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Retail Tech: Affirm x Stripe, Bolt Lays Off 250 After ABG Lawsuit

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

Payments

Affirm/Stripe

Payments giants Affirm and Stripe are partnering up, making the buy now, pay later (BNPL) platform provider’s Adaptive Checkout feature available to Stripe users in the U.S.

Adaptive Checkout uses Affirm’s smart decision engine to make a real-time underwriting decision and offer consumers bi-weekly and monthly pay-over-time options side-by-side.

Stripe reports that its businesses have a reach of “millions” of customers and process billions of dollars each year, with the fintech giant catering to business of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500 corporations.

Eligible customers will then have the option to use Affirm to split the cost of purchases ranging from $50 to $30,000, with a maximum credit limit of $17,500. Customers will never owe more than they agree to upfront, according to Affirm, which doesn’t charge late or hidden fees.

Businesses that offer Affirm’s Adaptive Checkout see increased cart conversion, approvals and sales compared to those who offer monthly payments through Affirm alone, the BNPL provider said.

“We were able to integrate Affirm, test and then launch in production within one day,” said Ignacio Flores, technical lead engineer at online luxury fashion marketplace Orchard Mile. “More than 25 percent of purchases are being paid through buy now, pay later, and our conversion rate continues to improve as customers have more flexibility to purchase the products they want.”

Earlier in May, the payment network extended a partnership with WooCommerce, and has extended its Shopify partnership multiple years.

Fit technology

Bold Metrics

Fit and sizing technology provider Bold Metrics Inc. secured $8 million in Series A financing. The new round, led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from Lytical Ventures, ValueStream Ventures and Nanban Ventures, brings the company’s total funding to $12.3 million.

Bold Metrics AI sizing solutions are designed to empower apparel brands and retailers to reduce returns, boost conversion and enable data-led product design by connecting shoppers to their ideal size based on personal fit preferences.

In particular, the tech company powers sizing intelligence solutions for ready-to-wear, on-demand and custom apparel both in-store and online.

The company will use the funds to accelerate its expansion into new growth markets while also scaling research and development to deepen its core capabilities. Bold Metrics already works with apparel brands including Canada Goose, Tailored Brands (Men’s Wearhouse, Jos A Bank), SuitShop, Blue Delta Denim and UpWest, among others.

The funding will enable Bold Metrics to attract talent and boost its R&D efforts to address the evolving needs of apparel brands and their global customers.

Bold Metrics aims to provide apparel brands and retailers with accurate AI Body Modeling technology to unlock the power of body data enabling data-led product design. The AI solutions can connect customers to clothes that fit according to their body measurements, shape and personal preference data in seconds.

The fit tech firm cited data that consumer preference-based returns drive approximately 72 percent of all returns in the apparel product category, with poor fit accounting for more than 50 percent of those returns.

Currently, Bold Metrics has collected 45 million body models, and continues to add more than 2 million per quarter.

Checkout

Bolt

Bolt Financial, the payments company once valued at $11 billion that made headlines for pivoting to a four-day workweek and touted “one-click” checkout technology, is laying off approximately 250 employees—or approximately one-third of its workforce—according to various reports.

In a mass email to employees, Bolt CEO Maju Kuruvilla confirmed the layoffs, pointing to the current market conditions that have plagued the tech sector, which has been impacted by a major market selloff over the past six months.

“In an effort to ensure Bolt owns its own destiny, the leadership team and I have made the decision to secure our financial position, extend our runway and reach profitability with the money we have already raised,” Kuruvilla said. “Unfortunately, this includes reducing the size of our workforce and parting ways with some incredibly talented people on our team as of today.”

Layoffs at Bolt followed those at Klarna, which announced plans to terminate 700 employees, or roughly 10 percent of the company’s workforce. Additionally, delivery startups like Getir and Swvl are axing 14 and 32 percent of staff, respectively.

Another e-commerce platform, Brazil-based Vtex, which had a $1.7 billion valuation after raising $225 million in September 2020, said it would lay off 193 employees, or 13 percent of its team.

In total, layoffs aggregator Layoffs.fyi estimates that more than 15,000 tech workers lost their jobs in May.

