Microsoft to close all its retail stores – Hardware – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

All physical Microsoft stores around the world will be closed permanently this year after 11 years of operation.
The move follows Microsoft being forced to close its stores in March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 83 stores worldwide, 72 are in the United States.
Microsoft’s Westfield Sydney location will be turned into an “experience centre” – along with those in New York and London. These won’t sell any products.
The company’s Redmond campus will also become an experience centre, Microsoft Store vice president David Porter said.
Instead of the physical stores, Microsoft intends to focus on online retailing, through which it already reaches 1.2 billion customers in 190 markets, Porter said.
No staff redundancies are expected due to the store closures, with employees being redeployed to the main Microsoft campus in Redmond, and to work remotely to serve customers through video chats, online tutorials and virtual workshops.
“It is a new day for how Microsoft Store team members will serve all customers,” Porter said
“We are energised about the opportunity to innovate in how we engage with all customers, maximise our talent for greatest impact, and most importantly help our valued customers achieve more,” he added.
Microsoft will take a pre-tax charge of US$450 million to cover asset write-offs and impairments following the store closures.

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Why Real-time Analytics are Crucial to Online Retail | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

In the digital age, data is a currency all on its own. The retail sector has lagged in leveraging the value of real-time data, due to a number of factors. However, given the current economic climate, they can no longer afford the luxury of remaining in the dark. The power of data is revealed through near real-time analytics, and it can deliver incredible benefits for the retail sector.
Harnessing the power of daily sales and stock on hand data is the missing link in enabling Just in Time (JIT) manufacturing – the panacea where manufacturers produce just the right number of goods that are delivered at the right time to the right place to find their way into the hands of the right consumers.
Visibility is the key
The daily sales and stock data in retail hold a powerful repository of information, if it can be further enhanced by getting sales through the tills as each transaction happens this data flow, will provide powerful insight into the daily movement of SKUs, categories and sub-categories, to obtain a live view into what is being sold in real-time.
This will allow the retail chains to finally understand product mixes with high levels of accuracy. Armed with real-time data analytics, they are able to know exactly what is being purchased at what time, and in what combination with other products.

If you can align a loyalty plan to identify and profile the shopper making the transactions then it becomes a game-changer in customer experience strategies and the key to finally truly understanding consumer buying patterns, identifying the effectiveness of promotions, understanding basket combinations and gaining insight into exactly when consumers are purchasing certain products.
Streaming analytics enables JIT manufacturing
With the power of streaming analytics, manufacturers are empowered to understand exactly what products are selling in what volumes, right down to specific flavours or pack sizes and in what retail outlets.
With machine learning and advanced analytics, it is possible to build predictive models to start mapping product sales patterns to periods of the month, particular days etc.
Additional external data such as changing weather patterns, event calendars will also influence sales patterns and if there is enough historic data it is possible to map the influence of the external patterns to predict the expected influence on future events.
This is information that can help manufacturers gear production to cater very precisely to consumer demand.
In today’s challenging market, every cent is critical to the bottom line. This granular level of data analytics is no longer a nice to have, but an absolute essential in ensuring that production planning is optimised.
It is also critical to empowering purchasers with factual data to ensure they buy and stock what consumers want, when they want it, and to understanding which competitors are picking up the market when stock runs short.
Adjusting behaviours on the fly
“Streaming analytics” is the future of real data insight in the retail sector. The first step is to gain a line of sight into the market at a ground level, and then the second phase is to understand what can be done with the data.
For partners on the ground, such as merchandisers, store reps and retail specialists, this level of granular data helps to identify challenges such as being under or overstocked versus the expected “days of cover” for that product, or reduced sales versus the category average, all of which make a direct impact to the bottom line.
Data insight is also vital in ensuring that promotions are effective, that operations are competitive, and that any issues can be swiftly identified and promptly dealt with. Deviation tracking, using real-time analytics with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, is the key to tackling these challenges. In the current climate, real-time functionality is critical, as after-the-fact analytics is simply too little, too late.
If ever there was a time for getting real-time data analytics right in the manufacturing and retail sector, it is now. The world is shifting faster than ever, and the future is all but impossible to predict. Harnessing the power of data in real-time is crucial to helping the manufacturing and retail sector survive in a challenging market.
By Andrew Dawson, Managing Director at Cognizance Processing

