Saving private labels in Covid season, Technology News, ETtech

Saving private labels in Covid season, Technology News, ETtech

Saving private labels in Covid season, Technology News, ETtech

Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

At a time when consumers are looking for low-cost options and as products from large FMCG players have become scarce on online platforms, players such as BigBasket, Grofers, Amazon and Flipkart have seen sales of their private labels in essential categories grow strongly.

Industry executives and analysts told ET that private brands in categories such as pulses, detergents and personal care have received a boost over the past five weeks as the country went under lockdown to stem the spread of the outbreak.

Consumers are preferring to buy lower-cost alternatives to tried and tested brands as spending is hit due to the uncertainty surrounding the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts said.

For instance, Amazon’s Presto brand floor cleaner is 25% cheaper than rival Reckitt Benckiser’s market leading Lizol. A similar product from BigBasket is priced at least 15% lower, while Flipkart’s Supermart-branded floor cleaner is 50% cheaper than Lizol.

BigBasket and Grofers said they have been able to directly work with manufacturers to make staples and hygiene products available faster than traditional FMCG channels.

This momentum is expected to continue in the mid- to long-term, with India’s largest e-grocer BigBasket expecting the contribution of private labels to overall sales to rise to 45% from 35% in the next six months.

“Certain categories like health, bakery, organic milk, ghee, chocolates, snacks will drive this growth,” said Hari Menon, CEO of BigBasket.

Rival Grofers is also looking at private labels accounting for 60% of sales, up from 40% in the same timeframe.

“We plan to invest $15 million in our owned brands over the next year and are looking to invest $25-$50 million in the supply chain and owned brands combined over the next two years,” Albinder Dhindsa, co-founder and CEO of Grofers told ET.

Grofers wants to increase the availability of its private brands from 350 corner stores to 2,000 in the next six months, he added.

“Our goal is to provide customers with more choices and we work closely with local manufacturer, brands and sellers to fill selection gaps with products that they are searching for,” an Amazon spokesperson told ET.

Flipkart did not respond to ET’s queries seeking comment.

E-commerce firms have also been able to scale up supply of private labels more meaningfully than that of products from third-party brands amid the ongoing lockdown.

“We were in talks, and continue to be in talks, with all large FMCG brands, but even they have been facing challenges in terms of opening up factories and getting back labour,” said a senior executive at a leading e-commerce marketplace. “So, it was much easier for us to scale our own brands to meet consumer demand.”

It is a good opportunity to scale up private labels at a time when consumers have limited options and are sometimes forced to buy whatever is available, the executive, who did not want to be named, added., Snapdeal in US 'notorious' markets list, Technology News, ETtech, Snapdeal in US ‘notorious’ markets list, Technology News, ETtech, Snapdeal in US 'notorious' markets list, Snapdeal and four Indian shopping complexes have figured in the US’ 2020 edition of the ‘Notorious Markets’ list for counterfeiting and piracy.

The US trade representative’s (USTR) office listed Amazon’s web domains in India, Canada, France, Germany and the UK, along with four markets in India -Tank Road in Delhi, Heera Panna in Mumbai, Kidderpore in Kolkata and Millennium Centre in Aizawl. Amazon meanwhile termed it an act of political vendetta.

“We strongly disagree with the characterisation of Amazon in this USTR report. This purely political act is another example of the Administration using the US government to advance a personal vendetta against Amazon,” an Amazon spokesperson emailed when asked for comment.

“We are an active, engaged stakeholder in the fight against counterfeit, and we call on lawmakers to increase funding and resources for law enforcement agencies so we can hold the real criminals accountable,” the spokesperson said.

In all, the USTR annual list has 38 online markets and 34 physical markets that are reported to engage in or facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy.

Coronavirus: WHO Expert Calls For Mobile Phone Tracking

Coronavirus: Amazon Thermal Cameras | Silicon UK Tech News

Chinese firm banned by the United States over allegations it aided the Chinese government, supplies thermal cameras to Amazon for Coronavirus protection

Amazon’s efforts to safeguard its workforce during the Coronavirus pandemic has hit a potential bump in the road, after it was reported that it is using technology from a blacklisted Chinese firm.

