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Retail Tech: Amazon Copies TikTok, Lord & Taylor Taps Retail Media Platform

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

Shoppable video

Amazon

Amazon updated its mobile app with Inspire, a short-form video and photo feed that allows consumers to explore products and shop from content created by influencers, brands and other customers.

Inspire, which some are comparing TikTok, will initially be available to select customers in the U.S. early this month, with a broader nationwide rollout to follow.

Consumers can open the Amazon Shopping app and tap the light bulb icon at the bottom of the screen to access Inspire. They’re prompted to choose from over 20 interests, including makeup, skin care, pets, gaming, plants, hiking, interior design, travel, running and more in order to personalize their Inspire feed.

Upon finding a product, users can tap buttons at the bottom of the window which link to the product on Amazon. Initially, a tap on these buttons will pop up the product in an overlay window on top of the video, but a second tap on “See all details” takes the user to the item’s product page where they can complete the purchase or add to a wish list.

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The feature also offers support beyond video, enabling users to “like” content such as photos as well. Users can scroll through the Inspire experience much like using TikTok’s vertical video feed, where users swipe up from the bottom to see the next video.

Amazon says the feed will adapt over time as Inspire learns more about the user’s interests by tracking their engagement and likes. The retailer plans to add more shoppable features to Inspire, as well as additional in-app functionality and content, to further improve the product in the longer term.

Additionally, brands can post to Inspire, including vendors and sellers enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry with an active brand store. For those enrolled in Amazon’s influencer program, photos and videos posted to their Amazon Influencer storefront are eligible to appear in Inspire.

“We invent every day to make shopping easy and fun,” Amazon Shopping director Oliver Messenger said in a statement. “Inspire is our new shopping experience that connects Amazon customers with shoppable content created by other customers, the latest influencers, and a wide range of brands. In just a few taps, customers can discover new products or get inspiration on what to buy, all tailored to their interests, and then shop for those items on Amazon.”

Supply chain visibility

Jesta I.S.

Jesta I.S., a developer of modular cloud solutions and unified ERP for retailers, e-tailers, wholesalers and brand manufacturers, has debuted its Omni + system, which is designed to capture orders from all channels and touch points in real time and centralize them in one platform.

The system provides a consolidated view of real-time enterprise inventory for improved inventory management, which can allow for more accurate forecasts for less overstocks and stockouts, while flexible fulfillment rules are created to ensure that orders are fulfilled in the most efficient way possible. Orders can be fulfilled from anywhere, such as a distribution center, a third-party logistics provider, store or global vendor via an Endless Aisle solution, and delivered anywhere, Jesta says.

Customers like Cole Haan, DSW, Harry Rosen, Perry Ellis and Puma use Jesta’s integrated Vision Suite solutions to optimize end-to-end product journeys from concept to consumer: sourcing and procurement, supply chain, logistics, demand planning, merchandising, inventory management, store operations, and direct-to-consumer deliveries.

The benefits of Jesta’s Omni + system extend to customer service representatives (CSRs). CSRs are empowered with advanced dashboards and privileges, including a complete profile of the customer and purchase history, complete transparency of in-store and online order journeys, and complete views of enterprise inventory in real time. CSRs can quickly and effectively provide the support needed for order and return management in a more meaningful, personal and productive manner. The advanced privileges help CSRs to promote other products or services that a brand offers.

Jesta also extends the Omni + system offering to mobile. Brands can leverage Jesta’s mobile apps to connect associates on the sales floor with associates in the stockroom to locate products, thereby maintaining contact with the customer and eliminating the risk of a lost sale. Jesta’s white-label mobile app includes self-service options that give customers control for item lookup and ordering, as well as unified loyalty, shared wish lists/carts, and real-time offers that are consistent across all channels and touch points, including at the in-store point of sale (POS) and mobile POS.

Site search

Harry Rosen/Algolia

Harry Rosen, a Canadian luxury men’s wear retailer, has collaborated with search and discovery platform Algolia, to leverage the technology’s product indexing capabilities and features to personalize and transform the consumer experience.

With Algolia, Harry Rosen said it has built an intuitive omnichannel strategy and differentiated customer experience that can scale and streamline product discovery, resulting in a significant increase in conversions across its 10,000 products in clothing, footwear, grooming, lifestyle and accessories.

The retailer implemented Algolia as part of a replatforming of its e-commerce site to better serve both in-store and e-commerce needs. The company chose to implement Algolia Search on its new Commercetools-based ecosystem, in part to better enable its business users. Previously merchandising on the site was difficult, requiring developer intervention and hard-to-handle coding. It now takes advantage of nearly all of Algolia’s capabilities, including Personalization, A/B Testing, Rules and more.

Using a combination of A/B Testing and Personalization features, Harry Rosen has been able to determine the best conditions to give the best search results to improve click-through-rates or conversions. By using Analytics, Harry Rosen can feed into Algolia conversion events such as
“add to wishlist” and “add to cart”, so they are incorporating different milestones in the customer journey.

