The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Supply chain traceability
Trims and packaging solutions specialist Trimco Group is launching Product DNA, a supply chain traceability and transparency toolbox for garment, footwear and home textile industries helping brands monitor and achieve their sustainable goals.
The Product DNA platform includes different solutions, from supply chain ESG certification management to on-product communication options using QR codes, depending on the brand’s setup and strategy. The solution aims to save brands major expenses in software development and workload in the onboarding process.
As a trims supplier itself, Trimco leverages its global presence serving more than 800 brands and 8,600 manufacturers worldwide, by onboarding garment factories to Product DNA with its extensive local support organization.
Product DNA can be customized to a company’s ESG goals. As part of the solution, brands can measure the use of different sustainable materials in their collections by weight or by piece. The company allows brands to monitor their ESG performance by comparing year-on-year progress or against their ESG target. The platform also links the usage with the garment factories’ scope and transaction certificates in an effort to substantiate the brand’s ESG claims.
The tracing technology enables brands to measure the amount of sustainable fibers and materials they put into the market, and even manage garment factory ESG certificates. Depending on the brand’s strategy, ESG compliance transparency can go from Tier 1, garment factories, all the way to Tier 4, the raw material suppliers. Product DNA also makes it possible for brands looking for more detailed analysis to report on greenhouse gas emissions and other specific environmental measurements.
A customizable dashboard helps brands monitor sustainability and ESG efforts, while comparison reports by material, season, collection, product category, regions, etc., are available in real time. The brand’s internal stakeholders such as buyers, sourcing or compliance and sustainability teams, could also benefit from the platform.
Product DNA can also provide the information required for external parties such as auditors, shareholders, public authorities and the general public.
Several brands have already taken the first step in running trials on the platform. Among others, Asics and European fashion group DK Company use Trimco’s Product DNA platform to monitor their supply chain social and environmental compliance.
“Being able to improve our sustainability performance and supply chain traceability became much easier with the solution provided by our trusted partners at Trimco Group,” Laurens Norde, senior materials production specialist at Asics EMEA, said. “Dealing with several factories globally and actively focusing on sustainability surfaced the need for more transparency across our supply chain. So far, we are very pleased with the tool, and we were just as pleased to hear that Product DNA was just as flexible as the rest of their solutions.”
The debut comes as the fashion industry is facing a series of social and environmental regulations worldwide where brands are required to act. Several countries have already implemented or are currently applying regulations that ask for due diligence along the supply chain, such as the German Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettengesetz), the UK Modern Slavery Act, the Norwegian Transparency Act (Åpenhetsloven), the New York Fashion Act and the upcoming European Green Deal.
Trimco Group says its focus and support within social and environmental compliance drives the company across its services, providing brands with alternative or consciously sourced options for all their trims, RFID and variable data solutions, as well as packaging and store decor. The company’s in-house team of experts continuously updates and advises on different regulations and compliance requirements globally.
Stichd, a Netherlands-based apparel licensing company, has chosen the Logility Digital Supply Chain Platform to support its growth strategy.
A division of Puma, Stichd specializes in the design, production and distribution of high-quality bodywear, legwear, swimwear, and fanwear. In order to continue driving product availability while streamlining inventory during its expansion both in-store and online, Stichd sought a technology partner that can optimize working capital and provide better supply chain visibility.
“Growth is our top priority. To continue achieving our goals, it was critical to find a planning platform with more sophisticated forecasting and clear visibility capabilities, but that is also easy for our employees to use,” said Rogier Wijnhoven, chief operating officer of Stichd. “Logility not only had the technology we needed, but the apparel industry expertise and forward-looking vision we were looking for in a partner.”
The Logility Digital Supply Chain Platform helps enable better decision making by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and automation to continuously sense, analyze and update activity in the digital supply chain. Its sales and operations planning (S&OP) functionality helps to align plans across multiple divisions and locations, and track forecast and inventory performance over time. Further, the platform’s interface and deep analytics reduce complexity are designed to make it easier to attract and retain top planning talent along the way.