The firm in question is Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co Ltd, which has been blacklisted by US authorities over allegations it helped the Chinese government detain and monitor the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Last week hundreds of Amazon staff in the United States reportedly called in ‘sick’ over protests that Amazon allegedly failed to provide adequate safety measures and has refused paid sick leave.

Image credit: Amazon
Image credit: Amazon

Thermal camera

Amazon at the start of April began instituting anti-pandemic measures including taking the temperature of staff upon their arrival at work and spraying disinfectant.

It also revealed it was building its own coronavirus testing facility in order to monitor the health of its staff.

More than 130 Amazon-owned facilities in the US have reportedly confirmed cases of Covid-19, with some locations including multiple affected individuals.

That led to protests by some staff, and matters were not helped when the firm fired staff members who criticised cleaning in its warehouses that have reported cases of Covid-19.

Five US senators wrote to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos demanding more information on the firing of Christian Smalls.

Smalls had alleged that Amazon had not properly cleansed the warehouse after an employee was struck down with Covid-19.

But now according to Reuters, Zhejiang Dahua Technology has shipped 1,500 cameras to Amazon this month in a deal valued close to $10 million. Reuters reported that at least 500 systems from Dahua are for Amazon’s use in the United States.

Legal purchase

The Amazon procurement is reportedly legal because the rules control US government contract awards and exports to blacklisted firms, but they do not prevent sales to the private sector.

That said, the United States “considers that transactions of any nature with listed entities carry a ‘red flag’ and recommends that US companies proceed with caution,” according to the Bureau of Industry and Security’s website.

Dahua has disputed the designation, Reuters reported.

Amazon declined to confirm its purchase from Dahua, but said its hardware complied with national, state and local law, and its temperature checks were to “support the health and safety of our employees, who continue to provide a critical service in our communities.”

Amazon also said it was implementing thermal imagers from “multiple” manufacturers, which it declined to name. However it seems that Amazon has also sourced thermal cameras from Infrared Cameras Inc and FLIR.

Amazon has assured that its thermal cameras doesn’t have network connectivity, and no personal identifiable information will be visible, collected, or stored.

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Amazon tests screening new merchants for fraud via video calls in pandemic - Latest News

Amazon tests screening new merchants for fraud via video calls in pandemic – Latest News Inc is piloting the use of video conference calls to verify the identity of merchants who wish to sell goods on its websites, in a new plan to counter fraud without in-person meetings in the pandemic, the company said on Sunday.

The world’s largest online retailer has long faced scrutiny over how it polices counterfeits and allegedly unsafe products on its platform. Fakes have frustrated top labels like Apple Inc and Nike Inc and discouraged some from selling via Amazon at all.

Amazon said its pilot began early this year and included in-person appointments with prospective sellers. However, it switched exclusively to video conferencing in February because of social distancing requirements related to the highly contagious coronavirus, which has infected more than 2.9 million people globally.

The interview vetting, on top of other risk-screening performed by Amazon, has been piloted with more than 1,000 merchant applicants based in China, the United States, United Kingdom and Japan, Amazon said.

The extra scrutiny by Amazon could make it harder for some China-based sellers, who have registered multiple accounts using private internet networks or fake utility bills. China-based merchants accounted for 40% of the top 10,000 Amazon sellers in Europe, according to 2019 research from firm Marketplace Pulse.

Fitbit Versa 2, Charge 3, Inspire savings continue in December

Amazon slashes prices on a number of popular Fitbits

Fitbits are some of the most popular wearables out there. They are a great tool to help you boost your health and fitness. If you’re looking to snag a deal on a smartwatch or fitness tracker right now, look no further than Amazon.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

As more and more players enter the market wearables are becoming cheaper, but it is still the big brand names which dominate sales. This is for a reason. Hardware can sometimes be easier to emulate than software and it is companies such as Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung and Apple that still offer the better overall package.

here s what to do if your fitbit gps is not connecting - Amazon slashes prices on a number of popular Fitbits

Fitbit has released in 2019 the Versa 2, Versa Lite and Inspire range. The first of these is a great device and is our recommendation for someone looking for a fitness watch. Inspire HR and its non-heart rate variant are great options for someone just starting to track fitness.

