The Challenges in the E-Commerce Industry

E-Commerce has been generally performing well on a global scale. The convenience of shopping online has attracted consumers and numerous brands have adapted to this trend. From having just physical stores, retailers have expanded their reach to more clients and even made themselves present worldwide. The Internet has definitely made more opportunities for business growth and the economy follows. Products that can be sold in the different online platforms include the following but are not limited to clothing, gadgets, and accessories. As the market increases, more products are being introduced.

However, certain challenges arise due to how fast e-commerce made it to the scene. Customer-facing shops have decreased due to the shift to focus on the growing online demands. On the other hand, this also shifts the investment to adapt to how and where the sales perform better. Other industries are now intertwined with e-commerce such as transportation, travel, and dining due to the seamless transactions that the Internet provides. Furthermore, third party platforms who cater to independent brands have also been reaping the benefits of technology. Also, with the presence of social media, everything is easier to market and sell and even with the comforts of the home in the part of the retailer.

China has been the top performing country when it comes to e-commerce retail sales. The total amount that they have accumulated in this industry was enough to overthrow the US as the highest earning country. This was a huge milestone for China most especially when the returns came earlier than they forecasted. As part of their goals to develop their resources further, the retail industry has given them the best outcome and has definitely helped in improving their economy. This will be a huge challenge for the US since China has its path clear to take on the lead. Through China’s developments in technology and ranges of products, they have achieved the attention of a greater number of consumers. China retailers are visible and have been more marketable. Also, China has found ways to be service-driven which plays a role in the e-commerce experience.

Long before the technology has emerged to where it is now, China and the US already had trading relations and business ventures in each nation. The US has been strong on the influence around the world for hundreds of years and China had aided their needs in the few other remaining sources. However, the Sino-Japanese war which involved violence in Nanking has made an impact on where both countries are now. The battle led the to help each other despite affecting innocent Americans. Since then, the two countries somehow became allies. However, this speaks of the opposite in the current situation most especially since both are competing to be the greatest power around the world.

The US would have to grow using the challenges that are facing their e-commerce industry. The top labeled brands are US-owned and this says a lot about how the online strategies in marketing are performing. Somehow, the US falls a little unsuccessful than China. Perhaps, not reaching the target markets and not pushing the technological means to suggest growth beyond what their retails sales have achieved years ago. With everything improving in an instant, it is the US that needs to be at a faster rate to exceed the statistics of their biggest competitor which is China. Sales in the e-commerce industry affect the economy proportionally and this definitely provides good results to a country who is striving to be the greatest power. This goes to show how influential a nation can be and how timely the improvements are.

Practo Partners Microsoft to Let Users Make Doctor Appointments in Bing Search Results

Practo and Microsoft have partnered to improve Bing search results when it comes to searching for doctors online. The healthcare platform claims that the “collaboration will enable an easier and effective search for people looking for right medical advice.” Practo’s integration into Bing search brings the ability to book appointments, see reviews, and order lab tests on the search platform.Image result for Practo Partners Microsoft to Let Users Make Doctor Appointments in Bing Search Results

With this integration, Microsoft Bing users will be able to search and access details of doctors in 38 different cities in 10 regional languages including Hindi, Telugu, and Bengali. When you search for a doctor on Bing, you will now be able to book appointments online, consult online with doctors, order medicines and lab tests, store health records and even read health articles written by these doctors, right in the search results itself.

While searching for doctors in your city, you can now view profiles of doctors along with their qualifications, experience, specializations, and availability. The feature also enables people to see feedback from patients as well. Earlier, search results on Bing only showed relevant information like contact details and address of clinic, but with Practo’s database and tools, it brings additional abilities to the search platform.

A similar kind of integration was announced by Bing in February with Zomato as well. It allowed users to see reviews, book a table online, or even order food from the search results. Bing sought to make its restaurant search more refined and rich with Zomato integration, and now Practo has been brought on board to elevate doctors search as well.

Government Tweaks Startup Definition, Benefits to Now Flow for 7 Years

The government has introduced minor changes to the startup definition, saying a business not older than seven years will now qualify for benefits under the Startup India Action Plan.

So far, only companies up to five years from the date of incorporation were eligible for concessions under the plan announced last year.Government Tweaks Startup Definition, Benefits to Now Flow for 7 Years

As per the new definition, an entity shall be considered as a startup if its turnover is less than Rs. 25 crores – which remains unchanged – and has not completed seven years from the date of its incorporation/registration.

