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AI

7 AI startups aim to give retailers a happy holiday season

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Nothing is hotter than artificial intelligence (AI) startups that can help retailers win big this holiday shopping season. 

According to eMarketer, retailers are turning to artificial intelligence to tackle everything from supply chain challenges and price optimization to self-checkout and fresh food. And retail AI is a massive, fast-growing segment filled with AI startups looking to break into a market that is estimated to hit over 40 billion by 2030.  

These are seven of the hottest AI startups that are helping retailers meet their holiday goals: 

Afresh: The AI startup solving for fresh food

Founded in 2017, San Francisco-based Afresh has been on a tear this year, raising a whopping $115 million in August. Afresh helps thousands of stores tackle the complex supply chain questions that have always existed around the perimeter of the supermarket — with its fruits, vegetables, fresh meat and fish. That is, how can stores make sure they have enough perfectly ripe, fresh foods available, while minimizing losses and reducing waste from food that is past its prime? 

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According to a company press release, Afresh is on track to help retailers save 34 million pounds of food waste by the end of 2022. It uses AI to analyze a supermarket’s previous demand and data trends, which allows grocers to keep fresh food for as little time as possible. The platform uses an algorithm to assess what is currently in the store, with a “confidence interval” that includes how perishable the item is. Workers help train the AI-driven model by periodically counting inventory by hand. 

AiFi: AI-powered cashierless checkout

Santa Clara, California-based AiFi offers a frictionless and cashierless AI-powered retail solution deployed in diverse locations such as sports stadiums, music festivals, grocery store chains and college campuses. Steve Gu cofounded AiFi in 2016 with his wife, Ying Zheng, and raised a fresh $65 million in March. Both Gu and Zheng have Ph.D.s in computer vision and spent time at Apple and Google.

AiFi deploys AI models through numerous cameras placed across the ceiling, in order to understand everything happening in the shop. Cameras track customers throughout their shopping journey, while computer vision recognizes products and detects different activities, including putting items onto or grabbing items off the shelves.

Beneath the platform’s hood are neural network models specifically developed for people-tracking as well as activity and product recognition. AiFi also developed advanced calibration algorithms that allow the company to re-create the shopping environment in 3D.

Everseen: AI and computer vision self-checkout

Everseen has been around since 2007, but 2022 was a big year for the Cork, Ireland-based company, which offers AI and computer vision-based self-checkout technology. In September, Kroger Co., America’s largest grocery retailer, announced it is moving beyond the pilot stage with Everseen’s solution, rolling out to 1,700 grocery stores and reportedly including it at all locations in the near future.

The Everseen Visual AI platform captures large volumes of unstructured video data using high-resolution cameras, which it integrates with structured POS data feeds to analyze and make inferences about data in real-time. It provides shoppers with a “gentle nudge” if they make an unintentional scanning error.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Everseen: In 2021, the company settled a lawsuit with Walmart over claims the retailer had misappropriated the Irish firm’s technology and then built its own similar product. 

Focal Systems: Real-time shelf digitization

Burlingame, California-based Focal Systems, which offers AI-powered real-time shelf digitization for brick-and-mortar retail, recently hit the big time with Walmart Canada. The retailer is rolling out Focal Systems’ solution, which uses shelf cameras, computer vision and deep learning, to all stores following a 70-store pilot. 

Founded in 2015, Focal Systems was born out of Stanford’s Computer Vision Lab. In March, the company launched its FocalOS “self-driving store” solution, which automates order writing and ordering, directs stockers, tracks productivity per associate, optimizes category management on a per store basis and manages ecommerce platforms to eliminate substitutions. 

According to the company, corporate leaders can view any store in real-time to see what their shelves look like and how stores are performing.  

Hivery: Getting store assortments right

South Wales, Australia-based Hivery tackles the complex challenges around battles for space in brick-and-mortar retail stores. It helps stores make decisions around how to use physical space, set up product displays and optimize assortments. It offers “hyper-local retailing” by enabling stores to customize their assortments to meet the needs of local customers. 

Hivery’s SaaS-based, AI-driven Curate product uses proprietary ML and applied mathematics algorithms developed and acquired from Australia’s national science agency. They claim a process that takes six months is reduced to around six minutes, thanks to the power of AI/ML and applied mathematics techniques.

Jason Hosking, Hivery’s cofounder and CEO, told VentureBeat in April that Hivery’s customers can make rapid assortment scenario strategies simulations around SKU rationalization, SKU introduction and space while considering any category goal, merchandising rules and demand transference.  Once a strategy is determined, Curate can generate accompanying planograms for execution. 

