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Why This Product Assortment Decision Platform Scored $25M

MakerSights has raised a $25 million Series B investment, bringing the company’s funding to a total of $37 million over the past five years. The software platform empowers retail brands to deliver data-driven product assortments to market, resulting in more profitable operations and a more sustainable footprint.

G2 Venture Partners, a venture and growth investing firm focused on emerging technologies driving sustainable transformation across traditional industries, led the investment. The new round follows MakerSights’ $8.5 million Series A led by Forerunner Ventures in 2019 and $3.1 million in seed funding led by Baseline Ventures in 2017, bringing the company’s funding to a total of $37 million over the past five years.

With a client roster including Ralph Lauren, Madewell, New Balance, Champion, Teva, Orvis and Hoka One One, MakerSights is designed to deliver predictive insights into the seasonal process of assortment creation and development, enabling brands to become more responsive to market demand shifts and opportunities.

The new funding will allow MakerSights to directly integrate its consumer analytics capabilities into the workflows of its brand partners, with the intent to boost consumer-informed decision-making frequency.

The platform is built to democratize data throughout a retail organization, according to MakerSights CEO Dan Leahy. In working with the platform’s Digital Line Review, users can digitally map out an assortment, look at 3D product renderings, gain internal feedback from regional merchants and sales teams, and see customer surveys and reviews in one place.

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With Digital Line Review, brand teams across design, product, merchandising and go-to-market can collaborate to identify assortment risks and drive toward consumer-right solutions. Teams can evaluate internal and market feedback on new products in a shared workspace instead of relying on a combination of legacy tools like Word documents, spreadsheets, annotated PDFs and lengthy email threads that weren’t designed for collaboration.

“Most brands have realized that the 18-to-24-month process for bringing concepts to market was very siloed across these different functions, and really only handed off from one another to these big milestone meetings,” Leahy told Sourcing Journal. “I think people are realizing as they have 50 percent-plus of their sales happening on digital channels that the process is too long and has to be compressed.”

Leahy estimates that nearly 40 percent of products that are manufactured fail to sell, which not only results in massive missed sales opportunities, but puts a major strain on the environment. With estimates that the fashion industry is now responsible for as much as 10 percent of CO2 emissions worldwide, MakerSights fits right into the modern sustainability conversation.

“Many brands and most teams aspire to be less wasteful in their decision making, but historically that’s often kind of taken the form of a capsule collection of recycled materials or products. It’s been very hard to take those less wasteful [strategies] and actually bring [them] into the day-to-day systems,” Leahy said.

That’s where MakerSights comes in. For example, Leahy said the data-driven platform can help a brand make a simple decision such as whether it can achieve the same amount of sales with eight or six colorways.

“We want to give you data-driven confidence on some of those discrete decisions,” said Leahy. “If you make enough of those, they ultimately bottom up some really meaningful inventory commitments and that meaningful kind of mindset as a company to be more sustainable.”

These inventory commitments are even more important amid the current pandemic-driven global supply chain constraints, which has delayed product shipments for weeks at a time. Leahy believes the single biggest step the industry can take to reduce the shockwaves of the disruptions is to shift away from making huge inventory bets two-to-four times per year to instead making more frequent smaller bets.

“Most brands already know that. Certainly e-commerce selling drives that and the responsiveness that you need to compete with digital upstarts really requires it,” Leahy said. “In general, if you’re making 12 bets a year versus two bets a year, and those 12 bets are a lot smaller, you are not signing yourselves up for these huge gluts of inventory that all these brands couldn’t sell last year during the pandemic.”

MakerSights’ funding round will support key executive hires and global expansion across the company’s current Vancouver, San Francisco, Austin, Texas, and London locations. New hires will be added across departments, including in-house data science, engineering, product, design and customer teams.

Joining G2VP in the round are new investors Golub Capital and Gaingels, alongside existing investors Forerunner Ventures and Baseline Ventures and a number of retail technology executives, including  of Stitch Fix CEO Elizabeth Spaulding and Bazaarvoice co-founders Brett Hurt and Brant Barton.