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Coles Group chases retail insights with data platform overhaul – Projects – Cloud – Software – Storage- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Coles Group is a year into “reimagining” how it manages and treats data, setting up a new data management platform that it hopes will lead to faster insights and the unshackling of advanced analytics.
Head of data engineering and operations Richard Glew told the Databricks Data + AI Asia Pacific conference that “for Coles to stay as a leading supermarket in Australia”, it has “some work to do” to get its data in order.
“Data is a huge issue for us,” Glew said.
“We’ve got a lot of it, of various and variable quality. Just understanding where it is and what it is, is a challenge, and we have to go and retrofit a lot of that metadata back in as well.”
The retailer is in the process of setting up an enterprise data platform (EDP), which is “designed to be a universal data repository for effectively all the data that we want to share either internally or externally as an organisation”.
One of the keys to the project is that Coles is drawing a line – what Glew called “a separation of concerns” – between data management and the “things that we want to do with that data”.
“One of the conversations I have with people is, ‘Is this [EDP] the singing, all dancing data thing that’s going to give us reports and our machine learning?’ and the answer is no,” Glew said.
“It’s just about data management. So we’ve really separated that concern apart where we just focus on the management, and then that is the foundation for pretty much everything else you’d want to do with data.”
The EDP is being set up as a repository of clean, real-time data that can be exposed to different parts of Coles Group that can self-serve their own needs, without needing to involve a central data function.
Though the EDP ultimately backs onto Azure – and makes use of some additional native Azure services to draw in data from source systems – its architecture is intentionally “open source friendly”, according to Glew.
“That doesn’t mean that we’re installing our own versions of everything and brewing our own stuff, but it does mean that we have the ability to move things around pretty easily,” he said.

The EDP will ultimately house both unstructured and structured data, though Glew noted there isn’t presently much unstructured information being brought in.
Mostly, the EDP is populated with “business app data, and other structured and semi-structured data”.
One of the largest chunks of data is coming in from what Glew describes as “pretty much the world’s largest Oracle data warehouse”.
The retailer is using one of Oracle’s products, Golden Gate, “to shift [those] very large amounts of data out of the on-prem [Oracle] platforms into Azure”.
Once data is in the EDP, Coles uses Databricks to prepare, transform and process it, and Lyft’s Amundsen open source software for data discovery, among other components.
Coles has advanced analytics and business intelligence teams already plugged into the EDP. The retailer’s business units and even some of its external partners are also able to access the platform.
Glew said he hoped the EDP would allow Coles to move faster in its push to embrace machine learning.
The retailer has not previously discussed much of its machine learning work, though it has looked at using algorithms in conjunction with other cameras to recognise out-of-stock items on shelves.
“The first thing [we want to improve by having the EDP] is just around our general execution – what are the things that we just can’t do today in our current environment?” Glew said.
“No surprise to anybody here at this summit, but machine learning is very high on the agenda.
“We have a pretty sophisticated team of data scientists who do some pretty awesome work, and they’re very limited – at least, that’s what they keep telling me – by the environment that they have to work in today. So that’s something we want to do something about.”
The retailer is also hoping to be able to move more quickly; being in the cloud should enable data users to avoid issues that come with hosting data infrastructure on-premises, such as whether there is enough compute and the need to encapsulate the work formally into a project structure.
“Our current environment, while it is secure, is secure in a way that doesn’t necessarily make it easy to do things with our data quickly or easily,” Glew said.
“In the spirit of continuous improvement there’s always things that we can do better.”

