Amazon Now Selling Clothing Under Its Own In-House Brands

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.08.16 PMIn yet another effort to completely and totally dominate the shopping world, Amazon has apparently started a few private label clothing brands and has been quietly shilling apparel and accessories under those trademarked names with nary a press release to let anyone know.

WWD cites KeyBanc Capital analyst Ed Yruma, who said the company has introduced at least seven private label fashion brands recently: Franklin & Freeman, Franklin Tailored, James & Erin, Lark & Ro, North Eleven, Scout + Ro and Society New York.

There’s a range of items for sale from the brands: men’s dress shoes, suits, and other clothing; women’s clothing and accessories; and children’s apparel. The brand with the most items for sale focuses on women’s dress and handbags, called Society New York.

The prices seem to fall in the middle of the road, with dresses for $66.60 on Lark & Ro and tops for $31.41. A Franklin Tailored man’s suit costs $247.97, with ties for around $25.

Because apparel is such a large, fragmented category, this could be a good move for Amazon, Yruma said in a research note, adding that apparel is one of Amazon’s fastest-growing categories. At the same time, there’s work it has to do for the business to really hit it out of the park.

“We expect the challenges the company has faced in courting the fashion community to remain, but we think Amazon will continue to evolve its strategy,” Yruma writes. “We believe greater brand cooperation with third-party seller restrictions and an owned brand approach (development of niche brands and private label) will be necessary to penetrate the apparel market in a more meaningful way.”

Amazon has yet to confirm its foray into private label fashions.


Google Maps for Android Can Now Figure Out Where You’re Going

Google Maps for Android Can Now Figure Out Where You're Going

Google Maps is all set to receive its first major update in 2016 which brings several new features including Driving mode and more.

The new Google Maps for Android version 9.19 is currently not available on Google Play and can be expected to be rolled out soon. For those who can’t wait for the new features can download the apk which is signed by Google via APK Mirror.

One of the biggest highlights of the upcoming Maps update is the ‘intelligent’ Driving mode which essentially utilises the user’s location history and Web searches to provide traffic updates and ETA (estimated time of arrival). The new Driving mode feature is an optional feature in the new Maps update for Android. It can be enabled from a shortcut on the home screen and can also be turned on from the navigation drawer.

Android Police points out that Driving mode in the latest update is already plagued with a bug that actually makes it hard to switch on the feature. “Driving mode has to be enabled through some arcane set of steps on each device before it can actually be used,” writes Cody Toombs of Android Police. Google may fix the bug before making the new app available to all users, and so a gradual rollout could be expected.

The new Maps for Android update (version 9.19) also brings the on-screen toggle for turning on or off the turn-by-turn voice assistance. Previously, the toggle for audio was shifted to overflow menu making it harder for users to turn on or off the option while driving.

The Google Maps interface has also received minor tweaks with the Manage location settings option been switched for Timeline settings. The new setting allows users to control what the users see and restrict data usage. Some of the other additions include to option to see images from Google Photos or switch on the search option to correct an inaccurately feed location.


Google Play Now Supports Promo Codes for Paid Apps, In-App Purchases

Google Play Now Supports Promo Codes for Paid Apps, In-App PurchasesGoogle has announced that developers now have the ability to create a promo code for a paid app. With the introduction, Google says that developers can now offer a paid app or in-app product to users for free with a promo code.

It’s worth noting that the promo code feature has been available to iOS (App Store) users for a long time but Google was missing on the feature until now.

The company on its Developer site says that promo codes allows developers to give content or features to a limited number of users for free. “Once you [developers] create a promo code, you can distribute it subject to the terms of service. The user enters the promo code in your app or in the Play Store app, and gets the item at no cost. You can use promo codes in many ways to creatively engage with users,” noted Google. The company says that developers can create promotions in the Google Play Developer Console.

Google details some of the scenarios where a developer can offer a promo code to users. “A game could have a special item, such as a character or decoration, that’s only available to players who attend an event. The developer could distribute cards with promo codes at the event, and users would enter their promo code to unlock the item,” notes Google. Further, developers may hand over promo codes at local businesses, in an attempt “to encourage potential users” to try the app. App developers can also offer promo codes to its employees to share with “friends and family”.

The company has also listed some instructions for developers creating promo codes such as for each app, an app developer can create up to 500 promo codes per quarter. “To reach that limit, you can use any combination of paid app and in-app promo codes,” adds Google.

The company however limits that if a developer do not use all 500 promo codes in a quarter, access to them will be lost and unused codes will not carry over to the next quarter. For app developers who wish to create promo codes for their apps can head to the Developer Console.


Now, Pay at McDonald’s With Your Mobile via FreeCharge

Now, Pay at McDonald's With Your Mobile via FreeCharge

Digital payments platform FreeCharge announced its exclusive partnership with Westlife Development Ltd, owner of the master franchisee of fast food chain McDonald’s west and south India operations. This will allow McDonald’s customers to make offline payments using their FreeCharge wallet.

The service has gone live starting January 14, 2016 across all these restaurants, the offline integration has been rolled out across 216 McDonald’s restaurants spread across 26 cities in West and South regions of India, the company said. To encourage adoption, FreeCharge has launched a 50 percent cashback offer for customers on their first transaction, with a maximum cashback of Rs. 100. The offer will be valid till January 31, the company said.

The integration uses an On-the-Go Pin authentication method, which lets customers generate a code on the FreeCharge wallet even the smartphone is not connected to the Internet. The partnership will help strengthen its reach in F&B sector, the company said.

Govind Rajan, Chief Operating Officer, FreeCharge, said that McDonald’s implementation was the most stringent test a payment system can undergo. “We worked closely with McDonald’s to deliver a ‘built-to-order’ product as per their specifications. The transactions are done within 10 seconds in a secure manner. Most importantly McDonald’s did not have to make any extra investment to integrate our product,” he said in an emailed statement.

FreeCharge had entered into a partnership with fashion retailer Shoppers Stop in November 2015. FreeCharge claims to have over 30 million registered users and 15 million active wallet users on its wallet, launched in September 2015, and available on the App Store, Play Store and Windows Store.