The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Buy now, pay later
Only a few weeks after unveiling its first-quarter results, with global gross merchandise value nearly doubling to $18.9 billion from last year’s $9.9 billion totals, Klarna raised equity funding totaling $639 million.
With the funding, Klarna is now valued at $45.6 billion, and is now the second-largest private fintech company worldwide behind Stripe.
The round was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, with additional participation from existing investors Adit Ventures, Honeycomb Asset Management and WestCap Group, to support international expansion and further capture global retail growth.
The “buy now, pay later” player has seen a barrage of funding over the past year, securing $1 billion in equity in March on top of $650 million in September 2020. All of these rounds have given GiveOne, the initiative to support planet health established by Klarna earlier this year, its third significant donation since launch. Klarna files 1 percent of the equity raised to GiveOne.
Klarna is used by 18 million customers in the U.S. and over 250,000 retailers globally including H&M, Saks, Macy’s, ASOS, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike and Shein. The app is now live with 24 of the top 100 U.S. retailers, more than any of its competitors, the company says.
Klarna’s global footprint across 17 markets continues to grow, with a number of new markets launching in 2021 including France this month, a country that expects to have an e-commerce market totaling $185 billion by 2024.
The company’s growth comes as more consumers turn away from revolving credit lines where they incur interest or fees, and instead seek alternative payment options that enable payments in spaced out increments.
Klarna’s other investors include Sequoia Capital, SilverLake, Dragoneer, Permira, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Bestseller Group, Ant Group, Northzone, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, as well as funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and HMI.
Nearly one year after first announcing their partnership, Shopify and Affirm are officially bringing their collaboration to all eligible Shopify merchants in the U.S. In July last year, the “buy now, pay later” platform became the exclusive payments partner for the e-commerce giant’s Shop Pay Installments feature.
The feature is now available to “hundreds of thousands” of U.S. merchants, the companies say, and will be automatically enabled for new merchants when they enable Shopify Payments and Shop Pay. With the feature, customers on Shopify-powered websites can split their purchases into four equal payments with zero percent interest and no fees, with the companies claiming no impact to credit scores. Retailers can increase conversion by up to 50 percent.
One in four merchants that used Shop Pay Installments saw 50 percent higher average order volume compared to other payment methods. And merchants that switched from a third-party buy now, pay later solution saw 28 percent fewer abandoned carts through Shop Pay Installments.
“Our average cart size on Shop Pay Installments is double that of regular checkout as more customers are buying larger bundles of our socks,” said Daniel Shim, co-founder of Ondo, an ethical apparel brand that manufactures sweat-resistant and non-slip socks. “Having Shop Pay Installments on the same platform where we run our business has helped us get more data-driven, leading us to launch new products for the summer.”
Merchants can directly integrate Shop Pay Installments with their Shopify stores, so that they can measure their performance, sales and fees in one place. With the Shop Pay Installments feature integrated in the store, including their inventory, merchants can avoid overselling at critical moments like flash sales when offering a “buy now, pay later” option to their customers.
Shopify says its Shop Pay checkouts are on average 4x faster than regular online checkouts, and have an average checkout-to-order rate 1.72x higher than regular checkouts. Additionally, they convert at almost double the rate of regular checkouts on mobile.
Hot Topic is expanding its partnership with Manhattan Associates by implementing its cloud-native enterprise class system, Manhattan Active Warehouse Management. The WMS will provide advanced capabilities like order streaming, warehouse execution system (WES) functionality and more robust picking and packing capabilities. These additional functionalities are expected to help the company streamline its fulfillment processes to support its growing omnichannel business.
Hot Topic, Inc., known for its licensed apparel, accessories, collectibles that celebrate individuality, operates multiple brands: Hot Topic, BoxLunch and Her Universe. The company manages a 700-plus national store presence along with two growing fulfillment centers. Having such a vast supply chain, the retailer said it required a WMS that would modernize its operations and support its ongoing growth.
“Supporting our online growth and continuing our cloud first initiatives were a major driving force behind the decision to upgrade to Manhattan Active Warehouse Management,” said Mike Yerkes, chief operating officer at Hot Topic, Inc., in a statement. “We’ve worked with Manhattan Associates for many years now and look forward to moving to its innovative, cloud-native and version-less solution.”
The warehouse execution system functionality that’s built into Manhattan’s warehouse management system was a key factor in the brand’s decision to upgrade. Manhattan’s WES functionality is designed to simplify and streamline the process of adding and managing warehouse robots and automation. This process can enable the WMS to manage workflow of both man and machine to help fully optimize product flow.
