The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Amazon appears to be taking more aim at Shopify’s business model in acquiring Selz, an e-commerce platform that makes tools to help businesses launch their own online stores and adds online payment options to existing websites.
The Selz acquisition comes as Amazon’s third-party marketplace, made up of more than 2.5 million sellers, continues to thrive. The segment now accounts for more than half of Amazon’s e-commerce sales and has helped Amazon bring in record revenue.
Amazon acquired the e-commerce platform on Jan. 15, but it didn’t publicize the acquisition. Martin Rush, CEO and founder of Selz, quietly announced the deal in a blog post. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
“Nothing is changing for our customers at this time, and we’ll be in touch with customers as and when we have further updates,” Rush said.
Unlike Amazon, Shopify gives small businesses the tools to launch their own independent website without debuting on a Shopify marketplace or needing to include Shopify branding.
Amazon previously operated a service similar to Shopify, called Amazon Webstore, that allowed small businesses to run online stores built on Amazon’s technology. However, the company shut down Amazon Webstore in 2015.
Vtex, an end-to-end e-commerce platform with native marketplace and order management capabilities, has acquired Workarea, a U.S.-based cloud commerce platform provider, to strengthen its presence in and commitment to the U.S. and Canadian market. The deal’s terms were not disclosed.
With the acquisition, Vtex will leverage Workarea’s deep commerce experience to scale growth. The deal brings Vtex’s U.S. headcount to nearly 100 employees. New customers from Workarea include retailers like sustainable fashion brand Reformation and mattress and bedding manufacturer Sleep Number. Workarea’s customers have added more than $1 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV) to Vtex, accounting for 20 percent of the company’s total GMV in the U.S. and Canada.
Now, existing Workarea customers will have access to Vtex’s commerce technology and solutions, while Workarea brings B2B and content-led commerce features to Vtex’s platform.
Under Vtex, Workarea customers will be able to build their own marketplaces without third-party solutions. Vtex’s distributed order management system will allow Workarea customers to improve their omnichannel capabilities with features such as shipping from brick-and-mortar stores.
Vtex has experienced significant growth in 2020, reeling in $225 million in October and $365 million in total funding last year. The company has 3,000 customers including Walmart, Adidas, Levi’s and Vans, and is powering the new online experience of the revived Payless brand in the U.S. and in several Latin American countries. In December alone, sales for Vtex jumped 342 percent year over year.
Searchspring, a provider of site search and online merchandising solutions, has made its Personalized Recommendations feature available to all retailers following the successful launch and completion of its beta testing phase.
Following last year’s acquisition of 4-Tell, Searchspring is deploying AI to help online retailers optimize their digital journey by delivering an intuitive and connected shopping experience. The newest release further deepens the company’s commitment to invest millions into personalized merchandising solutions in 2021.
The commitment comes as Searchspring revealed results from its own recent study, which said that over 60 percent of its customers plan to invest in digital personalization into 2021. The company also highlighted an Accenture survey that said 91 percent of U.S. consumers are more likely to convert with brands that provide hyper-relevant recommendations.
Searchspring’s Personalized Recommendations is designed to gather deep insight into behavioral data and automatically curate product recommendations sitewide. AI models within the feature learn from shopper history, real-time behavior, and preferences to display top items for each shopper, curated based on purchase and browsing behavior; drive cross-sell and upsell by recommending complementary items to the product being viewed, or suggest similar results with a higher price point; and activate return purchases through the recommendation of recently viewed items, and items similar to recent purchases.
The feature also enables users to curate high-performing, trending products based on category or site-wide top sellers, and control which products are displayed in the moment, so that recommendations of preferred brands or product lines are shown based on specific attributes.
Women’s fashion brand Izabel London, lingerie and loungewear brand Natori, party-themed apparel brand Shinesty and streetwear-inspired women’s apparel brand Wildfang are among the Searchspring portfolio of clients that have implemented Personalized Recommendations to display relevant suggestions and products.
“At Wildfang we remain committed to offering a seamless and enjoyable shopping journey across all touchpoints,” said Hayley Forsyth, senior manager of ecommerce at Wildfang. “Searchspring’s Personalized Recommendations has allowed us to power a hyper-relevant online experience that helps shoppers find more of the products they love.”
Bed Bath & Beyond/Oracle
Bed Bath & Beyond has selected Oracle Cloud as its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) technology provider to provide real-time financial, supply chain and merchandising solutions that replace the company’s legacy suite of technology systems with new data, insights and planning capabilities.
The ERP deployment is the first key component in the company’s $250 million technology investment roadmap to deploy solutions that enhance the customer experience and the supply chain and drive efficiencies across the enterprise.
