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TikTok Walmart

With TikTok deal, Walmart could gain ‘a front row seat to the next generation of consumers’ – CNBC

TikTok logo displayed on a phone screen is seen with Walmart logo in the background in this illustration photo taken on September 21, 2020.

Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Brick-and-mortar giant Walmart may seem like an odd match for TikTok, an algorithm-driven social platform known for hosting memes and viral dance challenges. But a closer look at Walmart’s e-commerce and digital media moves shows that TikTok could help it blend the in-store and online shopping experience, while giving it an edge with young Americans.

Walmart said Saturday that it has tenatively agreed to take a 7.5% stake of a newly created company based in the U.S. called TikTok Global. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon would get a seat on the five-person board of the new entity. Oracle would become TikTok’s cloud provider and a minority investor with a 12.5% stake.

The deal puts TikTok Global under significant U.S. ownership, but TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, will still have some say in the newly formed company. ByteDance’s CEO and founder Zhang Yiming will have a seat on TikTok Global’s board. ByteDance investors’ shares will transfer over and become TikTok Global shares. 

If approved, the deal would make official Walmart’s relationship with the app, which it already uses as a market research tool. One example is its recently released hot holiday toy list. To help discover what might be popular this holiday season, its buyers turned to TikTok for inspiration.

The app is wildly popular in the U.S., with a steep growth trajectory and strong fan following — especially among teens and twenty-somethings. More than 100 million Americans are monthly active users, the company said in late August. That grew by nearly 800% since Jan. 2018, when the application was used by about 11 million Americans. And it’s used frequently by its fans: More than 50 million people in the U.S. use it every day, the company said.

Walmart, by comparison, has an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million daily purchasers in the U.S., according to a recent research note by Credit Suisse.

A play for Gen Z

Industry watchers say the ties with TikTok could help the big-box retailer sharpen its approach to targeted ads, turn user data into business strategies and establish a relationship with a younger audience.

“For legacy brands, like a Walmart, being able to effectively introduce themselves is very important,” said Jason Dorsey, president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, who studies Gen Z and millennials. “There’s rarely moments where they can engage in such an intensely valued platform and really have a front row seat to the next generation of consumers. That’s what this could potentially give them.”

The deal is not yet done, however, and could get tripped up by government regulators and politicians in the U.S. or China. President Donald Trump said Saturday that he approved the companies’ plans, which could avert the app’s ban in the U.S. However, it is unclear if Chinese officials will greenlight the agreement.

Walmart declined to comment on how it plans to use TikTok, beyond what it said in late August when it confirmed it was seeking a stake and on Saturday when it announced a tentative partnership with Oracle. The retailer originally teamed up with Microsoft on a bid and was competing with Oracle.

In a company statement on Saturday, Walmart said it is still finalizing commercial agreements, but plans to provide “e-commerce, fulfillment, payments and other omnichannel services to TikTok Global.” It said the partnership will benefit the U.S. with more than 25,000 jobs and “exciting, innovative products for people to enjoy around the world.”

“TikTok has delighted hundreds of millions of users and creators around the world, and we are looking forward to creating an even more exciting experience for that community,” the statement said. “This partnership will provide Walmart with an important way for us to expand our reach and serve omnichannel customers as well as grow our third-party marketplace, fulfillment and advertising businesses.”

Seth Sigman, an analyst for Credit Suisse, said in a research note that the move could help Walmart reach consumers under age 44, a demographic where it has lagged. It could gain new appeal for vendors, too, and that could expand its assortment of brands.

Even with a minority stake in TikTok, he likened its significance to the largest deals in Walmart’s history: The $3.3 billion acquisition of online delivery start-up Jet.com, which set the retailer on a path for e-commerce growth, and its $16 billion acquisition of the majority of Indian start-up Flipkart, which broke it into a new marketplace and provided insights that it could use in the U.S.

Livestreams of shopping events

To get an idea of what Walmart might see in the short-form video app, look at Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. 