Lily AI: Connecting shoppers to products

Just a month ago, Lily AI, which connects a retailer’s shoppers with products they might want, raised $25 million in new capital – no small feat during these tightening times. 

When Purva Gupta and Sowmiya Narayanan launched Lily AI in 2015, the Mountain View, California-based company looked to address a thorny e-commerce challenge – shoppers that leave a site before buying. 

For customers that include ThredUP and Everlane, Lily AI uses algorithms that combine deep product tagging with deep psychographic analysis to power a web store’s search engines and product discovery carousels. For example, Lily will capture details about a brand’s product style and fits and use customer data from other brands to create a prediction of a customer’s affinity to attributes of products in the catalog. 

Shopic: One of several smart cart AI startups

Tel Aviv-based Shopic has been making waves with its AI-powered clip-on device, which uses computer vision algorithms to turn shopping carts into smart carts. In August, Shopic received a $35 million series B investment round. 

Shopic claims it can identify more than 50,000 items once they are placed in a cart in real time while displaying product promotions and discounts on related products. Its system also acts as a self-checkout interface and provides real-time inventory management and customer behavioral insights for grocers through its analytics dashboard, the company said. Grocers can receive reports that include aisle heatmaps, promotion monitoring and new product adoption metrics. 

Shopic faces headwinds, though, with other AI startups in the smart cart space: Amazon’s Dash Carts are currently being piloted in Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh, while Instacart recently acquired Caper AI. 

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Categories
Game

‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3’ will hit theaters in the 2024 holiday season

The first two Sonic movies were solid hits for Paramount. So much so, the studio has confidence the previously announced third movie can be successful even during the competitive holiday season. As such, it gave Sonic the Hedgehog 3 a release date of December 20th, 2024.

Few details have been revealed about the third entry in the series as yet. It’s unclear whether Jim Carrey will return as Dr. Robotnik after the actor said he was considering retiring from acting. Meanwhile, a spin-off series focused on Knuckles (Idris Elba) is coming to Paramount+ next year.

Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic 2 were released in February 2020 and April 2022, respectively, with the latter becoming the highest-grossing video-game film in the US. It’s also the ninth highest-grossing movie of the year so far after raking in just over $400 million worldwide. Sonic 3 will be competing against the likes of Avatar 3 and a movie version of the Broadway show Wicked.

Elsewhere, a Sonic-themed Fall Guys event starts on Thursday and runs until Monday. In the new Bean Hill Zone level, you’ll be tasked with collecting rings to earn rewards such as Sonic sneakers. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Super Sonic and Dr. Robotnik outfits will be available in the store during the event, as will a Sonic foot tap emote. A Sonic skin was previously available in the game soon after it launched in August 2020. A Knuckles outfit appeared in the store last year too.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Categories
Game

You Gifted a Video Game Console Last Holiday. Now What?

Let’s say you were one of the lucky ones who actually did manage to get your loved one a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X last holiday season. First off, congratulations. That was no small feat and I’m sure you’re thanking your lucky stars for pulling it off considering how hard consoles have been to find this year. That does leave you with a tricky question, though: What do you buy this year?

You got to be a superhero last holiday, which means you have high expectations to fulfill. You’re probably not going to find a gaming gift as spectacular this year (thanks in no small part to the Steam Deck’s delay), but you can find plenty that are fun or, at the very least, practical. Here’s what to get the video game enthusiast in your life if they already have a shiny new console.

Accessories

The most immediate option is to get them accessories for whatever you bought them last year. Did you manage to get a PlayStation 5? Grab a DualSense controller charging dock. Buying for someone who already owns an Xbox Series X? Consider something like a Seagate hard drive to give their console some extra storage. The options are limitless here, as you can get pretty creative with third-party hardware. For example, if you know someone’s been using their Series X to play Forza Horizon 5, you could grab them a Logitech G923 wheel and pedal setup.

The easiest option is always controllers. That can be an easy way to give people a more custom gift that didn’t come with their original machine. For PS5 owners, Sony introduced two new colors for the DualSense this year that would add a splash of personality to anyone’s setup. Xbox owners have a few more options available. My personal favorite Xbox controller is Turtle Beach’s Recon, which comes with an onboard sound mixer — perfect for someone who uses voice chat a lot. You can also use Xbox’s Design Lab program to customize your own controller, allowing you to make a personalized gift.

Colt kicks an enemy in Deathloop.

