Jun 30, 2017

A weary retail sector looks to AI for salvation

Koji Sasahara / AP

Retailers are suffering the twin headwinds of slow productivity growth and a competitive e-commerce environment that pits stores against each other on price. With retail stocks sputtering — The SPDR S&P Retail ETF is down 4% over twelve months — it's no wonder retailers are turning to AI technology as a potential lifeline.

RetailWeek's Friday report on AI impacting retail touts tools like AI-enabled systems that sort through customer emails to surface those that are most urgent, without wasting man hours on triage decisions. And it highlights an experimental robot that answers simple questions while helping shoppers navigate a San Francisco-based Lowes.

Why it matters: Amazonization is leading to a retail environment where a few stores thrive at the expense of a great struggling mass of competitors. If traditional retailers want to break this spell, they will have to boldly experiment with these technologies in the hopes of gaining an edge.

Go deeper

Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post at the end of the month, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health