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New Research From Infobip Finds Most Americans Plan Same or More…

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Infobip, a global cloud communications platform that enables businesses to build connected customer experiences across all stages of the customer journey at scale, has released a new report on consumer sentiment around shopping this holiday season. The report, Post-COVID: Digital Practices for an Enhanced Consumer Experience, shows that the vast majority (69%) of Americans plan to do the same or more holiday shopping as last year – but their expectations on customer service are growing, too. With 59% planning to move more holiday shopping online than last year, much of that customer service will happen via digital channels.

For brands and retailers, this means more pressure to provide a quality customer experience on their websites, via text and apps, phone and in person – with connectivity across all. Consumers did report in the survey that they are exercising more patience during the pandemic, but almost half also admitted to yelling at a customer service representative at least once. That kind of experience can quickly translate into lost business; a recent PwC report, for instance, showed that one in three customers will leave a brand they love after just one such incident.

“Businesses of all kinds have rapidly accelerated digital transformation during the pandemic,” said Craig Charles Webster, Head of Marketing Americas at Infobip. “Now, especially as we enter the most important season of the year for brands and retailers, businesses have to ensure their transformation extends to customer experience, and that they communicate with consumers effectively and in their preferred medium.”

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • Mixed reaction – and recognition – of chatbots. While only a quarter of consumers say they have used a chatbot to communicate with a brand/retailer, 69% of people who have confirmed that it was a good experience. However, 59% say finding out that they were talking to an AI would make them angry.
  • Banks are feeling the heat too. Retail isn’t the only sector that receives a giant influx of customer service-related calls during the holidays. Nearly 44% of US consumers say that they at least sometimes have to call their bank or credit card service company during the holidays.
  • Patience is a virtue, especially this year. Despite 45% of consumers admitted to having yelled at a customer service representative in the past, 78% say the pandemic has made them more patient with people.

“The good news is that businesses can quickly and painlessly set up SaaS programs that will deliver a first-class customer experience and maximize revenue opportunities,” said Craig Charles Webster, Head of Marketing Americas at Infobip. “Infobip knows how high the stakes are for retailers and brands, and our goal is to make the holiday season a happy one for both them and their customers.”

To learn more, see here.

Survey Methodology

The survey was fielded by Dynata online from October 16-25, 2020, with a representative sample of 1,235 adult Americans who earn at least $75,000 a year in household income.

About Infobip

Infobip is a global cloud communications platform that enables businesses to build connected customer experiences across all stages of the customer journey at scale, with easy and contextualized interactions over customers’ preferred channels. Accessed through a single platform, Infobip’s omnichannel engagement, identity, user authentication, security, and contact center solutions help clients and partners overcome the complexity of consumer communications, grow their business, and increase loyalty – all in a fast, secure and reliable way. With over a decade of industry experience, Infobip has expanded to include 65+ offices on six continents offering natively built technology with the capacity to reach over seven billion mobile devices and ‘things’ in 190+ countries connected to over 800 telecom networks. The company serves and partners with leading mobile operators, messaging apps, banks, social networks, tech companies, and aggregators.

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Source: https://www.prweb.com/releases/new_research_from_infobip_finds_most_americans_plan_same_or_more_holiday_shopping_this_year/prweb17554108.htm

AI

Google launches suite of AI-powered solutions for retailers

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Google today announced the launch of Product Discovery Solutions for Retail, a suite of services deigned to enhance retailers’ ecommerce capabilities and help them deliver personalized customer experiences. Product Discovery Solutions for Retail brings together AI algorithms and a search service, Cloud Search for Retail, that leverages Google Search technology to power retailers’ product-finding tools.

The pandemic and corresponding rise in online shopping threaten to push supply chains to the breaking point. Early in the COVID-19 crisis, Amazon was forced to restrict the amount of inventory suppliers could send to its warehouses. Ecommerce order volume has increased by 50% compared with 2019, and shipment times for products like furniture more than doubled in March. Moreover, overall U.S. digital sales have jumped by 30%, expediting the online shopping transition by as much as two years.

Product Discovery Solutions for Retail, which is generally available to all companies as of today, aims to address the challenges with AI and machine learning. To that end, it includes access to Google’s Recommendations AI, which uses machine learning to dynamically adapt to customer behavior and changes in variables like assortment, pricing, and special offers.

Recommendations AI, which launched in beta in July and is now generally available, ostensibly excels at handling recommendations in scenarios with long-tail products and cold-start users and items. Thanks to “context-hungry” deep learning models developed in partnership with Google Brain and Google Research, it’s able to draw insights across tens of millions of items and constantly iterate on those insights in real time.

