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Retail Tech: Allbirds Picks Centric PLM, Lanvin Taps Shopify, DeSL Links with Higg

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

PLM

Allbirds/Centric Software

Allbirds has selected Centric Software’s Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution as it expands its assortment and new launches.

According to Allbirds chief operating officer Joe Vernachio, the San Francisco-based lifestyle brand needed a more robust control center on the front end of its business. In deploying Centric Software, the B Corp is collaborating with a provider of enterprise solutions helping brands plan, design, develop, source and sell apparel and footwear products.

“The only thing that matters is the product until the product is there. So first, you have to make things people want,” Vernachio said. “You have to have a relentless flow of compelling product. And once you do, then the marketing, the supply chain, the distribution, and all that other stuff counts. We are laser focused on creating a very compelling product pipeline. And to do that, we need more control and s structure around how we bring product through the design, development and commercialization process.

The company has approximately 4,000 SKUs, with operations in North America, Asia and Europe. Additionally, with the brand hosting offices for design and product in Portland, and a sourcing liaison in Vietnam, keeping all parties on track through the product development process is really critical, according to Vernachio.

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“We required a common source of truth for the product that’s coming through the pipeline. We wanted one place to go to find product in the line and details like color, price, technical specs, and where it is in the development process,” Vernachio said. “We searched for a system that we didn’t have to over-configure to get started. The sweet spot was a system where we could start relatively small in its implementation and get good value out of it, then scale with it as we grow.”

Vernachio cited the PLM provider’s willingness and capability to work on Allbirds’ approach to carbon calculations as it calculates carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions hand in hand with margins, locking those two numbers together throughout the development process.

“I think normally, people configure PLM to look at margins—putting raw material cost in BOMs, calculating consumptions all the way through to what you think your FOB will be,” Vernachio said. “For us, the carbon score is first and the margin is second. So, before we even look at the margin, we will look at whether or not we’re achieving the carbon score that we set out for ourselves. Centric was very willing to work with us on finding new and fundamental ways of calculating our CO2e through the entire process, and not have it be this bolt-on after the fact.”

Every raw material used by Allbirds, such as New Zealand merino wool, eucalyptus tree fiber and sugarcane-based EVA foam, will have a CO2e value associated with it. Additionally, all steps in the manufacturing process that creates CO2e consumption, whether it be the factories where the materials are sourced or the transportation—will have a CO2e score. From there, Vernachio says that the brand can evaluate how much the material impacts the CO2e score, and determine from there if it has to be switched out.

“We are putting our legacy process into PLM. I think we’re going to see really great adoption. And I also think that how we configure the carbon calculation has the potential to lead the industry,” Vernachio said. “We are happy to freely share our carbon calculator with other brands. We hope to be a resource for any of Centric’s customers that want to calculate their CO2e because we’re not in competition to reduce CO2e. We should all be supporting each other to try to make it as low as possible.”

DeSL/Higg

DeSL has partnered with sustainability insights platform Higg Co. to strengthen its suite of tools to help fashion and other consumer goods industries better manage their corporate goals for sustainability, climate change and compliance.

Leveraging this integration, DeSL seeks to deliver Higg’s social and environmental sustainability insights to product designers and developers from the start of the development process. With sustainability being an industrywide initiative and brands seeking deeper adoption, partnering with a data solution can better enable DeSL customers to design products and see value-chain data all in one solution.

The expanded functionality aims to give DeSL PLM customers visibility into the environmental impacts of their design and sourcing decisions connected to upstream sustainability targets.

DeSL CEO Colin Marks said the partnership can better enable brands to make smart decisions when it comes to balancing margin requirements with corporate sustainability goals.

Leveraging Higg’s APIs, DeSL allows users to continue their PLM workflow while receiving up-to-date information on environmental impacts. This collaboration on materials extends to overall product impacts as well as tracking vendor compliance at the social and environmental levels.

“We are delighted to work with DeSL to introduce Higg sustainability data to their PLM workflow,” Higg chief strategy officer James Schaffer said. “Thanks to this partnership, fashion brands, retailers, and manufacturers can use Higg solutions and data to strengthen their individual social and environmental sustainability strategies. Higg is committed to helping companies address climate change and meet the sustainability expectations of today’s global stakeholders.”

DeSL says it will be able to scale with Higg’s tools, in effect offering accessibility to a wide range of companies from SMB to enterprise looking to accurately measure and improve their sustainable practices.

