AI Can Predict What You’ll Return Before You Buy It – Crazy!

AI Can Predict What You’ll Return Before You Buy It – Crazy!

 

Fascinating report from Indian e-commerce startup Flipkart showing how they assess your online shopping cart before you click to buy.

 

It’s being done in response to the trend of easy returns for fashion items. The much higher return rate for online retailers (vs. brick and mortar) has been a disaster. Figuring out how to minimize those returns is crucial for online retailers’ survival.

Through machine learning, they’ve been able to accurately determine what you will return based on the patterns of what you’ve looked at online, what you’ve put in your shopping cart, plus your actual size and fit (more accurate than you are even aware of yourself). With that information, they can change your returns behavior.

 

Here are the major highlights of the study:

In less than 70 milliseconds, the computer can decide, how much of a risk of a return you are.

Based on your past shopping/return patterns, they decide on reward or punishment, e.g., increasing your shipping charges, as a deterrent, or offering you a coupon as an incentive to make your purchase non-returnable.

To get real-time predictions, the researchers put together a “fully-connected” deep neural network, which is trained on numerous factors about products and customers. That trained model will then produce the instantaneous assessment of the customers’ cart to predict the probability of returns e.g.

  • How many times a given article of clothing has been returned by anyone
  • How many similar things you’ve put in your cart, e.g., the same shirt in different colors (doubling-up of items is a leading indicator of higher returns).
  • The more items a person has in a cart, the higher the return rate. More than five products in the cart? Return rate goes up to 72%, whereas a cart with one product has return chances of 9%.

Because sizing is the #1 reason for returns, the researchers have developed something called a “personalized sizing latent feature.”

  • They put the info from all your online purchases, over time, into the network which allows them to examine what you’ve got in your cart and compare your intended purchases to “sizing vectors which explain your body shape & fit for different brands & products.”
  • Running all this info through the neural network, the program creates a probability score of potential returns.
  • The model predicts the return probability for a cart as well as the exact number of products that will be returned from that cart. Based on that prediction, the decision is made on what rewards and punishments to implement, if any.

If you shop online for apparel and footwear, this ZDNet article is a must-read. Absolutely fascinating!

 

Read on below for more on how companies are growing their businesses by cultivating a data culture.

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Want To Know Where The Next PayPal Mafia Will Come From?

Want To Know Where The Next PayPal Mafia Will Come From?

 

I just discovered this fantastic site – VISUAL CAPITALIST. Highly recommend if tech and startups are your thing.

 

For this survey, they asked 529 tech founders which startups would be the most successful and the most valuable over the next ten years.

  • The big winner was Stripe (the payments startup).
  • It was cited by 19% of the founders.
  • Stripe was valued at $1.8 billion in 2013 and is currently valued at $22.5 billion.
  • Much less confidence in WeWork (6.3%), Uber (5.3%), Lyft (4.7%) or Pinterest (1.6%)

However, when it comes to predicting which company will produce the next generation of startup founders as influential as the PayPal Mafia, one company stands above the rest:

  • Uber is cited by 22.5% as the company most likely to beget the next group of notable founders (although the company itself was not considered as valuable or successful as Stripe).
  • Another interesting aside is how few of the founders expect Amazon (1.1%) or WeWork (1.8%) to foster this kind of startup talent.

Other Findings:

  • Over 60% of founders believe that the world is in a technology bubble, with evenly split reviews on whether it’s either nowhere close or very close to popping.
  • 57% of founders believe the U.S. will continue to dominate the tech world, while 39% predict China’s growth will become the world’s hub for tech innovation by 2028.

Link here to visualcapitalist.com complete with infographics and more detailed info on this tech founders survey.

 

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Do You Type With Your Index Finger Like I Do?

Do You Type With Your Index Finger Like I Do?

 

At the moment, I’m an index-finger typer but just got schooled on how outdated that makes me look. Two-thumb typing here I come. This will also be a great test as to whether you can teach an old dog new tricks!

 

So why do I even care? Well, a friend of mine recently commented on my index-finger-pecking, and he was a bit shocked by this “senior” phone habit of mine.

I did some research, and he is indeed right. How you hold your phone and which fingers you use to type, signify not only age but how tech-savvy you are and while I’m no tech genius, I do pride myself on being reasonably up-to-date.

I am now fully on board with updating my phone usage style. However, it won’t be easy. After just a few days, I am finding it a constant struggle to make this change. I did add my thumb to my touch ID, so we’ll see if that helps. But changing a ten-year habit is not easy.