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Always-on: AR is changing the game for retail- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Augmented reality has been on the cusp of mainstream appeal for some time. Now, as AR technology becomes ubiquitous and consumers demand ‘always-on’ marketing opportunities, OMM’s head of growth Tony Mohammed argues AR is about to radically change retail.
You will have heard lots about virtual and augmented reality over the past couple of years. Despite all the disruption of the past few months, these two digital technologies are still set to become even more relevant tools to reach audiences.
One of our main focuses over recent years has been virtual and mixed reality experiences using VR and AR for retail and events. VR for many consumers still holds that sense of wonder and delight when they try it for the first time. It has a unique place in the world of digital technology being an immersive sensory experience that transports consumers to alternate realities. Its real-world applications are also numerous; it allows tours of spaces that have yet to be built for architects and real estate agents, the presenting of detailed retail concepts to brands, and new design workflows within the industrial design and automotive industries.
Augmented reality offers us the chance to enhance the real world with a range of possibilities equal to – or larger than – VR, across both work and play. Whether it’s trying on new outfits before purchase, previewing how furniture would fit into your living room or simply playing games with your family. These immersive aspects of AR help to forge emotional connections with consumers, which in turn leads to brand engagement and all-important social sharing of content.
Dedicated hardware such as Magic Leap and Microsoft’s Hololens 2 can be used for a variety of experiences, however one of the most interesting and beneficial developments has been the use of AR in the Healthcare industry. GigXR for example have been pushing the boundaries of conventional medical education with HoloPatient, their mixed-reality product allowing a set standard of education to be rolled out across different medical schools.
Magic Leap is one of the companies leading the charge – making a huge investment into AR technology. The AR glasses, of course look super cool, but what is even more interesting is that they are currently developing the MagicVerse, which is their vision for a positive, ethical version of The Matrix. It is Magic Leap’s attempt to bring a cross platform XR system to the masses. Which means consumers can use the Magic Leap Spatial Goggles, on their iPad, iPhone or Android device. It’s a single AR platform that can be used across all devices and operating systems.
Alongside products and experiences designed for dedicated hardware, AR has made the leap onto a platform much more accessible for all of us – the mobile device.
The new iPad Pro includes the LiDAR camera, whilst this is not a new technology, the inclusion in the Apple device opens up a lot more AR opportunities. Apple combines depth information from the LiDAR scanner with camera and motion sensor data. This makes the new iPad Pro faster and more accurate at placing AR objects and tracking people’s location, all of which leads to better AR experiences.
In addition, frameworks such as iOS AR kit, Google ARCore and Amazon Sumerian have democratised Mobile AR and grown its install base considerably, more than tripling the number of active users in the last 18 months. Downloadable apps such as IKEA Place and Dulux’s Paint visualiser have developed have leveraged mobile technology to great effect.
Besides AR Kit & AR Core we can’t forget the platforms we use everyday, for example, Facebook that have their own software called SPARK AR to create AR experiences for Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp. Similarly, Snapchat’s Lens Studio is used to create amazing AR filters and worlds, that currently gives them the edge over Facebook’s Spark AR.
Sitting alongside the app-based Mobile AR is WebAR – experiences and games that run directly in your mobile’s browser rather than having to download a dedicated app. The rapid evolution of WebAR technologies such as 8th Wall is a game-changer as they break down the barrier to entry for consumers, needing just their mobile phone to get involved.
With a number of industries and sectors keen to explore its uses and benefits, the uptake within the marketing sector in particular has taken off. WebAR has huge potential to connect consumers with brands in new and meaningful ways.
A good example of this is the AR Gifting campaign we created for Nike’s Factory Store team in the run up to Christmas. Using their mobile device consumers were able to shoot hoops in our Augmented Reality Basketball game to unlock prizes and discounts. This created a closer relationship with Nike and boosted NikePlus Membership.
As these types of activations become more mainstream it is natural for brands to invest in a technology that allows consumers to experience their products no matter where they are via their mobile device. WebAR will shape the future of commerce as consumers increasingly demand ‘always-on’ marketing experiences they can interact with.
We see huge potential for the fashion industry and are currently developing several concepts in this area. We are excited to see how other agencies and brands will use these creative technologies to meet the needs of consumers across a range of industries.
As we have seen of late the world around us can change overnight, and with change comes the opportunity to adapt to consumer needs and the environment they live in. Expect a new world of AR engagement in the not too distant future.
Tony Mohammed, head of growth, OMM

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Webinar: the impact of Covid-19 on online retail- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