Online wholesale marketplace
Joor, a digital wholesale platform for luxury, fashion and home products, has raised $46 million in Series D funding led by Macquarie Capital Principal Finance. This funding will fuel the company’s investment in platform innovation, payments and financing, as well as support continued global and vertical expansion.
With over 12,500 brands and 325,000 curated retailers, the Joor platform has processed more than $1.5 billion in wholesale transactions each month. Joor’s exclusive partners range from established luxury fashion houses such as LVMH, Kering, Richemont and Capri, to brands such as Stella McCartney, Valentino, Kate Spade and Dr. Martens. Global department stores including Neiman Marcus, Printemps and Harrods and digital retailers such as Ssense, Shopbop and Revolve conduct their buying exclusively through Joor, the company says.
Over the last 12 months, Joor says it has grown new business 228 percent.
Earlier this month, Joor expanded to Asia, opening in office in Shanghai. The company claims it is the first B2B wholesale platform to launch operations serving brands and retailers in mainland China. This new foothold in China complements its existing presence in Japan and Australia, giving it more opportunities to grow in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2021, wholesale volume ordered by APAC-based retailers grew 139 percent year over year and wholesale volume for APAC-based brands is up 419 percent year over year.
Previous investors Itochu Corporation, Battery Ventures and Canaan Partners also participated.
Joor also announced that Anand Subramanian, managing director at Macquarie Capital Principal Finance, will join its board of directors.
Faire, an online wholesale marketplace that hosts 200,000 retailers across North America and Europe and 20,000 brands from over 80 countries, has closed $260 million in a Series F investment round led by Sequoia Capital.
The funding, which includes all existing investors as well as new global investors Baillie Gifford and Wellington Management, values Faire at $7 billion, nearly tripling its previous valuation of $2.5 billion announced in October 2020, when the company raised $170 million.
This new capital will help Faire further expand its tools and market events, particularly in “doubling down” on its investment in apparel after seeing “meaningful” category growth, the company said. Faire reports that it has seen 300 percent year-over-year volume growth across its wholesale platform. In total, the platform sold over 75 million products within the last year.
Additionally, this capital will help Faire hire talent to increase headcount, and introduce the platform into new markets. The company expects to double headcount in the next year, including hiring dozens of employees in Europe—where it recently launched—and opening a London office.
Across North America and Europe, Faire claims that independent retailers on its marketplace are doing more than twice the revenue of Walmart and Amazon combined. Faire’s entrance into Europe, one of the world’s largest and most diverse economies, represents a significant opportunity to accelerate and strengthen the combined competitive power of the international independent retail community.
Faire is now operating across the U.K., the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Within the first 30 days of launching the platform in each respective market, Faire’s Europe growth outpaced U.S. growth by 230 percent, the company says. Faire’s volume sold across Europe is now annualizing to roughly $50 million, a scale that took nearly two years to reach in the U.S. Europe now represents 5 percent of overall Faire volume.
In addition to accelerating European brand growth abroad, Faire’s entrance into Europe has also enabled North American retailers to access more goods. To date, 15,000 U.S.-based retailers have purchased from international brands on Faire.
“Faire’s pace of growth signals that independent retailers across the globe are evolving and changing the face of the retail industry as we have known it,” said Faire CEO Max Rhodes. “We have always believed in this thriving community of entrepreneurs, and are honored to be a navigating partner for them through the pandemic and into these periods of recovery. Faire will continue to invest in independent brands and retailers at one of the most important times in history, as small businesses reopen around the world. We know that they will rebuild and reimagine the future of retail to better serve their local communities.”
The majority of surveyed Faire retailers reported increased sales one year out from the start of the pandemic, while over 50 percent reported that the majority of their revenue within the past year has come from the wholesale business.
Supply chain visibility
Overhaul, a supply chain visibility, integrity and security solution, has raised $35 million in funding. The company says it will use the investment to accelerate its roadmap in continuing to optimize its current solutions.
The current round is led by Macquarie Capital, with participation from Edison Partners and Avanta Ventures, the venture arm of CSAA Insurance Group. Combined with earlier rounds, the round brings Overhaul’s total funding to $55 million.
In May, Overhaul announced its newest offering, TruckShield, a risk-management technology solution for North American motor carriers that uses existing fleet hardware to identify dangerous or illegal driving practices in real time. The solution aims to implement corrective actions that can avoid costly scenarios that develop from auto accidents.
Overhaul will grow its global team with hires in the software development, product, sales, marketing and talent development departments across the U.S., Mexico and Ireland.
