The Apple Watch Series 1 smartwatch is only $149 at Walmart today

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Time for an upgrade today.

Whether you want the 38mm Series 1 Apple Watch for $ 149 or the 42mm for $ 179, Walmart has the best price on the Apple Watch Series 1 anywhere right now. We’ve seen a couple retailers drop to similar lows before, but the deals have always been very short. If you missed them before, you should grab one while you can right now. The deal works on Silver and Space Gray in both sizes.

Series 1 is the oldest generation of the Apple Watch. The Series 3 is on sale today, too, thanks to Best Buy’s one-day Easter sale, but even then it’s still $ 299 for the 38mm version. This deal is a great entry-level model to lure you into the world of smartwatches. It features a battery life of up to 18 hours and comes with a magnetic charging cable.

Walmart also has a huge selection of compatible replacement bands for the watch, so you can go as fancy or as simple as you like.

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New Walmart patents signal a push towards Retail 2.0

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US retail giant Walmart’s vision of the future has been revealed by a number of recent patents. These suggest that its ambition is now to embrace emerging technologies and change the way that customers shop.

Read more: Amazon now world’s second most valuable company after Apple

Revamping the retail experience

Walmart’s latest patents indicate, among other things, that the company is looking to catch up with bitter rival, Amazon, which is moving into every aspect of the retail and customer loyalty game, including deliveries.

Earlier this year, Amazon opened up a cashier-less store in Seattle, in which a sophisticated arrangement of cameras and sensors determines the contents of customers’ baskets. Rather than head to the checkout, shoppers simply walk out of the store and purchases are charged to their Amazon accounts automatically.

Walmart has filed a patent to deploy what appears to be a rival item identification system in its stores, as part of a smart shopping cart programme. Other retailers have been exploring smartphone checkout systems, enabling shoppers to scan and pay for goods in store.

Read more: Retail IoT: Co-op adopts smartphone checkout tech in stores

Read more: Retail IoT: AI firm trials autonomous smartphone checkouts

Paradoxically, the idea is that cashier-less stores could offer a more personal service as staff are free to help with individual enquiries.

Drones in the aisles

However, one of Walmart’s more unusual patents could take human workers out of the equation completely. The company has outlined plans for drone assistants, in order to “provide price verification of a user-specified object or […] provide navigation assistance […] to guide the user to the user-specified object.”

Unlikely though it may seem, checking the price of an item or being guided to the aisle by drone appears to be part of Walmart’s plans – or at least, the future concepts that it is exploring.

Just last week it emerged that Walmart has also filed a range of patents related to autonomous systems in agriculture. That move implies an aim to vertically integrate its food supply chain and take more control over the crops it sends to market.

Read more: Bee robotic: Walmart files patents on automating agriculture

Internet of Business says

As we reported recently, while the triple-A group of Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet – followed by other tech behemoths, such as Microsoft – dominate the list of the world’s most valuable companies, Walmart easily heads another list.

Walmart is by far the world’s largest company by revenue, in a top 10 that is largely made up of oil/energy companies and banks, and increasingly full of Chinese giants. Only Apple scrapes into that chart, at number nine.

As such we can see the two charts as representing different views of the world: mindshare, investment, and hope (market capitalisation) and ability to make people spend money (hard revenue). At present, Walmart towers over the second category, while Apple, Walmart’s rival Amazon, and Google parent Alphabet, vie for leadership of the investment markets.

However, this is only while Walmart is seen as a traditional retailer, rather than as a high-tech innovator. Its new patents, which aim to reduce overheads and pioneer new technologies, could suggest that Walmart is no longer the slumbering giant.

Don’t bet against Walmart the technology player. If nothing else, it knows better than any company in the world how to make people part with their cash – far more so than Amazon.

Read more: Ocado to test SecondHands collaborative robot

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ModCloth’s former CEO Matt Kaness has left Walmart just a year after the acquisition

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The former Urban Outfitters executive’s role had been in question for several months.

Matt Kaness, the former CEO of ModCloth who sold the women’s fashion retailer to Walmart one year ago, has recently left the mammoth brick-and-mortar retailer, multiple sources have told Recode.

Walmart acquired ModCloth in March of last year to help boost the fashion assortment of its subsidiary Jet.com, and Kaness continued to run that retail operation for the next few months. But the retail industry veteran later turned down a move from San Francisco to Los Angeles after Walmart management decided that the CEO role should be based there, ultimately paving the way for his exit, according to one source.

A Walmart spokesperson confirmed the departure and added: “We thank Matt for his contributions to ModCloth and wish him all the best in the future.” Kaness did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.