Electric vehicles

Volta Trucks

Volta Trucks, a full-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer and services provider, unveiled the second product family in its vehicle range—7.5- and 12-tonne Volta Zero variants. The launch comes in the wake of the company’s $260.6 million Series C.

The 7.5- and 12-tonne Volta Zeros have been designed by Volta Trucks’ partner, Astheimer Design in Warwick, U.K. alongside Volta Trucks’ own engineering teams. The new full-electric vehicles bear visual similarities to the larger 16-tonne vehicle which is now undergoing extensive engineering development and testing ahead of customer evaluation this year. The 7.5- and 12-tonne vehicles will be visually identical at the front, with the 12-tonne vehicle having a longer chassis and body, and a second set of rear wheels and tires, to accommodate the increased vehicle payload.

Volta 7.5T Front - Ambient
Volta 7.5T Front – Ambient Volta Trucks

Both models are built to carry over the principles of the cab and premium transportation working environment for drivers. The vehicle’s ground-up design, without the traditional internal combustion engine, enables designers and engineers to rethink truck design in this segment. The driver of a Volta Zero has 220 degrees of direct vision around the vehicle. This panoramic view of the surroundings through a glasshouse-style cab aims to reduce blind spots.

Other safety features include rear-view cameras that replace traditional mirrors, a 360-degree birds-eye camera showing the driver their complete surroundings and blind-spot warning systems that detect objects down the sides of the vehicle.

Without the legacy internal combustion engine, drivers of a Volta Zero sit far lower than in a conventional truck, with their eye-line at around 1.8 meters. This mirrors the height of pedestrians and other road users nearby for easy visual communication. With Volta Zero’s central driving position, the driver can enter and exit the vehicle on either side, always onto the pavements for their own safety, and through sliding rather than swinging doors to also ensure the safety of passing cyclists.

With near-silent operations and minimized cognitive overload, and an intuitive dashboard and interfaces, the driving experience is built to be more akin to a premium car than today’s traditional commercial vehicle.

Having confirmed the start of the project in December 2021, a pilot fleet of vehicles is expected to be launched for customer trials in 2024, with series production due to commence in early 2025. The forthcoming 7.5- and 12-tonne vehicles will make a significant contribution to the company’s objective to sell more than 27,000 per year by 2025.

Inventory planning

Next Level Apparel/Logility

Next Level Apparel, a wholesale producer and seller of blank apparel in the U.S., has implemented the Logility Digital Supply Chain Platform to modernize its demand and inventory planning processes.

Using the Logility platform, Next Level Apparel can better optimize its inventory and production strategy to eliminate a surplus of supply and the additional costs that come with oversupply. Additionally, it can improve maximum sell-through, accommodate fluctuating consumer buying behavior, and respond to spontaneous product demand and new market opportunities.

“Although early in our adoption, our team has experienced great success with Logility. Their team of experts made our transition from legacy systems and manual processes to total digital supply chain management an easy experience,” said Paul Volkman, chief information officer at Next Level Apparel. “We expect efficiency, without question, but also plan to gain greater effectiveness through our new digital approach to supply chain management.”

Before implementing the Logility platform in January, Next Level Apparel used a mix of Excel spreadsheets and a legacy proprietary ERP system to manage its supply chain. Now, Next Level Apparel uses Logility’s planning technology in conjunction with Microsoft Dynamics ERP. The integration between Logility and Microsoft Dynamics helps Next Level Apparel synchronize activities, and gain time, accuracy and efficiency.

The implementation comes as the company continues to make sustainability investments a larger business imperative. Next Level Apparel said it is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by being thoughtful about its choices, eliminating waste and creating quality garments.

The Logility Digital Supply Chain Platform leverages a blend of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to automate planning, accelerate cycle times, increase precision, improve operating performance, break down business silos and deliver greater visibility. The SaaS-based platform is designed to transform sales and operations planning (S&OP) and integrated business planning (IBP) processes; demand, inventory and replenishment planning; as well as global sourcing among other initiatives.

Warehouse management

Vimaan

Vimaan, a computer vision solutions provider for warehouse inventory management, said it received an investment from the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

After spending years in development and working with 3PLs and brands to hone its technology and solutions, Vimaan has released two new products, StorTrack and DockTrack, both currently in production at multiple customer sites.

StorTrack, a fully automated solution for cycle counting, is designed to improve warehouse inventory accuracy and increase frequency of cycle counting at lower costs. DockTrack automates and increases the accuracy, visibility, and quality for receiving and shipping workflows. Both Vimaan products also can detect damage and other inventory anomalies before items enter or leave a customer’s facilities.