Games

Games are always an easy win, too, so long as you know what your loved ones already own. For PlayStation users, Deathloop and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart are both hot commodities this year. Returnal is also a killer exclusive that went a bit under the radar, so that might be a good one to throw on your list.

It’s a little trickier to shop for Xbox owners, especially if they have Game Pass. That means they already have games like Microsoft Flight Simulator or Psychonauts 2. You can always go the third-party route and grab games like Battlefield 2042 that aren’t included with the service. And if your loved one somehow doesn’t have an Xbox Game Pass subscription, go ahead and toss a free month in their stocking.

A player holding a Razer Kishi.

A mobile controller

Just because your loved one has a console doesn’t mean they always play on their console. Today, many games can be played on just about any device thanks to advancements in streaming and the cloud. PS5 owners have remote play, which lets them stream a console game to their phone, while Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers instantly get access to Microsoft’s cloud selection of games. If you want to up someone’s portable gaming potential, a phone controller attachment is a good way to go.

You have a few great options here. I personally use Razer’s Kishi, which easily attaches to an iPhone or Android phone, turning it into a full handheld console. Many also swear by the Backbone, which is widely regarded as the best mobile controller out there. Either option will give the gamer in your life full control over their mobile games.

An Ocolus Quest 2 in purple lighting.

The VR option

If you want to go a little more outside the box, there’s always VR. It’s one of those pieces of tech that people might not buy for themselves, but would be happy to toy around with. While we wouldn’t recommend getting a PS VR with a new version right around the corner, there are a few other options that you could go with. Personally, I’d recommend the Oculus Quest 2. Meta’s lightweight device is a wireless headset that doesn’t need a computer connection at all. It’s cost-effective, making it feel like a big-ticket gift that doesn’t break the bank.

Of course, you could always go all-out and get something like the HTC Vive or Valve Index. These devices are beefier and more impressive in some ways. However, the Quest 2 is a more casual investment that anyone interested in VR will appreciate. You get bonus points if you can make grandma wear it at your holiday party.

An iiRcade arcade cabinet standing against a brick wall.

Go big with an arcade cabinet

Maybe this is all small potatoes for you. You were a hero last year and you just want to keep that momentum up at all costs. That’s a recipe for hubris, but I have a Hail Mary for you anyways. If you really want to wow someone, why not get them their own arcade machine? Plenty of companies make reproductions of classic cabinets that you can easily assemble and place in your home, no quarters needed. It’s a statement, but who doesn’t want their own arcade cabinet?

If you want to get someone a classic game they love, check out Arcade1Up, which has machines based on classic games like Ms. Pac Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, and many others. My personal recommendation is to check out iiRcade. The indie cabinet has a novel concept that you won’t get elsewhere. The machine doesn’t come with one game; it hooks up to a constantly updated shop where players can buy titles à la carte. New titles are still being added to the machine every month, but it already has some cool options including indie hit Dead Cells. At the very least, your loved one won’t see this one coming.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Tips for finding a PS5 this holiday season

More than a year after the PlayStation 5 launched, it’s still a very hard console to find. With the ongoing semiconductor shortage impacting consumer electronics manufacturers worldwide, it probably won’t get any easier to find a PS5 in the short term, either. We won’t lie: it’s going to be difficult to get a PS5 this holiday season, but these tips might give you an edge in finding one.

Don’t forget about Google News

There’s a lot of clickbait about PS5 restocks out there, with headlines that seem to promise information on upcoming restocks paired with articles that ultimately say nothing at all. It can be infuriating to land on one of those articles, but you can avoid a lot of them by checking out the technology section of Google News on the regular.

I’ve noticed that, in recent months at least, Google News has become a good way to find out about incoming stock drops for both the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Obviously, Google News isn’t very handy when it comes to unannounced stock drops, but when a retailer announces ahead of time that it has an impending PS5 restock, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to read about it there. If nothing else, checking Google News a few times throughout the day beats following a bunch of retailers on Twitter and trying to keep up with all their announcements.

Put a Twitch stream on in the background

This tip is admittedly a little strange at first blush, but it can potentially save you a lot of time. There’s at least one Twitch live stream that tracks PS5 and Xbox Series X restocks at various retailers and alerts viewers when new stock is detected. The only stream I’ve found that does this is KillerCam1020, though those of you who are on the prowl for new PC hardware can also check out Falcodrin, which runs a very similar Twitch tracker for GPU stock.