But Bolt’s layoffs come as the company has been embroiled in recent controversy. Earlier this year, Authentic Brands Group (ABG) sued the firm for its botched integration with Forever 21. The tech is only live with ABG two brands, Forever 21 and Lucky Brand, but the brand manager claims that the former’s integration was so rocky that it cost the revived teen brand $150 million in gross sales.

ABG also accused Bolt of failing to deliver a viable version of its anticipated “AllPass” customer loyalty product by the Jan. 15, 2021 deadline they agreed to. The company, which owns brands like Reebok, Brooks Brothers and Barneys New York, also levied charges including unjust enrichment, trademark infringement and false advertising.

But outside of the suit, Bolt now has to contend with unhappy employees, both current and former. A spreadsheet containing contact information for more than 100 laid-off Bolt employees circulated on Twitter, and laid-off employees have taken to online forums to criticize the tech company and its founder, executive chairman and former CEO Ryan Breslow.

Breslow himself garnered attention after going on a Twitter tirade condemning startup accelerator Y Combinator and Stripe, a Bolt competitor, calling them “mob bosses.” In the rant, he accused the companies of colluding to prevent Bolt from raising proper funding throughout its growth stage.

Logistics

Klearnow

KlearNow, a “logistics as a service” (LaaS) technology company, has launched KlearNow Drayage, a cloud-based marketplace designed to allow importers and drayage partners to negotiate and close drayage business on a single platform. The AI-powered, digitized platform is built to provide near real-time tracking of containers from origin to destination, extending shipment visibility and data connectivity.

The movement of goods requires communication between shipping lines, ports, terminal operators, truckers, warehouses and cargo owners. While these different entities have begun to digitize their internal operations, information often is not easily exchanged as cargo moves through the supply chain—driving up costs, creating confusion, delaying shipments and jeopardizing customer relationships.

With that in mind, KlearNow is designed to bridge the gap between customs clearance and drayage, essentially giving supply chain stakeholders more control of the final mile.

Before reaching the final port, international shipments must clear customs at every border, with documentation including invoices, packing lists, bills of lading, arrival notices and more.

Drayage adds on to KlearNow’s initial marketplace, KlearNow Customs, which digitizes documents including invoices, packing lists, bills of lading and arrival notices. Customs extracts relevant information using AI and machine learning, sending the customs broker verified data for customs clearance.

In combining the KlearNow Customs and Drayage platforms, users could gain substantial benefits, namely that active drayage marketplace can connect both importers and drayage providers.

Additionally, users can get consolidated visibility from origin port of lading to destination, as well as gather digital documentation for Electronic Customs Records compliance. Importers can access detailed information about pickup windows to control costs and better plan warehouse resources. Overall, KlearNow touts Increased customer satisfaction with the shipment availability information the platform provides.

Cross-border commerce

ESW/Apexx Global

Cross-border e-commerce platform provider ESW has selected global payments technology Apexx Global as a primary processor of its transactions in the U.S. and Canada.

Under the partnership, Apexx aims to help ESW grow its business by providing a scalable platform that can reduce costs and optimize the acceptance of merchant transactions. Their technology will enable ESW to access Apexx’s entire payment ecosystem via a single platform.

The Apexx Global platform combines acquirers, gateways, shopping carts and alternative payments methods into a single marketplace and one-stop solution for enterprise/Tier 1 merchants.

This partnership comes on the heels of ESW announcing its plans to acquire Scalefast, an e-commerce-as-a-service provider based in the U.S. The recently announced deal is expected to further expand ESW’s capabilities with localized stores, digital “pop-up” stores and potentially faster ramp-up time for retailers and brands to get their DTC channel built out.

To assist ESW in the U.S. and Canada, Apexx will use intelligent routing and optimization capabilities to reduce complexity while increasing acceptance rates and reducing costs to improve the entire purchasing experience.

The two companies first started working together when ESW signed Apexx to process payments through Russia’s national MIR electronic payment system. The relationship expanded from there into other European markets, and now continues with the newest agreement.