SaleCycle recently ran a webinar focusing on the impact of Covid-19 on online retail – the facts and figures.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, SaleCycle has been collecting and analysing key market data. While the world continues to deal with the outbreak, online retailers have been faced with a different type of consumer. This has caused a clear change in buyer habits and product demand.
SaleCycle has conducted analysis in several key industries to identify trends, changes in behaviour and stand out points in the last 3 months. From this analysis we created a webinar with a focus on site traffic, cart abandonment rates, sales trends and how businesses have started to adapt to the changes with some of SaleCycle‘s new innovations.
You can sign-up to view the webinar here: The Impact of Covid-19 on Online Retail
If you would like to read more content and analysis from SaleCycle, you can visit the blog.
You can find our latest eBook: The 2020 Ecommerce Stats Report here

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Founded in 2010, SaleCycle is committed to helping the world’s top brands recover lost sales online.
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How to avoid Amazon: the definitive guide to online shopping – without the retail titan | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

With the shutters down on high streets and retail parks around the world, meaning that home delivery is the only option for almost anything other than food and medicine, it’s no surprise that Amazon is seeing business boom. The online retailer, already a one-stop shop for many people, has seen customers flock through its virtual doors in the weeks since coronavirus hit.
The site is experiencing an extended period of sales at the level usually reserved for the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, with reported surges reaching $11,000 (£8,800) a second. Its share price is booming, too, making its already rich founder, Jeff Bezos, even richer.
But while the site offers everything you could need at the moment, from food to films, via fish tanks and photo frames, there are many who feel uncomfortable about adding to its dominance. Concerns about its treatment of workers, how little tax it pays and its impact on smaller retailers are not new, but this crisis has shone the spotlight on them again.
In the US, some Amazon workers are protesting against their treatment, accusing the company of putting revenue above safety by not supplying enough face masks or checking that employees are not sick when they turn up to work.
In December, the UK campaign group Fair Tax Mark put Amazon at the top of a list of companies that it said were “aggressively avoiding” tax, saying it had paid just $3.4bn in tax on revenues of $960.5bn and profits of $26.8bn. With countries needing to rebuild their finances after the crisis, attention is likely to fall on corporations that are not seen to be paying their fair share.
It is also worth remembering that however quick the delivery might be, it is not always as handy as being able to go to a shop and bring something home straight away. We will, one day, be back to that situation, so it is worth protecting your local retailers in the short term if you can. It is also worth looking for online alternatives.
Electronics
You can often cut out the middleman if you are buying electronics. For computers, phones and TVs, Dell, Apple and Samsung are all offering free delivery on their products, although Samsung has suspended orders to Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Scottish Highlands. For gaming, Nintendo has the Switch Lite for sale on its website, although the Switch is out of stock.
Box.co.uk sells kitchen appliances such as toasters and coffee makers alongside gaming consoles, TVs and computers from its base in Birmingham. Free delivery takes five days, but you can pay to get items the next day. During the crisis the company is offering a total of £10,000-worth of products to deserving individuals who are nominated through the website.
Currys PC World is taking orders and has a sale on some of the equipment that you might be looking for at the moment, including printers, wifi extenders and coffee machines. Next-day delivery costs £5; standard delivery is free, but will take five to 10 days.
John Lewis is offering free standard delivery on orders over £50 or next-day delivery for £6.95. It is not offering two-person deliveries, and is calling ahead to check whether customers are self-isolating. Orders can be delivered to Waitrose, Co-op and Booths stores, too.
It is worth seeing if independent retailers near you are still operating. In Carlisle, for example, @Home PC is advertising contact-free delivery on laptops and accessories.
In the US, you can find most electronic goods on Best Buy, which has an Amazon-price-match guarantee. With an added in-store Geek Squad to deal with all your electronic woes (once the shutdown is over, of course), it strikes a nice balance between online convenience and in-store customer service. It is currently offering curbside deliveries, too, which helps to keep you and your courier safe.
Household products
Environmentally friendly cleaning products, pet food and baby gear are available at Ethicalsupermarket.com. Standard delivery in the UK is free on orders over £50, or £3.95 on smaller orders. It is a good place to buy in bulk – Ecover laundry liquid, for example, is available in a range of sizes up to 15 litres, which sells for £49.59. Its website has a lengthy description of what it is doing to keep staff safe.
Wilko’s stores are still open, and so is its online shop. It is offering delivery within seven days for a £5 fee. Cleaning products, pet food and nappies are all available, as well as items from its DIY, gardening and stationery ranges. However, the virtual toiletries aisle looks pretty bare (when we checked, most toothpaste and shower gel was out of stock).
Viking-direct.co.uk usually supplies offices, but individuals can register. It sells all kinds of things you might need at work, home or the current hybrid of the two, including bin liners, dishwasher tablets, toilet rolls and biscuits. Delivery is free on orders over £30 and is usually next day.
For US customers, Target has it all, from nappies to kids’ toys to groceries. The store lets you select items by delivery option, including same-day delivery and store pickup. The same-day option uses Shipt, meaning free delivery for Shipt members, or those using a free trial; the free trial lasts four weeks. If you are not a Shipt member, the markup is applied per item, so it can end up getting pricey. Currently, you can expect purchases made at the beginning of the week to be delivered at the end of the week – but these windows are particularly sensitive to change at the moment.