These technology investments will enable the use of analytics and automation to support improvements in merchandising and inventory management, product life cycle management, retail space planning and optimization, the launch of an array of owned brands, and real-time tracking of merchandise fulfilment within the supply chain. In October, the company said it was reviewing its product assortment mix, with a goal of launching nearly a dozen new company-owned brands in key destination categories over the next 18 months.
Oracle Cloud ERP will provide real-time financial and operational insight to support strategic planning decisions.
“We are building authority in home, baby, beauty and wellness with a digital-first, omni-always and customer-inspired approach,” said John Hartmann, Bed Bath & Beyond’s chief operating officer and president of Buybuy Baby. “Oracle’s proven leadership and state-of-the-art technologies will allow us to better serve customers and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our business. Additionally, the agile partnership will enable continual innovation and improvement as our enterprise evolves.”
Giant Tiger/Relex Solutions
Giant Tiger Stores Limited, a Canadian family discount retailer of outdoor, fashion and household goods, has chosen Relex Solutions to support supply chain planning processes and efficiencies, including more than 250 stores and distribution centers.
With Relex, Giant Tiger aims to streamline inventory and meet the needs of its franchisees.
“Relex supports fulfilling our mission to provide customers with high quality products at everyday low prices,” said Jim Black, chief information officer of Giant Tiger Stores Limited. “We operate on a franchise model that ensures members of their local community serve our shoppers—but the model of course comes with its own planning intricacies. Relex’s flexibility helps us effectively support our stores so we can meet both existing and future demand at Giant Tiger.”
The Relex solution will replace a combination of an ERP system and manual planning, streamlining the processes in a single platform. Giant Tiger will have greater visibility into expected store-level sales, improving their ability to meet demand throughout the season.
Supply chain visibility
Centauro, Brazil’s largest sporting goods retailer with a footprint of 211 stores, has adopted the RFID-based Mojix Ytem SaaS solution for retail designed to enable, real-time, item-level visibility across the entire product lifecycle. With the solution, Mojix says Centauro can achieve 99.9 percent inventory accuracy, improve supply chain efficiency, reduce safety stock and improve the omnichannel customer experience.
On average, Centauro manages the lifecycle of more than 40 million items per year across all aspects of operations. Using the Ytem solution Centauro aims to streamline the logistics process, consistently reach its operational goals, and strengthen its customer-focused omnichannel strategy.
“Knowing what I have in stock and what I receive in the store, I control practically my entire supply chain,” said Sérgio Silva Jardim Filho, growth executive manager at Grupo SBF, the operator of Centauro. “We no longer see ourselves as two channels: physical and digital. Omnichannel is already part of the Centauro culture. We are a single company and we want the customers to see that. The Mojix solution has been a key enabler to our omni-channel execution.”
Centauro implemented the retail SaaS solution, which is based on the Mojix Ytem platform architecture, featuring mobile cycle count, receiving, search-and-pick, and a wide range of other features and useful workflows. In addition, they are using Mojix Retail Analytics as part of their overall solution.
The Mojix item-level intelligence solutions are designed around the idea that any given product in a supply chain can be serialized with a unique digital identity. The company says this provides a foundation for enabling total product lifecycle visibility, whether through track-and-trace from origin and manufacturing through to distribution centers, stores and sometimes even after sale.
In the case of Centauro, this visibility better indicates where their items are, where they’re coming from, which business process they’ve been through and where they’re supposed to go next.
Each time an item’s status changes, Mojix collects that event data and streams it into the Ytem platform and processes it along a unique lifecycle data model, allowing users to know the status and history of any item.
Celerant Technology, a provider of retail solutions, released Stratus Analytics, an analytics program designed to help retailers better visualize and analyze their entire business by leveraging data from their Stratus Enterprise point of sale and ERP system. With Stratus Analytics, retailers can create interactive dashboards, analyze relevant KPIs and share insights with employees to help them make better decisions, improve overall performance and be more profitable.
Stratus Analytics integrates with retail management solution Stratus Enterprise to extract all relevant retail business data and load it into a high-performance, cloud data warehouse. Interactive dashboards and reports can be created, allowing retailers to analyze the data in near real-time.
The platform offers tools designed to help retailers define goals and monitor performance with actionable insights across their entire business, such as purchasing, inventory, assortment planning and workforce management. Retailers can also create reports that combine customer analytics with cross-sales/up-sales analytics to assist their goals of improving the overall shopping experience and increasing revenue. With the solution, retailers can automatically email visual reports to keep employees and managers informed on a regular basis.
Stratus Analytics is powered by an advanced query engine capable of producing interactive dynamic drill-down paths with sub-second response times, without relying on complex data aggregation, Celerant says. The platform can be implemented within 24 hours, with over 100 metrics readily available.
Customer experience management
Backcountry, an online specialty retailer of outdoor gear and clothing, is expanding its partnership with First Insight, the technology provider aimed at helping companies make product investment, pricing and marketing decisions.