ESW’s client roster includes luxury, apparel, beauty and personal care brands. The company’s work with large and enterprise clients is achieved through capital-light e-commerce solution implementation across 200 markets in areas such as localized checkouts, logistics, payments, omnichannel, apps and hybrid fulfillment models.

Apexx has more than 120 integration partners and multiple enterprise clients, including Asos, and currently operates across more than 70 countries, claiming that it saves users an average of 15 percent on processing costs.

Smart factory

Attabotics/Synus Tech

Robotics supply chain system Attabotics and Synus Tech, a logistics automation company, have entered an exclusive partnership to provide integrated logistics system warehouse solutions to South Korean markets. Synus Tech and Attabotics will deploy micro-fulfillment solutions in South Korea as part of the partnership.

Synus Tech has provided smart factory total solutions to the semiconductor, display, and secondary battery industries since 1997, but is integrating AI into warehouses for the first time.

Attabotics says that its technology can save up to 85 percent of space in an average 1-million-square-foot warehouse, and uses 3D robotic shuttles internally to store and pick goods for workers (who work outside the structure) to ship materials.

Inspired by the framework of ant colonies, Attabotics replaces the rows and aisles of traditional fulfillment centers with a patented storage structure and robotics shuttles that use both horizontal and vertical space.

The company’s technology is differentiated in that where other warehouse robots are ground-based AGVs (automated guided vehicles) moving back and forth on the floor, Attabotics’ 3D robotic shuttles make use of height and the “X,” “Y” and “Z” axes to store and pick goods.

Using the technology at micro-fulfillment centers, warehouse employees can enable faster picking and shipping times, and the reduced warehouse footprint allows enterprises to place micro-fulfillment centers in high-density areas, reducing the emissions and carbon output typically associated with last-mile delivery.

Attabotics has successfully installed one of two demonstration systems, or what it calls “Anthills,” which showcase the company’s all-in-one robotics supply chain system at Synus Tech’s plant in Chungbuk and its headquarters in Bundang.

As a material automation company, Synus Tech provides AMHS (automated material handling system) total solutions developed only by domestic researchers for layout design, product design, production and installation in the semiconductor and display industries.

PLM

PTC

PTC reported record growth in business metrics across daily users and brand partners. The digital transformation technology provider now has more than 250,000 active daily users worldwide, from over 1,200 customer brands, using PTC’s FlexPLM solution for their product development capabilities.

With the high number of active users across internal teams and the external value-chain, which includes suppliers and factories, PTC says its figures are approximately double to triple the public license numbers provided by the second-largest apparel and fashion-focused PLM vendor.

“VF is a multi-brand corporation, we’ve grown through acquisitions and because of that, we have almost every PLM system out there and different processes for each one,” said Stephanie Anetrella, senior manager, digital product creation at VF Corporation. “VF did a full assessment on our current PLM platforms and the others in this space to determine what our go-forward strategy would be, and we’ve landed on FlexPLM for that solution. We’re focusing on a standardized platform with fully utilized capabilities using the leader in the footwear and apparel space.”

Approximately 22,000 of PTC’s active software licenses were sold in the 2021-22 financial calendar year alone, representing a double-digit increase in users year-over-year, the company said.

Speaking about the new user experience in FlexPLM V12, Leith Irvine, director of product development at Lululemon Athletica, said, “The UX design is second to none. That’s going to revolutionize the lives of our product developers.”

PTC says its total user base is split between internal teams (74 percent) and supply chain partners (26 percent). The company is also upgrading many existing customers to the latest version of the FlexPLM platform as part of a global program designed to give long-term users access to the latest innovations to manage today’s market pressures and support post-pandemic working habits.

Order management

Deck Commerce

Deck Commerce, an order management system (OMS) for direct-to-consumer (DTC) retailers, is expanding its apparel and footwear presence to further streamline brands’ order management processes and improve their customer experiences.

The platform, used by major brands like Victoria’s Secret and New Balance, says it automates up to 98 percent of orders, including cancellations, returns and routing.