S.K. (KG) Ganapathi, Vimaan’s founder and CEO, said the company was not actively soliciting an investment.

“When one of the largest and most innovative supply chain companies in the world recognizes the value in our solutions for the entire supply chain inventory management industry, it is easy to get excited,” Ganapathi said.

Vimaan will use the funds to accelerate the addition of Fortune 500 companies to its customer base.

Logistics

RJW Logistics Group

RJW Logistics Group, a provider of retail logistics solutions for consumer-packaged goods companies, has launched Edge Insights, an advanced supply chain analytics platform designed to quickly deliver enhanced data that can drive better decision-making and improve supply chain control.

These technologies expand on the company’s supply chain analytics platform, RJW Edge, to create greater visibility into inventory management and performance analysis.

With demand forecasting and access to critical dashboards, suppliers can make more informed business decisions to optimize inventory costs and quickly analyze product performance. Edge Insights offers customized analytics capabilities, including demand forecasting, item performance, item cost and trends, inventory management optimization, retailer analytics, and OTIF (on-time in-full, a percentage measurement of delivery promise fulfillment), among others. This information is aggregated and delivered via simplified illustrations and trend graphs to accelerate insights into action.

Personalization

Crossing Minds

Crossing Minds, a recommendation platform for businesses, has received an undisclosed investment from Shopify.

As part of the investment, the Crossing Minds platform is now available to Shopify merchants, enabling them to leverage individualized recommendations that can engage and convert customers without cookies or personal data. Shopify’s investment follows Crossing Minds’ $10 million Series A funding round in October 2021, and will allow the company to scale among Shopify’s global merchant base.

The platform’s growth comes as third-party cookies are phased out and consumer data privacy laws become more strict, forcing retailers to find new ways to personalize customer interactions and build stronger connections—all while respecting personal identifiable information (PII). This environment leaves merchants in a spot where they may need to turn to solutions that drive engagement and conversions without undermining consumer privacy.

Shopify’s investment in Crossing Minds is the e-commerce giant’s first in an AI-powered recommendation platform and comes at a pivotal moment for online commerce. The Crossing Minds platform does not require personal user data, using the advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to provide relevant recommendations and personalized experiences for customers by analyzing on-site actions.

Businesses using Crossing Minds see an average increase of 96 percent in sales and 120 percent in click-through rates. The platform, headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Toronto and Paris, enables retailers to personalize their homepage with “Just for You” suggestions, upsell from the shopping cart with “Related Products,” cross-sell with “Frequently Bought Together” options or even push on-site recommendations to marketing email.

E-commerce

Lanvin/Shopify

Lanvin Group said it will build a North American digital platform powered by Shopify’s technologies after the duo reached a deal.

In the second half of 2022, Lanvin and Sergio Rossi will become the first of the global luxury company’s premium brands to transition onto the digital platform in the North American market.

The new Shopify-powered commerce platform will allow the brands to focus on products and customers, forming an important part of Lanvin Group’s ongoing efforts to provide best-in-class customer experience, dedicated merchandise and content, and optimized and localized omnichannel shopping services.

Shopify’s highly modular and scalable solutions will help the luxury company centralize its brands’ e-commerce functions on a shared platform. The group will adopt Shopify’s agile digital solutions to enhance the consumer’s experience, and benefit from Shopify’s extensive app-based ecosystem in business process optimization and digital acceleration as it continues to expand globally through retail footprint expansion, e-commerce channel activation and category expansion.

“As an innovation-driven luxury fashion group, we strive to usher in the future of luxury,” Joann Cheng, chairman and CEO of Lanvin Group, said. “Shopify has been at the forefront of innovation, working with some of the most successful businesses to transform e-commerce for merchants and consumers globally. The launch of our new Shopify-powered platform is a testament to our differentiated strategy to deliver high growth by leveraging the newest technologies, working with best-in-class partners, and speaking to the consumers of tomorrow.

“Our legacy-light and digital-native model allows us to integrate Shopify’s disruptive technologies across our portfolio of heritage brands,” Cheng continued. “Thanks to the strengthened e-commerce capabilities brought by Shopify, Lanvin Group is now even better equipped to capture the significant growth opportunities we have identified in North America, the world’s largest luxury market.”

Lanvin Group recently announced that it entered into a definitive business combination agreement with Primavera Capital Acquisition Corporation that is expected to list Lanvin Group on the New York Stock Exchange.