“Demand planners are continually expected to look further into the future and design roadmaps that account for a variety of different planning scenarios. Logility’s solutions give our planners a clearer, more detailed view of what’s ahead and facilitates necessary collaboration between planning teams,” Wijnhoven said.
Women’s specialty retailer Chico’s FAS, Inc. deployed new mobile shopping apps across all three of its brands—Chico’s, White House Black Market (WHBM) and Soma.
The new mobile apps, launched earlier this year, serve as each brand’s newest digital commerce channel and were developed to power loyalty and sales through deeper customer engagement and inspirational customer experiences.
The retailer says its iOS apps have already been downloaded more than 75,000 times and have a 4.9-star rating in the App Store. These apps have already proved accretive, the company says, with the Android versions launching next week.
The apps offer content such as “App Stories” content carousels, and additional marketing and promotional capabilities. The apps also integrate with the retailer’s existing merchandising and loyalty system and offer barcode scanning and store finder functionality to encourage customers to visit its more than 1,000 boutiques. The technology was developed in partnership with Poq, a developer of customized shopping apps.
“Launching these new mobile apps is another step forward in our work to leverage premier digital capabilities to drive loyalty and sales conversion,” said Stacey Blicker, vice president of digital commerce at Chico’s FAS. “These apps create an additional selling channel for customers to fall in love with our brands by providing a unique brand experience, another way to enjoy social commerce, and a more personalized browsing and buying experience.”
The specialty retailer has recently sought out ways to improve its customer experience with platforms like StyleConnect, the company’s proprietary digital styling tool that enables store associates to communicate directly with customers and drive the front-line business to digital fulfillment.
Veho, a technology company that facilitates next-day delivery for e-commerce brands, has acquired QuikReturn, a reverse logistics startup serving e-commerce brands and their customers in New York City and the surrounding area. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
With the acquisition, Veho wants to accelerate both its Veho Returns product offering as well as its geographical expansion. The deal also marks another step to scale Veho’s doorstep returns capabilities in the U.S.
QuikReturn is Veho’s first acquisition following Veho’s total $300 million fundraise in two rounds in late 2021 and early 2022, with a recent valuation of nearly $1.6 billion.
Prior to the deal, QuikReturn developed proprietary package return technology helping customers schedule a pickup from their home with one-hour windows. QuikReturn facilitates the pickups through its urban logistics platform, and ships the returned items back to the e-commerce brands for a fast inventory turnaround.
Both the proprietary software and doorstep pickups platform will be integrated into the Veho offering for deployment in major metro markets. In addition, Veho intends to significantly scale QuikReturn’s offering in New York City under the Veho brand.
The QuikReturn team plans to integrate into the Veho team, and will continue to focus on building out the doorstep returns offering while retaining high customer satisfaction score currently at 4.95. QuikReturn co-founder and CEO Ethan Susser will lead growth for the Veho Returns product, which will integrate into its delivery technology platform to provide a “full-cycle offering” for e-commerce brands.
Veho is redesigning package logistics around the needs of online merchants and their customers, with an operating model that enables 99.9 percent on-time delivery rates, the company claims. With a network of company-operated warehouses, Veho aims to facilitate next-day delivery from the brand’s distribution center all the way to the consumer’s door.
The proprietary technology powers a platform that matches demand for deliveries with crowdsourced drivers. These driver partners collect packages from Veho warehouses and deliver them to consumers on dense last-mile routes—and can pick them up as well from customer doors at the customer’s request. Veho plans to scale its next-day package delivery and doorstep returns to 50 U.S. markets this year.
Luxury fashion brand Amiri has selected Tulip, a suite of cloud-based mobile retail solutions, to elevate the customer shopping experience.
The Los Angeles-based retailer has plans to expand globally from its current digital-native state to open more brick-and-mortar stores, which would be powered by Tulip’s solutions. Amiri currently operates flagships in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami.
Tulip is committed to guiding the “connected” stores so that retailers can stay engaged with customers, make it accessible to shop and provide quality customer experiences.