Freight payment platform PayCargo has announced a $125 million Series B investment by global venture capital and private equity firm Insight Partners. This year, the platform is on track to process $10 billion of freight-related payments, a 250 percent increase from 2020.
The platform is designed to enable businesses to pay vendors for products immediately upon exiting a cargo carrier. Even in 2021, only a small portion of international freight payments are made electronically, the company says, resulting in outdated payments processes that often prevent vendors from receiving money until well after a product has reached the warehouse.
The company’s cloud-based payments network is designed to enable payers to securely pay air and ocean carriers, maritime ports, ground handlers, freight forwarders and customs brokers, among others. PayCargo’s newest tools include real-time customer reporting and invoicing, new workflow tools to streamline partial payments and reconciliation, advance payments and automated refunds in any currency.
Third-party logistics providers can use PayCargo’s system to determine if an invoice is correct before paying, pay via electronic ACH rather than paper checks or money wires, and integrate payment information directly into their accounting systems.
PayCargo has a network of more than 67,000 active users remitting and receiving payments on the platform, with the company saying that “thousands more” are joining each month. The company is focused on expediting industry cargo movement industrywide in North America and is rapidly expanding in Europe and other geographies.
PayCargo integrates with more than 20 transport management systems, ERP and terminal operating systems across all transport modes: ocean, air, rail and trucking.
Profitable since its early stages, the company says it continues to invest in tech updates, development and enterprise-grade security to support its growth.
The Series B Round comes just nine months after Insight Partners invested $35 million in PayCargo last year. In total, the company has raised more than $160 million in known venture capital funding since its inception in 2008.
Marque Luxury, a wholesale provider of vetted and certified pre-owned luxury goods such as handbags and accessories, has introduced the Marque Verified Pre-Owned Program (VPO) in collaboration with artificial intelligence-based authentication provider Entrupy.
The two are collaborating on Marque Luxury’s added layer of blockchain technology security in the form of a digital NFT for those purchasing luxury goods in the secondary market.
The VPO program will soon be available to add a digital NFT to authentication certifications, to Marque’s wholesale clients and mentor members. The NFT will act as a digital certificate in an effort to assure both the current and future owners of the item’s authenticity by storing the record indefinitely on the blockchain.
Each NFT is guaranteed to be checked and authenticated in three methods: through seasoned authentication experts, A.I. microscopic technology and third-party macro reviews. The digital certificate will also include a proprietary objective condition grading analysis, plus confirmation that the item is considered sustainable and in the “circular economy.”
Entrupy will continue to act as a third-party authentication provider in the VPO program’s authentication process. Entrupy will also add digital fingerprint identification technology to the goods purchased alongside other third-party identification solutions for the physical object. These identification solutions are designed to tie the physical item to the VPO digital NFT certificate.
The launch from Marque comes as more of luxury’s top players are turning to blockchain to counter the authenticity concerns that often arise when shopping for luxury goods. LVMH, Prada and Richemont’s Cartier joined forces to launch the Aura Blockchain Consortium in April to promote the use of a single global blockchain solution open to all luxury brands worldwide.
Livestream shopping platform ShopShops has raised a $15 million Series B. The financing was co-led by LightShed Ventures and Acrew Capital and supported by existing investors Union Square Ventures, Forerunner Ventures and The Chernin Group (TCG). Dave Lu from Hyphen Capital and Gaingels also participated in the round.
The funding will be used to accelerate the expansion of ShopShops in the U.S. and to continue its growth among premium cross-border shoppers in China.
ShopShops hosts have hosted shows with over 750 fashion, beauty, lifestyle and food brands, including Marni, Theory, Zadig & Voltaire, Jeff Staple, Zac Posen, Everlane, Jimmy Choo and more. ShopShops currently has more than 30 daily “in-store” live shopping events, ranging from Hermes bags for sale to a live event with a host opening real fresh oysters containing pearls starting at $20.
In December 2020, ShopShops leveraged its app, brand partnerships and learnings to launch a beta for U.S. shoppers. In March, the company hosted a live event at the Macy’s Herald Square flagship in New York City on March 1-2 as part of the “Hauliday by Cosmo x Klarna” virtual shopping bonanza.
ShopShops’ host sellers, typically content creators who are passionate about fashion, beauty and lifestyle shopping and products, use the ShopShops mobile app to bring shoppers in the U.S. and China into brick-and-mortar stores across the globe, providing an interactive live shopping experience. Host sellers can curate livestream events that harness video and allow the shopper to engage in conversation with their hosts, and other shoppers on the stream, around fit, styling, or other real time questions that add to the experience.