Yotpo

Yotpo, an e-commerce marketing platform helping brands strengthen their relationships with consumers, has launched a new SMS feature, Click-to-Buy, which is designed to advance personalization through text messaging.

Furthering its commitment and focus on SMS innovation following its acquisition of SMSBump in early 2020, the Yotpo SMSBump feature is now entirely integrated into the platform—offering capabilities to deliver a personalized experience for every shopper, with content that is designed to be tailored, timed and relevant to them. Yotpo has also appointed Omer Bar-Joseph as general manager of Yotpo SMSBump, and expanded the team even further to include more dedicated customer support and product development resources.

With Click-to-Buy, brands can have more flexibility to send individualized product recommendations via SMS (down to specific product variants like color, size or sale item); add GIFs automatically with product images from a Shopify store; and pre-populate a discount or loyalty reward code once the consumer clicks the text message.

The Yotpo SMSBump product and features like Click-to-Buy can deliver more value for brands when combined with Yotpo’s loyalty and reviews solutions. Brands using Click-to-Buy in a beta program generated up to 20 times ROI, while merchants using more than two or more Yotpo products have seen their e-commerce sales grow 54 percent faster than those using only one.

Yotpo SMSBump has more than doubled growth since 2020, and by the end of 2022, will have tripled the dedicated product and R&D team for its SMS offering, the company says. Since the SMSBump acquisition, the companies have together enabled more than 30,000 e-commerce brands including Princess Polly, Australian activewear brand LSKD, and national park-themed apparel brand Parks Project, to grow opted-in followers with automated, personalized SMS marketing campaigns.

Click-to-Buy is now available to all Yotpo SMSBump customers.

Pricing

DemandTec

DemandTec by Acoustic, a retail pricing, promotions and markdown technology, has launched Autonomous Pricing On Demand. The new service is designed to deliver enterprise-grade, AI-powered price optimization for retailers of all sizes to respond to market and consumer behavior changes so they can compete with larger and more tech-savvy competitors.

The service helps eliminate cost, training and resource barriers traditionally required, while improving price perception to grow revenue up to 3 percent and margins up to 5 percent.

The launch comes amid lagging pricing optimization adoption for SMBs. According to a March 2022 study on retail pricing from Retail Systems Research, approximately 60 percent of small to mid-sized retailers do not use data-driven solutions to manage pricing.

Many retailers face barriers to entering the price optimization market, including the need for IT resources, costs of dedicated pricing teams and change management programs to drive adoption. Now, retailers of all sizes can use the DemandTec Autonomous Pricing application with its Autonomous Pricing On Demand service that offers AI-powered price optimization to apply intelligent pricing across zones and categories—down to the item level—enabling retailers to respond to consumer demand and market changes, at scale.

Also, the solution offers weekly price optimization recommendations based on retailer strategy and data feeds, with accurate consumer demand and competitive insights.

Alongside the solution itself, in working with DemandTec, a brand gets a dedicated pricing team that can discusses recommendations and pricing performance, with consulting to discover and share insights, including anonymized collective insights across volumes of historical shopping data.

The company says its time-to-value is between just four to six weeks (after receipt of the brand’s data) with quick start implementation and a pricing strategy “health check” diagnostic. The technology’s annual subscription-based pricing model is built to enable retailers of all sizes to access enterprise-grade price optimization. That way, brands can use the platform without the need for training, change management or hefty IT resources.

Labeling

Ynvisible x Digety

Ynvisible Interactive Inc., an emerging player in the digital labels market, announced that Digety, a company revolutionizing electronic price labels in the fashion industry, will use Ynvisible displays for its re-usable digital price labels. Digety’s price labels address needs within sustainable clothing and fashion. Ynvisible’s displays will go into Digety’s re-usable smart price labels, which are flexible enough to pass as paper labels and designed to minimize electronic waste.

“The Ynvisible display technology is a perfect fit for us. It ticks all the boxes of our requirements list because it has a wide viewing angle, it is customizable, more attractive price point, low-power and flexible,” Marc Lebherz, founder at Digety said. “We are now able to use flexible materials in combination with the Ynvisible display to manufacture a completely paper-like price label. This ensures a better fit for any kind of apparel compared to our plastic version and it is cheaper than alternative e-paper displays. It’s also easier to recycle and can be manufactured from sustainable materials to reduce our ecological footprint, perfect for creating electronic price labels for sustainable fashion brands.”