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Retail Tech: Browzwear Raises $35M, BB&B Mexico Personalizes Search, Inspectorio Joins Apple Incubator

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

3D design

Browzwear

Browzwear closed a $35 million funding round from growth equity firm Radian Capital, marking the 3D digital fashion solutions provider’s first institutional financing received by Browzwear and setting the company up for platform development and market expansion.

“We look to partner with market leaders that have been able to build strong, healthy businesses on their own terms,“ said Weston Gaddy, a co-founder and partner at Radian Capital. ”A 20-year-long overnight success story, Browzwear invented the use of 3D design for apparel and is increasingly being adopted as the design system of record by the largest brands and manufacturers in the industry.”

A leader in end-to-end digital product creation for the apparel industry, Browzwear says it has achieved 40 percent year-over-year growth over the past five years and aims to more than double the size of the business in the next two years.

Browzwear intends to triple its global workforce over the next two years with a focus on new hires in R&D, product development and customer service. It also aims to grow its 100-plus partner program, an ecosystem of complementary products and services enhancing overall value for clients.

“By facilitating processes from product development and manufacturing to final retail sale, Browzwear will drive more value for its customers and bring greater efficiency, sustainability and profitability to stakeholders throughout the fashion industry,” said Sharon Lim, co-founder and CEO of Browzwear, which counts Columbia Sportswear, PVH and VF among its clients. “With Radian as our partner, we are well-positioned to make our vision a reality and bring the future alive today.”

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E-commerce

Cart.com

Cart.com, an end-to-end e-commerce services provider, closed a $98 million Series B, bringing its total funding since launching eight months ago to more than $140 million.

“At Cart.com, we believe ecommerce brands should be free to scale up without having to juggle countless outside vendors, and without compromising their unique vision for their brand,” said Omair Tariq, CEO of Cart.com. “Our one-stop platform supports sellers across the full range of ecommerce functionality, empowering them to efficiently scale up and reach new markets using proven, best-of-breed services and technologies.”

Serving more than 2,000 e-commerce brands, Cart.com has seen revenues increasing by more than 400 percent since the start of the year. The new financing will help Cart.com develop its game-changing Ecommerce-as-a-Service (ECaaS) fully integrated platform, which unites storefront engine, payments, marketing and creative design, sales enablement, fulfillment, and customer service under a single umbrella.

Since launch, Cart.com has acquired seven companies, including AmeriCommerce, Spacecraft Brands, and more recently DuMont Project, and Sauceda Industries.

Cart.com’s platform now processes more than $700 million in gross merchandise value per year for clients including GNC.

Venture growth equity fund Oak HC/FT led the found, which was joined by PayPal Ventures, Clearco, Raven One Ventures, G9 Ventures and prior investors Mercury Fund, Moonshots Capital, Valedor Partners, and Arsenal Growth. Sebastian Rymarz, CEO of Heyday, Phillip Krim, CEO of Casper, as well as executives at Discover Financial, Robinhood, Blinds.com, and Uber were strategic investors in the round.

Goodfair/Descartes

Descartes Systems Group announced that Houston-based Goodfair, an online thrift store platform that sells themed bundles of clothing, is using its cloud-based e-commerce warehouse management system (WMS) to automate, streamline and scale its order fulfillment processes.

“By reintroducing clothing back into the consumer cycle that would otherwise have been destined for a landfill, we’re revolutionizing how people shop, reducing water waste, carbon emissions and marine pollution,” said Topper Luciani, CEO at Goodfair. “We rely on the Descartes solution to help us ship fluctuating volumes of pre-loved clothing bundles to consumers quickly and accurately, as well as to partner with a leading retail brand for its online vintage shop. With an eye to minimizing our environmental impact, the Descartes solution has eliminated wasteful and inefficient paper-based order picking practices that frequently led to order errors, offered poor warehouse visibility and compromised the customer experience.”

The e-commerce WMS helps direct-to-consumer brands, e-commerce retailers and traditional retailers build their brand around scalable fulfillment and a consistent customer experience. The cloud-based solution helps clients ship the right items on schedule, have full transparency into warehouse operations and inventory levels, and realize a quick return on investment. The solution is pre-integrated with ecommerce platforms, like Shopify Plus, Magento, ChannelAdvisor and others, to accelerate implementation and time to value. Order information is automatically available to be executed via mobile driven multi-order pick-and-pack strategies and then fed into parcel shipment systems.

Brand acquisition

Suma Brands

Suma Brands, a platform for acquiring and scaling Amazon FBA businesses, closed a Series A investment that brings its total raise to more than $150 million since it launched in stealth mode last year.

Suma Brands will use the capital to accelerate acquisitions of Amazon FBA businesses and expand its portfolio of e-commerce brands.