Beauty and personal care
Superdrug’s shops are open, and it is running a same-day delivery service from some shops via a courier firm called Stuart. The delivery charge starts at £5.40. You need to check that it works from a local branch before you make your order. If it doesn’t, you can use the usual delivery service, which is free for loyalty card holders on orders over £10 and for everyone spending more than £15.
For high-end beauty items, take a look at the companies’ own sites. Clarins’ online shop is still open, for instance, and delivery is free on orders over £50. Benefit warns that its orders are taking a couple of weeks to arrive, but it does have a sale on so it may be worth the wait.
For electric toothbrushes, razors and the like, manufacturers often offer direct sales. Philips is offering free delivery on a range that includes personal care items, baby bottle sterilisers and very upmarket juicers.
Very.co.uk is effectively an online department store, with a huge range of beauty products at different price points, and tech from men’s grooming products to hairdryers. It also stocks toys, appliances and a small range of DVDs and music.
In the US, Sephora offers high-street and luxury beauty products. Sephora is a multinational chain, so unlike platforms where you buy from individual sellers, there is less reason to worry about counterfeit products. Plus you get two free samples with every order. Standard shipping orders can take up to two weeks to arrive, or you can choose a range of speedier delivery options, normally at a higher cost.
Depop is like eBay, but for trendy clothing and beauty products. The platform has listings from a range of individual sellers and stores, and there are star ratings so you can choose to buy from trusted sellers. Purchases are protected by PayPal.
Entertainment
It’s hard to avoid Amazon if you want to watch something that it has bought the rights for, but for films and music there are many other options.
The BFI has new and classic films to rent on its website. One-off rentals start at £2.50 each, or a subscription offers older films. That costs £4.99 a month, but there is a 14-day free trial at the start.
Curzon is offering the cinema experience at home, with very recent films such as Portrait of a Lady on Fire available to stream for less than £10. You don’t need to subscribe to watch, and there is a free film when you register your details.
Cinema Paradiso has a wider range of films and TV programmes, but this is a DVD rental service so you can’t watch straight away. Again there is a 14-day free trial; the monthly cost depends on which subscription you choose. The basic one is £5.99 and offers two rentals a month.
Zavvi is not on the high street any longer, but lives online selling DVDs, music and games – both electronic and board. You can buy a delivery pass for £9.99, which gives you standard delivery for a year and reduces the cost of the next-day service. It is warning that, to protect staff, orders are taking 48 hours longer than usual.
HMV does most of its business online these days, too, and is another option if you don’t need to watch something straight away.
Books
Last week, Amazon was revealed to be the mystery donor of £250,000 to a fund to help bookshops suffering hardship. The organisers welcomed the gesture, while also noting that there was still “no greater threat to high-street bookselling” than the US giant.
Books are in fact some of the easiest items to find a good alternative source for. Many independent shops are offering deliveries – a lot will order titles for you even if they don’t have them in stock. You can find local shops via the Booksellers Association’s website.
There are also online-only shops such as Wordery.com, which has more than 10m books available and also some notebooks and a very small number of games. It offers free delivery worldwide, although there is quite a long list of countries that it cannot currently send books to.
The Big Green Bookshop will order what you want and get it sent to you. It runs a weekly “buy a stranger a book” scheme on its website and Twitter feed, so if you have spare cash you can treat someone else.
Hive.co.uk is selling ebooks and books for home delivery and paying double commission to the smaller bookshops it normally uses for collection service. It is currently taking orders only for the UK and relies on Royal Mail for deliveries, so how long your order takes will vary depending on your local service. You can choose which shop the commission goes to, so if your local shop is not currently trading, this is a way to get some money to it. It usually sells CDs and DVDs, too, so keep an eye out in case they are added to its offering.
The Guardian Bookshop supports the newspaper and offers books at a discount. There is currently 20% off children’s activity books, which could prove handy. Delivery is free on orders of £15 or more.
For ebooks, there’s nowhere other than Amazon to buy Kindle versions, but there are other options. Many libraries, for instance, are offering loans online – check out your local council’s website for details. It is possible to convert ebooks bought elsewhere to Kindle’s format using free software such as Calibre.
Ebooks.com serves customers around the world and has titles starting at 99p in the UK. It has got the thumbs-up from Ethical Consumer magazine and is the only ebook seller in its top five.
Through Indiebound, readers in the US can search for and buy from independent booksellers. You can search by zip code or store name – in case you are looking to support a particular store. Speed and cost of shipping depends on the bookstore.
Alternatively, Bookshop is a platform that has been set up to help independent stores make a profit. Stores earn 30% commission on any sales they generate, while Bookshop handles the packing, shipping and returns for them and runs the website. It also puts 10% of its non-bookstore affiliated sales into an overall earnings pool that is evenly divided up and shared with participating stores every six months. In March, it raised more than $230,000 for independent stores.
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The Truth About Amazon review – a punters’ guide to the retail giant’s jungle | Television & radio – Blog – 10 minute

