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Retail Tech Roundup: M&S Teams With First Insight and Optitex; Zozo Launches Zozosuit 2

The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.

Inventory management

Celerant

Celerant Technology has expanded its current integration with NILS, a designer and distributor of fine winter apparel and skiwear. The new integration enables retailers and ski resorts to carry an “endless aisle” of products through Celerant’s in-store kiosks and e-commerce platform, so shoppers can browse and order inventory beyond what the store currently has in stock.

“Celerant has been our retail software provider and partner for almost 10 years, allowing us to manage our entire business with one system; both in our stores and online,” said Gordon Geiger, co-owner of outdoor gear, ski wear and equipment retailer Geiger’s. “Celerant continues to offer newer technology to help our retail business be more competitive, and this new integration with NILS is no exception. We are looking forward to using NILS’ data feeds with our Celerant website to offer wider product lines online, while NILS drop ships our orders directly to our customers!”

Celerant’s point of sale system previously offered the ability to browse and import products from NILS’ catalog, which consists of fine winter apparel and skiwear for women, including jackets, ski suits, sweaters, leggings, hats, headbands and more. The integration was recently expanded to include NILS’ live vendor feeds.

By pulling these data feeds, NILS products can be displayed on Celerant’s e-commerce websites and touchscreen kiosks in real-time, complete with product descriptions, images and stock levels. With Celerant’s existing drop shipping capabilities with NILS, orders can be drop shipped directly to the consumer, or delivered to the store (or resort) for pickup, in effect enabling retailers to sell more with less effort.

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Product development/design

First Insight/Optitex

Marks & Spencer is working with First Insight, a predictive analytics platform helping retailers make product investment, pricing and marketing decisions, and Optitex, a provider of 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) solutions for fashion and apparel, automotive, upholstery and industrial fabrics.

M&S is now able to leverage the combination of First Insight’s digital product testing solution and Optitex’s 3D CAD software in an effort to better understand customers, increase speed to market, support digital workflows, create sustainable sampling processes and reduce waste.

The partnership between First Insight and Optitex helps retailers like M&S digitize their product development cycle, and eliminates the need to create and traffic physical samples, host showroom visits and conduct in-store product testing, according to Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight.

M&S is using First Insight's product decision platform.
M&S is using First Insight’s product decision platform. First Insight

M&S has already been leveraging First Insight’s consumer-driven predictive analytics software solution to make design, buying and pricing decisions. The platform has enabled the British multinational retailer to test tens of thousands of products across more than 50 departments and use that information to shape collections and assortments that meet customers’ desires and to offer those items at the right prices.

The retailer achieved successful results from new product testing using the First Insight solution and Optitex 2D CAD technology. Based on that success, M&S has begun using 3D CAD visualizations in its product testing for a number of departments.

The transition to 3D imagery has resulted in increased test completion rates and boosted respondents’ comments by 50 percent, providing richer product feedback to the company’s product development and merchant teams.

The use of 3D CAD technology has also reduced cost and lead time in Marks & Spencer’s product development process. Incorporating digital solutions can reduce lead time from 24 weeks to three weeks for retailers, allowing them to increase their speed to market and their margins.

“We are excited to continue our relationship with First Insight and Optitex as we transition our strategy to a more digital product development-focused model,” said Elaine Wheeler, head of digital product development at M&S. “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. We’ve put customer-focused digital innovation at the heart of our business, and this partnership will allow us to bring winning products that our customers truly want to market more quickly and sustainably.”

PLM

Centric PLM: Birkenstock and Payless

German footwear brand Birkenstock has implemented Centric PLM to further streamline product development processes, and improve time to market and collaboration among teams. With growth in recent years, Birkenstock is implementing an IT solution aimed at supporting the entire product creation process that is designed to allow the team to better focus on key business areas and dedicate more time to the end consumer and their needs.

After implementing Centric PLM, Birkenstock will centralize its database, giving the company a “single source of truth” designed to standardize the whole product development process from initial concept through to mass production.

Having one globally accessible system can also lead to enhanced data quality, especially for product master data throughout all product divisions. With the optimized workflows, Birkenstock’s product creation department wants to eliminate non-value-added tasks and focus its energy more on innovating and creating.

In addition, newly relaunched footwear retailer Payless deployed Centric PLM to drive strategic and operational digital transformation goals.

“Everything we do begins and ends with our customer in mind,” said Matt Lafone, chief operating officer at Payless Worldwide. “To provide the consumer with the stylish, trend-forward products at the value they need, now more than ever, we as a brand have a responsibility to continue to innovate, and strengthen our sourcing and supply chain logistics capabilities as much as possible. With our relaunch into the US market, we had the opportunity to analyze our business and concentrate on ways to improve operational efficiency. Investing in Centric PLM is one of them.”

3D body measurement

Zozo

Zozo Inc., which operates the Japanese online fashion retail website Zozotown, has launched Zozosuit 2, a 3D body measurement suit that can capture precise 3D body scans. In conjunction with this launch, Zozo is opening both the Zozosuit 2 and the Zozomat, a smartphone-based 3D foot scanning solution, to third parties to co-create new services.