Like many social media platforms in China, Douyin has merged shopping and entertainment. Audiences tune into Douyin livestreams hosted by influencers, where they show off everything from lipstick to smartphones and direct consumers to buy them from Taobao, the e-commerce site owned by Alibaba

Should the deal go through, Walmart could use its minority stake to vie to become the e-commerce backend for TikTok Global’s business. For example, that would mean if an influencer promotes a new L’Oreal product via livestream, the associated link would direct them to buy it on Walmart.com. 

Livestreamed shopping events haven’t taken off in the U.S. yet, but global retailers, including Walmart, understand the sales potential that can be gleaned from these interactions. “There’s a race to build the preferred livestream platform in the U.S.,” said Jordan Berke, founder of Tomorrow Retail Consulting, who led Walmart’s e-commerce activities in China for nearly a decade. 

Walmart has experimented with livestreaming through its partnership with Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com. In 2016, Walmart’s McMillon promoted diapers in a livestream broadcast from the company’s first store in China. The stream was “a huge hit,” drawing more than 200,000 viewers at one point, Berke said. 

Walmart’s relationship with TikTok comes with risks, however, Dorsey said. It could subject Walmart to additional government oversight. It could link Walmart’s brand to TikTok’s actions, such as a potential data breach or a controversial action. And it could face backlash if TikTok’s content or its approach to advertising seems to lean to the right or left politically.

Some of TikTok’s teenage users, for example, took credit for lower-than-expected attendance at Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June, after they encouraged others to register for tickets and not show. Facebook has faced vocal criticism from politicians and boycotts from users over how the social media platform has been used to spread conspiracy theories or run political ads with false information.

He said Walmart will also have to be tactful in how it uses TikTok’s data. He said members of Gen Z, which range between the ages of 6 and 25, are more willing than any other generation to trade privacy for a better online experience. Even so, he added, there are limits.

“There’s a balance in finding the non-creepy level of engagement that says ‘Oh, it’s highly personalized, but it’s not ‘Big Brother,” he said. 

Dorsey, however, said Walmart’s embrace of the social media platform that skews heavily towards younger users is an excellent brand fit. He said the retailer’s emphasis on value and low prices will likely to resonate with Gen Z, a generation influenced by growing up during the Great Recession and sensing the economic anxiety of family members during those years. Gen Z tends to be “much more pragmatic with their money,” seeking out coupons, shopping at discounters and heading to thrift stores.

“Walmart is really putting themselves in the right place with the right generation that’s already predisposed to wanting to get a discount,” he said.

TikTok already helps guide some of Walmart’s decisions about how to stock its shelves. Brad Bedwell, Walmart’s merchandising director of preschool toys and omni merchandising, said its buyers consulted the app for trends as it helped choose top-rated toys for this holiday season. The retailer orders a higher volume of toys that make the list.

Bedwell said Walmart tries to tap into excitement around certain toys after teens and content creators discuss them or show them off on TikTok and other social media. This year that includes a high-definition video camera kit that allows kids to pick animated green screen backgrounds and do on-screen editing and a Sensory FX ASMR Mega Bar, which picks up on the trend of recording interesting sounds from around the house and sharing them on TikTok.

“It’s actually interesting to see how much those social media platforms drive the toy business, and then we try to leverage that to really connect them to how they can shop and buy toys,” he said.

Walmart may not be associated with flashy tech giants like Amazon and Facebook in the U.S., but the company has made several recent changes to its leadership and strategy that telegraph its plans to build a bigger, global e-commerce presence. Its most recent step was the launch of its subscription shopping service, Walmart+.

McMillon has been “studying digital ecosystems for five years,” while Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner previously led Walmart China’s marketing and merchandising operations and was based in Shenzhen, a major e-commerce hub for companies like Amazon.

China’s consumer shopping habits and the growth of companies like Alibaba and Tencent could serve as a guide for Walmart, should it deepen its ties with TikTok, Berke said.

“Walmart has been aware of the potential to create a digital ecosystem for some time — and aware of the fact that no one in the U.S. is doing it well,” Berke said. “So the moment there appeared to be an M&A opportunity with TikTok, it made perfect sense.”