While on the subject of tech habits and norms, I also want to share an amazingly informative (and hysterically snarky) article on Silicon Speak from The Guardian. And in the context of today’s post, also adding info on the top-ranked social-media-using CEOs. Doug McMillon of Walmart (one of my favorites because he does his own posts) ranked #1. I bet he’s a two-thumb typer even though he is 52 (which surprised me – he looks like he’s barely in his 30s).

 

Read on below.

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Instagram! Your Ads Are Killing Me. Make It Stop!

Instagram! Your Ads Are Killing Me. Make It Stop!

 

And to make matters worse, we’re going to start seeing branded content posts from “influencers” who we don’t even follow (like Bridgett from Noom – above).

 

I understand social media can’t (and shouldn’t) be free but force-feeding us as many lousy ads as can be squeezed into our stories and posts is turning Instagram into garbage. The ads shown above are ones I found on my feed yesterday – every second post is an ad! And I don’t have an iota of interest in any of them.

I’m not one of those people who is opposed to all ads on principle. I follow a slew of brands and influencers, e.g., Wildfang, Akimoto Kozue, Morgenstern’s. The difference is that those brands offer something of interest to me, and it’s solely my decision to follow them. They are not being foisted on me by the overlords of Instagram.

For those of you who haven’t heard the latest news, Instagram just introduced a branded content feature to bring sponsored influencer posts to our newsfeeds—whether we follow those influencer accounts or not!

Instagram claims 68% of its users want to interact with creators. While that might be true in theory, I find it hard to believe that people using Instagram would equate finding a sponsored post in their feed as “interacting with a creator.”

Per emarketer

  • 69% of US marketers plan to spend most of their influencer budget on Instagram.
  • Before the Facebook-owned social network introduced this branded content feature, there was no direct revenue stream for the platform to make money off the 500,000 active influencers on the platform.

From Instagram’s Business Blog:

Brands/Advertisers will work in tandem with their influencers to turn the influencer’s content into ads which the brand will then pay to have posted as an ad – to one and all.

 

Read on below for more on how this horrid branded content strategy will work.

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Want To Be More Informed About Tech? Follow James Wang!

Want To Be More Informed About Tech? Follow James Wang!

 

I discovered James Wang recently when he was a guest on CNBC’s Closing Bell and Fast Money.

 

He’s a brilliant tech analyst. Not only does he know his stuff, he’s obsessed with it. He’s one of those rare people who can talk about amazingly complicated new technologies and make it easy to understand. And just as importantly, he makes it sound fascinating. He leaves you wanting to learn more.

James is an analyst at ARK Invest. He’s on their Next Generation Internet team. His specialty is artificial intelligence and the next wave of the internet.

Before that, he worked for nine years at NVIDIA, where he helped launch GeForce Experience, a PC gaming application with over 80 million users. He has written about the technology industry since 2000 for various publications.

He’s a welcome new addition to CNBC and is, in my opinion, in the top echelon of contributors. I’d go so far as to say he’s on a par with another favorite of mine, Carter Braxton Worth who has been ranked the #1 Technical Analyst by Institutional Investor for the last two years. James Wang is on that same level!

I follow James on Twitter – and you should too. His feed is one of the best, highly informative, and yet fun and easy to read. I learn something every single time he posts (link here).

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Venmo Users: Set Your Accounts To Private And Do It Now!

Venmo Users: Set Your Accounts To Private And Do It Now!

 

I’ve written about this a million times, and people are still letting everyone see all the details of their Venmo transactions.

 

For example, I can see that …

  • Somebody I barely know paid for a chicken sandwich for his friend who forgot his wallet
  • I can see that one of my neighbors is paying for her kid’s tutor
  • I can see people paying for babysitters
  • Teacher’s gifts
  • Sunscreen
  • A kale salad with beans
  • Somebody I know thru work treated somebody with a Starbucks for their extra hard work
  • Hairdresser got paid by Venmo

Nothing horrible here but it feels weird to see people’s private lives exposed in public. I’m not quite sure whether you see all your contacts or only facebook friends who also happen to be Venmo users, but it’s a lot of people in your peripheral network. Venmo makes it sound so cool to see what your family and friends are doing, but what you see is way more invasive. For example, a while back, I saw a very casual friend’s weekly payments for a hook-up. I didn’t need to know that much about him.

