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Google Cloud offers image search, recommendations service for retailers

ZDNet

Google's Google Cloud division today announced it has made generally available two search functions that rely on machine learning techniques to help retailers who use its cloud service. Called Vision API product search and Recommendations AI, the two services are part of what Google has unveiled as a suit of functions called Product Discovery Solutions for Retail. The vision search function will let a retailer's customers submit a picture and received ranked results of products that match the picture in either appearance or semantic similarity to the object. Recommendations, said Google, is "able to piece together the history of a customer's shopping journey and serve them with customized product recommendations." Both are generally available now to retailers.


Kroger testing new 'smart cart' that eliminates stopping to pay at checkout

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Kroger is testing new smart shopping cart technology in the Cincinnati area that eliminates paying at the checkout. For the past few weeks, Kroger quietly rolled out the new carts at its Madeira store, branded "KrogGo." The technology allows shoppers to load up their cart with groceries, then pay by swiping their credit or debit card at the cart, then head for the parking lot. Using artificial intelligence, the technology will enable shoppers to assemble their order without having to scan items as carts begin to recognize a box of cereal or pound of apples, according to Caper, the New York firm behind the technology. The carts include a built-in scale to measure items sold by weight and a built-in screen that can deliver shopping list recommendations, promotional offers, and wayfinding capabilities.


Buying groceries online with food stamps?

ZDNet

Grocery shopping has fundamentally, likely irrevocably, changed during the pandemic as more consumers have opted for online grocery shopping out of convenience or necessity. But what about people who rely on food stamps? According to a recent Pew survey, a full quarter of adults have had trouble paying bills during the economic melee attributable to the pandemic. As of July 2020, over 40 million Americans were on food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Food stamps exist to help low income individuals, including those enduring a temporary hardship, bridge a crucial financial gap to access food.


Top sales to shop today: Roomba, Hydro Flask, Ulta and more

CNN Top Stories

Today, you'll find a deal on Roomba, a discounted Hydro Flask water bottle and savings on beauty products at Ulta. Get a jumpstart on spring cleaning with discounted iRobot Roomba vacuums. The Roomba i3 is $100 off at $299.99 and the Roomba 675 is $80 off at $199.99, plus iRobot's automatic mopping and sweeping device, the Braava 380t, is discounted to $199.99. Whether you're looking for some new fashionable spring layers or discounted winter gear, United by Blue has got you covered with its end of season sale. Now through the end of January you can save up to 60% sitewide, plus, you can get an extra 50% off sale items with code BYEWINTER.


Robot Vacuums Don't Need a Lot of Frills. Try This Powerful Budget Model, Now on Sale.

Slate

Slate has relationships with various online retailers. If you buy something through our links, Slate may earn an affiliate commission. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. All prices were up to date at the time of publication. Why you want this: As robot vacuums have become increasingly popular, we've had to accept that they are not wholly autonomous.


CES 2021: 'The run rate of the company going forward will be faster forever,' says Walmart CEO McMillon

ZDNet

Walmart is focused on things such as "what the future of AI will mean, or how robotics will change our business, and how 5G will change how people want to live and shop," says CEO Doug McMillon. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was the big keynoter at the Consumer Electronics Show 2021, in a half an hour segment that covered a range of broad topics such as equality and leadership. He was hosted by Tiffany Moore, senior Vice President, political and industry affairs for the Consumer Technology Association. CTA president Gary Shapiro set the context: 11,000 stores in 26 countries, more than 2 million employees globally. McMillan started out a wage earner thirty years ago at the retail giant, loading trucks.


The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Tuesday

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. It's no secret that Amazon is a one-stop-shop for everything from electronics to at-home essentials. As any good deal-hunter knows, however, it's about more than just convenience: The retailer also reigns supreme in the sales department. Between its daily price drops and best-of-web markdowns, Amazon doesn't skimp on the savings--hence why we're coming at you with five more incredible Amazon deals. Get expert shopping advice delivered to your phone.


Retailers Say Skip Returns of Unwanted Items

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Retailers have a new message for consumers looking to return an item: Keep it. Inc., Walmart Inc. and other companies are using artificial intelligence to decide whether it makes economic sense to process a return. For inexpensive items or large ones that would incur hefty shipping fees, it is often cheaper to refund the purchase price and let customers keep the products. The relatively new approach, popularized by Amazon and a few other chains, is being adopted more broadly during the Covid-19 pandemic, as a surge in online shopping forces companies to rethink how they handle returns. "We are getting so many inquiries about this that you will see it take off in coming months," said Amit Sharma, chief executive of Narvar Inc., which processes returns for retailers.


Google's second-gen Nest Mini is on sale for almost half off at Walmart

Mashable

As of Jan. 7, Walmart has the second-gen Google Nest Mini on sale for only $24.98 -- that's 49% off its $49 MSRP. Last year saw Big Tech duking it out for smart speaker superiority as Apple, Amazon, and Google each released new additions to their respective lineups. But for the ultimate deal on such a device, we're going to throw it way back to 2019. That's the year Google released its second-gen Google Nest Mini, a small-but-mighty smart speaker that normally retails for $49. For a limited time, Walmart's got it on sale for just $24.98 (or almost half off) -- that's only a few bucks away from its all-time-low Black Friday pricing of $18.98.


Podcast: Attention shoppers–you're being tracked

MIT Technology Review

In some stores, sophisticated systems are tracking customers in almost every imaginable way, from recognizing their faces to gauging their age, their mood, and virtually gussying them up with makeup. The systems rarely ask for people's permission, and for the most part they don't have to. In our season 1 finale, we look at the explosion of AI and face recognition technologies in retail spaces, and what it means for the future of shopping. This episode was reported and produced by Jennifer Strong, Anthony Green, Tate Ryan-Mosley, Emma Cillekens and Karen Hao. Strong: Retailers have been using face recognition and AI tracking technologies for years. And what if you could know about the presence of violent criminals before they act? With Face First you can stop crime before it starts.] It detects faces, voices, objects and claims it can analyze behavior. But face recognition systems have a well-documented history of misidentifying women and people of color. And they're trying to sell it and impose it on the entirety of the country?] Strong: This is Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a 2019 congressional hearing on facial recognition.