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Big Revolution - Giving online retail a personal touch

Welcome to Friday's Big Revolution. Yesterday, I linked to the holding page for the forthcoming Big R
December 7 · Issue #285 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s Big Revolution. Yesterday, I linked to the holding page for the forthcoming Big Revolution website, but you might have got an ugly holding page for the holding page instead if you clicked through. If you’re nosy, go take a look at the real thing. More on that front in the new year.

Big things you need to know today
  • Microsoft is bringing its Edge browser to the Mac, as well as Windows 7 and 8. In the future, it will use the Chromium browser engine to render web pages, and support Chrome extensions. Chrome truly has won the browser wars… for now…
  • Uber’s big US rival Lyft is set to launch an IPO in 2019, ahead of Uber.
  • Google Translate is becoming fairer in how it handles gender, giving both male and female translations, where previously bias in machine learning meant often only stereotypical answers were given (“he is an engineer,” for example). Non-binary gender translations will follow.
The big thought
Credit: Benjamin Dada on Unsplash
Giving online retail a personal touch
Online shopping is set to become more direct and more personal. The ‘pile it high and sell it fast through a ludicrously efficient website’ model may still be prevalent, but I’m fascinated by some of the attempts to bring a bit of old-school direct salesmanship to online shopping.
Earlier this week, I watched this video interview (don’t ask why it’s on Yahoo Sports, I have no idea) with the founder of Threads, a luxury fashion retailer that sells exclusively through the messaging apps its customers already use (WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat etc). The next day, I met a startup working on a product that would essentially any retailer to do the same thing.
Meanwhile, Facebook has announced that it’s testing a QVC-style shopping feature that will allow merchants to show off a product on video. As TechCrunch explains, “customers can screenshot something they want to buy and use Messenger to send it to the seller, who can then request payment right through the chat app.”
I suspect these more direct and interactive sales methods will work best for luxury goods, or at least items with a relatively high pricetag or that are one of a kind. But if people like buying this way, a lot of the experience could be automated through chatbots. Still, I don’t expect we’ll be ordering our weekly food shop this way any time soon.
These kinds of shopping experiences are far more common in China than they are in the West, where chat apps are the platform of choice for just about everything, but there’s no reason it can’t work here.
Stories are gradually taking over as the prevalent way of sharing what we’re up to on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere, and these new shopping experiences fit that paradigm perfectly. I’m excited to see where it leads.
One big read
Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto's Nouveau Riche Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto's Nouveau Riche
A fascinating dispatch from a cryptocurrency cruise. It’s pretty much what you’d expect, and I’d rather be anywhere else.
One big tweet
Click through for a good thread about why Chrome isn’t the new Internet Explorer 6, as many people keep saying.
Justin Schuh 🗑
The whole "Chrome is the new IE6" argument is objectively wrong, and really the worst kind of FUD. So, I'm going to try to put it to rest by providing some relevant history, and calling out just how much Chrome differs from IE6. [1/8]
12:05 AM - 7 Dec 2018
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow with a weekend edition, packed with good reads. In the meantime, please share this newsletter with someone you think might like it, and encourage them to subscribe by giving them this link. And if you’d like to help support me in bringing this newsletter to you every day (it’s a good 10 hours per week!) please consider becoming a member.
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