Zozosuit 2 is billed as an upgrade from the original Zozosuit, largely via a new suit design and algorithm improvements. The previous Zozosuit captured highly accurate body measurements by taking 360-degree photographs with a smartphone camera. While it was discontinued in November 2018, millions of body measurements captured with the suit have been leveraged for services such as Zozo MSP on Zozotown.

Zozosuit 2 has an average error of 3.7 millimeter, and its improvement in resolution is powered by a 50-times increase in fiducial markers from 400 to 20,000, which enable a smartphone camera to capture detailed information of the body, including the body curvature. Additionally, the previous Zozosuit was composed of two-millimeter fiducial markers, whereas Zozosuit 2 is composed of six-millimeter fiducial markers.

The suit now supports fit recommendations for size-sensitive athletic and intimate apparel, as well as routine and precise body shape tracking for areas like fitness and preventive medicine and healthcare. The high-resolution scans captured by Zozosuit 2 can likewise be leveraged for sports, gaming and entertainment.

Zozo says that the Zozomat’s average error is only 1.4 millimeters when compared to a 3D laser scanner. Within three months of its February launch, the company says Zozomat accumulated over 1 million orders. This sizing solution is designed to enable customers to scan their feet in 3D with their smartphone and to receive shoe size recommendations across various brands and styles on Zozotown’s footwear platform, Zozoshoes.

Predictive logistics

FarEye

Predictive logistics platform provider FarEye has been working with retailers to roll out significant new features and enhancements to its platform to handle the Black Friday surge and enable retailers to meet the demand.

The platform upgrades are designed to help retailers offer more flexibility to customers with features such as self-service delivery slot booking, multiple payment options and deliveries at drop-off points. Additionally, retailers can gain an accelerated model to quickly onboard new carriers to meet demand surges and achieve app-based onboarding and training of freelance drivers to fulfill orders.

FarEye has improved its contactless delivery capabilities including tracking drivers’ temperatures, integrating with national and international compliance applications, and adding more features related to order-level visibility, such as instant track and trace, messaging drivers and single-click calling.

With the features, retailers also can showcase more products based on customer behavior and preferences, and achieve comprehensive end-to-end visibility of the logistics operations and real-time customer feedback to take corrective actions.

“With the upcoming festive season, we expect orders to triple until the beginning of the year,” said Dharmin Ved, CEO of 6th Street Apparel Group, a FarEye partner.

Shoppable video

Bambuser

Interactive live video shopping provider Bambuser launched a new app for merchants using Shopify. The Shopify custom app is provided free of charge to Bambuser’s clients using Shopify to reduce development costs and time to market when implementing Live Video Shopping on their site. The app takes care of implementing the codes necessary to run Live Video Shopping and offers an interface within Shopify for managing calls-to-action for the live shopping shows on the site.

During the first half of 2020, Bambuser-supported Live Video Shopping shows had an average add-to-cart click-rate of 36 percent across all active retailers in the beauty segment.

Using Bambuser’s newly launched app, over 1 million e-commerce stores using Shopify will be able to incorporate Bambuser’s Live Video Shopping experiences across channels.

Last-mile logistics

Descartes/ShipTrack

Descartes Systems Group, a provider of SaaS solutions for logistics-intensive commerce businesses, has acquired e-commerce final-mile solutions provider ShipTrack for a maximum of 25 million Canadian dollars (approximately $19 million). The all-cash performance-based deal hinges on ShipTrack achieving revenue-based targets over the first two years after the acquisition.

Customers of Descartes use the company’s solutions to route, schedule, track and measure delivery resources; plan, allocate and execute shipments; rate, audit and pay transportation invoices; access global trade data; file customs and security documents for imports and exports; and participate in the a collaborative multimodal logistics community.

ShipTrack will complement Descartes and its suite by providing cloud-based mobile resource management and shipment tracking solutions, which are designed to help users automate dispatch, updates on shipment status and estimated time of arrival (ETA) and eliminate paper-based delivery processes. ShipTrack’s platform, designed for the e-commerce home delivery, parcel and medical courier markets, helping these companies efficiently manage final-mile deliveries. As part of the deal, Shawn Winter, co-founder of ShipTrack, is now vice president of mobility solutions at Descartes.

Payments/Visual Search

Quadpay/Urge

Installment payment provider Quadpay has acquired Australian technology company and fashion search engine Urge Holdings, known for its “Shazam for fashion” app dubbed Shnap, for a purchase price of approximately $6.1 million. Quadpay plans to integrate Urge’s technology onto its interest-free installment payment platform, giving its millions of customers the ability to shop clothing and footwear by taking a photo or screenshot and then automatically finding retailers for the purchase as well as price comparisons.

Quadpay says its network of thousands of merchants can now offer targeted and more personalized promotions to consumers as a means of acquiring new business and driving increased sales.