“Conducting business in-store is the foundation of Harry Rosen’s business. However, with Algolia we were able to revamp our strategy to better empower online shoppers to more easily find the goods they were looking for,” said Tovi Heilbronn, director of digital product and experience at Harry Rosen. “Algolia’s solutions helped us make a seamless customer journey and helped our e-commerce strategy handle peak volumes of customers sustaining the website beyond what we thought possible.”

To address the challenges of improving product discovery, Harry Rosen deployed Algolia technology across all three of its digital channels, including HarryRosen.com, its flagship store; ShopFinalCut, the online discount option; and Herringbone, a custom internal clienteling app.

Since implementing Algolia, Harry Rosen has seen a 360 percent increase in conversion rates, 68 percent increase in transactions and 18 percent increase in average order value. Additionally, the company has doubled the number of online sessions on its site using search.

Harry Rosen’s software engineers appreciate Algolia’s flexibility, Heilbronn says, allowing his team to shape data models and do pipeline work, but also incorporate offline sales data into their product index. This allows them to bring more omnichannel business intelligence into the ranking of their online
search results.

“Algolia visual merchandising and rules put the e-commerce team at ease because more people on their team can play with it,” Heilbronn said.

Data is sent from Harry Rosen’s ERP system as custom ranking attributes for Algolia to rank results sets based on product performance across the entire enterprise, not just based on online performance.

Algolia is allowing Harry Rosen associates and advisors to search clothing based on attributes, sizes and stock availability in specific stores, letting them better serve customers on the fly. This was, according to Heilbronn, the first difficult use case for Algolia, but thanks to the solution’s flexibility, Harry Rosen has been able to accommodate both how expert advisors must search and the store’s customers.

“We believe that the only channel is the customer,” Heilbronn said. “We must stop thinking and organizing ourselves internally with the in-store channel versus the online channel. One thing that I believe really challenges that approach is leveraging our existing tech stack to service both channels.”

The next step for the Harry Rosen team is to incorporate additional client data into Algolia and create a content index that allows customers to search for editorial content stored in Amplience, its digital content platform. The company plans to take greater advantage of its database of editorial articles, and aims to positioning Algolia to conduct search of them.

Retail media

Lord & Taylor/InMobi

Lord & Taylor now has a new tool in place to help fortify its e-commerce comeback. The department store, now owned by Saadia Group, has partnered content, monetization and marketing technologies provider InMobi to use the company’s InMobi Commerce suite.

The suite of product discovery and monetization solutions is built to help retailers maximize media-derived revenues while engaging and inspiring shoppers.

Lord & Taylor will use InMobi Commerce to provide brands and agencies with a full-funnel retail media platform, including shoppable videos, that are designed to elevate the online experience and move product discovery for consumers from social platforms back to its owned channels. InMobi Commerce’s platform will power Lord & Taylor’s full suite of retail media experiences including sponsored product ads and video ads.

Citing a study from video software company Animoto, InMobi said that 73 percent of consumers say they prefer to watch a short video and, of those who watch videos, they are 85 percent more likely to make a purchase.

Over the past year, Lord & Taylor has made moves to become a wider destination for its community, expanding beyond clothing—which now includes women’s, men’s, and children’s selections—to home, accessories, travel, beauty, and more. The brand aims to provide obtainable luxury to its community through a curated selection of both international and national new brands, many of which are exclusive to Lord & Taylor.

“Lord & Taylor has been a trusted retailer for nearly 200 years, providing obtainable luxury to our community through a highly curated selection of brands,” said Mark Stocker, president of Lord & Taylor and New York and Company. “Over the past year, our focus has expanded to reimagine and reinvigorate the digital shopping experience for our customers.”

With the AI-powered platform, advertisers don’t have to do the heavy lifting of testing individual keywords and manually running campaigns, according to InMobi Ads CEO Abhay Singhal. Additionally, the solution allows them to select budget, ROAS goals, campaign duration and let it run. With enhanced reporting and closed-loop attribution, advertisers can view the real-time impact of their campaigns at driving brand awareness and sales, according to Singhal.

“InMobi Commerce’s retail media platform plays an integral role in our efforts to digitize our brand and create an elevated, engaging online shopping experience by helping customers discover new products and brands while unlocking additional e-commerce revenue,” adds Sebastien Lesage, senior vice president of marketing, Lord & Taylor.

Lord & Taylor’s entry to retail media advertising is the latest in a series of transformation efforts the company to re-envision the shopping experience and create thrilling digital-led experiences for customers. Remaining true to the retailer’s iconic legacy, Lord & Taylor is revolutionizing itself from the inside out to transform modern shopping into an effortless, elevated experience that inspires customers throughout their digital shopping journey.

Leveraging the company’s deep ad tech expertise, InMobi Commerce is designed to provide a supply-side platform for retailers to offer premium ad space and connect brands with high-intent shoppers as they research, browse and shop online.

Metaverse

Utherverse

Utherverse, a metaverse platform designed to enable developers to build interconnected virtual worlds, will feature an influx of fashion collections when it launches in early 2023.

A new video clip previewing meta-styles was recently released by the company to show users the high-caliber animation and level of detail that will be in the next-generation Utherverse platform.