From a graphical interface, businesses using Recommendations AI can integrate, configure, monitor, and launch recommendations while connecting data by using existing integrations with Merchant Center, Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics 360, Cloud Storage, and BigQuery. Recommendations AI can incorporate unstructured metadata like product name, description, category, images, product longevity, and more while customizing recommendations to deliver desired outcomes, such as engagement, revenue, or conversions. And it lets Google Cloud customers apply rules to fine-tune what shoppers see and diversify which products are shown, filtering by product availability and custom tags.

Product Discovery Solutions for Retail also includes access to Google’s Vision API Product Search, which allows shoppers to search for products with an image and receive a ranked list of visually and semantically similar items. Google says Vision Product Search taps machine learning-powered object recognition and lookup to provide real-time results of similar, or complementary, items from retailers’ product catalog.

Beyond Recommendations AI and Vision API Product Search, Product Discovery Solutions for Retail ships with Cloud Search for Retail. Cloud Search for Retail, which is currently in private preview, pulls from Google’s understanding of user intent and context to provide retail product search functionality that can be embedded into websites and mobile apps.

“As the shift to online continues, smarter and more personalized shopping experiences will be even more critical for retailers to rise above their competition,” Google Cloud retail and consumer VP Carrie Tharp said in a statement. “Retailers are in dire need of agile operating models powered by cloud infrastructure and technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to meet today’s industry demands. We’re proud to partner with retailers around the world and bring forward our Product Discovery offerings to help them succeed.”

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/01/19/google-launches-suite-of-ai-powered-solutions-for-retailers/

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Infinite Fleet Launches Security Token Offering (STO) on STOKR, Led by…

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Exordium, the publisher of upcoming sci-fi massively multiplayer online (MMO) strategy game Infinite Fleet, today announced the launch of its public security token offering (STO) for select countries that will grant every participant equity in the company and a share in future profits.

The public offering is set to take place immediately on STOKR, an innovative STO platform that provides turn-key solutions for small and medium-sized ventures to obtain access to capital markets, according to EU capital market laws.

The offering round is priced at $0.50 per “EXOeu” token – the security token issued by Exordium (Luxembourg) S.C.S. representing a share in the Exordium parent company. The round is being led by Tether International Limited (“Tether International”), a member of the Tether group of companies, the largest stablecoin issuer in the world. Tether International has invested US$1 million in EXOeu tokens.

“As a former MMORPG game developer myself, I see great potential in the application of crypto assets to multiplayer online games,” said Paolo Ardoino, CTO at Tether International Limited. “It is a perfect match of two rapidly growing digital sectors with tremendous upside. Samson Mow and his team are veterans with proven track records in both fields, with a clear vision of what they want to achieve.”

Infinite Fleet is an online strategy game in which players command fleets of customizable spaceships and play cooperatively to fend off an alien threat, leaving their legacy in the game’s lore via its unique directed narrative feature. The game draws inspiration from space real-time strategy (RTS) and MMO classics like Homeworld and EVE Online, while integrating a crypto asset to power its in-game peer-to-peer economy.

The EXOeu token for the offering is issued via Blockstream AMP, a platform for the tokenization of securities built on the Liquid sidechain of Bitcoin, which has been directly integrated with STOKR.

This funding model allows for the democratization of venture capital access to the general public. Investors will be able to invest directly through the STOKR platform using various currencies such as the euro (EUR), bitcoin (BTC), and Tether (USDt), starting from as little as US$100-equivalent.

“Security tokens like EXOeu are changing the way companies fundraise,” said Arnab Naskar, Co-Founder & Business Lead at STOKR. “Unlike Kickstarter, investors in security tokens receive real financial rights in the company in which they are investing. STOKR is designed to support companies to reach out to their user base and access fundraising from a wider network. With the Ethereum gas fee skyrocketing at the moment, platforms like Blockstream AMP are ideal for issuing tokenized securities.”

Infinite Fleet has previously raised US$3.1 million in a private funding round, backed by several pioneers in the blockchain space such as Litecoin creator Charlie Lee and Keiser Report host Max Keiser.

Infinite Fleet’s development team is led by veteran AAA game developers that have worked on franchises such as Age of Empires, Homeworld, Company of Heroes, Dawn of War, and other top rated games that have collectively grossed over US$1.2 billion globally. The game’s closed alpha is expected to be released in the upcoming weeks.

You can participate in Infinite Fleet’s public security token offering at https://stokr.io/infinite-fleet.

About Exordium Limited

Exordium Limited is a video game publisher founded by a battle-tested team of AAA game developers, producers, and technology early movers. Exordium seeks to be at the forefront of the convergence between online gaming and crypto assets, with a focus on operating and distributing games that are innovative and socially immersive. The team behind Exordium has a wide array of experience and has previously operated games such as Vainglory and Warhammer 40,000: Carnage.

