Any Other Business: 21 August 2020

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Discover content team
3 min read
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This week’s AOB looks at the latest e-commerce news from around the world including Amazon’s upcoming event to boost SMBs, and how virtual reality technology is helping the tourism industry to recover.    

Technology startup invests in the power of words

Undoubtedly, an e-commerce website’s product descriptions can make or break a sale, which makes the technology being developed by startup Hypotenuse AI1 hugely relevant. The company uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically generate SEO optimized copywriting for e-commerce websites in seconds.

Hypotenuse AI’s founder Joshua Wong, who has a background working as an applied machine learning scientist for Amazon’s Alexa assistant, was inspired to find a solution after experiencing challenges when helping his friend write effective copy for his new website. Aware of how important SEO is to attract customers to e-commerce websites, Wong began developing technology to automate the process. “We use computer vision to understand product images really well. And we use this together with any metadata that the product already has to generate a very ‘human fluent’ type of description. We can do this really quickly – we can generate thousands of them within seconds”, he explains2.  

The startup is building its own proprietary dataset to further help with training language models – it will be able to generate copy specific to the image, but also in line with the e-commerce client’s existing writing style so the output stays on brand.

Amazon plans special event to give sellers expert boost

Small and medium e-commerce business owners – listen up: Amazon US is hosting a special, three-day virtual event to support and guide your digital growth in the current climate.   

Amazon Accelerate3, taking place virtually September 1-3, is a free event for both existing Amazon sellers looking for tips to grow, and small businesses considering selling online for the first time. It will feature Amazon executives, current sellers, and independent online selling experts who will share their insights and best practice tips for how small businesses can thrive in the online marketplace. Attendees can choose from more than 60 sessions of engaging content over the course of the event, including panels, lightning talks, and live Q&As with Amazon experts.

Those wishing to attend will need to register online first; in the meantime, don’t forget to check out our Product Listing SEO guide for online marketplaces and guide to selling on online marketplaces to give your store a boost today!  

US fast-food favorite adds upcycling to the menu

US restaurant chain Chipotle4 has launched a new e-commerce website dedicated to a range of sustainable products. Chipotle Goods5 features branded accessories, and a fashion collection made from organic cotton and dyed with upcycled avocado pits from its restaurants.

The company is a longstanding advocate of social responsibility, and the idea was inspired by its desire to do something resourceful with the nearly 300 million avocado pits its guacamole-famous restaurants are left with every year6. All profits from the collection will go towards organizations that support sustainable farming and fashion. Read about DHL’s own commitment to sustainable logistics.

Can virtual reality save the tourism industry?

The travel and tourism industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. Now, one travel platform has become the latest business to adapt its digital offering in order to survive the current climate.

LokaLocal7, a website that allows travelers to book accommodation, tours and unique experiences at destinations in Southeast Asia, has unveiled virtual reality technology to transform the way people discover destinations in Malaysia and inspire them to visit once global travel restrictions ease.

The technology provides interactive, 360-degree virtual tours which can be combined with stories, videos and audio. So far, the platform has created customized virtual experiences for hotels, resorts, museums and travel attractions which are then integrated with their booking systems.  

Chin Yoon Khen, LokaLocal’s CEO explained: “We’re empowering businesses who want to take their stories and marketing message to a new dimension. Going virtual facilitates content discovery for venues and activities, while boosting engagement and providing real value.”8

Customers expect more in a post-pandemic world – are you ready?

A new survey9 by Periscope by McKinsey10 has revealed some insights into how consumers’ online shopping behaviors have been changed by the pandemic.

Periscope gathered the views of 2,500 consumers from the US, the UK, Germany and France in early March and then again in early June to compare changes in their attitudes. When they shopped online in June, consumers from all countries said they assigned greater value to informative product descriptions and clear product images than before – ranking this as one of the top three factors for a great online browsing experience. Fast-loading web pages also became a higher priority, with 53% of US respondents calling it an important feature in June versus 39% in March.

The report expands: “It’s now more important than ever that the digital experience be truly ‘zero friction’, delivering consistently on attributes consumers care most about: free and fast delivery and returns, clear and detailed product descriptions and images, and quick page loading.”

COVID-19 may have changed the rules of the e-commerce game, but our top tips will help you ensure your online store is in prime position to meet customers’ new expectations.  

1 - Hypotenuse AI

2 - Joshua Wong, Tech Crunch, August 2020 

 3 - Amazon Accelerate

 4 - Chipotle

5 - Chipotle Goods

6 - Newsroom.Chipotle, August 2020  

7 - LokaLocal

8 - Chin Yoon Khen, Travel Daily Media, July 2020  

9 - Periscope by McKinsey survey, Digital Commerce 360, August 2020

10 - Periscope by McKinsey