[Image: a rose of many colours, some that a mobile phone cannot see]
Unlocking the non-essential
“Non essential” shopping started in England on Monday 15 June. The queue for Primark in Bristol was long! But willingness to queue on day one is probably a poor indicator of how retail is going to perform in the next few months as shopping opens up.
This is a really interesting diary by a coffee shop operator during the virustimes.
Not unlocking yet: Burger fans in Brazil can now earn a free Whopper if they stay indoors, thanks to a new geolocation activation in the Burger King app.
Bringing the shop to the shoppers: Walmart, Shopify, Facebook
Walmart partnering with Shopify to increase the number of sellers on its third-party marketplace. This makes sense for Walmart because it competes directly with Amazon, and third-party sales can be higher-margin because sellers pay fees. It makes sense for Shopify to help independent sellers sell in every and any place, even if some of the places - again, Amazon - compete with Shopify (“when you arm the rebels, do whatever you can to make sure that they win. They’re fighting for their supplier as much as they’re fighting for their own well-being. After all, their war is now your war.”)
Also in ecommerce: Walmart will switch off Jet.com, which it bought in 2016, which is a sign that Jet was a very different proposition than Walmart, rather than Walmart struggling with online.
Facebook Shops is a new effort to bring shopping closer to the FB and Instagram newsfeeds. It hooks into various ecommerce platforms (Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce etc). It’s also hooked into FB’s big advertising machine so your Facebook activity will influence which shops you see, and your FB Shops activity will influence which content you see.
Heinz Mailz Beanz
Heinz is selling direct to consumer with its Heinz to Home service, which will offer free delivery to frontline staff. No reports whether that marketing meeting also considered “Heinz Mailz Beanz” or “Beanz Direct” as alternate names.
You’d expect to see more consumer-packaged goods companies with strong brands try out direct to consumer (see also: Pepsi and Kraft are looking at selling direct). But shoppers have limited time, so selling direct might offer the brands diminishing value. Unless going direct means better deals, or builds customer loyalty in a stronger way. Or saves the shopper time in the form of a subscription?
UK trademark for Amazon pharmacy
Amazon have registered a UK trademark for “Amazon Pharmacy” (also in Australia and Canada), which suggests they have plans to expand their online pharmacy globally. You can get a good sense of how their service works on the US website: the medications are sorted and packaged by day and time for the individual’s convenience. Their blog is also a good read: stories of people who refuse to be defined by their health issues.
[Advertisement] But obviously the UK’s online pharmacy sector isn’t waiting for Amazon. Co-op Health has a repeat prescription service in England - it uses NHS login and is good!
Elsewhere in Healthtech:
Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Home. Big Tech tends to give its digital assistants female voices and female names, which reinforces gender stereotypes and probably reflects the typical gender balance in tech companies. So it’s good that the BBC’s new digital assistant will have a northern male accent. The BBC explained a key reason for building a voice:
“a major fear was that tech firms may start recommending their own content using data gleaned from BBC programmes, hurting public service broadcasters: “The threat to us is, ‘You’ve finished the Archers, here’s a Joe Rogan podcast.’”
Though this seems to miss the bigger concern about smart speakers - that there are microphones in your home and it’s not clear who listens to the audio and what happens to the data collected. Anyway.
But will it work? Sensibly, the BBC isn’t trying to build its own smart speaker. But this means that it must do deals to place Beeb on hardware, smart speaker ecosystems and other “end points” in the home that are usually owned by other organisations. It’ll be a hard slog, and this newsletter fears the project is doomed.
Public Digital is tracking many government COVID websites. It is interesting that the quality of the government website doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of the government’s wider virus response.
Interesting analysis of insurance startup Lemonade ahead of its IPO. Lemonade tries to remove the financial conflict of interest at the heart of insurance by charging flat fees and sharing excess profit back to policy holders.
Half of Manchester’s bin lorries will go electric.
Mobility: UK gov will look at electric scooter trials as a transport option that works with social distancing.
“Editor > Settings > Inclusivity. Tick the boxes.” An inclusivity tip for Office365 users that’ll help you start overcoming your subconscious biases - shame that it is hidden away in the settings.
Elon Musk-backed OpenAI to release text tool it called dangerous - shh, no-one needs to know that you could automate newsletters.
Co-op Digital news and events
We’ve iterated our Ways of working site, and we’ll keep iterating.
It can’t go on. We must go further and faster - great piece on anti-racism from the Federation team.
The Federation House team is running weekly drop-in chats for the community every Wednesday at 10am: Join us here. See our online events. You can also see how The Federation is planning for a safe return to the co-working floor.
For all up-coming online events visit our Federation website.
Thank you for reading
Thank you, beloved readers and contributors. Please continue to send ideas, questions, corrections, improvements, etc to the newsletter’s typist @rod on Twitter. If you have enjoyed reading, please tell a friend!
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