Walmart today is announcing a significant redesign of its website which includes a visual makeover, the introduction of new personalization elements, as well as dedicated sections for specially shopping experiences. The company had already launched a revamped Home section on its site back in February, ahead of this larger redesign, and now plans to soon do the same for its fashion category later this spring. The forthcoming fashion hub will also include a Lord & Taylor online store, as a result of the partnership announced last year.
The Walmart redesign isn’t live today, to be clear. This is just the first look, before it arrives in early May.
The most immediately visible change is to the site’s look-and-feel.
The photography used on the site will include “relatable” photos of real-life moments, says Walmart.
The pages also have a cleaner, more modern design, with pops of color from an expanded color palette, a new set of simply designed icons, rounded “add to cart” buttons, new fonts, and many other changes. Walmart says the goal was to bring more vibrancy and depth to the site.
While consumers may notice the how the site looks different, the larger changes are under the hood.
The new site will be personalized to end users, both on a regional and individual basis.
For starters, the site will showcase what items are trending in shoppers’ area. This is something you see elsewhere on e-commerce sites – like Instacart’s grocery shopping site. But it’s not that interesting to find that spaghetti sauce and La Croix are popular nearby – on a broader e-commerce site, it could be more useful.
During tests, Miami shoppers found that a top-selling item was an Ozark Trail pop-up tent, and in some parts of Illinois, shoppers saw Chicago Cubs tumblrs trending, for example.
“It just really kind of brings that [regional] flavor to life,” says Marc Lore, Walmart’s CEO of U.S. E-commerce. “You want the site to make shopping faster and easier, and when you’re showing those items that customers are trending towards, you’re actually making a faster shopping journey for them, which is ultimately the goal,” he says.
Customers will also be able to see what services are available in their area, like Walmart’s Online Grocery, along with order status features, and Easy Reorder for re-buying their favorite items. (Pictured above).
In addition, the site will recommend products based on what consumers have been browsing and buying. This is an area where Walmart could potentially outclass its rival Amazon, assuming its technology is up to par.
Amazon’s recommendation technology has fallen behind over the years, as the site seems unable to differentiate between gifts for friends and family or other one-time purchases, versus things users regularly search for, desire and buy.
In fact, a humorous tweet about exactly this problem recently went viral, leading to a stream of people responding with their own funny (or unfortunate) examples of the same thing.
Lore claims that Walmart won’t fall prey to this issue.
“The way we attack this problem is not through technology alone,” he says. “We’re able to combine technology and the merchandising elements to create a much more relevant and personalized experience.”
Walmart’s algorithms are meant to understand what categories the individual likes to shop, and then leverages merchants’ understanding of what items are new, trending or seasonal to reach the right segment of potentially interested customers.
“It’s been this fascinating partnership inside Walmart to see the tech organization and the merchant org come together,” adds Jordan Sweetnam, SVP, Customer Experience & Product for Walmart E-commerce. “And based upon early customer feedback, it looks like we’re gonna see some pretty relevant results,” he says.
The new site will also be updated to introduce speciality shopping experiences for categories like home and fashion, which are seeing sizable growth online. The Fashion destination, which will go live after the redesign, will feature seasonal stories along with more editorial imagery as a means of differentiating the experience of buying a new outfit from buying groceries and household items.
Lord & Taylor will be a part of the new fashion destination, too, but more details about its shop will be unveiled later this spring. From what Lore says, though, it won’t feel like you’ve been redirected to a new site when browsing its shop.
The two retailers first announced their plans to team up online last year. Walmart.com was to offer its technology and reach to Lord & Taylor, while it gained the chance to upgrade its image as a low-cost – and therefore more low-end – retailer, and expand its assortment.
One goal with the site redesign is to attract similar brand deals.
“The Lord & Taylor partnership is hopefully one of many we’ll do over time,” says Lore. “A large part of attracting partners is to also have a more specialized shopping experience in that particular category.”
The redesign will begin rolling out to customers in early May.
News Source = techcrunch.com
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After tens of thousands of pre-orders, 3D audio headphones startup Ossic disappears
After taking tens of thousands of crowd-funding pre-orders for a high-end pair of “3D sound” headphones, audio startup Ossic announced this weekend that it is shutting down the company and backers will not be receiving refunds.
The company raised $2.7 million on Kickstarter and $3.2 million on Indiegogo for their Ossic X headphones which they pitched as a pair of high-end head-tracking headphones that would be perfect for listening to 3D audio, especially in a VR environment. While the company also raised a “substantial seed investment,” in a letter on the Ossic website, the company blamed the slow adoption of virtual reality alongside their crowdfunding campaign stretch goals which bogged down their R&D team.