Annalisa DeMarta, founder of Lone Cone (the No. 1 selling kid’s rain boots on Amazon for the last three years and a Suma client) said, “Working with Suma has been a completely different experience than what I imagined selling a business would be like. Prior to meeting Suma, I spoke with a few acquisition groups to hear what was out there and none of them acknowledged the potential of what I had built, which made the relationship highly transactional. Suma understood the brand’s goals and potential and had a strong desire to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. I’ve always had big dreams for Lone Cone and I’m fortunate I found a partner who has the vision and resources to achieve those dreams”.

In addition to acquiring marketplace brands, Suma Brands, whose co-founders and executives also include Matt Salzberg, founder and former CEO of Blue Apron, Andy Salamon, co-founding investor in Hims and Hers, Danielle David Parks, and Jon Dussel, former CFO of Dolls Kill, is hiring world-class e-commerce, brand management, and supply chain talent to expand its operating platform.

The funding was led by Pace Capital and Material alongside a credit facility led by i80 Group.

In-store solutions

Zebra

Zebra Technologies announced the new TC52ax mobile computer with support for Wi-Fi 6, featuring Workstation Connect, a software solution enabling users to turn Zebra mobile devices into mobile-driven workstations.

The solution can help improve worker efficiency, simplify infrastructure, and improve return on investments in retail, manufacturing, and warehouse environments.

The TC52ax supports price check and item lookup, inventory and cycle counts, line busting, merchandising, and buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) and buy online, pick up at curbside (BOPAC) applications. Manufacturing users can increase bandwidth and capacity, allowing for greater throughput speeds and quicker response time, even when multiple devices are being used on the same network.

Personalization

Bed Bath & Beyond Mexico/Algonomy

Bed Bath & Beyond Mexico will use Algonomy FIND to offer customers algorithmically personalized commerce search experiences on its digital store.

In Bed Bath & Beyond Mexico, Algonomy’s FIND will integrate with Adobe’s Magento eCommerce platform and leverage real-time shopper behavior to personalize search results. FIND uses Algonomy real-time streaming catalogue which will ensure that catalogue changes are indexed in real-time so that critical product attributes are always up to date. Bed Bath & Beyond Mexico will now be able to leverage real time behavioural data and shopper profiles to uniquely personalize search results for every shopper.

“With an 86 percent increase in digital growth last year and twice as many customers buying online, we needed a stronger digital strategy for serving a ‘digital-first’ omnichannel experience,” said Adrian Valenzuela, chief digital officer at Bed Bath & Beyond Mexico. “Search is no more just another tool, it’s a key business lever, and a relevant and engaging experience can help our shoppers find what they need and complement in-store assistants online.”

Last-mile delivery

Starship Technologies

Starship Technologies, a provider of autonomous delivery services, will begin delivery service on four additional college campuses: University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), University of Kentucky (UK), University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach, Fla. campus. These campuses join the list of American college campuses where Starship robots will continue to provide deliveries this fall with its global fleet of over 1,000 robots.

All of these universities are the first in their respective states to offer autonomous on-demand robot delivery service to their campus communities.

“We see the Starship robots as an important part of safely bringing students back to campus,” said Dean Kennedy, executive director of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services at University of Nevada, Reno. “Everyone wants to resume in-person classes and be back on campus so we’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s done responsibly. The robots offer several advantages – they make social distancing easier, they are convenient, the students we have spoken with love this idea and they continue our heritage of being an innovative campus.”

According to Westgarth, “Starship was an essential service for many students during the pandemic. We consistently broke delivery records, even with fewer students on campus. We heard from so many students about how much they appreciated the service, how the robots made their time on campus seem ‘more normal’ and how they helped brighten their moods during a really difficult time.”

Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its zero-emission robots have made more than 1.6 million autonomous deliveries, travelled millions of miles and make more than 80,000 road crossings every day.

Digital experience management

FullStory

FullStory, the leader in digital experience intelligence (DXI), secured $103 million in growth capital financing.

As businesses evolve their digital-first strategies, FullStory is designed to meet the increasingly sophisticated digital experience requirements that today’s web and mobile users demand. FullStory uniquely combines robust analytics, privacy, security, and collaboration capabilities in a highly scalable DXI platform. By combining quantitative and qualitative data, the FullStory platform uncovers diagnostic insights and identifies opportunities for brands of all sizes to make improvements that grow revenue. This strategic intelligence reveals not only what customers are doing, but why, and is immediately available to business and technical users through easy-to-use dashboards, heatmaps, and visualizations that offer a full picture of the digital experience.

“Traditional analytics have been upended by AI- and ML-enabled approaches that can instantly uncover nuanced patterns and anomalies in customer behavior. Leveraging both structured and unstructured data, FullStory has rapidly established itself as the market and technology leader in DXI and is now the fastest-growing company in the category and the de facto system of record for all digital experience data,” said Bruce Chizen, Senior Advisor at Permira and former CEO at Adobe, who has joined the FullStory Board.

