MONEY Walmart

This Is Walmart’s Amazon Prime Killer

A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Location Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's called "ShippingPass."

Walmart’s Amazon Prime competitor finally has name: ShippingPass.

TechCrunch reports the world’s largest retailer accidentally leaked that and other details when a test site for the service was accidentally made public yesterday, giving customers more insight into how Walmart plans to challenge Amazon’s online dominance.

As MONEY reported earlier, ShippingPass, previously codenamed “Tahoe,” will offer unlimited three-day delivery of eligible items purchased at walmart.com and cost $50 per year—half the price of Amazon Prime.

An FAQ posted on the testing site reveals the launch will be restricted to a limited number of areas at launch. Products eligible for ShippingPass delivery will be marked on Walmart’s website with special logo, much like how Amazon identifies items eligible for Prime shipping. According to the FAQ, three-day delivery will only be guaranteed if the order is placed by noon local time.

While not all items will be eligible for three-day shipping, the leaked site revealed some items with slower delivery times—four to six days—will also ship at no cost, and ShippingPass appears to have no minimum order. Walmart currently offers free standard shipping to all customers on orders that exceed $50.

TIME Companies

Even More Zappos Employees Are Being Offered Money To Leave

Inside The UPS Worldport Facility Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A package from Zappos.com moves down a conveyor belt during the afternoon sort at the United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) Worldport facility in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Earlier in May, 14% of the company accepted exit pay

Only days after 14% of Zappos’ employees accepted a severance offer from the company, even more employees are being offered the opportunity to quit for cash, according to Quartz.

Zappos has reportedly told 9% of the company they can leave and be paid for it in what’s being called the “SuperCloud offer.” That deal, which was extended to many on Zappos’ tech team, comes as Zappos’ backend technology is being replaced with parent company Amazon’s tech. Sources told Quartz there are a “significant” number of employees accepting the second offer.

The initial offer to employees came earlier in May after the company said it would transition to a management structure called Holacracy, in which employees manage themselves. About 210 workers, or 14% of the company’s 1,500 total employees, accepted that offer, which included three months of severance pay.

TIME Amazon

5 Secret Amazon Prime Perks You Don’t Know About

The subscription service is about much more than free shipping

Every year when my Amazon Prime membership is about to auto-renew, like the tens of millions of other members, I take a step back and wonder if the $99 per year price is worth it. To be sure, I wring that much value out of the service simply through its free two-day shipping alone. But with that benefit also comes the guilt of shopping online and not in my own community.

So what keeps me re-upping my subscription? There’s a slew of other Amazon Prime benefits that, when all added up, are worth much more than the shipping savings alone.

Here are five of the lesser-known Prime perks:

Unlimited Photo Storage: If you’re the digital, yet sentimental type, this one Amazon Prime add-on is worth the entire year’s subscription price. Utilizing the company’s cloud storage offerings, Prime members can archive all of their photos to Amazon’s servers for free. With no limit on the amount of pictures nor any restriction on how many photos you can upload per month, this is a crazy deal that every Prime user should take advantage of. Photos can be uploaded through your web browser, with the Amazon Cloud Drive app, or with the Cloud Drive Photos app, available for Android, iOS, and of course through Amazon’s own app store.

Music: From Spotify’s updated offerings to Apple’s impending new service to the celebrity backed Tidal, everyone is after your streaming music money. But Amazon customers may want to pause for a beat before subscribing elsewhere, because with Prime Music they’re already getting access to more than a million songs, more than a thousand playlists and hundreds of stations.

To be fair, the competition has 20 or 30 times more tracks, but if music isn’t your main jam, Prime Music is at least a good, inexpensive way to stream ad-free and at your convenience. From classics like Simon & Garfunkel to catchy tunes like Uptown Funk, it’s a varied collection that definitely out-rocks your iTunes library.

Streaming Video: In the good old days of television, you used to be able to pick up the remote, flip through the channels, and find at least one thing worth watching. Today, despite a dizzying number of cable channels, that seems like a distant memory. But Amazon’s Prime Instant Video has an unexpectedly great selection of movies and television shows ready to watch on everything from TV-connected streaming boxes to tablets.