The latest device to join the pack is Charge 4. An update to Fitbit’s best selling Charge 3, it adds built-in GPS, NFC as default and some software-based improvements.

For the average person who is interested in tracking their fitness around the clock and does the occasional run here and there, any Fitbit fitness tracker will do. If you are a swimmer or are after something more sophisticated, one of the devices in the Versa lineup is the way to go.

Here’s our pick of the current deals on Amazon.

Fitbit Versa range

fitbit charge 3 and versa black friday deals finally go live - Amazon slashes prices on a number of popular Fitbits
Image source: Fitbit

When it comes to features, devices in the Versa range put fitness first. They come with everything you’d expect from a Fitbit device, along with capturing real-time stats on 20 different types of activities including swimming. Admittedly there is the lack of built-in GPS (in favor of Connected GPS), but you are unlikely to notice this unless you are an avid runner. This also helps keep the price down.

Versa Lite is the more affordable version of Fitbit’s popular smartwatch. It doesn’t have on-board Wi-Fi and on-board storage for music of its big brother but comes with everything else.

The main reason for choosing Versa 2 over Versa is the bigger, more high-res display. You also have an always-on option, slightly longer battery life and some extras such as Alexa built-in. However the original remains a solid option.

All things considered, this is a great smartwatch. Its simple to use and comes with most things the average person would want from a fitness device.


Fitbit Charge 3

fitbit charge 3 and versa black friday deals finally go live 1 - Amazon slashes prices on a number of popular Fitbits
Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit Charge 3 is one of the best fitness bands for the average person who does the occasional run here and there. It comes with a large OLED, high-res display, water-proofing and excellent 7 day battery life.

You’ll find everything you need for 24/7 activity monitoring, along with a great software ecosystem. Last but certainly not least are the smart features. These have progressed so much that they are starting to blend the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch.

Granted, this device has now been superseded by Charge 4. However, if you don’t need built-in GPS or payments on the go, Charge 3 is still a great option. Particularly now that its prices have been slashed.


Fitbit Ace 2

savings can be picked up now on most fitbit wearables - Amazon slashes prices on a number of popular Fitbits
Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit’s kid-friendly sequel is a great option for the 6 and above. It has a swim proof, colourful design and comes with a rugged casing.

The screen is nice and large, so much that the gizmo looks more like a smartwatch than a fitness tracker. The bumpers around the display serve to protect the wearable.

In terms of activity, Ace 2 tracks all-day steps and active minutes, sleep, there’s a 1-hour active minutes goal (as per WHO recommendations), virtual badges and more.


Fitbit Ionic

amazon slashes prices on popular fitbits for black friday deals week 1 - Amazon slashes prices on a number of popular Fitbits
Image source: Fitbit

With its blocky, retro design, Ionic may not be a looker but at least it packs some decent specs under the hood. When it comes to activity monitoring, the watch offers quite a bit.

For outdoor fitness tracking, the built-in GPS/GLONASS will keep tabs on your pace, distance, elevation and split times. Fitbit has, however, taken its first real smartwatch beyond the fitness tracking environment. You get 2.5GB of internal storage for music, notifications and payments.


Fitbit Flyer headphones

amazon slashes prices on popular fitbits for black friday deals week 4 - Amazon slashes prices on a number of popular Fitbits
Image source: Fitbit

If dad already has a great fitness tracker, pair it with the Fitbit Flyer wireless headphones. These buds are sweat-proof and water resistant so will survive the most robust of workouts, come rain or shine. You’ll get 6 hours playtime with music and call controls via the 3-button control box. A 15-minute quick charge over Micro USB will get you another hour of battery life.

The headphones are able to connect with two devices at the same time so you can keep them talking to both your smartphone and smartwatch. There’s the additional bonus of a quick pairing feature with Ionic.


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