However, in the case of startups in the biotechnology sector, the period shall be up to 10 years, the commerce and industry ministry said in a notification.

It also said that an entity shall be considered as a startup if it is working towards innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services, or if it is a scalable business model with a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation.

It added that an entity shall cease to be a startup on completion of seven years from the date of its incorporation/ registration or if its turnover for any previous year exceeds Rs. 25 crores.

To obtain tax benefits, it said, a startup should obtain a certificate of an eligible business from an inter-ministerial board of certification as constituted by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

It said if the recognition would be obtained without uploading the relevant documents or on the basis of false information, the DIPP reserves the right to revoke the recognition certificate and and certificate of an eligible business for tax benefits immediately without any prior notice or reason.

Further, the notification said the process of recognition as a startup would be through an online application made over the mobile app/portal set up by the DIPP.

The definition is important for budding enterprises to avail government-sponsored venture funding and tax and other benefits.

Google Search Gets a Personal Tab, Shows Content From Private Sources

Aiming to help people find what they are looking for, Google has added a “Personal” tab in search results to show content from private sources like Gmail account and Google Photos library.Google Search Gets a Personal Tab, Shows Content From Private Sources

“The Personal tab works similarly to the way the existing Maps, News, or Images tabs work – instead of showing you a search for links, it just takes the entered search terms and shows you results from your Google accounts instead. The Personal tab doesn’t show up by default – you’ll have to click through to the “More” option; it’ll be on the bottom,” technology website The Verge reported.

The Personal tab can be found behind the More menu and will surface results like Gmail messages and calendar events from users signed-in accounts.

The report adds that users seeing the Personal tab feature will find it both on their Web and mobile accounts.

For photo searches, users can either immediately open an image result or click through to do a deeper search in Google Photos.

In March, Google introduced shortcuts on the Google Search app for Android, iOS and Google.com on the mobile web that gives users the ability to explore deeper within topics they care about.

With shortcuts right on the home screen, users now have access to in-depth experiences across sports, eat and drink, entertainment and weather sections.

Chipotle Says Hackers Hit Most Restaurants in Data Breach

Hackers used malware to steal customer payment data from most of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc’s restaurants over a span of three weeks, the company said on Friday, adding to woes at the chain whose sales had just started recovering from a string of food safety lapses in 2015.

Chipotle said it did not know how many payment cards or customers were affected by the breach that struck most of its roughly 2,250 restaurants for varying amounts of time between March 24 and April 18, spokesman Chris Arnold said via email.Chipotle Says Hackers Hit Most Restaurants in Data Breach

A handful of Canadian restaurants were also hit in the breach, which the company first disclosed on April 25.

Stolen data included account numbers and internal verification codes. The malware has since been removed.

The information could be used to drain debit card-linked bank accounts, make “clone” credit cards, or to buy items on certain less-secure online sites, said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the non-profit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

The breach could once again threatens sales at its restaurants, which only recently recovered after falling sharply in late 2015 after Chipotle was linked to outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus that sickened hundreds of people.

An investigation into the breach found the malware searched for data from the magnetic stripe of payment cards.

Arnold said Chipotle could not alert customers directly as it did not collect their names and mailing addresses at the time of purchase.

The company posted notifications on the Chipotle and Pizzeria Locale websites and issued a news release to make customers aware of the incident.

Linn Freedman, an attorney at Robinson & Cole LLP specializing in data breach response, said Chipotle was putting the burden on the consumer to discover possible fraudulent transactions by notifying them through the websites.

“I don’t think you will get to all of the customers who might have been affected,” she said.

Security analysts said Chipotle would likely face a fine based on the size of the breach and the number of records compromised.

“If your data was stolen through a data breach that means you were somewhere out of compliance” with payment industry data security standards, Julie Conroy, research director at Aite Group, a research and advisory firm.

“In this case, the card companies will fine Chipotle and also hold them liable for any fraud that results directly from their breach,” said Avivah Litan, a vice president at Gartner Inc specialising in security and privacy.

Chipotle did not immediately comment on the prospect of a fine.

Retailer Target Corp in 2017 agreed to pay $18.5 million to settle claims stemming from a massive data breach in late 2013.