‘For instance, Inside Amy Schumer and Broad City, two Comedy Central shows drawing rave reviews, are up on Prime, ready for downloading. A deal between Amazon and HBO means the cable channel’s entire back catalog of great original programming (like The Wire) is at Prime members’ fingertips. And Amazon is pushing as hard as Netflix to make its own programming. The company even won two Golden Globes for its comedy Transparent. Not bad, for a throw-in feature. Oh, and Prime members flying JetBlue can also watch their Amazon-streamed content while airborne, for free.

Prime Now: In my experience, Amazon’s free two-day shipping with Prime is plenty fast, but I’ve never tried to use it in a pinch, like to refill an empty container of dishwashing detergent or to buy deodorant after forgetting to apply it in my morning routine. But Prime customers in select locations from Atlanta to Austin can avail of this ultra-quick delivery at no extra charge — so long as you can wait for two hours. (One-hour delivery is available for $7.99.) So how does the company deliver items as varied as peanut butter and headphones? If your answer is “drones,” you’ve been reading too many rumor websites. The actual answer is underground, not through the air.

Members-Only Deals: “Membership has its privileges” might be an old American Express tagline, but Amazon has given the concept new life in the 21st century by offering its shoppers a wide range of perks. For instance, some of Amazon’s most aggressive discounts come via its Lightning Deals, and beginning last holiday season, Prime members got early access to some of these sales.

MyHabit, an Amazon-owned website that offers up to 60% off designer brand clothing and home goods, runs daily events that start at 9 a.m. Pacific, but Prime subscribers get access a half-hour before the online crowds. And in the future, Prime subscribers will get exclusive access to Amazon Elements, a line of staples made by the company with input from its customer reviews. And you better believe these goods will be great; Amazon already removed the Elements diapers because they weren’t working out for parents and babies. That leaves only baby wipes in the line for now, but they beat Costco’s Kirkland brand wipes in a price-per-sheet showdown. But expect more products to come in the future — another reason to renew, I suppose.

TIME Media

This Is How YouTube Is Fighting its Amazon-Owned Rival

FRANCE-INTERNET-TECHNOLOGY-LEWEB12
AFP—AFP/Getty Images A picture shows a You Tube logo on December 4, 2012 during LeWeb Paris 2012 in Saint-Denis near Paris.

It's about to get better for livestreaming video games

YouTube announced Thursday that it will begin live streaming content at 60 frames per second, an important boost that will make it a better platform for streaming video game footage.

For now, the feature is exclusive to browsers compatible with HTML5 — the newest versions of most modern browsers should work fine. In browsers that work with YouTube’s HTML5 player, users will also be able to skip backwards in a livestream and catch up at 1.5x or 2x normal speed.

The changes appear squarely aimed at helping YouTube compete with Twitch, the gaming-focused live-streaming video site Amazon bought for $970 million last year. Twitch can broadcast live-streams at 60 FPS and has amassed a huge following of gaming fans, as well as partnerships with console manufacturers like Sony and Microsoft. Google was reportedly interested in snapping up Twitch to help expand YouTube. Instead, the two sites will be competitors as live streams of e-sports and other gaming content become more popular.

MONEY hedge funds

Mind-Blowing Tool Used by Hedge Funds Costs Just $10

532029221
Colin Anderson—Getty Images/Blend Images

It's a total game-changer

If you’re a hedge fund looking to crunch massive quantities of data, it’s generally cheaper to pay for space a la carte on Amazon’s cloud than invest in million-dollar hardware.

That’s the premise behind a spate of new finance-focused data shops turning out software that runs on the cloud. Ufora, a company profiled in Bloomberg Business, designs software that can process a trillion data points in minutes for the cost of a sandwich.

The technology is complex and involves a type of machine learning, or artificial intelligence, but computing power has become cheap enough that Ufora founder Braxton McKee can analyze a big market data model using only $10 worth of capacity on Amazon Web Services.

Ufora’s hedge fund clients—like all hedge funds today—have good cause to want to keep costs low.

These privately-offered investments, which typically court only those who can invest at least $1 million, are having a tough time holding investors’ interest these days.

That’s partly because their high fees have become harder to justify given that recent returns have actually trailed those of cheap index fund-based portfolios, and performance is increasingly in step with that of benchmarks, meaning that mangers aren’t adding as much value or diversification.