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Microsoft Walmart

Walmart, Microsoft stocks fall as China’s new export rules throw wrench into potential deal for TikTok – MarketWatch

Shares of Walmart Inc.
WMT,
-2.22%

and Microsoft Corp.
MSFT,
-1.42%

fell Monday, enough to pace the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s
DJIA,
-0.76%

premarket decliners, after China’s move to tighten technology export rules threw a wrench in the companies’ potential acquisition of TikTok’s U.S. business. Walmart’s stock dropped 1.9% and Microsoft shares shed 1.0%. The implied price declines would shave roughly 32 points off the Dow’s price, while Dow futures
YM00,
-0.73%

edged up 2 points. China unveiled Friday export restrictions covering such computing and data processing technologies as text analysis, content recommendation, speech modeling and voice-recognition, saying technologies on the list can’t be exported without a license from local commerce authorities. “This is clearly directed at slowing down ByteDance’s deal negotiations in this game of high-stakes poker,” wrote Wedbush analyst Dan Ives in a note to clients. “With TikTok’s key algorithm at play, ByteDance/TikTok will likely now need to go through a licensing procedure around the need to transfer software code from China to the US (likely Redmond),” Ives wrote. Walmart and Microsoft were reportedly teaming up to make a bid for video sharing site TikTok.

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recall Walmart

Walmart, Aldi recall salad mixes due to cyclospora – WFLA

by: CNN Newsource

Posted:
/ Updated:

(CNN) – The Food and Drug Administration says it has linked more items to a multi-state outbreak of cyclospora infections.

Walmart Marketside classic iceberg salad bags are now part of the recall.

The recall applies to 12- and 24-ounce bags sold in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The products contain iceberg lettuce, carrots and red cabbage.

Officials say the Illinois company Fresh Express produced the salads.

Earlier this month, it recalled similar items sold at midwestern Aldi and Jewel-Osco stores.

The CDC says laboratory tests confirm cyclospora infections in 206 people. No one has died, but 23 patients have been hospitalized.

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bought Walmart

We bought Walmart’s $140 laptop so you wouldn’t have to – Ars Technica

a sheet of copper is not a “cooling system” —

EVOO’s 11.6″ EV-C-116-5 has more substantial problems than its low specs imply.


The cheerful purple chassis is by far the best thing about Walmart's cheapest laptop.

Enlarge / The cheerful purple chassis is by far the best thing about Walmart’s cheapest laptop.

Jim Salter

One glance at the specs on Walmart’s cheapest laptop—the EVOO EV-C-116-5—makes it clear to any technical enthusiast that the device is not exactly going to be a powerhouse. But the little laptop only costs $139, and its stats appear to stack up well with $200-$250 Chromebooks. So recently, I ponied up my credit card and ordered one. In purple.

Amongst us Arsians, it’s obvious that the EVOO is not going to be a good choice for a Windows laptop. With only 2GiB of RAM, the EVOO won’t be able to run anything without hammering virtual memory (swapping data from RAM to disk and back again). Beyond that, a 32GB SSD simply is not enough room for Windows itself, let alone any applications. The first time the EVOO tries to upgrade to a new build of Windows 10 (for example, Windows 10 build 2004, which just released last month), it will fail due to lack of space.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the laptop is entirely useless, though. Perhaps it could be reloaded with Linux—even “heavyweight” distributions like Ubuntu are considerably easier on both RAM and storage than Windows is. Heck, maybe even the assumption that a 2GiB RAM, 32GB SSD laptop can’t run Windows 10 well isn’t quite right. There was only one way to find out.