I forget how much of an unbearable metropolitan elitist I am sometimes. When I see a programme called The Truth About Amazon, I automatically think it’s going to be an excoriating investigation into some of the alleged abuses of its workers. These are so many that, taken together, they would amount to something remarkably close to servitude, even before the new claims of failures to protect its people (or provide such things as hazard pay) started since the pandemic began. Or its viciously anti-union stance, or how a company making £11bn a year pays less tax than a pet hamster, or whether the invisible hand of the market is really enough to keep western capitalism from ultimately destroying us all …
You get, I’m sure, the idea. In fact, last night’s The Truth About Amazon on Channel 4, presented by Sabrina Grant and Helen Skelton, was a Supershoppers special, attacking it from that programme’s usual consumer rights perspective. This will probably do at least as much to problematise punters’ immediate relationship with the retail giant-of-giants as would another handwringing article about its tentacular reach into more and more aspects of our lives. Not to mention Jeff Bezos’s likely ultimate plan to strangle us all in our beds as we sleep and turn our bodies into fuel for his behemoth once it gains sentience.
I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yes. Amazon being held to account as if it were an ordinary retailer coming under Supershopper scrutiny. Grant and Skelton began gently (and traditionally) by introducing themselves to two families, both heavy users of the Amazon drug, and offering them ways to save some money. Sharon and Ian estimate they spend about £200 a month at the online store but it’s actually around £800. The first scales begin to fall from their eyes when they are shown how to buy products more cheaply from Amazon’s sites in other countries and are introduced to price tracker websites that show them how even prices here, which they had assumed were fixed (and by extension fair) actually fluctuate wildly. Or rather, not wildly at all but precisely as dictated by the algorithmic intelligence pulsing away behind everything else Amazon does.
Then it’s on through the possibility of buying counterfeit and/or dangerous goods. This hits home particularly with Prince and Abby, who buy all their toddler Beulah’s toys on the site and is a reminder of the old adage: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is; and the resulting profits to a third-party seller could be being funnelled into organised crime. Gum on that, Beulah!
Good and bad reviews can be bought for your own or rivals’ products; a Which? investigation suggests that the “Amazon choice” designation isn’t worth the pixels it’s printed in; Alexa is recording and storing far more than you thought; and Prime Video accepts content from anyone – including the likes of Alex Jones, the US conspiracy theorist who was banned from Twitter and Facebook for his claims that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a hoax.
Obviously it was a programme limited in scope – the segment showing Abby and Prince how to use Amazon’s barcode scanner app to drive a bargain on the high street, for example, was presented without any comment on the ethics of making a bricks-and-mortar shop with substantially greater overheads (and probably tax liabilities) compete with Goliath. But it covered a lot of ground and surely introduced a lot of doubt to anyone watching who had hitherto thought, or at least hoped, that someone, somewhere along the line had a handle on what Bezos does with his creation.
That said, their journey through the tangled undergrowth of Amazon’s jungle of tactics seemed to have mixed effects on the four travellers themselves. Beulah’s parents seemed to have taken to heart the necessity of not placing any more blind trust in the retailer, but Sharon and Ian seemed more taken with the technology that would now allow them to get better bargains.
Amazon is having a great pandemic. It has taken on 100,000 (woefully unprotected, if multiple reports are true) new workers as actual shops close to protect their staff and customers. Even more rapidly than Bezos’s wildest dreams allowed, it has become the only game in town for sating people’s needs and wants in lockdown. Bezos at the beginning wanted to call his new site Relentless.com. Good luck bargaining with that.