About STOKR

STOKR S.A., headquartered in Luxembourg, provides turn-key solutions to small and medium sized ventures to access capital markets, according to EU capital market laws. From technology support to payment gateways, and investment structuring to wallet registration – STOKR enables opportunities for both issuers and investors to have the most secure, advanced, and user-friendly investment experience. STOKR is led by a diverse team, operating from Luxembourg and Germany. STOKR focuses on supporting projects which are committed to making a positive impact, as well as creating a community of educated investors who are empowered to make better investment decisions.

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Source: https://www.prweb.com/releases/infinite_fleet_launches_security_token_offering_sto_on_stokr_led_by_us1m_investment_from_tether_international_limited/prweb17661500.htm

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BIXOLON Launches Next-Gen Mobile Label Printers: the XM7 Series

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There is a growing demand for label operations across all industries, especially within logistics thanks to the increased popularity of e-commerce which has brought significant opportunities to our business.

BIXOLON Co., Ltd a leading global Mobile, Label and POS Printer manufacturer today launched its NEW XM7 Series; the XM7-20 for 2-inch (58mm) and XM7-40 for 4-inch (112mm) mobile label printing. Although small in size, this new addition raises the bar on productivity while representing a higher-level of features compared to BIXOLON’s existing mobile label printer the SPP-L3000. Strengthening BIXOLON’s portfolio of mobile printing solutions, the new series is expected to broaden the number of potential customers offering a reliable high-volume labelling capability.

Highlighted features include a TFT Colour display, easy-to-open peeler, smart battery with outstanding capacity, universal USB Type-C Power delivery charging, drop protection of up to 2.1 meters and IP54-rating. Providing a wealth of information on the battery’s health through BIXOLON’s web-based printer profile management software XPM™, the XM7 Series guarantees an excellent performance for prolonged operations. With this real-time printer management solution, workflows can be streamlined, and the status of individual battery is monitored to ensure health visibility before productivity is impacted.

The XM7 Series supports industry leading command languages, such as SLCS, BPL-Z™, BPL-C™ and BXL/POS to allow for seamless integration with customers’ existing systems. The XM7-20 prints labels at up to 6 ips while the XM7-40 provides print speed of up to 5 ips, both at 203 dpi. The new printers come with USB 2.0 and serial interfaces as standard, with additional Bluetooth V5.0 Classic (MFI Certified), WLAN 802.11a/b/g/n wireless technologies options. Simultaneous connection of both Bluetooth and WLAN is also enabled to ensure seamless operations without interruption. The new family supports easy Bluetooth pairing via NFC and smooth compatibility with major operating systems including Android® and iOS®.

Allowing large space for storing fonts, graphics, as well as firmware upgrades and tools, the new printers provide 128 MB SDRAM, 256 MB Flash memory as a standard and optional 256 MB SDRAM, 512 MB Flash memory. Plus, label design software such as BIXOLON’s free-of-charge Label Artist™, Label Artist™ Mobile for iOS™ and Android™, alongside industry leading BarTender®. Simple and easy direct printing option from SAP® applications is also supported.

“There is a growing demand for label operations across all industries, especially within logistics thanks to the increased popularity of e-commerce which has brought significant opportunities to our business,” states John Kim, Marketing Director, BIXOLON. “Our investment in a premium line of mobile label printers will provide optimised mobility solutions for those working in tough environments.”

For more information visit http://www.BIXOLON.com, subscribe to blog.bixolon.com, or speak to your local BIXOLON sales representative.

Availability
The XM7-40 and XM7-20 are available now across all BIXOLON sales regions.

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Source: https://www.prweb.com/releases/bixolon_launches_next_gen_mobile_label_printers_the_xm7_series/prweb17667252.htm

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Ecommerce

Checkout wants to be Rapyd and Fast

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Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We’re back on this lovely Saturday with a bonus episode!

Again!

There is enough going on that to avoid failing to bring you stuff that we think matters, we are back yet again for more. This time around we are not talking Roblox, we’re talking about ecommerce, and a number of rounds — big and small — that have been raised in the space. Honest question: do y’all plan to release news on the same week? Are trends a social construct?

From Natasha, Grace, Danny, and your humble servant, here’s your run-down:

  • Webflow raised $140 million in a round that it says it did not need. This is not a new thing. Some startups are doing well, and don’t burn much. So investors offer them more at a nice price. In this case $2.1 billion. (Webflow does no-code
  • Checkout.com raised $450 million. The rich really do get richer. In this case the founders of Checkout.com, whose company is now worth around $15 billion Checkout.com does, you guessed, online checkout work. Which as Danny explains is complicated and critical.
  • We also talked about this Bolt round, for context.
  • And sticking to the ecommerce theme, Rapyd raised $300 million at around a $2.5 billion valuation. There is infinte money available for late-stage fintech.
  • Early stage as well, it turns out, with Tradeswell raising $15.5 million to help businesses improve their net margins.
  • Finally, ending with a chat on infrastructure, Nacelle closed an $18 million Series A. 

And now we’re going back to bed.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/16/checkout-wants-to-be-rapyd-and-fast/

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