Following KillerCam1020 and running the stream in the background whenever you happen to be at your computer is a hands-off way to follow PS5 restocks at a pretty wide selection of retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Ant Online, Sam’s Club, and PlayStation Direct. The alarm the stream plays when new PS5 stock is detected is suitably loud and annoying so there’s no chance you’ll miss it, and the stream is otherwise silent so you can focus on whatever else you’re doing while it runs in the background.

KillerCam1020 is an excellent way to better your chances at getting a PS5 without having to put in a ton of leg work yourself. There are a few downsides to this method, though. First, the stream actually has to be open before you can get alerts about new PS5 stock. Second, the stream only tracks US stock, so this tip doesn’t really do much for our EU brothers and sisters trying to score a PS5 for themselves.

Join the StockDrops Discord

Following StockDrops is probably the best tip I can give because it has actually worked for me in the past. These days, StockDrops has an app you can download, but joining the Discord also works (you can find links to both on the StockDrops website). When you join the Discord server, you can sign up for alerts for all sorts of hard-to-find hardware, whether it’s the PS5, Xbox Series X, or any number of GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD.

If you join and sign up to receive alerts about new PS5 stock, you’ll only be pinged when new stock is available, while all other notifications will remain muted. Joining the StockDrops Discord is how I managed to snag the RTX 3070 that sits in the very machine I’m using to write this article, so joining up and setting your notification preferences is something I enthusiastically recommend.

Again, there are some drawbacks to this one (because no method is perfect). If you only join the Discord, you need to be ready to act when that notification comes through, and though StockDrops says that the desktop app gives the fastest notifications, I don’t have any experience with that. StockDrops also has a considerable following – there are thousands upon thousands of people in that server – so you’re potentially still competing with many others for your PS5.

Even more tips

To supplement this article, you should also have a look at our PS5 and Xbox Series X tips guide from last year. Many, if not all, of those tips are still relevant today, so if you’re in the market for a PS5, give that article a read for even more strategies to give you an edge. Even though you’re now armed with tips and tricks, landing a PS5 during the busiest shopping period of the year is going to be a challenge, so good luck to you if you’re giving it a shot.

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Categories
Computing

The Best Gifts for Mac Users: Holiday Gifts for Apple Fans

It’s the time of year to start looking for gifts for all the important people in your life. If you’ve got a loved one who’s a Mac obsessive — or you just want to get a great Mac accessory for yourself — our round-up of tip-top Mac gifts will have you sorted this holiday season.

We’ve put together a range of goodies that’ll work for even the most demanding of Mac users. From mice and keyboards to Thunderbolt docks, microphones, and webcams, there’s something here for everyone.

Logitech MX Master 3 for Mac

Apple’s Magic Mouse is great for MacOS gestures, but its low-profile shape can become uncomfortable to use after a while. The good news is there’s a much better alternative that’s designed specifically for Mac users: The Logitech MX Master 3 for Mac.

This superb wireless mouse is comfy to use and features a clever scroll wheel that automatically switches between precise ratchets and free-flowing movement, depending on how hard you spin it. On the side, there is also a thumb wheel that scrolls your pointer horizontally.

Even better, the mouse comes preloaded with built-in MacOS shortcuts. In Photoshop, for instance, the thumb wheel adjusts your brush size, while the thumb buttons undo and redo actions. Press and hold the button at the foot of the thumb rest, and you can even perform native MacOS gestures — just swipe the mouse as you would on an Apple trackpad while pressing the button. When it comes to Mac mice, there’s simply nothing better.

Logitech MX Keys

Logitech MX Keys Mini charges via USB-C.

The perfect pairing for a great mouse is a brilliant Mac keyboard, and Logitech’s MX Keys is just that. It’s the ideal gift for any Mac user stuck on a MacBook’s older butterfly keyboard or for anyone who is left unsatisfied by Apple’s Magic Keyboard.

Each key is dished slightly so that it comfortably fits your finger with each press. There’s a built-in backlight and full numpad, plus a row of function keys too. It can switch between three different devices — no need to use multiple keyboards for multiple Macs — and if you install the Logitech Flow app, you can copy and paste files directly from one Mac to another. There’s even a smaller MX Keys Mini if you want to ditch the number pad.

If you’re looking for a mechanical keyboard to match with your Mac, try the Keychron K8. It’s superbly comfy and reliable and can switch between multiple devices in a snap. And with its satisfying mechanical switches, it’s a great option for someone who spends all day typing on their Mac.

