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All Kohl’s stores will begin accepting Amazon returns in July.
Customers can bring their eligible Amazon items, without a box or label, to more than 1,000 Kohl’s locations. The service is free.
The two companies paired up for the pilot program in 100 stores in 2017.
“We are thrilled to bring Amazon Returns at Kohl’s to all of our stores across the country,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief executive officer, in a news release on Tuesday.
“Amazon and Kohl’s have a shared passion in providing outstanding customer service, and this unique partnership combines Kohl’s strong nationwide store footprint and omnichannel capabilities with Amazon’s reach and customer loyalty. This new service is another example of how Kohl’s is delivering innovation to drive traffic to our stores and bring more relevance to our customers.”
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Not only is Alexa listening when you speak to an Echo smart speaker, an Amazon employee is potentially listening, too.
Amazon employs a global team that transcribes the voice commands and feeds them back into the software to help improve Alexa’s grasp of human speech so it can respond more efficiently in the future, Bloomberg reports.
Amazon reportedly employs thousands of full-time workers and contractors in several countries, including the United States, Costa Rica and Romania, to listen to as many as 1,000 audio clips in shifts that last up to nine hours. The audio clips they listen to were described as “mundane” and even sometimes “possibly criminal,” including listening to a potential sexual assault.
In a response to the story, Amazon confirmed CNN Business that it hires people to listen to what customers say to Alexa. But Amazon said it takes “security and privacy of our customers’ personal information seriously.” The company said it only annotates an “extremely small number of interactions from a random set of customers.”
The report said Amazon doesn’t “explicitly” tell Alexa users that it employs people to listen to the recordings. Amazon said in its frequently asked question section that it uses “requests to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems.”
People can opt out of Amazon using their voice recordings to improve the software in the privacy settings section of the Alexa app.
Bloomberg said that Alexa auditors don’t have access to the customers’ full name or address, but do have the device’s serial number and the Amazon account number associated with the device.
“Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNN Business. “While all information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multi-factor authentication to restrict access, service encryption, and audits of our control environment to protect it, customers can always delete their utterances at any time.”
Amazon previously has been embroiled in controversy for privacy concerns regarding Alexa. Last year, an Echo user said the smart speaker had recorded a conversation without them knowing and sent the audio file to an Amazon employee in Seattle. Amazon confirmed the error and said the device’s always-listening microphones misheard a series of words and mistakenly sent a voice message.
In many cases much of your resource use comes from serving files on your WordPress site. An easy and cheap way to lower resource use is to use Amazon S3 Storage For Your WordPress Site. This is quite easy and actually free for 1 year if you stay within the free tiers limitations. First we need to make an account so go sign-up for Amazon S3 here: http://aws.amazon.com/s3/
Once done go ahead and sign-in and navigate to Storage And Content Delivery > S3 > Create A Bucket. You will need to name your bucket a unique name using alphanumeric characters and no spaces. We named ours storage.kickassd.com. Also select the location closest to where your WordPress site is physically hosted.
Now go ahead and install the “Amazon Web Services” plugin, once that is done access the plugin and you will see we need to provide some access keys. In order to do this we need to create a user for the bucket and give that user permissions. To do this do the following:
- Go to https://console.aws.amazon.com/iam/home#users
- Create New User
- Show User Credentials (record the keys)
- Add the keys to wp-config as outlined in the plugin settings
define( 'DBI_AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID', '********************' );
define( 'DBI_AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY', '****************************************' );
Replace * with your keys.
Now we need to give the user some permissions, a clean organized way to do this is to first create a custom group, call it something you recognize and than give it Administrator permissions. After that add the user you created to this new custom group.
Now if you navigate back to the Amazon plugin in your WordPress Dashboard you will see the option to install WP Offload Lite, go ahead and install this. In your sidebar now you will see you have AWS > S3 And Cloudfront. Open that and browse existing buckets > select the bucket you created. To test this go ahead and upload something to the media library and check the url to it. You will notice the url now leads to amazon!
That’s it you are now using Amazon S3 for all content uploaded from this point forward. If you want to transfer all content that is already in your media library this requires and upgrade to the pro version. To see how to further boost performance using Amazons Cloudfront please see this post: Amazon S3 Cloudfront For Your WordPress Site
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