With the extended partnership, First Insight says Backcountry is using its next-gen Experience Management (XM) platform to make faster and better merchandising decisions, driving sales and margin gains for products from its owned brands, Backcountry Gear & Apparel and Stoic, as well as its national brand products.
After conducting an extensive market assessment, Backcountry selected the platform because of its ability to deliver actionable insights across a variety of functions, like product design and selection, pricing, white space analysis, brand value assessment and consumer segmentation and targeting. First Insight says it also delivers measurable ROI through its proprietary value tracking capability.
“Backcountry was looking for a partner that could help us achieve current strategic initiatives and had the experience and platform breadth to grow with us. After performing our due diligence, we determined First Insight was that partner,” said Melanie Cox, CEO of Backcountry. “First Insight has a strong track record of delivering results in the sporting goods and outdoor sectors, and Backcountry will be leveraging that experience as we make First Insight an integral part of our go-to-market process.”
The platform is designed to help companies go from the process of product or solution concept to decision in only 24 to 72 hours. The company says that by harnessing the voice-of-the-customer data analyzed within the platform, businesses improve their success rate by as much as 80 percent by confidently creating the right products, offering at the right price, stocking in the right quantities and targeting to the right customers.
Aptos has completed its acquisition of LS Retail, which was first announced in January. With the deal’s culmination, LS Retail will operate as a standalone business unit within Aptos.
The combination of Aptos and LS Retail creates what the company calls “a retail technology powerhouse” that is equipped to support retailers across all tiers, verticals and geographies with advanced and innovative unified commerce solutions.
The news marks the second acquisition in six months for Aptos, after it acquired retail pricing optimization company Revionics in September 2020. Aptos kicked off 2020 with its own acquisition by Goldman Sachs’ merchant banking division last year in January.
Alongside the completed acquisition, Italian underwear and swimwear brand Yamamay, a part of Pianoforte Group, has extended its use of Aptos PLM to support the brand’s sustainability initiatives. With Aptos’ PLM functionality, Yamamay aims to benefit from improved traceability, all materials and components used, including fabrics, cups and underwires, in addition to elevating control and transparency across the entire product lifecycle.
“Just like the Yamamay butterfly grows in cocoons resting on an oak, we want to create the conditions today and tomorrow for beauty to be released,” said Barbara Cimmino, corporate social responsibility director of Yamamay, which was established in 2001 and has 600 stores worldwide. “Through the passionate work of the people and with the love that the brand represents, we design or distribute underwear and beachwear. We are committed to making our work become an experience that connects us with the customers in the world.”
The solution also empowers Yamamay to track communications and activities with suppliers and to centralize the management of certifications and processes related to quality control and environmental compliance.
Cimmino says Yamamay has been using Aptos PLM for more than a decade, with the solution continuing to evolve with the Italian retailer’s needs, most recently being customers’ expectations for more eco-friendly fashions.
“By managing all certifications related to materials and components, supporting effective communications with suppliers, and providing on-demand access to critical product information, Aptos PLM helps us achieve optimal transparency over our product development and production processes; this ensures that our end-to-end product lifecycle aligns with our organizational values,” Cimmino said.
In addition to enhanced PLM functionality related to traceability, Yamamay is also now leveraging dynamic line planning within Aptos PLM that enables its designers and merchandisers to reach new levels of collaboration, the company said.
Business and strategic objectives such as number of styles, style colors, target margins and costs are communicated to Yamamay’s design and product development teams from the earliest stages of development, meaning all functions are on the same page right from the beginning. The ability of Aptos PLM to provide a combined view of the collection—both analytical and visual—can help decision-makers immediately understand how new styles will work together.
The Aptos PLM platform is designed to provide complete collection management across the product lifecycle, giving design, product management, planning and buying teams the tools they need to continuously bring their brand to life. Aptos says the benefits of its PLM platform often include reduction in sampling and prototyping costs, a faster time to market, increased development team productivity and more.
Ordergroove has unveiled a new automated extension now live on Magento Commerce. This extension is designed to reduce the time it takes for a merchant to deploy an Ordergroove subscription program and automate subscription creation, recurring order placement, development and the syncing of product feeds and customer updates.
Ordergroove has long offered an automated extension for Magento 1, but the new automated extension provides Magento 2 users with the same experience and is designed to allow for smoother adoption and integration of Ordergroove. Using the new extension, merchants can swiftly start a subscription program or migrate their existing subscription program.
In both cases, brands operating with Magento can gain access to Ordergroove’s industry expertise and features, which Ordergroove says enables them to increase their recurring revenue by as much as 40 percent.
A longtime subscription provider on Magento, the new extension enables merchants subscription benefits provided by the Ordergroove platform, including reduced or free shipping, discounted promotions, curated experiences and subscription promotions like a “subscribe more, save more” model.