Specifications

Specs at a glance: EVOO EV-C-116-5
OS Windows 10 Home (S mode)
CPU dual-core AMD A4-9120
RAM 2GB DDR4
GPU integrated Radeon R3
Wi-Fi Realtek RTL873B—2.4GHz only, 802.11n + Bluetooth
SSD Foresee 32GB (29.8GiB) eMMC
Battery 4500 mAH @ 7.6V (34.2WH)
Display 11.6″ 1080p
Connectivity left side:

  • Barrel DC jack
  • USB3 type A
  • HDMI out

right side:

  • 3.5mm headset jack


    USB2 type A
  • MicroSD slot
Price as tested $139 at Walmart

The first thing any prospective shopper should know about cheap laptop designs like this one is that 32GB is absolutely not enough to sustainably run Windows 10. The second thing shoppers should know is that 32GB doesn’t, unfortunately, mean what they think it means—when the specification says GB, it means GB.

Windows measures storage in GiB, not GB—and 32GB is only 29.8GiB, of which another 1GiB is consumed in restoration directory, 3GiB is consumed by the Windows pagefile, and a few hundred MiB more are devoted to the hibernation file and swapfile.

If you’re wondering why there’s both a pagefile and a swapfile, it’s because of Windows UWP apps. They (and only they) use the “swapfile” rather than the “pagefile” in order to cache themselves for rapid opening on system reboot, among other things.

The 2GiB of RAM specified is also criminally low: even in S mode and on first boot, the system had only 300MiB of headroom in RAM. That means there’s effectively no memory to devote to operating-system caching, and the system is continuously hitting the pagefile hard enough to seem criminal.

The one part of this system that looks legitimately suited for purpose—the AMD A4-9120 CPU—also turns out to be a problem. Normally, the A4-9120 would be an excellent choice for a budget laptop or netbook, and it would compete strongly with Intel’s Celeron counterparts. The EV-C-116-5, unfortunately, is anything but “normal”—and the A4-9120 can’t perform up to its normal specifications.

First impressions

  • This is the 11.6″ EVOO, freshly booted into Windows 10 Home, sitting atop my Moft Z folding laptop stand.


    Jim Salter

  • On the left side, we have a DC barrel jack, a USB3 type A port, and an HDMI out. There’s no silk-screen label for these, and you need very good lighting to read the bas-relief icons.


    Jim Salter

  • The rear view of the EVOO is easily its best angle. I like its cheerfully colored, simple facade and relatively stylish logo in one corner.


    Jim Salter

  • On the EVOO’s right side, we have a 3.5mm headphone jack—precisely the same diameter as its DC barrel jack—a USB2 type A port, and a microSD card reader.


    Jim Salter

  • The EVOO’s keyboard is surprisingly nice on such a small, cheap system. EXCEPT for the inexplicable random relocation of the backslash, which will deplete the sanity of Windows and Linux power users alike.


    Jim Salter

I knew better than to have high hopes for the under-specced EVOO as a Windows machine, but I really wanted to like the little laptop. Its brightly colored plastic case is appealing but unassuming, and I had high hopes that it might still make a solid Chromebook alternative for Linux users.

The display on the EVOO is FHD 1080p, not the 1366×768 typical of many cheap laptops. This is a major plus for power users who need more screen real estate. Unfortunately, those same power users will want to defenestrate the little laptop, due to its strange rehoming of the backslash key. EVOO decided that the backslash, normally located directly above Enter, would be better off sandwiched between right-Alt and right-Ctrl.

Relocating this key is a problem on Windows, because the backslash is the directory separator when typing out paths on the command line or in the Explorer address bar. It’s also a problem on Linux command lines, where the backslash is the “escape” operator used to nullify special use-cases of characters. For example, one might cp !folder /tmp/ to copy a folder named !folder, since otherwise Bash would interpret the bang as an event.

The lack of silk-screening on the laptop’s side-mounted ports is yet another problem—the gray-on-gray bas-relief labeling is almost impossible to make out in normal lighting. When I first set this laptop up, I naively plugged the charger into the headphone jack, and it felt perfectly fine there. I didn’t realize my mistake until checking the battery and wondering why it wasn’t charging.

The USB ports on the laptop were very tight. I needed both hands and some determination to get a USB thumbdrive or wireless mouse radio inserted on either side of the laptop. I needed both hands and plenty of determination to get them out again, as well.

