Thursday June 21, 2018
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Giving huge discounts gets difficult for E-retailers

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Image source: www.digit.in

New Delhi: E-retailers, like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal may now find it difficult to provide lucrative discounts to attract customers as the new guidelines on online marketplaces prohibit such players to influence the prices of goods and services.

While the government permitted 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in marketplace e-commerce retailing, the guidelines stated that such entities will not directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods and services and shall maintain level playing field.

“Discounts can only be given by the owner of the goods or provider of services,” an official said.

“E-commerce guideline allows owner of inventory i.e sellers registered on marketplace to determine price including by giving discount,” Joint Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Atul Chaturvedi said in a series of tweets.

He said the guidelines strike balance between virtual and physical stores.

“It will also end predatory pricing and will provide level playing,” he said adding the norms will empower SMEs as they can now sell their products without any physical stores and create jobs.

Industry experts too said that the guidelines on pricing may impact big e-retailers.

“Going by the current guidelines, marketplace retailers will not be able to extend lucrative discounts to attract customers.

“However, it appears that with the consent and association of the owner of the inventory, the e-retailers may yet be able to provide additional promotional discounts,” Aamir Jariwala, Secretary, E-commerce Coalition said.

Government had yesterday allowed 100 per cent FDI through automatic route in most of e-commerce retailing, a development that will boost domestic as well as foreign players like Flipkart and Amazon.

While the decision to allow 100 per cent FDI in market place e-tail — where the company only provides platform for buyer and seller to connect — will help domestic players like Flipkart and Snapdeal to attract more foreign investment, it will also open the doors for the foreign retailers like Alibaba to set shop easily.

Although the decision was widely welcomed by e-retailers, traders body CAIT strongly opposed the decision, while IT industry body Nasscom said the 25 per cent cap may prove to be “restrictive”.

Credits: PTI

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Amazon’s Alexa Accidentally Taped And Shared Family Conversation With Contact

Amazon on Thursday described an "unlikely ... string of events" that made Alexa send an audio recording of the family to one of their contacts randomly.

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Assuring customers of Alexa's security is crucial to Amazon, which has ambitions for Alexa to be ubiquitous

A Portland, Oregon, family has learned what happens when Amazon.com Inc’s popular voice assistant Alexa is lost in translation.

Amazon on Thursday described an “unlikely … string of events” that made Alexa send an audio recording of the family to one of their contacts randomly. The episode underscored how Alexa can misinterpret conversation as a wake-up call and command.

A local news outlet, KIRO 7, reported that a woman with Amazon devices across her home received a call two weeks ago from her husband’s employee, who said Alexa had recorded the family’s conversation about hardwood floors and sent it to him.

“I felt invaded,” the woman, only identified as Danielle, said in the report. “A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, ‘I’m never plugging that device in again, because I can’t trust it.'”

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Alexa, which comes with Echo speakers and other gadgets, starts recording after it hears its name or another “wake word” selected by users. Pixabay

Alexa, which comes with Echo speakers and other gadgets, starts recording after it hears its name or another “wake word” selected by users. This means that an utterance quite like Alexa, even from a TV commercial, can activate a device.

That’s what happened in the incident, Amazon said. “Subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request,” the company said in a statement. “At which point,

Read More: Twitter Shutting Down Most of its TV Apps

Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list.”

Amazon added, “We are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”

Assuring customers of Alexa’s security is crucial to Amazon, which has ambitions for Alexa to be ubiquitous — whether dimming the lights for customers or placing orders for them with the world’s largest online retailer.

University researchers from Berkeley and Georgetown found in a 2016 paper that sounds unintelligible to humans can set off voice assistants in general, which raised concerns of exploitation by attackers. Amazon did not immediately comment on the matter, but it previously told The New York Times that it has taken steps to keep its devices secure.

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Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list.” Pixabay

Millions of Amazon customers have shopped with Alexa. Customers bought tens of millions of Alexa devices last holiday season alone, the company has said. That makes the incident reported Thursday a rare one. But faulty hearing is not.

“Background noise from our television is making it think we said Alexa,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said of his personal experience. “It happens all the time.” (VOA)