 

Here’s how you make the switch to private:

  • Go on your Venmo
  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Privacy and then click on Private.
  • Additionally, click on “past transactions” and switch them to private as well.

And here’s why you should do it per thenextweb.com

  • Venmo, which has 40 million monthly active users, makes transaction details public by default. This includes usernames, full names, profile pictures, recipient information, and more.
  • Venmo has stated it keeps the transaction history public by default because it treats them as a social activity. “People open up Venmo to see what their family and friends are up to,” it said last year.
  • But the PayPal-owned company has done precious little to prevent scenarios that could result in the potential abuse of the public API to scrape users’ transaction details.

And that’s it for today’s PSA! You’re welcome!

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Nicolas Cole Was My Inspiration This Week.

Nicolas Cole Was My Inspiration This Week.

 

Have any of you ever heard of Nicolas Cole? I hadn’t. But if you want to dial up your social media game, you’ve got to check him out (links below).

 

I stumbled across him on Ladders. They published an article by him entitled “The 1 Painfully Obvious Reason Nobody Follows You On Social Media.” Reading it was a wake-up call, like having cold water tossed in my face.

But, kudos to him for being such a compelling writer. Both his message and his backstory are incredibly powerful.

What became apparent to me in reading his article was how much more value I need to provide to my readers to get the engagement I want. I need to seriously up my game if I want to write more insightful, useful articles.

Cole claims 99 percent of people don’t put in the necessary effort. I thought I did, but in reading how he got his start, I see that my effort can stand improvement.

For example, here are the lengths he went to in order to establish himself as a writer:

  • When he was in his early 20’s, he was writing on Quora. He soon realized that Quora had columns with all the major publications.
  • He studied what each publication liked to republish from Quora, specifically the topics, the headlines, and the way they seemed to want the content written. And then he replicated it.
  • He created formulas for himself that matched the style guide of each publication. Then, he would write an Answer on Quora (to someone else’s Question) formatted the same way an article would appear on Inc. or Forbes, or Business Insider.
  • That’s a lot of effort, but it paid off.
  • Every single publication republished his work – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Here’s the link to his Ladders article on why nobody follows you on social media.

  • For those of us on Instagram, he includes tips on photography as well as how to write persuasive first and second paragraphs. His perspective on hashtags is worth considering, as well (hint: he’s not into using a million of them just because you can).
  • He also offers excellent insights on how many social media platforms you actually need to be on. I was surprised that he has a relatively small following on twitter (7.5K) but 51K on Instagram and 42K on Medium.
  • His biggest tip for writers: get on Quora. That’s the platform that has been his secret sauce. For example, even after he got millions of readers from being republished by major news sources, he doubled down on his commitment to Quora.

 

It’s also worthwhile checking out the Nicolas Cole site itself – two links in particular. Read on below.

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The Queen Of The Internet Has Spoken

The Queen Of The Internet Has Spoken

 

I consider this essential reading whether you’re a data nerd, an investor, or someone just curious about where the world is headed.

 

If you have not yet scrolled through Mary Meeker’s newest 333-page Internet Trends Report, I’ve got an abridged version for you (24 slides).

It’s the most highly anticipated trend deck for Silicon Valley and was presented at the Code Conference on June 11th.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Mary Meeker, she is a highly respected internet analyst who has been publishing this report since 1995 just as Amazon launched and Google was still being dabbled with by two students in a Stanford dorm room. The earliest example I found of using her work is 2008 so I have been fangirling her for over ten years.

The tenor of this year’s report is a bit somber. More of us than ever are online (51% of the global population) but people are becoming increasingly siloed, which is reinforcing our most extreme differences.

Growth is slowing, and there seem to be fewer fun, exciting things on the horizon for consumers. It’s all about data and AI now. The bloom is off the rose on so many aspects of tech and the internet. Interestingly, we are somewhat less freaked out about privacy, but more of us are consciously dialing back the time we spend online.

The report also delves into the on-demand economy, tech startups around the world but especially in Asia, e-commerce and programmatic advertising,  trends in education and health care, and the growth of online gaming which Reed Hastings of Netflix has said is his biggest competitor (especially Fortnite with its 250 million gamers).

My biggest personal surprises were how important YouTube is to consumers both as a learning tool and for where they get their news, the pervasiveness (still!) of Facebook, and the growing role of voice vs. video (great news for all my podcaster friends).

 

Scroll down for my key takeaways from Mary’s report. I have also included a link to the entire deck at the end. 1000% worth checking out.

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