Kaness joined ModCloth as CEO in early 2015 after a stint as chief strategy officer of Urban Outfitters. Under Kaness’ leadership, the vintage-inspired clothing retailer grew its private-label business and tested out physical showrooms. But ModCloth found itself in trouble last year as a debt repayment came due and the company was unable to secure new venture funding.

That scenario set up a fire sale to Walmart for a price reportedly under $ 50 million. When Walmart continued its acquisition spree by acquiring menswear brand Bonobos in June, e-commerce chief Marc Lore decided that ModCloth leadership would report to Bonobos co-founder and CEO Andy Dunn.

And Dunn and Walmart management decided that whoever ran ModCloth as CEO needed to be based in Los Angeles, where important divisions like design and merchandising were already based, according to one source. Kaness declined to make that move, at least in part because he did not want to uproot his family from the San Francisco Bay Area, these people said.

ModCloth’s CEO role is now held by former Bonobos Chief Financial Officer Antonio Nieves, who also previously held the same role at ModCloth.

Kaness stayed at Walmart for a few months after declining the move to Los Angeles, and held the title of EIR — or executive in residence — according to his Twitter bio. It is believed that at some point Kaness was charged with finding a company for Walmart to acquire that he would then run, according to a source, but that opportunity apparently never materialized.

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Walmart files patent applications for drone shopping assistants and smart shopping carts

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Walmart filed a host of patents today related to how it keeps track of inventory — and the technologies could change the way its customers shop, as reported by Gizmodo.

One of the patents is clearly for the in-store experience, and proposes a sensing device to make shopping carts smart and communicate with a mobile device (presumably to help you navigate to where items are). There’s also a patent that tracks users through wearables, and several for managing / sensing inventory levels.

Walmart has also filed a patent for drones that would assist customers shopping in-store. The patent outlines a method where a drone can be summoned via a mobile device — either personal or one temporarily provided — and then “provide assistance to the user…

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Bee smart: Walmart files patents on automating agriculture

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Walmart has filed patents to automate agriculture, including robot pollinator bees

US retailer Walmart has filed a raft of patents aimed at automating processes in the agriculture sector. Among them is a robotic solution to the global decline of bee populations.

Replacing pollinators with robots

According to a report from environmental organization Greenpeace, around one-third of the crops we eat rely solely on insect pollination.

It’s estimated that the global economic benefit of pollination from insects, such as bees, amounts to over €265 billion. And that’s just the financial return of the crops it helps to produce. The real value, which will only come to light if food shortages become more severe or certain crops die out, is infinitely high.

As has been well-publicised, bee populations worldwide are struggling in the face of environmental and man-made challenges. One of Walmart’s patents offers a unusual solution – or rather an alternative – in the form of automated, robotic pollinators.

Walmart’s robo-‘applicators’ could work as tireless pollination drones, carrying pollen from one plant to another, verifying successful transfers with a range of sensors.

The patent goes through a variety of options as to how a robot bee could go about its business. One notable feature includes a small speaker that will play different tones in order to signal the robots’ arrival at a central docking station.

Read more: Real-time disease monitoring unearths power of IoT in agriculture

Walmart’s plan to automate agriculture

Aside from robotic bees – which are reminiscent of a Black Mirror episode – Walmart has filed five other patents, all of which combine automation and drones with challenges in agriculture.

Among the applications are concepts that use drones to identify and deter pests attacking crops, drones to monitor crop damage, and precision pesticide sprayers.

The use of drones in agriculture currently extends to aerial surveys that monitor crop health and automated pesticide spraying. But these solutions tend to rely on a single autonomous vehicle, rather than the kind of smart swarm that Walmart is envisaging.

Read more: Dell takes a fresh look at IoT with Aerofarms

Internet of Business says

A cynic would – rightly – say that the best way to avoid the decline in bee populations would be to take urgent steps to reverse it, and fix the source of the problem, rather than create swarms of robot bees.

But in itself and overall, crop security is a good application of robotics.

Walmart’s main competition moving forward would appear to be Amazon, which is now the world’s second most valuable company. Competing in the grocery business at a time when shoppers are in search of convenience, transparency, and more ethical purchasing could lead Walmart in some obvious directions.

Walmart’s patents imply that its big-picture aim is to vertically integrate its food supply chain and take more control over the crops it sends to market. Walmart also wants to develop a complete door-to-door grocery service, following in the footsteps of Amazon in taking its service right to people’s doors.