Satechi Aluminum Laptop Stand

The Satechi Aluminum Laptop Stand for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

If you know someone who spends a lot of time hunched over a MacBook, do their back a favor by getting them a MacBook stand that raises their device to a more comfortable height. The Satechi Aluminum Laptop Stand does exactly that.

What it does well is combine style and substance. Its aluminum frame comes in silver or space gray to match your existing Apple devices, and its simple hinge is unobtrusive and unassuming. It looks great and will fit right in on your desk.

It’s solidly built and clever, too. Because it works on a single hinge, it folds down flat and is easy to slip into a backpack. There are rubber strips on the top and bottom, helping to keep the stand in place and prevent your MacBook from slipping. It’s fairly priced, so won’t break the bank either.

Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C Hub Adapter

The Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C Hub Adapter.

Apple’s latest MacBooks have finally restored some of the port variety that the company’s laptops have been missing for so many years. While they added HDMI and an SD card slot, you still don’t get any USB-A ports. And if you use an older MacBook, all you have are USB-C ports.

A USB-C hub can go a long way to fixing this problem, and Anker’s PowerExpand+ is a great choice. It adds seven new ports, including HDMI, SD card, microSD, two USB-A slots, and two USB-C ports. One of those USB-C slots supports up to 100W of power delivery, so you can juice up your MacBook via the PowerExpand+ if all your other USB-C ports are in use.

You get all that for $35, which is an excellent price for the frustration it prevents and the expansion options it brings.

CalDigit TS3 Plus

The CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock.

If you’re looking for some more serious port expansion, a Thunderbolt dock will be right up your street. Our favorite — by some distance — is the CalDigit TS3 Plus.

Why do we love it so much? It sounds strange, but one of its biggest draws is simply its reliability. When you’re plugging a host of different devices into a Thunderbolt dock, you want them to work properly 100% of the time. That’s surprisingly unusual in the Thunderbolt dock world, but CalDigit’s offering never skips a beat.

It offers a ton of ports (15 in total), including five USB-A, three Thunderbolt 3 (including one that provides 87W of power delivery), audio in and out, an SD card slot, DisplayPort 1.2, Gigabit Ethernet, and more. If you need to connect something to a Mac, chances are the CalDigit TS3 Plus can handle it with ease.

Elgato Wave:3

With so many of us working from home these days, either permanently or temporarily, sounding your best on work calls is essential. The built-in mics inside Apple’s MacBooks are fine, but if you want to go to the next level, the Elgato Wave:3 makes for an excellent gift.

Part of its appeal is how easy it is to get set up and running. For instance, instead of needing to monitor and adjust levels, the Wave:3 has a built-in feature called Clipguard,  which helps combat sudden peaks in volume that can produce rasping or unpleasant sounds. You can tweak levels if required, but it’s nice knowing Elgato’s mic has your back from the off.

Outside video calls, it’s our favorite microphone for streaming, thanks to its Mac companion app that lets you blend audio inputs while your show is live. That makes it a great all-rounder that excels in a number of different fields.

Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro

Logitech Brio
Brad Bourque/Digital Trends

Apple has been dragging its heels in recent years when it comes to webcams, and we had to wait until the 2021 MacBook Pro before we saw the first 1080p webcam grace the company’s portable Macs. If you’re stuck on a 720p MacBook (or know someone else who is), you might be looking for a better webcam to help you look your best on video calls.

If it’s quality you’re after, there are none better than the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro, which is one of the best 4K webcams you can buy. It offers ultra-sharp 4K resolution running at 30fps, or if you need smoother footage, it also runs at 1080p 60fps and 720p 90fps. There are further customizations for the field of view, ranging from 65 degrees to 90 degrees — depending on what you want to capture.

There’s much more, including RightLight 3 tech that corrects your lighting, HDR image capture, and omnidirectional microphones with noise cancellation. It’s a brilliant gift for someone who needs a webcam that can do it all.

iFixit Essential Electronics Toolkit

The iFixit Essential Electronics Toolkit for repairing electronic devices.

For all the great things you can do with a MacBook, you’ll be hard-pressed to repair it if it ever breaks. Apple packs so much inside its laptops that finding your way around the components, cables, screws, and glue can be a real nightmare. If you’re a tinkerer, there’s a secret weapon that can make things much easier: iFixit’s Essential Electronics Toolkit.

Produced by the famous repair company and used in all its product teardowns, this toolkit contains everything you need to pry open a MacBook and dig into its high-tech internals. You get 16 screwdriver heads of different shapes and sizes, tweezers, a suction handle, a spudger, and more.