“We’re excited to work with Tulip as we develop our in-person stores,” said Greg Moss, vice president of operations at Amiri. “We have built a strong online presence and as we expand into in-person retail, Tulip’s solution will let us conduct reliable outreach to customers, allowing us to send merchandise via the digital catalog and pre-sell using Tulip’s remote pay solution. Our customers are very loyal to our brand, and we’re thrilled that Tulip’s solutions will help us enhance the customer experience across all our channels.”
Amiri will leverage Tulip’s clienteling capabilities to further the connection between store associates and consumers, and enable one-on-one appointments at the stores.
The LiveConnect feature also is designed to let online shoppers chat or video call with store associates in real time so they can gather information or advice on their purchasing experience. The fashion brand will leverage the Runner feature as well, which is built to connect store associates with backroom employees to retrieve products so the associate doesn’t leave the customer’s side. Finally, Remote Pay is designed so Amiri’s customers can checkout from anywhere, while attributing the sale back appropriately.
Salesfloor, a provider of virtual shopping, clienteling and sales automation platforms for retailers, reported 55 percent year-over-year growth in clients with 30 new enterprise retailers on its roster.
GNC, Christopher & Banks, Allen Edmonds, Dan Murphy’s and others recently joined Salesfloor’s Total Experience Retail Platform, building on a client list including Saks Fifth Avenue, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Bloomingdale’s, Ben Bridge Jeweler, and Chico’s. The Salesfloor platform operates on four continents in verticals spanning apparel, beauty, furniture, luxury and jewelry, sporting goods and more.
The new clients are using a variety of Salesfloor’s Virtual Shopping and Clienteling capabilities, including video chat, live chat, email and text messaging, Automated Tasking, Storefronts and appointment booking, while also providing the option for the shopper to have an AI-assisted shopping experience. Salesfloor helps shoppers connect with or request virtual or in-store appointments with local store associates at retailers all over the world.
With the recent acquisition of Automat, Salesfloor’s Total Experience Retail Platform is complete with the addition of artificial intelligence sales automation technology. These sales automation tools will enable retailers to provide unassisted online customers with a truly personalized and specialized shopping experience.
Since the first quarter of 2021, the number of Salesfloor users has increased by nearly 50 percent, with more than 50,000 store associates now leveraging the platform to serve customers across all channels and engage with them every day. In total, associates using Salesfloor have surpassed $2 billion in sales.
Retailers have seen as much as a 6x increase in online sales since the implementation of Salesfloor’s platform, the company says. The tech provider also touts an average online conversion rate greater than 10x; an up to 50 percent jump in average order value and 10x lift in digital sales conversion rates; a 20 percent increase in appointments confirmed for shoppers and store associates; and a 20 percent boost in first-time buying customers.
Store associates are able to serve 94 customers via Salesfloor per week (in-store and online) and for every $1 transacted online through Salesfloor, at least $2 were driven into the store.
CommentSold/Social Retail Success
Social selling platform CommentSold has acquired Social Retail Success (SRS) for an undisclosed sum. The SRS business analytics suite is built to help retailers on the CommentSold platform optimize sales, plan and manage inventory and manage customer relationships to increase profitability.
The turnkey analytics suite can enhance the tools and features already offered through CommentSold, the social selling platform provider says. SRS is now available to larger-volume retailers on CommentSold, which seeks to help these businesses identify opportunities to reach and convert new customers and increase their sales and profitability.
SRS can generate up to 38 different daily reports across sales, inventory planning, inventory management, customer management and profitability. The suite provides merchants with business intelligence such as sales, inventory, cost-savings and customer activity analyses and trend reports. The suite will also soon add a customer lifetime value analysis to its range of reports.
Enterprise retailers that use CommentSold can access these reports through a single business intelligence (BI) dashboard and work directly with their account strategist to identify growth opportunities.
As part of the acquisition, SRS founder Tim Gallagher will be the new director of retail strategy at CommentSold. In the position, Gallagher will develop strategic guidance, technology tools and coaching programs designed to maximize the sales, profitability and efficiency of CommentSold enterprise clients.