But while Walmart might not be generally thought of as a technology company, it remains easily the world’s largest company by revenue, dwarfing the likes of Apple and Amazon, which have greater market capitalisations.

As a result, Walmart and Amazon find themselves in an interesting game of poker: revenue versus market capitalisation – real-world value against perceived value.

Don’t discount Walmart if it chooses to increase its presence in the technology sector, particularly in areas that involve the production and distribution of food.

The post Bee smart: Walmart files patents on automating agriculture appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Autonomous Robot Bees Are Being Patented by… Walmart?

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Walmart has just filed a patent for autonomous, robot bees. Yes, that Walmart — and no, you didn’t slip into another, stranger dimension. The mega-corporation’s patent specifically covers “pollination drones.” These tiny robots could act just like bees, pollinating crops autonomously.

The robot bees would operate using sensors and cameras to help them navigate to crops. Flying around autonomously, these drones could potentially pollinate as effectively as the real thing.

An artist's representation of what robot bees may look like.
Robot bees could save agriculture while real bee populations dwindle. Image Credit: Polynoid/Greenpeace/Vimeo

Oddly enough, this is not the only farming patent that Walmart has filed recently. According to CB Insights, this is only one of six Walmart patents for farming drones that would do everything from monitor crop damage to spray pesticides. Incorporating autonomous robots into farming could cut costs and increase agriculture efficiency.

The thing that’s so puzzling about this move is: why Walmart?

The retailer hasn’t publicly commented on the patents yet, so the reasons behind Walmart’s sudden interest in farming drones has to be left up to interpretation. Yet since many Walmart locations do carry produce, it’s possible that the company is looking to gain more control of the food it’s selling. Perhaps by taking such a significant role in agriculture, the company will be able to improve quality and cut costs.

This seems like a sound explanation, especially since Walmart has decided to expand its grocery delivery service. According to a patent filed by the company in January, this service will allow shoppers to accept or reject produce. While such a service has potential to rake in serious business for Walmart, it also means they will need to step up the quality of their produce. Hence, potentially, the robo-bees.

Meanwhile, honeybee populations are dying, and we can no longer take pollination for granted. These small creatures are the backbone of agriculture and the food that we eat. While scientists work to better understand declining pollinator populations, and hopefully come up with solutions, these Walmart farming drones could keep agriculture, and fresh produce, alive.

The post Autonomous Robot Bees Are Being Patented by… Walmart? appeared first on Futurism.

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Former Walmart employee says company lied about online growth

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A former Walmart director claims the company lied about results and online growth in order to, “win the e-commerce war at all costs,” according to a lawsuit. The news comes just a day after Walmart announced a big push to spread its online grocery delivery and online ordering services to the vast majority of its US stores in a bid to fend off rival big box stores, as well as Amazon.

According to Bloomberg, Tri Huynh, a former director of business development for Walmart, raised concerns about possible improper practices the company was using to show e-commerce growth, its progress ahead of competing retailers, and how competitive the company was against Amazon. Huynh claims he was terminated in January 2017 as a result.

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A former Walmart executive’s lawsuit claims the retailer has been inflating e-commerce growth numbers

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Tri Huynh, a former business development executive, says he was fired for raising concerns over the company’s practices.

Is Walmart cheating in its race to close the gap between Amazon and its own online business?

A new lawsuit from a former Walmart business development executive claims it is.

The suit, filed this week in Northern California federal court by Tri Huynh, alleges that Walmart has been lowering its standards to boost the size of its online catalogue; mis-categorizing some items listed for sale, which can result in overcharging some merchants who sell through Walmart.com; and failing to process $ 7 million in returned items.

Huynh says that he was terminated from his job in 2017 as retaliation for being a whistleblower by repeatedly bringing his concerns to e-commerce division leaders, and is suing for unspecified damages.

“This litigation is based on allegations by a disgruntled former associate, who was let go as part of an overall restructuring,” a Walmart rep tells Recode. “We take allegations like this seriously and looked into them when they were brought to our attention. The investigation found nothing to suggest that the company acted improperly. We intend to vigorously defend the company against these claims.”

The suit comes as Walmart has pumped billions of dollars into its e-commerce business over the last few years, including the acquisition of Jet.com, to improve its websites and narrow Amazon’s lead in the space.

Huynh, who worked for Amazon previously, joined Walmart in 2014 as a director of business development for its online marketplace, which allows outside sellers to hawk their wares on Walmart.com alongside Walmart’s own products.