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As coronavirus ups DTC demand, Dirty Lemon’s Iris Nova pivots its retail strategy- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Iris Nova, the startup beverage brand backed by Coca-Cola, is balancing a coronavirus-driven uptick in DTC demand with punctures in its hospitality and retail businesses. Its chief executive explains how being historically unafraid of strategy “pivots” has reduced the pressure of the past few weeks.
Iris Nova is the brainchild of Zac Normandin, who first imagined a beverage company “built with consumption data, technology, and direct connection with consumers” back in 2015.
He now counts nine beverage brands in his stable, including Sanzo, Miracle Seltzer and Olipop. But it was flagship brand Dirty Lemon that first turned the heads of investors by taking DTC off a web browser and on to a text messaging platform.
Now, consumers can order crates of Iris Nova’s full portfolio of drinks directly through SMS.
The service has – predictably – proven popular with US consumers staying inside during the coronavirus outbreak. This has seen the company shift its focus to concentrate sales and operational efforts on direct delivery.
“Thankfully, we’ve invested heavily in infrastructure that supports that – we now have the technology platform that allows customers to place orders very quickly and provides very fast deliveries,” says chief executive Normandin.
However, the company is working to mitigate potential losses from newer arms of its business.
The majority of its partners in the hospitality business have been forced to close temporarily. That poses a “challenge” to Iris Nova as restaurants, hotels, cafes and bars are “critical customers to the company”. Currently, the drinks maker is figuring out ways it can support their businesses through a pivot to delivery services.
“It’s just a very dramatic change in the way that we’re doing things,” says Normandin. “It’s definitely not bad necessarily, but it’s still a change.”
Additionally, the company is working out how the virus spread will affect the plans for its burgeoning retail business. Central to this is The Drug Store, its shop in New York’s Tribeca, which has had to close as part of the city’s shutdown of all non-essential businesses.
Scaling back
You have to look hard to understand how The Drug Store has remained open for the 18 months it has been in business. Firstly, it’s located in an area of prime real estate without the high mark-ups or ticket prices that keep its neighbors in business. Secondly, it’s essentially a fridge: the store is cashierless, and consumers are trusted to pay for the drinks they pick out via Iris Nova’s text messaging service.
“On paper, the concept makes no sense,” Normandin admits. “And there would have been no data points that we could have kind of pointed to saying, ‘this is the reason why we want to do this right now’. It was just an intuition.”
The store stays afloat because it also houses a customizable cocktail bar that the company rents this out to private event planners. That line of revenue is no longer viable for the foreseeable future (all social gatherings are currently banned in New York).
Yet Iris Nova had, luckily, u-turned on its plans to expand The Drug Store’s footprint even before the coronavirus outbreak. The original plan was to open cashierless stores in “three or four” US cities, as well as operate another outpost in New York.
“We’ve scaled back on that, just because there’s a lot of variables that we couldn’t control for in launching The Drug Store at scale,” says Normandin. “The operational overhead required to do that is really significant.”
The company opened its second New York Drug Store in Hudson Yards in March 2019. It realized running a retail environment in a mall was unworkable “really quickly” and closed six months later. An opening in LA is still on the cards but now no longer “in the immediate plans”.
Rapid testing
Yet the Tribeca store – should it weather the coronavirus – will be kept open and double as an innovation center for the company. Normandin has instilled a culture of rapid, small-scale testing, whereby retail ideas are first trialed in The Drug Store. The concepts that work are eventually rolled out across Iris Nova’s retail partners, the largest of which is Walmart.
“In a lot of ways, we’ve optimized our DTC offering, so more recently we’ve been thinking a lot about retail,” says Normandin.
“We’re always trying to look at things through a lens of how we can be more efficient or effective with technology, and the tools that we have available to us. The focus is always on optimizing distribution or the operational side of the beverage business.”
An example of Iris Nova’s rapid testing is its partnership with Avery Dennison, which builds RFID labelling. The brand has employed the technology to monitor exactly when a specific bottle is lifted out of the fridge in The Drug Store in real time; now it plans to install these connected fridges in the stores of its retail partners.
“No-one in the food and beverage industry is tracking individual units in a third-party retail environment right now,” Normandin contends. “Having that data available to us in real time is an incredible opportunity, and ultimately results in stronger revenue growth and cost savings that the whole business feels.”
Don’t fear the pivot
With the grocery industry in its current state of upheaval, this rollout will likely be delayed for the coming months. But that’s also OK in the culture of Iris Nova, which Normandin has deliberately built to survive fast strategy rewrites.
“I don’t think pivots are bad,” he says. “In the past, pivots have always been kind of viewed negatively … but they’re really important for companies to learn that oftentimes, things are not going to go as planned.
“This virus has shown how fast business can change in the course of a week. It shows that you need to be reactive to the market, rather than let the market control you.”