CommentSold enables live and social selling for online retailers across social media networks, merchants’ own websites and branded mobile apps that are powered by CommentSold. The platform helps retailers automate invoicing, payments, inventory management, order fulfillment, marketing and other business functions, so they can focus on growing their businesses and customer relationships.
Walmart Canada is investing more than $118 million to build a new high-tech sortable fulfillment center in Rocky View County, Alberta that is slated to open in September.
The investment is part of the retailer’s plan to expand and transform its supply chain network while increasing its e-commerce capabilities to better serve Walmart customers with increased product availability. It is part of Walmart Canada’s $3.5 billion investment to make the online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster and more convenient for Walmart customers as the retailer plans to invest for continued growth in Alberta and across Canada.
The sortable fulfillment center will be approximately 430,000 square feet, serving as a delivery hub for millions of customer orders in Western Canada.
The modern facility will be powered by logistics technology to improve productivity with less physical effort. For the first time at Walmart Canada, robotic technology from GreyOrange will be used at one of its fulfillment centers. This platform is designed to speed up order fulfillment by using an advanced operating system that will help associates store, pick and sort items by using smart and flexible storage abilities to manage a large and wide variety of inventory.
“We are tremendously proud to be investing in a new fulfillment center in the Calgary area that will create jobs, boost the economy and deliver quicker service for our customers,” said Horacio Barbeito, president and CEO, Walmart Canada. “This modern facility will provide our associates with the latest logistics technology to improve our supply chain. That means more products available, more orders fulfilled and more Canadians offered two-day shipping. This is how we’re transforming our operations to meet the needs of Albertans and all Canadians.”
The new Alberta fulfillment center is capable of shipping 20 million items annually from the facility to Walmart customers, and can store 500,000 items to fulfill direct to home and in-store pickup orders.
Designed to optimize packaging, minimize waste and reduce transportation costs, the facility will also create more than 325 new jobs at Walmart, plus construction and engineering jobs.
Kindred is bringing a new product to market called Induct, an AI-powered robotic system designed to automate the small parcel induction process. The Induct workcell can help parcel, post, and e-commerce fulfillment companies alleviate capacity shortages and increase efficiency.
Built on Kindred’s proprietary CORE/AutoGrasp AI platform, the Induct robotic system is a high-speed workcell that identifies items and determines how to handle them, a process known as induction. It can accurately pick, maneuver and place items onto a moving belt, bomb bay, or tilt sorter. The platform combines AI-powered machine vision, grasping, and manipulation algorithms to handle parcels of varying size, fragility and materials.
Starting with a cluttered avalanche of parcels, the Induct in-feed system separates items from a chute onto a series of belts, dividing and unstacking pieces into two organized streams. Using Adaptive Motion Control, two synchronized robotic arms pick up each item at the precise speed and grip required for its shape and weight and place it on a free space on the moving sorter. Built-in scanners capture barcodes as items move down the sorter, regardless of orientation.
The Induct system can grasp and maneuver items up to 4 kilograms (approximately 8 pounds) with a variety of shapes, surface textures and materials, as well as both rigid packaging and loose plastic. The system has a throughput of 1,600 to 2,000 picks per hour (PPH), and can fit within the confines of most induction workstations with a footprint of 2.7 meters by 1.4 meters (8 feet, 10 inches by 4 feet, 6 inches).
Kindred developed several new algorithms to enable the Induct system to accurately achieve sortation, induction and singulation regardless of the item, dimensions, characteristics or orientation. Integrated into Kindred’s CORE/AutoGrasp reinforcement learning platform, these capabilities can now be deployed in any future Kindred product.
Induct’s Adaptive Motion Control is powered by machine vision, grasping and manipulation algorithms that respond to varying characteristics to ensure each item is suctioned with the right strength, moved at the correct speed and placed with precision.
This system includes five-sided barcode scanning that can capture barcodes on each grasped item while the robotic arm is in motion, in effect maximizing throughput by reducing the need to re-orientate parcels.