Read more: Why Should I Invest?
Investment Advice From a Nobel Prize-Winning Economist

TIME Amazon

A Woman Is Doing This Important Amazon Job for the First Time

It's the role of Jeff Bezos's personal "shadow" at the company

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently named Maria Renz to the position of technical adviser to the CEO.

That’s a fancy title for what, according to Re/code, is basically the job of Bezos’s shadow. It’s a coveted, high-ranking role at the e-commerce giant, and one that has never before been filled by a woman.

Re/code reports that Renz is a 15-year veteran of the Seattle company, and was formerly CEO of Quidsi, parent company of Amazon-owned Diapers.com. She replaces Bezos’s previous shadow Jay Marine, who will now lead Amazon Instant Video’s efforts in Europe.

Bezos’s move comes at a time when many companies have been under increasing pressure for lack of diversity in their workforces—especially technology giants. A mere 51 of Fortune 1000 companies have female CEOs. And at the end of last year, when the Sony hack resulted in a slew of leaked documents, one of the biggest storylines to result was that a female studio president was making nearly $1 million less in salary than her male co-president.

TIME Companies

Amazon’s Unlikely Secret to Delivering So Fast

FRANCE-DISTRIBUTION-AMAZON
Philippe Huguen—AFP/Getty Images An employee of the Amazon electronic commerce company works on April 11, 2015 in Lauwin-Planque, northern France.

Amazon is so underground

Amazon.com’s New York City delivery route at times takes an underground detour.

The online retail behemoth has begun to utilize New York City’s subway system for the company’s ultra-fast service, known as Prime Now. Prime Now promises to deliver popular items in as little as an hour for $7.99, or within two hours for free.

Two Amazon delivery workers were observed pushing large trolleys of Amazon boxes on the subway, and they told the Financial Times that they had been using the subway trains for most Prime Now deliveries because traffic in Manhattan made it “impossible to honor a 60-minute guarantee.

Amazon later confirmed the strategy, telling FT: “In Manhattan, our folks bike, walk or use public transportation. They only drive if the item is large like a flat screen TV.”

Amazon’s speedy service debuted in parts of New York; it’s part of a growing trend by major retailers to improve their delivery times in a battle for online market share.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Media

Hulu Is Suddenly Assembling a Pretty Killer Lineup

The cast of The Mindy Project
NBC/Getty Images The cast of The Mindy Project

Nabbing The Mindy Project shows the streaming service is serious about competing with bigger rivals

In the online video streaming wars, Hulu has felt like a perennial also-ran for years. The company introduced a generation to the concept of legally streaming television shows online when it debuted in 2007, but its premium video offering, called Hulu Plus, has never received the critical or commercial attention of competitors like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Suddenly, that’s all changing. Hulu announced Friday that it secured the rights to season four of The Mindy Project, the recently cancelled Fox sitcom helmed by former The Office star Mindy Kaling. It’s just the latest in a string of recent announcements that could give Hulu the library it needs to be appeal to the growing legion of cord-cutters looking for cheaper ways to watch TV.

Hulu scored big in April by tying up the rights to stream the entire run of Seinfeld, marking the first time the show would appear on an online service. The deal, which reportedly cost Hulu more than $150 million, takes the last of the ‘90s most iconic sitcoms off the market from competitors — Friends was snapped up by Netflix last year and The Simpsons now has its own dedicated streaming app. Hulu also has exclusive streaming rights to South Park and the original CSI, as well non-exclusive rights to popular shows from NBC, ABC, Fox and Comedy Central, among others. All told, the service has developed into a more-than-viable option for the binge watchers of the world.

In terms of current shows, Hulu beats its rivals for keeping up with what’s on TV right now. The service is jointly owned by NBC, Fox and Disney, meaning it boasts a large selection of shows from their networks available one day after they air on television. Empire, Fox’s spring breakout hit, for example, streams exclusively on Hulu. On Netflix, the latest seasons of exclusive shows like Mad Men typically don’t appear until months after they aired on TV. For people who want to dump cable but still be able to watch broadcast shows on-demand, Hulu is a solid alternative (though current CBS shows typically aren’t available).

