Amazon Challenges Best Buy’s Geek Squad with New In-House Experts

Now Best Buy’s Geek Squad has some competition when it comes to providing customers in-house gadget assistance and installation. Amazon has launched its own squad of in-house experts to help customers through sticky tech issues. Amazon’s team of experts not only offers free 45-minute Alexa consultations, but they can also help customers install products for a fee. Amazon has already started offering this new service in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose and in Orange County, California with the goal of helping consumers set up a “smart home.” Experts believe that Amazon’s investment in this in-house team will help Amazon market Alexa and to decrease the return rate of smart-home gadgets due to customers being unsure of how to set them up and integrate them with existing products in the home. Amazon is expected to expand this in-house offering to more markets in the U.S.

Read more about Amazon’s new team of in-house experts at Recode


The Finish Line to Rely on Mobile-First Strategy to Boost Sales During Store Revamp

Athletic apparel and footwear retailer, The Finish Line is currently revamping its strategy around its brick-and-mortar stores. Several stores are being shut down completely while 45-60 stores are being remodeled. Although sales in Finish Line’s stores have declined by 4.3% in its most recent quarter, Finish Line hopes to boost its sales via mobile. Recently, the Finish Line revamped its Winner’s Circle mobile loyalty app for its 10 million users. Thanks to new features and a better checkout experience, Finish Line is experiencing gains through mobile, including an increase of online sales by 3.1% after the app’s rollout. Eventually, the new app will offer in-store beacon and geo-fencing technology to encourage customers to visit brick-and-mortar stores for tailored offers to match their preferences. But, despite these mobile gains and store closings, the Finish Line is moving forward with a new strategy that is mobile-first but still incorporates the brick-and-mortar store into the customer experience.

Read more about The Finish Line’s mobile strategy and loyalty app at RetailDive


Spotify Tests New “Driving Mode” for Android Users

If you’re an Android user who takes great pride in your custom, cultivated Spotify playlists, then Spotify’s new driving mode may be a great fit for your lifestyle. Spotify’s driving mode is intended to help users enjoy their music while driving, while minimizing distractions for safety. New features for Spotify’s driving mode include larger buttons, a simplified user-interface and voice controls. If you are one of the chosen Android users that Spotify has selected for testing this new feature, you will see a car icon on the lower left of your Android device after updating the Spotify app. No additional information is known about a general release of Spotify’s driving mode for all Android users at this time.

Read more about Spotify’s test of its driving mode for Android users at Android Community


We All Scream for Ice Cream: Baskin-Robbins Offers Ice Cream Delivery

As we approach the middle of a long, hot summer, Baskin-Robbins has offered the perfect solution to beat the heat. Baskin-Robbins has teamed up with the mobile app DoorDash to offer ice cream delivery to 22 cities, including New York, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco. Users can place an order online or through the DoorDash app for ice cream and have their order delivered within the hour. There is a delivery fee for this service, but users can set up payment and even dietary restrictions through the Baskin-Robbins app. But never fear, the ice cream will be packaged in insulated carriers to prevent melting during delivery.

Read more about Baskin-Robbins’ ice cream delivery service at PYMNTS.com


You’ve Got a Friend: Intuition Robotics Raises $14 Million to Build Companion Robots

Recently Israeli startup, Intuition Robotics raised $14 million in funding to continue developing social companion robots for the elderly. To help combat loneliness, Intuition Robotics created Elliq, an AI-driven robotic companion that users “natural” communication methods and body language to express emotion. Elliq is small, resembles a lamp, and can sit on a table to converse with humans. It uses sounds, light, and voice to express itself and thanks to AI, Elliq will improve over time courtesy of machine learning as it adapts to its owner’s needs. Intuition Robotics believes that Elliq will help senior citizens to stay connected, healthy and active while overcoming any digital knowledge gaps through cognitive computing and natural communication.

Read more about Intuition Robotics’ social companion robot Elliq at VentureBeat