Put together, these tools should make light work of the booby traps you often find inside Apple devices. If you’ve been dying to repair your Mac or know someone else who is, this kit makes for a great holiday present.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Nintendo Switch holiday stock shortage likely as company revises forecast

Ongoing chip shortages have impacted a number of consumer products, not the least of which is the Nintendo Switch. A recent report from Nikkei Asia claimed Nintendo has been forced to slash its production targets for the fiscal year ending in March 2022, which is bad news for anyone hoping to pick up a Switch OLED model for the holidays.

READ: Nintendo Switch Review

After the Nikkei report dropped earlier this week, a Nintendo spokesperson said the company was “assessing” the chip shortage’s impact on its business, though the statement didn’t go so far as to confirm any changes in its forecast.

Fast-forward to November 4 and a newly published Nintendo document titled “Notice of Full-Year Financial Forecast Modifications” that details a revision of the company’s outlook for the remainder of its fiscal year. According to the document, the reason for Nintendo’s forecast change is “based on the impact of Nintendo Switch hardware production” caused by the chip shortage, as well as “sales performance of Nintendo Switch software.”

Holiday shortages?

The forecast change all but confirms the news from earlier this week regarding chip shortages and related Switch production issues. What does that mean for the average consumer? Issues getting one of the new Nintendo Switch OLED models will likely persist through the holidays, particularly as demand increases and people move quickly to buy units before the Christmas shopping season is in full swing.

If you were hoping to get yourself or someone you care about a Switch, particularly the new OLED model, for the holidays, it seems like the best plan going forward is to shop early and keep an eye on inventory levels at your preferred retailers. Waiting until the last minute to pick up a Switch may result in waiting weeks past the holidays before it arrives, and no one enjoys getting an order confirmation under the Christmas tree.

Multiple options

Which Switch model should you buy? It may be easier to your hands on the Switch Lite if you’re desperate for a console, but think hard before making the jump. Though the Switch Lite is cheaper and easier to find, it also lacks some key features found on the larger models, particularly the ability to dock the console and play games on a TV.

Beyond that, Nintendo has officially released the Switch OLED model, which brings an improved display compared to the Switch model released a few years ago. If you’re planning to invest in Nintendo’s Switch ecosystem, there’s no good argument against springing for the Switch OLED (cost aside). This latest and greatest model packs a 7-inch OLED screen, “enhanced audio,” the companion dock with a LAN port, and 64GB of internal storage.

Check out SlashGear’s Nintendo Switch OLED review roundup for a variety of perspectives on the new model, as well as our 2017 Switch review (above) and an editorial on some key reasons you may want to avoid the Switch Lite.

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Categories
AI

Report: 81% of online retailers increase AI budget to boost holiday sales

The nation’s online retailers, bullish on holiday sales but worried about supply chain disruptions, are increasing their investments in artificial intelligence systems to help manage operations and increase sales. The move will also help them compete with online giants like Amazon.

Eighty-five percent of retailers expect online sales to increase during the 2021 holiday shopping season, continuing an upward trend from the pandemic lockdowns of 2020, according to the 2021 eCommerce Outlook Report from Anodot and Researchscape. However, 42% of retailers remain concerned about the impact supply chain disruptions are likely to have on inventories and the timely delivery of their products.

Supply chain disruptions and labor shortages are affecting retailers around the globe, prompting many to launch their holiday sales early this year amid concerns that inventory won’t hold up for the duration of the season. Factory closings, a shortage of port workers and truck drivers, and a scarcity of key product components such as microchips have raised fears of short supplies and rising prices.

To help them stay competitive, retailers are turning to artificial intelligence, with 81% of the merchants in the survey saying they planned to increase their AI budgets this year. In addition to AI-enhanced protections such as fraud detection, retailers are looking to AI to help drive growth, with a third of respondents predicting that AI can increase revenues by 40%.

“Retailers need AI to create a flawless purchasing experience,” said David Drai, CEO and founder of Anodot, noting the mix of both uncertainty and optimistic holiday expectations. “Otherwise, shoppers will simply turn to the bigger retailing behemoths or the next online retailer to get their gifts.”

AI is becoming an essential tool in ecommerce, for uses such as making real-time recommendations, enabling targeted campaigns, and improving supply chain management. Online retailers said their top priorities this year are inventory, pricing, and website experience.

The survey was conducted during the month of September, and involved 106 respondents, 91% of whom identified themselves as being in the ecommerce industry.

Read the full report by Anodot and Researchscape.

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