Hotels and restaurants have also been hit. They include Trump Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Group as well as Wendy’s, Arby’s and Landry’s restaurants

AmazonFresh Pickup Kiosks Opened in Seattle to Rival Wal-Mart

Amazon.com opened two grocery pickup kiosks in Seattle, part of its latest effort to enter the $800 billion (roughly Rs. 51,65,000 crores) grocery market and compete with “click and collect” shopping options from big box competitors like Wal-Mart Stores.AmazonFresh Pickup Kiosks Opened in Seattle to Rival Wal-Mart

The “AmazonFresh Pickup” spots let shoppers buy groceries online and pick them up in as little as 15 minutes rather than having them delivered to their homes. The service is open to Amazon Prime members who pay $99 a year for delivery discounts and video and music streaming. Each location has parking spaces beneath canopies similar to those seen at gas stations.

Grocery sales have been slow to shift online, unlike books and electronics, leaving Amazon at a disadvantage to competitors like Wal-Mart, Target Corp. and supermarket chain Kroger Co. Amazon is experimenting with brick-and-mortar concepts to get a toehold in grocery sales while its competitors add online options to their existing stores.

Amazon also opened a convenience store format called “Amazon Go” that lets shoppers check in with a smartphone app, grab sandwiches, salads and other items they want from shelves and leave without having to check out. Instead, customers get billed automatically. The format is being tested by employees, who have found the technology crashes when the store gets too crowded, according to people familiar with the matter.

Google Play Music Offering 120-Day Free Subscription to New Subscribers

Google is offering a four-month free subscription on its music streaming service Google Play Music for new subscribers, allowing users to scan up to 50,000 songs from their music library.

Typically, Google offers a 90-day free trial when a user signs up, but the offer has been extended by one month, AndroidPolice reported on Friday. The new special offer can be availed here.Google Play Music Offering 120-Day Free Subscription to New Subscribers

Users can listen to custom radio stations on their computer or mobile device using Google Play Music service. However, users who use the free service face ads on their app, unlike those subscribers who pay around $10 (roughly Rs. 645).

Such users can also listen to over 35 million songs, download music to listen offline, and get access to YouTube Red. Though Google has offered similar deals in the past, it was not clear how long the deal would remain active.

Google Play Music All Access was launched in India in April, priced at Rs. 99 per month. As an introductory offer, users were offered a 30-day free trial and a subscription fee of Rs. 89 per month.

In India, the entire music collection licensed by Google – about 35 million songs – is available for streaming or download for offline listening. Google’s offering is also cheaper than its biggest rival by volume of music, Apple Music, which comes in at Rs. 120 per month in India.

Asus Blue Cave Router Launched at Computex 2017

Asus has launched a new router at Computex 2017 called the Blue Cave. If you’re wondering why it’s called so, that’s because there’s a blue-coloured hole in the middle, shaped a bit like a vortex.

There are no ugly antennas here, with the Asus Blue Cave aiming to be pleasing to the eyes. The antenna issue has been solved by using internal antennas, much like Netgear Orbi or Google Wifi, which allows for a much neater look.

But the Blue Cave isn’t designed to support a mesh network system unlike those two. It does have a few smarts, though, namely a security solution powered by Trend Micro (it’s called Asus AiProtection), and an app that allows you to monitor usage per user, network activity, security reports, and restrict apps. The app also sends out a notification when a new, unknown device connects to the router, and if AiProtection detects a hack.Asus Blue Cave Router Launched at Computex 2017

The Blue Cave has also got support for IFTTT, through which you can create automated tasks for any IFTTT-equipped device or service, and Alexa, which should help you talk to other Internet-of-Things devices.

Inside, it has the latest Intel Wi-Fi chipset which allows for AC2600-class dual-band Wi-Fi speeds, which Asus claims should be good for “smooth 4K UHD video streaming, lag-free gaming and fast file downloads”. The new Asus router also claims to support more devices simultaneously than most routers, without listing a number.

Microsoft Reveals Plans to Store Data in DNA

Microsoft is planning to start storing its data on strands of DNA within the next few years, the company’s computer architects have revealed.

Microsoft expects to have an operational storage system using DNA within a data centre by the end of the decade, according to a report in MIT Technology Review.Microsoft Reveals Plans to Store Data in DNA

Currently, one of the best and cheapest ways to store a lot of information in a small space is magnetic tape which is rugged enough to hold information for up to 30 years.

But as the data generation has reached an exploding stage, even magnetic tapes seem to be of little use.

Therefore, Microsoft computer architects are considering a biological material such as DNA to be an odd choice for backing up large amounts of digital information, ScienceAlert reported on Saturday.

Its ability to pack enormous amounts of data in a tiny space has been clear for more than 70 years.