Huynh said lax internal controls allowed for frequent miscategorization of items sold by marketplace sellers, resulting in Walmart charging them a higher commission on sales than it should have. The suit also claimed that Walmart boasts about the size of its online catalogue but counts items that aren’t actually available for customers to purchase.

He also alleged that the giant retailer lowered its standards by allowing low-rated sellers to flood the Walmart.com marketplace with overpriced goods to artificially boost the number of items Walmart publicly claims are available through its marketplace.

Huynh said the lowering of standards resulted in an influx of inappropriate items, such as mugs labeled with phrases like “got Hitler?” and “got retard?”

Bloomberg first reported news of the lawsuit.

This post has been updated with a comment from Walmart.


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Walmart will offer grocery delivery in more than 100 metro areas amid pressure from Amazon, Target and Instacart

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The company already offers grocery pickup at 1,200 of its stores.

Walmart already doubled down on its grocery pickup service. Now it’s doing the same for grocery delivery.

The big question: Can it succeed at both?

The giant brick-and-mortar retailer just announced that it is expanding its online grocery delivery service from six U.S. metro areas today to more than 100 in total by the end of the year, which should make it available to more than 40 percent of the U.S. population.

The announcement comes amid an onslaught of competition in the grocery delivery space, highlighted by Amazon’s rollout of Prime Now delivery, Target’s $ 550 million acquisition of delivery startup Shipt and Instacart’s streak of signing on big grocery partners.

But it is a bit surprising considering that Walmart has already invested a lot of time and money into its grocery pickup business, which is available at 1,200 stores and allows customers to pick up their online orders without exiting their cars. The company will add the service at another 1,000 stores by the end of this year.

The grocery pickup service doesn’t cost anything extra for shoppers. And that value proposition makes sense because the average Walmart customer has less disposable income than those of Amazon or Target.

But the grocery delivery service? It comes with a $ 9.95 delivery fee. So I asked a Walmart spokesperson who the intended customer is: Walmart’s existing customer or a different customer base the company aspires to reach?

It’s a bit of both, she said, but the rest of her answer made it sound like the latter.

“Online Grocery Deliver will make Walmart more accessible to some customers where it wasn’t before (customers who didn’t want to drive out of the city center to a suburban Walmart, customers who physically can’t get to a Walmart, or customers who only have their groceries delivered these days!).”

Today, Walmart uses partner companies Uber and Deliv to handle deliveries in its six current markets. The company says it will add more partners as it expands, which raises the possibility of a tie-up with Instacart, which recently announced a delivery relationship with Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club.

On one hand, the idea of Instacart partnering with the enemy of all of its regional grocery chains sounds farfetched. On the other hand, it’s 2018 and Amazon owns Whole Foods — which means anything is possible in the grocery space.


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Amazon is taking aim at Walmart by offering a 54 percent discount on Prime memberships for Medicaid recipients

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It’s the company’s latest move to court lower-income shoppers.

Amazon is making another move in its courtship of lower-income shoppers, announcing a discount on its Amazon Prime monthly membership fee for recipients of Medicaid. The discount works out to 54 percent.

Under the offer, customers on Medicaid can get Amazon Prime for $ 5.99 a month, or $ 7 less than the new regular monthly fee of $ 12.99. In June, Amazon first introduced this discounted price for shoppers who receive government assistance in the form of an Electronic Benefits Transfer card.

The goal of these discounts, according to Amazon executive Aaron Perrine, is to give more people access to “aspects of the digital economy — some conveniences and benefits — that I think a lot of us take for granted.”

An Amazon Prime membership includes perks such as two-day shipping on more than 100 million products, unlimited photo storage and free online streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows. Amazon Prime customers typically spend more and buy more frequently on Amazon than non-members do.

With the moves, Amazon is increasingly battling Walmart and other low-priced retailers for the wallets of those with less disposable income. But it’s not altruism; Amazon Prime has been widely adopted by middle-class and well-off Americans, so if the membership program is going to continue to grow in the U.S., the company has to figure out how to attract other demographics.

At the same time, Walmart has made moves to court bigger spenders with the acquisition of brands like Bonobos and a new service aimed at serving busy, well-off moms in New York City.

Medicaid is the government program that helps provide health coverage for many low-income families and disabled individuals. Medicare, which isn’t part of this discount program, guarantees health coverage for those 65 or older.

The discounted membership price works out to about $ 72 for 12 months. The cheapest Prime membership for those Amazon customers who do not receive government assistance is $ 99 for a full year.

Those who want to qualify for the discount will be asked to apply and upload a photo of their Medicaid card. Eligible shoppers need to reapply once a year and are eligible for up to four years.


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