Apparel brands can use Deck Commerce OMS to leverage pre-orders when dropping a new style and can help with global expansion by offering multiple languages, currencies and geo-specific workflows. The platform is front- and back-end system-agnostic with more than 50 pre-built integrations that can enable sellers to swap, add, or remove solutions as their brand grows.

With Deck Commerce OMS, brands also can automate returns to reduce the time spent on updating inventory, payment and customer communication. And the pre-built workflows are designed to help brands more easily implement buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), buy online, return in-store (BORIS) and ship-from-store.

If drop shipping for a third-party retailer, apparel brands can use Deck Commerce to leverage intelligent routing workflows to potentially increase fulfillment margins, centralize orders and automate channel-based compliance and fulfillment rules.

Flxpoint

E-commerce technology company Flxpoint released its complete multi-channel distributed order management platform for enterprise retailers and brands. Previously solely a drop ship software provider, Flxpoint expanded its offering to serve its growing roster of e-commerce brands, evolving into an all-in-one order and listing management system.

Offering a flexible retail operations platform, Flxpoint’s mission is to help retailers, distributors, and brands boost sales, increase margins, and deliver better customer experiences.

“We have complex order routing needs that require an individualized approach for each licensee partner. The Flxpoint team has been able to assess and execute the best solutions, from complex EDI integrations to utilizing the Flxpoint Vendor Portal for onboarding new vendors quicker and with less work involved,” said Laurie Mucciolo, head of e-commerce for Jessica Simpson apparel brand. “Flxpoint allows us to seamlessly connect with 15 warehouses, many of them with unique integration needs and it now takes mere weeks rather than months to onboard vendors.”

Flxpoint’s expanded platform offers new features including cross-supplier and warehouse rate shopping; multi-source purchase order management; advanced cross-docking automation; shipping rate checkout API; automated shipping label generation; and multi-source returns management.

E-commerce brands and retailers already rely on Flxpoint’s core functionalities across product information management, distributed order management, multi-channel listing management and fulfillment source data integration.

Retailers’ and brands’ integration efforts are simplified by leveraging Flxpoint’s “no code” mapping tool, alongside a team of EDI/API developers, and a directory of pre-integrated fulfillment and data sources.

Customers also can combine, customize and sync inventory quantities across multiple suppliers, warehouses and locations to increase sales and reduce stock outs.

Brands can keep inventory in sync and push custom pricing, categories and other product data across their multiple sales channels, while online retailers can automate and optimize order routing to their multiple drop ship suppliers and internal warehouses by real-time costs, location, item specifics and more.

Flxpoint’s automated approach is designed to ease the complexities of managing catalogs that include products across multiple suppliers and data sources.

The platform even integrates vendor invoices to automatically reconcile and report on sales profitability, while syncing with the user’s accounting software.

Flxpoint fully integrates with e-commerce technology providers and marketplaces including Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Shopify, BigCommerce, NetSuite, Skuvault, WooCommerce, Magento and ShipStation.

Customer engagement

MoEngage

MoEngage, an insights-led customer engagement platform, has raised $77 million in Series E funding led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management and B Capital.

This is the third funding round brought in by MoEngage in the last 12 months, with the company raising $32.5 million in July and $30 million in December last year, taking its total funding to $178 million.

Over the past year, MoEngage has grown annual recurring revenue (ARR) by 105 percent, added 500 new customers to its roster of international brands and retailers , and doubled its headcount to more than 650 employees globally. The company has an annual net revenue retention of over 135 percent.

Additional investors included existing firms including Steadview Capital, Multiples Alternate Asset Management, Eight Roads Ventures, and Matrix Partners India.

According to Raviteja Dodda, co-founder and CEO of MoEngage, the company has since ramped up investments in local sales, support and partnership functions since 2020, seeing rapid growth in the U.K. and Europe as a result.

The customer engagement technology now has over 60 customers, as well as a robust network of more than 15 partners that offer consulting services and help in extending the platform’s capabilities within Europe.

The additional capital will enable MoEngage to expand its team and partnership network, and also strengthen its AI product capabilities in the region, according to Dodda. He said the company will also explore strategic acquisitions that can help extend platform capabilities and provide more value to customers.

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