“While strings of nucleic acid have been used to cram information into living cells for billions of years, its role in IT data storage was demonstrated for the first time just five years ago, when a Harvard University geneticist encoded his book – including jpg data for illustrations – in just under 55,000 strands of DNA,” the report said.

With the evolving technologies, scientists have been able to record 215 petabytes (215 million gigabytes) of information on a single gram of DNA.

But scientists face a challenge in recording data in the form of a nucleic acid sequence.

The tech giant demonstrated its DNA data storage technology last year by encoding roughly 200 megabytes of data in the form of 100 literary classics in DNA’s four bases in a single process.

“This process would have cost around $800,000 (roughly Rs. 5.1 crores) using materials on the open market, meaning it would need to be thousands of times cheaper to make it a competitive option,” the report stated.

But the speed of data stored on DNA strands was as slow as 400 bytes per second. It poses as another challenge for the company to get around 100 megabytes per second to be feasible.

According to the ScienceAlert report, new technologies have been seeing the cost of gene sequencing drop in recent years, which hints that Microsoft’s end of the decade target may be realistic.

Google Helps Communicate Japan’s Craftsmanship to the World

A collaboration between US company Google Inc. and university students in Kyoto has created a website to introduce Japan’s craftworks to the world.

The website (g.co/madeinjapan) currently features about 140 traditional craftwork items from the nation’s 47 prefectures in Japanese and English. The list includes Nishijin brocade from Kyoto Prefecture and Arita porcelain ware from Saga Prefecture.Google Helps Communicate Japan's Craftsmanship to the World

Using photographs, text and movies showing the processes involved in craftworks, the Google-run website features various Japanese artworks in an unprecedented endeavour.

“We worked hard to create the website using smart, stylish images and atmospheres just like those in fashion magazines,” said a student who edited material and created designs for the site. “We hope visitors to the site will appreciate how wonderful Japanese craftworks are.”

One of the movies on the site shows a craftsman hitting a brass board with a hammer on a wooden work table. The man checks the curve of the board and starts hitting it again to gradually form the rolled mouthpiece of a kiseru pipe.

The man in the video is Seizo Tanigawa, 67, a kiseru pipe artisan and the ninth-generation operator of Tanigawa Seijiro Shoten in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto. The pipe specialty shop was founded in the 18th century.

Tanigawa hopes the movie will spread awareness of the craftsmanship. “Kiseru pipes are a perfect example of Japan’s chic culture and accomplishments, so I wanted to make them widely known,” he said.

According to Google Japan G.K., this is a part of “Google Arts & Culture,” a global-scale project to compile various forms of arts and documents into an online database. The ongoing project has focused on Japan’s handiwork.

The company hoped to create a site that would attract young Japanese and foreigners who are not familiar with craftworks.

It asked Shinya Maezaki, 40, an associate professor of Kyoto Women’s University who is an expert in craftwork, for his cooperation in the project.

Maezaki and about 40 students taking his seminar and several students from Ritsumeikan University started working on the project in the summer of 2015. The students received a large number of photographs and movies taken by photographers and text written by staff members of museums across the nation. They examined which aspects to use in the final versions and edited material on computers and created the entire design for the website.

In Kyoto and other cities, the students visited local artisans to improve the editing process.

“We tried hard to find the best way to create a site that viewers would find cool and attractive,” said Mitsuki Iwata, 21, a fourth-year student of Kyoto Women’s University.

The website launched in January last year, with programs featuring 83 items, including Miyama washi paper from Yamagata Prefecture.

Later, some craftworkers who were suffering from a lack of publicity and struggling to find successors showed interest in cooperating with the website. This was followed by more artisans who were in similar situations.

The website was completed in March, with programs introducing 141 items from all of Japan’s prefectures.

The number of page views is undisclosed, but the site has received comments from people in Europe and the Middle East who admire Japanese craftworkers’ excellent tradition.

“The students successfully presented the attraction of Japanese craftsmanship (to the world) using their young sensibility,” Maezaki said, speaking about the positive responses from visitors.

Cultural Heritage Online, run by the Cultural Affairs Agency, also serves as an online database of cultural assets, arts and crafts, but it mainly deals with items designated as national treasures.

Naoto Ikegai, a visiting associate professor at the University of Tokyo, said, “This website is valuable as it covers craftsmanship, a field that wasn’t fully covered by digital archives before, and introduces content rich in both quality and quantity.”