Hulu’s library of past and current hits has proven attractive with customers. The service now has almost 9 million paying subscribers in the U.S., up from 6 million a year ago. That’s far from Netflix’s 40 million, though it has grown into a sizable userbase. But to reach Netflix levels, Hulu needs strong original programming to define its brand. So far, the service’s original shows have mostly been low-budget fare that failed to garner attention—Hulu is still waiting for its House of Cards. That could come with 11/22/63, a new JFK assassination thriller starring James Franco that’s slated to premiere next year. And, of course, exclusive episodes of The Mindy Project will certainly help.

There are big flaws in Hulu’s service, though. The ads, even for paying customers, feel like a frustrating byprodcut of the service’s network ownership, and its movie selection is abysmal compared to Netflix and Amazon. However, it’s become clear that Hulu doesn’t want to be seen as an afterthought behind its more well-known competitors — the fact that it’s the cheapest of the bunch at $7.99 per month also helps. As more big exclusives hit the service, the former runt of the streaming litter will be harder to ignore.

TIME Retail

There’s a Wild New Way to Buy Stuff on Amazon

Amazon Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo now lets you buy stuff with your voice

Who needs a computer or even a phone to buy stuff online when you’ve got your voice? Amazon has just updated its new digital assistant product Echo with the ability to reorder products from the online retailer using voice commands.

Amazon users who have a Prime membership can tell Echo, “Alexa, reorder laundry detergent,” for example, and the device will automatically check to see if the user has previously ordered the item. Echo’s name defaults to Alexa but can easily be changed.

If an item hasn’t previously been ordered, Echo will search for similar items among a list of high-rated products called Amazon’s Choice and offer users the chance to order that instead. If there are no similar products available in the Amazon’s Choice selection, the item will be placed in a user’s shopping list.

It’s no surprise that Amazon is using Echo to rope people into buying more stuff online. The company also recently unveiled a selection of tiny physical buttons that people can place around their home and press to automatically reorder staples like detergent and diapers.

MONEY online shopping

Walmart Testing a Free Shipping Option to Compete with Amazon Prime

A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. package is unloaded from a trailer to be sorted for final delivery at a FedEx Corp. Ground hub in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. package is unloaded from a trailer to be sorted for final delivery at a FedEx Corp. Ground hub in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S.

Walmart aims to go head to head with Amazon's most potent sales tool.

A new fast-shipping subscription service with the codename “Tahoe” is expected to be launched by Walmart this summer. On Wednesday, Walmart confirmed to Fortune, TechCrunch, and others that the service will cost $50 per year—half the price of an Amazon Prime membership—and cover free shipping within three days of orders being placed.

The service, which hasn’t yet been given an official name publicly, will be offered on an invitation-only basis for the time being. A subscription won’t cover shipping on all items available for purchase at walmart.com. Free shipping will be included with roughly 1 million items at Walmart, but that means 6 or 7 million other potential purchases at Walmart’s website aren’t covered in the free delivery deal. It’s unclear whether some or any groceries will be available with a subscription either.

During the beta test period, Walmart will be soliciting feedback from participating subscribers. Based on how things go, the final subscription product could be tweaked before being made available to the general public. For that matter, Walmart could decide to pull the plug on the whole operation depending on how the tests go.

What is clear, though, is that Walmart’s new service takes direct aim at Amazon Prime. Amazon’s $99 annual subscription service, which includes free two-day shipping and unlimited streaming of videos and music, has proven to be a remarkably powerful sales tool for the world’s largest e-retailer. It turns out that members, seeking to get the most of their subscription payment, tend to dramatically increase purchases at Amazon once they sign on—which means they’re less likely to buy goods from other physical or online retailers.

Retailers have periodically introduced shipping deals to better compete with Amazon. Earlier this year, Target cut its free shipping threshold to $25; Amazon requires a $35 minimum purchase for non-Prime customers to get free standard shipping. Now, Walmart is undercutting Amazon as well, with a free shipping subscription offer that’s half the price of an annual Prime membership.

It should be noted, however, that Walmart’s shipping will be slower than Amazon Prime—three days versus two. And as mentioned above, Prime comes with extras like Amazon’s Netflix-like Prime Instant Video streaming that Walmart’s service lacks.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com