“This was obviously not our desired outcome. The team worked exceptionally hard and created a production-ready product that is a technological and performance breakthrough. To fail at the 5 yard-line is a tragedy. We are extremely sorry that we cannot deliver your product and want you to know that the team has done everything possible including investing our own savings and working without salary to exhaust all possibilities.”
We have reached out to the company for additional details.
Through January 2017, the San Diego company had received more than 22,000 pre-orders for their Ossic X headphones. This past January, Ossic announced that they had shipped out the first units to the 80 backers in their $999 developer tier headphones. In that same update, the company said they would enter “mass production” by late spring 2018.
In the end, after tens of thousands of pre-orders, Ossic only built 250 pairs of headphones and only shipped a few dozen to Kickstarter backers.
Crowdfunding campaign failures for hardware products are rarely shocking, but often the collapse comes from the company not being able to acquire additional funding from outside investors. Here, Ossic appears to have been misguided from the start and even with nearly $6 million in crowdfunding and seed funding, which they said nearly matched that number, they were left unable to begin large-scale manufacturing. The company said in their letter, that it would likely take more than $2 million in additional funding to deliver the existing backlog of pre-orders.
Backers are understandably quite upset about not receiving their headphones. A group of over 1,200 Facebook users have joined a recently-created page threatening a class action lawsuit against the team.
News Source = techcrunch.com
With at least $1.3 billion invested globally in 2018, VC funding for blockchain blows past 2017 totals
Although bitcoin and blockchain technology may not take up quite as much mental bandwidth for the general public as it did just a few months ago, companies in the space continue to rake in capital from investors.
One of the latest to do so is Circle, which recently announced a $110 million Series E round led by bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain. Other participating investors include Tusk Ventures, Pantera Capital, IDG Capital Partners, General Catalyst, Accel Partners, Digital Currency Group, Blockchain Capital and Breyer Capital.
This round vaults Circle into an exclusive club of crypto companies that are valued, in U.S. dollars, at $1 billion or more in their most recent venture capital round. According to Crunchbase data, Circle was valued at $2.9 billion pre-money, up from a $420 million pre-money valuation in its Series D round, which closed in May 2016. According to Crunchbase data, only Coinbase and Robinhood — a mobile-first stock-trading platform which recently made a big push into cryptocurrency trading — were in the crypto-unicorn club, which Circle has now joined.
But that’s not the only milestone for the world of venture-backed cryptocurrency and blockchain startups.
Back in February, Crunchbase News predicted that the amount of money raised in old-school venture capital rounds by blockchain and blockchain-adjacent startups in 2018 would surpass the amount raised in 2017. Well, it’s only May, and it looks like the prediction panned out.
In the chart below, you’ll find worldwide venture deal and dollar volume for blockchain and blockchain-adjacent companies. We purposely excluded ICOs, including those that had traditional VCs participate, and instead focused on venture deals: angel, seed, convertible notes, Series A, Series B and so on. The data displayed below is based on reported data in Crunchbase, which may be subject to reporting delays, and is, in some cases, incomplete.
A little more than five months into 2018, reported dollar volume invested in VC rounds raised by blockchain companies surpassed 2017’s totals. Not just that, the nearly $1.3 billion in global dollar volume is greater than the reported funding totals for the 18 months between July 1, 2016 and New Year’s Eve in 2017.
And although Circle’s Series E round certainly helped to bump up funding totals year-to-date, there were many other large funding rounds throughout 2018:
- $118 million raised by Orbs, a purported “consumer-ready blockchain” service set to launch in June.
- $75 million closed in a Series B round for Paris-based secure hardware wallet-maker Ledger.
- $32 million raised by Project Shivom, which claims to use two hyped technologies — blockchain and artificial intelligence — to analyze and protect genomic data.
- $16 million in a Benchmark-led Series A round for Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis platform.
There were, of course, many other large rounds over the past five months. After all, we had to get to $1.3 billion somehow.
All of this is to say that investor interest in the blockchain space shows no immediate signs of slowing down, even as the price of bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies hover at less than half of their all-time highs. Considering that regulators are still figuring out how to treat most crypto assets, massive price volatility and dubious real-world utility of the technology, it may surprise some that investors at the riskiest end of the risk capital pool invest as much as they do in blockchain.
Notes on methodology
Like in our February analysis, we first created a list of companies in Crunchbase’s bitcoin, ethereum, blockchain, cryptocurrency and virtual currency categories. We added to this list any companies that use those keywords, as well as “digital currency,” “utility token” and “security token” that weren’t previously included in the above categories. After de-duplicating this list, we merged this set of companies with funding rounds data in Crunchbase.
Please note that for some entries in Crunchbase’s round data, the amount of capital raised isn’t known. And, as previously noted, Crunchbase’s data is subject to reporting delays, especially for seed-stage companies. Accordingly, actual funding totals are likely higher than reported here.
News Source = techcrunch.com
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