Vision systems that monitor both upstream and downstream can detect optimal placement on the sorter. The workcell will evaluate whether the item should be placed in a single or double tray, select the next available space, and verify placement accuracy, notifying the scan tunnel of any defects.
Numerous Induct workcells can perform collaboratively along the same fulfillment line for maximum productivity and integrate with different communication protocols, customizations, and customer and warehouse management systems. Kindred’s integration team can develop customized screens for cycle reporting, performance statistics and parameter configuration.
Robotics solutions providers Berkshire Grey and Swisslog are partnering up to provide their technology to help retail, grocery and e-commerce customers meet the demands of today’s connected consumers while managing widespread labor shortages. The partnership will initially focus on the U.S. market.
Swisslog will become part of Berkshire Grey’s Partner Alliance program as a strategic Systems Integration Partner that provides customers with scalable robotic solutions developed to improve fulfillment throughput while driving down operational costs.
Swisslog has solutions in multiple flexible, scalable and modular automation technologies, with more than 2,000 integrated installations around the globe including Walmart, Target, H-E-B and Ahold Delhaize. The company offers a range of data-driven, solutions built to fit varying fulfillment strategies.
Berkshire Grey’s solutions combine AI and robotics to intelligently automate the most challenging warehouse operations including e-commerce fulfillment, retail replenishment, reverse logistics and package handling logistics.
The firm’s automated solutions are modular, flexible and available via traditional and Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) implementation models, allowing customers to accelerate adoption of the automation technology without upfront capital expenditures.
Luxury leather goods designer Mulberry has deployed Aptos Order Management, which serves as a centralized commerce hub to help the company monitor orders throughout the product lifecycle.
Founded as a family-run business in 1971, Mulberry is based in the U.K., with factories located in Somerset and a design studio in London. But the lifestyle brand of bags, accessories, jewelry, eyewear and shoes is a global operation with product sold in more than 120 stores worldwide and digitally at Mulberry.com.
As its brand continues to expand internationally—and as customer interactions more often span both the digital and physical realms—Mulberry recognized the need to establish a unified view of inventory whether stock was positioned in stores, distribution centers or elsewhere. Ultimately, Mulberry believes that achieving this single view of stock best equips it to meet customer expectations for better online-to-offline experiences, faster delivery and heightened convenience.
“As e-commerce adoption accelerates, driven in large part by the pandemic, it is clear that the future of retail belongs to those brands that can offer a cohesive and differentiated omnichannel strategy,” said George Clark, technology and customer experience director at Mulberry. “After a thorough review of the order management market, we selected and implemented Aptos Order Management. Given the solution’s advanced functionality, including in areas such as enterprise inventory and distributed order management, we knew we could offer customers more flexible, ‘phygital’ fulfillment options while increasing profitability for our business.”
With the solution now deployed across multiple countries in Europe, Asia and North America, Mulberry can holistically manage a range of fulfillment scenarios including buy online, ship from warehouse; buy online, ship from store; and in-store pickup whether the product is being fulfilled from the warehouse or the store’s inventory.
With Aptos Order Management, Mulberry has core capabilities for enterprise inventory visibility, order orchestration and routing, customer service, store fulfillment, and more. The solution also served a critical need when Mulberry’s shops were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As a result of our omnichannel approach and use of Aptos’ order management solution, we were able to fulfill online orders with products ‘trapped’ in closed stores during lockdowns,” Clark said. “The ability to sell-through store inventory was a strategic advantage to our business during the pandemic. Now, as the crisis subsides in many parts of the world, Mulberry is committed to offering customers a fully unified bricks and clicks experience. This includes interactions with our brand that are both omnichannel and experience rich and fuse the best of the physical and digital worlds. We are excited to move forward on our vision for modern retailing, and with our Aptos partnership.”
CommerceIQ, a retail e-commerce management platform provider, has closed a $115 million Series D funding round, bringing the company’s total valuation to more than $1 billion. The new funding follows the company’s $60 million Series C round in June 2021, bringing total funding in the last 12 months to $175 million.
The funding round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and includes participation from all existing institutional investors: Insight Partners, Trinity Ventures, Shasta Ventures, and Madrona Venture Group.
