THE DAILY SCOPE, 11/15/20: It’s hard for consumers – much less the rest of us — to always resist the same- or next-day delivery pull of Amazon, but let’s not forget the effect its speedy delivery has on some warehouse workers. What good are $15-an-hour or more wages when algorithm-driven productivity quotas and a lack of transparency over workplace COVID cases send injured or ill workers home, to the hospital, or worse. So it’s a good thing that California and Amazon today reached a settlement whereby the e-tailing behemoth has to notify its 10,000-plus workers in the Golden State of the exact number of workplace COVID cases within 24 hours (and local health agencies within 48 hours).
Between COVID and the realization that working from home is sometimes better than commuting into the workplace, workers are skipping the risks entirely and continuing to quit their jobs. The “Great Resignation” continues apace, with a record 4.4 million Americans quitting their jobs in September, which is way more than the previously most jaw-dropping statistic of 3.6 million who quit in May. Even in-store Santas are in short supply. Add the inventory shortage and it’s suddenly not surprising that businesses big and small are increasingly turning to robotics and automation. According to Anodot and Researchscape’s 2021 eCommerce Outlook report, 81 percent of e-commerce retailers plan to up their spending on AI tools to increase sales.
In other next-gen news, Walmart, Coinstar, and Coinme have announced a partnership to place bitcoin ATMs at 200 of the big-box store’s brick-and-mortar locations. The kiosks will let consumers exchange cash for bitcoin and vice versa. Meanwhile, check printing company Deluxe still devotes a third of its business to paper checks. As the company’s CEO Barry McCarthy told PaymentsDive: “The check is not dead.”
And lastly, if you’re wondering which electronics and toys are going to sell most this holiday season – you know, in case you want to stock up — look no further than the top creators and influencers on YouTube and TikTok, where a 2020 study found that children ages 4-15 spend an average of 85 and 45 minutes a day respectively. You need to move fast, because YouTube will be launching livestream and shoppable video features starting next week. By the way, some of these influencers are kids themselves, or even bots.
But that’s not even the most mind-blowing bot or pandemic-era supply chain slowdown news of the day. According to a fascinating report in Bloomberg Businessweek, the need for products has generated a “cat-and-mouse” game between retailers and resellers, with the latter using bot-based programs to search for SKUs and purchase products such as PlayStation 5s, sneakers, and more, at scale and then reselling them online. Walmart and other big-box retailers are working with security and networking companies such as Akamai to combat the issue. Think concert ticket scalpers but for hard goods. And to bring this all full-circle: Did we mention that according to experts quoted in this article, some of these resellers are 15-year-old kids?
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