Within the shows, in what ShopShops calls a “digital and social treasure hunt,” shoppers can discover different designer deals, vintage finds, local boutiques and artisan makers across the globe.
Social media/affiliate marketing
In a bid to increase their support for influencers and creators, Instagram and Facebook announced plans for new affiliate marketing and e-commerce features, according to a blog post.
While select creators can currently tag products from the brands they work with or use the Shops platform if they have their own product line, Instagram said it wants to give more creators access to shopping tools and allow them to get rewarded for the purchases they drive.
In the coming months, the company will test a native affiliate tool within the Instagram app enabling creators to discover new products available on checkout, share them with their followers and earn commissions for the purchases they drive.
When people come across an affiliate post from a creator featuring a tagged product, they will see “Eligible for commission” at the top of the post, so it’s clear that their purchases help support that creator.
For creators who want to sell their own merchandise, Instagram wants to make it easier to add an existing shop or open a new shop on their profile.
Creators who already have their own product lines can now link their shop to their personal profile in addition to their business profile, enabling them to display and sell their products directly to fans.
Additionally, creators will be able to set up a new shop and drive excitement with exclusive product launches from the Instagram app by linking their account with one of our four merchandise partners: Bravado/UMG, Fanjoy, Represent and Spring. This will roll out to all eligible creators in the U.S. by end of 2021.
Brij, a platform designed to connect physical products to digital experiences, has just launched to enable retailers to offer product registration and reordering capabilities with the help of a QR code.
Brands using Brij enable consumers to scan a QR code on the product or its packaging to access digital experiences for each of product. When consumers scan a Brij QR code, the company says that they can register, reorder and view relevant content for their products anytime, anywhere.
The QR codes enable shoppers to gain various benefits, first in that the product registration gives them a chance to receive rewards and discounts for starting a relationship with the brand. And alongside product reordering, shoppers can keep track of receipts and product warranty expiration dates and access product manuals such as how-to videos, ingredients, assembly instructions, customer support and more.
Consumers who have scanned a product’s QR Code can claim ownership of items and get them returned if they’re ever lost or stolen, and even verify authenticity with a scan to avoid buying counterfeits.
Kait Stephens, CEO and co-founder of Brij, says that the no-code platform also integrates with Shopify.
Andy & Evan, a children’s wear lifestyle brand sold at retailers including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and big box stores, is one of the first brand’s using Brij. When customers register their Andy & Evan products with Brij, the QR code instantly becomes a digital name tag.
If the item is ever lost and found, the finder can scan the QR code to message the owner and facilitate its return. This can solve a common pain point for parents who frequently worry about their children losing their jackets and clothing. Andy & Evan can also use the product registration details to engage in direct email marketing with its customers, which is a benefit the company previously didn’t have as a wholesaler.
“We see Brij as a way to not only provide a direct line of communication with our customers, but also establish product differentiation that serves our target audience—parents of young children,” said Evan Hakalir, president and CEO of Andy & Evan. “Finding ways to communicate with our customers is not easy, but Brij allows us to engage directly with them, even when our products are sold through third-party retailers. At the same time, we’re also helping parents protect their children’s outerwear purchases with Brij’s lost and stolen item recovery feature, relieving a common headache.”
Backcountry, an online specialty retailer of outdoor gear and apparel, will deploy Amperity’s data services to manage and unify its first-party customer data. Backcountry will leverage the customer data platform’s best-in-class data management and customer analytics capabilities to build a better customer data foundation, drive revenue while continually improving customer experience.
Backcountry and Amperity will work together to build a better customer foundation that will create more complete and accurate user profiles and provide clear insights that will enable outdoor gear seller to curate more impactful content and top-line customer experiences. The customer data platform will improve Backcountry’s data quality across all digital touchpoints.
“At Backcountry, our customers are our number one priority. Our partnership with Amperity will allow us to enhance our customer segmentation in an entirely new way that will allow us to understand our customers, and their needs, even better,” said Sridhar Nallani, Backcountry’s chief technology officer. “The platform will improve our analytics and directly inform our strategic decision-making, which will certainly be focused on serving our customers as best we can.”
Amperity’s product works for Backcountry and its other customers by continuously ingesting raw customer data across all touchpoints, using machine learning to resolve identities even when records lack unique identifiers across systems. The result is a unified customer database that centralizes data from online and offline transactions, loyalty programs, email interactions and more, enabling Backcountry to efficiently deploy customer data for targeting and analytics.