This investment will be used to expand CommerceIQ’s business globally and to accelerate the development of its unified Retail Ecommerce Management Platform, which connects and automates data and decisions across the entire e-commerce stack with the intent to power profitable growth for leading global brands.
CommerceIQ offers tools designed to help brands win through retail e-commerce channels such as Amazon, Walmart and Instacart. The company capitalized on this opportunity by doubling revenue, customers served, and global employees in 2021.
Guru Hariharan, CEO of CommerceIQ, said the platform has helped retailers generate average revenue growth of 18 percent, driven by real-time optimizations that can boost share-of-voice, minimize out-of-stocks and prevent revenue leakage.
The Retail Ecommerce Management platform aims to connect e-commerce category analytics, retail media management, sales management and operations management all in one solution. Today, CommerceIQ has more than 2,200 brands that use its platform daily and seek to maximize incremental sales, category market share and unit profitability through online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Target and Instacart.
Descartes Systems Group, a provider of logistics software and services, has integrated the Descartes ShipRush multi-carrier parcel and less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping solution into its own suite of e-commerce warehouse management systems (WMS).
This integration allows customers to improve their warehouse and shipping performance through a unified solution and execute their entire online fulfillment process, Descartes said.
The Descartes ShipRush e-commerce shipping solution is designed to allow businesses to grow their shipping volume through advanced automation capabilities, a business rule engine and a set of APIs for rating, shipping and tracking.
The solution also connects e-commerce companies to their parcel and LTL carriers of choice using their own negotiated rates or using rate discounts available through Descartes ShipRush.
Descartes ShipRush is integrated with Descartes’ two e-commerce warehouse solutions: Descartes Peoplevox and Descartes pixi. The combined online warehouse and shipping solutions are available for e-commerce pure players and direct-to-consumer brands that want need to scale their fulfillment operations to keep pace with sales growth and meet their delivery promise to ship on time, and at the lowest cost.
The technology is built to support e-commerce merchants and third-party logistics providers of all sizes along their growth journey.
NoFraud, a provider of fraud prevention technology, has released NoFraud Checkout, a product upgrade designed to increase sales by minimizing shopping cart abandonment. The company’s one-click-checkout option never requires consumers to create a store account or a NoFraud account or a password.
The technology provider cited data from Baymard Research Institute, suggesting that cart abandonment is responsible for $260 billion in missed revenue throughout retail, with 70 percent of shoppers abandoning their carts. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of that is due to shoppers unwilling to create an account, and 18 percent is attributed to long, complicated checkout flows. Adding to the frustration, approximately one in six legitimate shoppers were declined at least once last year, causing retailers to miss out on 15 percent of orders from good customers.
With a customized experience for each guest, NoFraud Checkout leverages fraud prevention and device recognition software helping shoppers to check out with as little as their email address. A dynamic one-page design can reduce the number of input fields during the process, provide shoppers with an autofill address and payment option, and prompt customers to fix typos or incorrect information in real time. The experience never requires the registration of a store account.
Customers recognized on the global NoFraud network are offered a one-click-checkout option, while orders containing an elevated risk level, or of a high value, are given extra scrutiny with additional fields adapting in real time to their risk level, the company said. This can enable NoFraud to validate riskier orders and prevent automatic declines. A streamlined and enhanced customer experience results in more completed orders and a higher approval rate.
Isaac Gurary, co-founder and CEO, NoFraud, said consumers have to fill out 23.5 fields on average before they even pay for their items. The company says retailers that optimize checkout via NoFraud can see conversion rates jump 55 percent.
NoFraud’s advanced decisioning engine has up to a 99.7 percent approval rating, and is built to help reduce false positives behind the scenes and ensure the right customers are transacting with merchants. NoFraud uses artificial intelligence and machine learning, coupled with a global team of analysts, to proactively examine hundreds of data points per transaction to weed out bad actors and generate accurate “pass” or “fail” decisions in real-time. With that in mind, the company can remove the burden of manual review and threshold setting from their customers, and offer a full financial guarantee and chargeback management service.