The plastic used for the EVOO’s chassis is unusually soft. The plastic is fairly thick and the laptop is small and light, so it doesn’t feel flimsy. But the soft plastic doesn’t bode well for scratch resistance, and it makes dealing with the stubborn USB plugs even more annoying.



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partners Walmart

Walmart partners with Shopify to expand its online marketplace – TechCrunch

Walmart this morning announced a new partnership with e-commerce shopping platform, Shopify, now used by over 1 million businesses. The deal will open Walmart’s Marketplace to Shopify’s small business sellers, with the goal of bringing 1,200 Shopify sellers to the marketplace this year. The partnership will greatly expand the reach of the participating brands by placing them in front of Walmart Marketplace’s 120 million monthly visitors.

The partnership is a direct shot at Amazon, which today promises third-party sellers the ability to reach more than 300 million customers worldwide and even offers help with shipping, returns and customer service by way of Fulfillment by Amazon.

Walmart, meanwhile, has been steadily working to make its own marketplace a more competitive offering. In fall 2018, for example, the retailer announced Walmart Marketplace items would be able to participate in its free, two-day shipping program and would be eligible for in-store returns. Today, Walmart describes its Marketplace’s growth as a “strategic priority.”

The partnership arrives at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has sent record numbers of consumers to shop online. Walmart notes its own U.S. e-commerce business grew 74% last quarter, due to the surge in pandemic-fueled shopping, which sent shoppers online for essentials like food, cleaning products and more. Walmart’s Marketplace business’s growth even outpaced the overall business, despite the strength of its first-party sales.

“We’re excited to be able offer customers an expanded assortment while also giving small businesses access to the surging traffic on Walmart.com,” said Jeff Clementz, vice president, Walmart Marketplace, in an announcement. “Shopify powers a dynamic portfolio of third-party sellers who are interested in growing their business through new, trusted channels. This integration will allow approved Shopify sellers to seamlessly list their items on Walmart.com, which gives Walmart customers access to a broader assortment,” he added.

With the launch of the Shopify integration, Walmart’s focus will be on those brands that can meet its shoppers’ needs. Specifically, Walmart says it will look for U.S.-based small and medium-sized businesses with an assortment that complements Walmart’s own, and that have a good track record in terms of customer service.

Shopify sellers are being invited to install the Walmart Marketplace app from Shopify’s App Store and determine their eligibility. If approved, the sellers can then add an unlimited number of products to Walmart Marketplace, while making changes to product images and inventory within Shopify. Those changes will immediately and automatically be reflected on Walmart’s site, the retailer says.

This sort of integration could be the first step in a potential Shopify acquisition further down the road — an idea that has often been floated as to how Walmart could better compete with Amazon’s dominance. But in the near-term, it turns Shopify’s seller network from one that rivals Walmart’s Marketplace to one that now fuels it. Over time, this can boost Walmart’s bottom line as it will benefit not only from marketplace listing fees but also from the increased traffic and sales that marketplace items will bring.

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joins Walmart

CVS joins Walmart in keeping multicultural beauty products out of locked cabinets – Reuters

FILE PHOTO: A logo of CVS Health is displayed on a monitor above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) – Drugstore chain CVS Health Corp (CVS.N) joined Walmart Inc (WMT.N) in announcing it will stop keeping beauty and personal care products designed for people of color in locked display cases, after the practice drew criticism online.

In the wake of nationwide protests in the U.S. against police brutality and racial inequality following the death of African American George Floyd last month, several companies have issued statements in support of the black community and set up funds to fight systematic racism.

The change in policy at both companies comes after a Walmart customer complained the practice of locking up items that cater to people of color was discriminatory.

“We have a firm-nondiscrimination policy that applies to all aspects of our business and our product protection measures have never been based on the race or ethnicity of our customers,” CVS said in an emailed statement on Friday.

The drugstore chain said it had expanded its selection of products in its textured hair and color cosmetics categories by 35% over the past year to add new brands that appeal to communities of color.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA.O) also said it is currently ensuring multicultural hair care and beauty products are not stored behind locked cases, which has been the case at a limited number of its stores.

Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph, Aishwarya Nair and Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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