The oversubscribed Series D round was led by Permira’s growth fund, which backs leading tech-enabled and digital businesses, and includes participation from all existing institutional investors, including Kleiner Perkins, GV, Stripes, Dell Technologies Capital, Salesforce Ventures, and Glynn Capital. The funding will be used to expand FullStory’s business internationally and to further enhance its award-winning DXI platform, which helps companies build better digital products and experiences across web and mobile channels by providing real-time analytics and insights to product, customer success, engineering, and marketing teams.

Analytics

M Science

M Science, the pioneer in data-driven research and analytics, launch its Retail and Consumer Brands Intelligence Platform, offering business-critical insights to the industry as it navigates post-Covid-19 consumer behavior and as the e-commerce landscape continues to rapidly evolve. Leveraging tested analytic models and a myriad of data inputs, this new solution delivers insights to more than a dozen industries including Animals & Pet Supplies, Apparel, Garden & Home, Sporting Goods and Toys & Games. The platform’s focus on e-commerce insights serves traditional retailers and brands as well as DTC and online-only players.

“With access to M Science’s intelligence, clients will gain insights that are traditionally very difficult to determine – such as specific item-level consumer preferences and market share among competitors,” noted Elizabeth Coleman, Head of Product at M Science. “This information will be more valuable than ever, answering key questions about how the pandemic has altered shopping habits. Our solution can provide guidance around product sales and category performance, which customers to target and when, and trends that are winning in the marketplace.”

This latest launch builds upon the highly valuable research M Science has provided for nearly two decades and presents a critical advantage for the retail industry to gain access to real-time data on longitudinal consumer behavior, ecommerce dynamics, granular market performance, product category level insights, competitive growth trends, digital customer journey, and brick-and-mortar foot traffic.

“M Science’s new intelligence solution is designed to assist merchants, brands, and manufacturers in finding answers to the tough questions regarding consumer cohorts and their buying behavior,” said Joshua Stafman, Consumer Vertical Head at M Science. “Understanding today’s consumer is not easy, especially in the multi-faceted retail world, but we created a tool that gives brands a better real-time understanding of the markets, customers and, most importantly, how consumer wallets are changing and evolving.”

Brands and manufacturers will be able to derive value from this solution by understanding the impact on key competitive drivers, such as price and channel, and to analyze the flow of customers between competitors. In addition, the data can help clients be more informed about the value of their products and customers for better positioning during discussions with retailers.

Augmented Reality

NexTech AR

NexTech AR  Solutions, an provider of augmented reality technology for e-commerce, launched its next-generation ad technology.

NexTech customers can now tap into Google’s network, delivering engaging and streamlined 3D ads that extend to AR at scale that do not require application download. The upgrade leverages WebXR and also enables a robust AR experience with each Ad. NexTech Ads also provide rich analytics giving customers data driven insights so they can better capture impressions, clicks, interactions and gain overall AR engagement data.

Analytics from NexTech’s Vacuum Cleaner Market (VCM) indicate click through rates (CTR) of approximately 5 percent for 3D Ads created with NexTech 3D tools, compared to average Google CTR of 1.55 percent according to Smart Insights. NexTech’s 3D technology enabled on Google’s expansive Ad network offers a compelling advertising tool. Google estimates that as of 2021, that their search engine processes approximately 63,000 search queries every second, translating to 5.6 billion searches per day and approximately 2 trillion global searches per year.

NexTech 3D advertising customers such as Motif, a leading fashion knowledge and educational hub, are recognizing NexTech’s 3D advertising suite of tools as a game changer. “Partnering with Nextech AR Ad Network gives us extended reach to new B2B communities in consumer product goods, fashion & apparel and branding agencies. Its 3D advertising capabilities were a key draw for us and enables us to illustrate to prospective students the type of 3D models they can create through our 3D digital fashion course with Roz McNulty”, said Elisabeth Souquet, marketing director at Motif. Now, with NexTech’s rollout of 3D Google Ads, customers such as Motif can extend 3D advertising built with NexTech tools to reach a significantly broader audience.

Supply Chain/Compliance

Inspectorio

Inspectorio is one of 15 businesses selected for the first cohort of the Apple Impact Accelerator, a new program for minority-owned businesses creating environmental solutions focused on climate change, resource conservation and smarter chemistry.

Inspectorio’s cloud-based SaaS solution creates risk-based quality and compliance programs with the goal of building an interconnected, sustainable, and transparent supply chain. It enables brands, retailers, and suppliers to make data-driven decisions, successfully implement continuous improvement programs, and better allocate resources for performance optimization. Inspectorio uses big data and machine learning to help businesses make informed decisions about quality, sustainability, and compliance across the global supply chain.