Though April Fools’ Day is behind us, the mishaps of last week’s news haven’t quite gone away. While we had our own share of April Fools’ fun here at PYMNTS, there were some companies who probably wished their recent headlines were fiction rather than fact.
Amazon’s attempt to reinvent the grocery shopping experience has hit a major delay, a technical glitch at a bank in Germany made an error worth billions and Waze is looking to cash in on adding an order ahead feature to its navigation and traffic portfolio.
This week’s Data Dive explores some of the latest news that could have passed as pranks but are actually as real as it gets.
Amazon Go’s Roadblock
Amazon is one of those companies that you don’t often see missing the mark. Okay, well, there was the Fire Phone, but still…
Which made news of a delay to the eCommerce giant’s brick-and-mortar grocery shopping experience a surprise. The Amazon Go concept was announced by the company last December, making waves in the retail industry with its “Just Walk Out” technology. That means customers will be allowed access to the store with their smartphone, which will already have the necessary Amazon Go app downloaded. Once they tap the digital turnstile and start shopping, the store’s technology uses a combination of sensors, computer vision and deep learning to understand what each customer picks up and then adds it to their bill.
If customers put an item back, it senses that too. When the customer leaves the store, the app bills the purchases to the customer’s card on file and pings over a receipt. The video released likens the technology to that which is found in self-driving cars.
In theory it sounds like a revolutionary take on the traditional retail concept, but unfortunately, Amazon won’t be launching its first Amazon Go location in early 2017 like it originally anticipated.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon will have to delay the opening of its cashier-less store in order to work out some kinks that came about during employee beta testing. Reportedly, the system for monitoring and tracking customer item selection experienced technical difficulties when attempting to keep tabs on items once they had been moved from the shelf, when more than 20 people were in the store at one time.
Though Amazon has not yet provided a comment on the delay or when the public can expect the Amazon Go location to be ready for business, it looks like shoppers will have to wait a bit longer — and that grocers will have a bit more time to prepare for the “Amazon Effect” to hit their market segment.
The $5.4B Bank Tech Glitch
Technical difficulties can be costly in any business, but especially when a money transfer for billions of dollars is made in error.
The state-owned German bank KfW mistakenly transferred more than $5.4 billion to four banks, due to a technical glitch last week. The trouble started when a single payment was repeated several times because of a system error, which ultimately resulted in the total amount transferred erroneously, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.
The bank said it has “immediately started comprehensive internal and external audits in order to clarify the causes of the incident in detail and to draw the corresponding conclusions.” The report noted KfW got wind of the mistake by Germany’s Bundesbank, which informed KfW it had overdrawn on its account.
“KfW has detected the system’s incorrect behavior very early in the process, immediately mitigated the unwanted action and started the necessary process of analyzing the causes,” the bank said in an emailed statement. “The mistake was rapidly identified and eliminated, and the amounts overpaid were successfully demanded back. We regret that, during works on the systems, this incident could happen due to human error owing to a configuration mistake.”
Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time KfW has found itself in this predicament.
The bank previously mistakenly transferred millions of euros to now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers a day before it filed for bankruptcy in the U.S.
Often, mistakes like this can occur because of dated technology, which poses a broader security risk. This is an issue Germany’s BaFin, the financial watchdog, has brought to light recently. BaFin has already hit KfW with a capital surcharge because of outdated IT, the report noted.
Take This Left, and Order a Donut Ahead?
Waze, the Google-owned traffic and navigation app, is rolling out a new way to help hungry drivers on-the-go.
Not only is the app going to continue helping millions get to their destinations on time, now it also has ambitions to help them get their meals on time as well.
It may sound like a stretch, but Waze is adding on a feature to provide drivers with the ability to order ahead at some of the local fast-food buying opportunities it already features. The new capability will make it possible to get coffee and other items from Dunkin’ Donuts on-the-go, a tie-in that is the first of its kind for Waze.
Pending how the trial run with Dunkin’ Donuts goes, it may not be long before other merchants jump onboard in order to gain access to Waze’s millions of users.
If navigating to a destination and ordering a donut isn’t on a driver’s path, the order-ahead possibilities through Waze may not always be limited to food. Users may one day be able to reserve parking spaces, fill prescriptions and even buy groceries without having to open another app on their phones.
“It could be almost anything that a driver could order ahead and have ready for pick up,” Jordan Grossman, head of Waze’s business partnerships in North America, explained.
Drivers using Waze’s order-ahead option will need the Dunkin’ Donuts app and will need to register for the brand loyalty program — though they will not have to open the app.
“Waze involves the ritualistic behavior of driving to work on your daily commute, and we are a brand built on a ritual too,” Scott Hudler, chief digital officer for Dunkin’ Brands, added.
So what did we learn this week?
While you can’t believe everything you read, especially around April Fools’ Day, sometimes a headline that just doesn’t make sense is surprisingly true.