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Apple to shut retail stores for two weeks – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Apple will close all its retail stores, except those in Greater China, for the next two weeks to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission.
“We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a letter posted on the company’s website.
“In all of our offices, we are moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China,” he added.
“That means team members should work remotely if their job allows.”
Apple reopened all 42 of its branded stores in China on Friday.
Cook said that all hourly workers “will continue to receive pay in alignment with business as usual operations.”
“We have expanded our leave policies to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges due to school closures,” he added.
The company’s donations to the global coronavirus response, to help treat those who are sick and to help lessen the economic and community impacts, reached US$15 million on Friday, Cook wrote in the letter.
More than 138,000 people have been infected worldwide and over 5000 have died, according to a Reuters tally of government announcements.
Apple separately announced it will shift its annual worldwide developers conference (WWDC) to an online-only format this year.

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PhonePe Brings About The Idea Of Having A Nearby Retail Shop As ATM- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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At a time when news about WhatsApp Pay has been flooding the market, PhonePe has forayed into the business of digital ATMs. This is with an ambition to operate what could turn out to be the largest fleet of cash withdrawal points across India.
PhonePe, that’s owned by has geotagged more than half a million merchants with excess cash, to help out customers convert digital money into cash. This would done through a ‘withdraw’ button on the PhonePe application. The basic idea is to increase merchant engagement, on PhonePe’s platform by creating a new value service for both local shop owners and consumers.
As per an official of PhonePe, banks are not finding it viable to operate ATM and that is one of the reasons, several ATMs are dry on cash. This is specifically in tier 3 and 4 cities, where the lack of availability of cash has been a cause of concern.
One of the leading players in the payment space, believes that in the absence of Merchant Discount Rates (MDR), including value-added services, to existing business channels would be the key to future growth in a market that’s already so competitive with Google, Paytm and now WhatsApp.  

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