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.

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GOP plans "nightly surprise" for revamped convention

President Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images

The reworked Republican National Convention will be a four-night spectacle including still-under-wraps venues, a 10 p.m. "nightly surprise" and guests and themes playing to "the forgotten men and women of America," two senior Trump campaign officials involved tell Axios.

Driving the news: The messaging will focus heavily on "very granular details" of what a second term for President Trump would look like — answering a question Trump left hanging in a Fox News event earlier this summer — and attack cancel culture, "radical elements" of society and threats to public safety.

38 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Fear of voting

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.0% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to worry about in-person voting — with nearly two in three seeing it as a large or moderate risk to their health — according to this week's installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This could pose a significant disadvantage for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in November if the pattern holds — especially in states where high infection rates persist, or where there are significant hurdles to mail-in, absentee or early voting.

Trump: Coronavirus is "under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.