behavior also has improvements in web page loading speed. That’s because many sites redirect HTTP to HTTPS, which takes up some time. Connecting to HTTPS directly can save a few seconds that eventually add up.
Chrome 90 also brings the AV1 encoder to the desktop web browser, the same codec used by Netflix for better video compression on mobile. In this case, however, AV1 is being used to optimize WebRTC or the Web Real-Time Communication technology which is used for video chats using web browsers like Chrome.
The latest version of Chrome also brings user-visible changes, particularly to the Reading List feature and searching in Tab Groups. What may be its most controversial change, however, is related to Google’s Privacy Sandbox, particularly the much-criticized FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) experiment to replace third-party tracking cookies.
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 teardown reveals beautiful complexity
Some smartphones are getting more interesting again after the market has seemingly plateaued in design and innovation. Leave it to gaming smartphones, however, to really take the cake when it comes to pushing the envelope not just in terms of performance but also in design. After the very first ASUS ROG Phone, it is perhaps Lenovo’s latest Legion Phone Duel 2 that has the most peculiar quirks and features. And while it didn’t survive the durability test, JerryRigEverything’s teardown reveals just how unique the phone is on the inside.
The Legion Phone Duel 2 is already unique on the outside due to a design that is intended for horizontal (landscape) use. The front-facing camera hides in a popup mechanism off to the side and the rear cameras are located in the middle, safe from fingers when playing games. Unfortunately, that unique design, including the three-part segments of the backplate, makes traditional teardown processes almost impossible.
Fortunately, YouTuber Zack Nelson did break the phone apart into three so he was able to skip that and get to the meaty parts almost immediately. The one bump on that journey was the central glass back which, unfortunately, cracked during attempts to slice off the adhesive underneath. Once the backs, yes plural, have been removed, the phone reveals an internal design that may have never been used in any phone, other than the first Lenovo Legion phone, of course.
The inside of the Legion Phone Duel 2 is filled with cables connecting eight different pressure-sensitive areas that can be used for gaming controls, including two beneath the screen. It is also filled with a variety of cooling systems, such as the two fans and a large duct system that carries air between the two fans. It is really impressive that every inch of the phone is crammed with features, including that popup camera step motor that Nelson notes to actually be the most boring part of the phone.
Sadly, all that may have resulted in a structural design that turned out to be more fragile than the most premium-looking high-end phone. Disaster is easy enough to prevent with a case but, when accidents do happen, the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2’s design may not make repairs that easy or, more importantly, affordable.
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