The clip is a virtual fashion show with digital models walking the runway styles and designs. The detail and quality of the images and the high-end full-motion video are designed to create a hyper-realistic user experience.

In the Utherverse, the latest fashions will be available as fNFTs, or functional NFTs. These fNFTs are designed to have a purpose and are used by consumers’ avatars for something specific within a metaverse. The fNFTs will be functional across all metaverses within the Utherverse ecosystem, with the company saying they will be secure and non-replicable. Whereas NFTs of artwork or collectibles can be copied, fNFTs will not function unless authentic, Utherverse says. A user who tries to copy an article of clothing, for example, will not be able to put that piece of clothing on their avatar unless it is authentic.

With this in mind, high-end designers can now market, merchandise and sell their virtual fashion garments in the metaverse while protecting their brand, thereby ensuring the integrity of the brand and designer as well as safeguarding revenues from sales.

Utherverse generates revenue from custom metaverse building services, sales of NFTs and a variety of business verticals including advertising, marketing, retail, conferences/conventions, education, dating, lifestyle, entertainment events and performances, VIP experiences and virtual offices.

Clienteling

Salesfloor

Salesfloor, a provider of immersive virtual shopping, clienteling and conversational AI platforms, revealed that the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend activities across its platform drew a 57 percent increase in transaction volume year-over-year.

In addition to the increase in transactions, total sales have increased by 31 percent year-over-year on the platform, highlighting that consumer spending habits are in line with the past, if not increased, by post-pandemic online shopping adoption.

The data is driven from an analysis of unidentified customer data from the Salesfloor platform, with a roster of clients spanning a wide range of retail verticals. The Salesfloor platform operates on four continents in verticals spanning across beauty, luxury & jewelry, apparel, sporting goods, home furnishings and more.

Salesfloor’s Customer Engagement Retail Platform is relied on by by more than 50,000 associates from retailers like Chico’s, Peruvian Connection, Saks Fifth Avenue, Holt Renfrew and Bloomingdale’s to personalize customer touch points and provide them with knowledgeable assistance and an immersive experience.

The platform is designed to deliver an automated shopping experience with the option for a local store associate or digital seller to assist in completing the sale. Ideally, this could create a seamless omnichannel experience and one-stop-shop for retailers and their customers.

Social commerce

Bazaarvoice/Facebook

Bazaarvoice, a provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions, has unveiled that the Bazaarvoice Social Commerce platform now can provide social media marketing and e-commerce managers with first-to-market tools to directly attribute revenue to Facebook organic content.

With Bazaarvoice’s new functionalities, social media marketing and e-commerce managers can now directly attribute organic social content to revenue generation. Users can measure the performance of their posts to see which content is generating the most revenue for their business.

Additionally, they can access a broader overview of which content is performing and resulting in sales, which can potentially allow them to better create, use and prioritize their top performing content. This can ultimate save social media marketing managers time, and better drive bottom-line performance.

Users can also view which organic posts are driving direct sales, and with these insights, brands can optimize existing organic content and leverage paid campaigns to drive further sales opportunities.

As, social media marketing managers are increasingly becoming responsible for driving conversion to revenue for their business, these functionality enable them to report on the attributed revenue in the Bazaarvoice Social Commerce dashboard.

Robotics

Tecsys/SVT

Supply chain management software company Tecsys and SVT Robotics Inc., an enterprise software for the rapid deployment of industrial robotics, have partnered to develop and launch an integrated connection between the Tecsys’ Elite supply chain platform and SVT’s Softbot Platform.

The integration is designed to provide Tecsys Elite customers faster deployment and lower complexity without the need for lengthy custom code development often involved in multi-system automation and robotics deployments.

SVT Robotics, in particular, conducts its robot deployments in the warehousing and manufacturing industries. With certified connectors to many automation providers, and partnerships with companies such as 6 River Systems, Fetch Robotics (Zebra Technologies), Locus Robotics, MiR, Omron, Otto Motors and more, SVT’s Softbot Platform is built to enable companies to deploy the robots, automation and IoT devices they need in just days or weeks.

Tecsys contends that bringing automation into a warehouse should begin with a needs assessment and design plan, which then informs hardware selection that will meet those needs. Whereas some software vendors can operate as automation resellers for a limited set of systems, Tecsys’ partnership with SVT is designed to empower supply chain organizations to assess, design and integrate across a spectrum of automation choices. The result is a warehouse operation powered by end-to-end WMS functionality and automated workflows.

Order management

Deck Commerce

Deck Commerce, an order management system for direct-to-consumer retailers, reported a 57 percent increase in year-over-year gross merchandise value (GMV) on Black Friday. Additionally, Deck Commerce customers report that they saw a 42 percent increase in order volume as well as an 11 percent increase in average order value.

The Deck Commerce OMS is built to enable brands to expose more sellable inventory, offer multiple payment options and high-value loyalty programs, and provide shoppers with convenient omnichannel fulfillment options. By automating order processes, retailers can focus their time and effort on serving their customers well.

Alongside the GMV increase, Deck Commerce reported a 23.6 percent increase in orders processed between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, and a 56 percent increase in year-over-year order volume leading up to Thanksgiving week.