The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Supply chain platform Mojix said its flagship item-level intelligence and traceability solution, Ytem, is now available on Google Cloud Marketplace. Google Cloud Marketplace provides access to an ecosystem of software-as-a service (SaaS), APIs, virtual machine, content management system, development stack, web service solutions and more, optimized for Google Cloud users.
Mojix became a Google Cloud Partner in 2019, and has since hosted its modern multi-tenant architecture on Google Cloud with strengths in distributed computing and hybrid clouds, in addition to open technologies and a growing partner ecosystem. By providing its cloud solutions on Google Cloud Marketplace, Mojix can provide more customers with technologies that can help increase sales and operational efficiency, reduce major risks and enhance the end-customer experience with item-level data.
Mojix customers will also be able to take advantage of Google Cloud Marketplace and other Google Cloud services to streamline the procurement and deployment process.
Currently deployed across the retail, food and manufacturing industries, Ytem offers item-level intelligence for product information management, returnable assets management, quality assurance, inventory management, multi-enterprise supply chain integrations and regulatory compliance.
Ytem is designed to work in real time to provide immutable data throughout the item lifecycle, offering end-to-end transparency on item status, history, provenance and location. Due to its technology-agnostic nature, Ytem says it can capture, process and share data with any information system.
Centric Software is collaborating with fashion consulting firm Alvanon, enabling designers using the product lifecycle management (PLM) platform to access 3D avatars during the development and design process.
Centric’s open API enables complex integrations with different technologies, streamlining processes while leveraging information from many sources so that users can work faster and more efficiently on a single platform, rather than in multiple siloed applications.
Users can store, search and download Alvanon avatars (virtual AlvaForms) directly from Centric PLM. The integration between Centric, Alvanon, CLO3D and GoVise makes it possible to use Alvanon 3D avatars from Centric PLM libraries in Clo3D design.
“We are excited to take advantage of this feature,” said Karen Keane, senior manager, product and brand, and Nancy Fedoruk, 3D creative lead, at Arc’teryx in a statement. “It will allow us to house the Avatar library in Centric in a visual, searchable UI, that is also available in CLO3D. Avatar’s are the true starting point for 3D Product Development – it’s great to leverage the custom integration between our three partners, Centric PLM, Alvanon, and CLO 3D.”
Since 2001, Alvanon has used the latest technology and body shape data to enable apparel brands and retailers to improve garment fit, reflecting modern-day consumers. Centric Software aims to help brands achieve strategic and operational digital transformation goals by offering solutions to plan, design, develop, source and sell products.
Square launched its first integration with Afterpay in Canada, providing “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) functionality to sellers using Square’s e-commerce products across the country. The integration comes one month after Square launched the Clearpay integration in the U.K.
The integration will enable Square sellers in Canada to offer Afterpay’s BNPL experience to their customers.
“We’ve been using Square Online since we launched, and it’s been fantastic. We’ve also seen that BNPL options typically lead to sales increasing 20 to 30 percent, so when we learned that we could now offer Afterpay, we were eager to implement it,” said Susan Pond, owner of Fab Finds Online, an e-commerce patio furniture and home goods marketplace headquartered in Vaughan, Ontario. “Sometimes people are looking at high-ticket items, which they can afford, but would simply prefer to pay in manageable installments to avoid any expensive fees and credit card interest. Afterpay allows people to break their payments down, and does so without the onus being on us. This is a huge benefit to our business.”
Square said BNPL payments are projected to grow 63.5 percent and reach $5.9 billion in Canada in 2022, according to data from Research and Markets. Canadian Gen Z consumers and millennials aged 18-44 use BNPL the most of all consumer segments, according to a recent pilot study by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
Square says sellers using the platform are seeing increased transaction sizes. Across both the U.S. and Australia, the average transaction size with Afterpay is triple that of non-BNPL purchases. Globally, the company observed a 180 percent increase in new consumers leveraging Afterpay through Square sellers between February and March 2022.
In the U.S., retailers that offered Afterpay as a payments option on their website are seeing a meaningful lift in overall online sales, with men’s and women’s clothing stores growing 17 percent; specialized apparel and accessories growing 15 percent; pet stores growing 13 percent; sporting goods stores increasing 12 percent; and jewelry and watch shops seeing 10 percent growth. In both countries, beauty and personal care businesses saw significant upticks in online sales, registering a 26 percent increase in Australia and a 16 percent jump in the U.S.
Afterpay is available today to eligible sellers in Canada using Square Online store and Square Online Checkout links for e-commerce, who can try Afterpay until Dec. 31. Sellers can access Afterpay from Account & Settings on their Square dashboard and opt in to receive early access to Afterpay now, with automatic enablement rolling out to eligible Square e-commerce sellers over the following weeks.
The Afterpay option can be toggled on or off via the dashboard at any time. During the promotional period, Afterpay transactions are processed at sellers’ standard e-commerce processing rates. Square sellers receive their full earnings from each sale immediately (minus associated transaction fees and applicable taxes), while consumers pay over four installments.
Searchspring, a site search, product merchandising and e-commerce personalization technology provider, has secured a strategic growth investment from PSG, a leading growth equity firm partnering with software and technology-enabled services companies to help accelerate their growth. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Purpose built for e-commerce, merchants use the Searchspring platform in an effort to facilitate better product discovery through semantic site search capabilities and flexible product merchandising, which includes business rules as well as AI-driven campaigns. The Searchspring personalization suite is designed to further help shoppers get the right product to the right shopper at the right time.
Searchspring can help drive an improved shopper experience, but its insights, data, and reporting capabilities also can give merchants a detailed look at shopper behavior and search performance
PSG’s investment is expected to expand Searchspring’s strategic roadmap and accelerate product innovation to help customers continually improve their shoppers’ experiences. The investment also positions Searchspring for further go-to-market expansion in the U.S. and internationally.
Scaleworks, an existing Searchspring investor, will remain an investment partner. Canaccord Genuity served as financial advisor to Searchspring. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP served as legal advisor to PSG.
Searchspring’s customers include Chubbies, Pura Vida, Moen, Fabletics, Peet’s Coffee, Skims, West Elm, Specialized, Wildfang and Ripcurl.
Locus Robotics, a provider of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for fulfillment warehouses, has expanded its partnership with DHL Supply Chain, the contract logistics leader within Deutsche Post DHL Group.
The extended partnership includes the deployment of Locus AMRs at DHL Supply Chain’s Canal Winchester and Lockbourne, Ohio fulfillment centers to support high-volume order fulfillment for global clothing retailer customer, Carhartt.
DHL Supply Chain’s ongoing implementation of Locus’ AMR technology ensures that DHL fulfillment center operations are optimized to meet rapidly increasing volumes and seasonal peaks, while also helping to control operating and labor costs. LocusBots are designed to optimize worker productivity in the order fulfillment process by decreasing walking time and improving worker ergonomics and workplace quality.
“Implementing Locus has quickly proven to be an ideal choice to deliver high productivity, letting us fulfill orders at a record pace,” said Tony Gariety, vice president distribution operations, Carhartt, in a statement. “Locus’s ease of use and fast training has also helped us with recruiting and retaining employees and seasonal workers. So, all the way around, there are some real competitive advantages.”
Since 2017, DHL Supply Chain North America and Locus Robotics have partnered to support piece picking order fulfillment in warehouses for a range of retail and healthcare brands. LocusBots navigate autonomously through the warehouse and collaborate closely with associates to improve order picking productivity and throughput efficiency. They are built to be be deployed as demand changes, supporting a diverse range of picking strategies and workflows.
Avidbots, a company that produces and develops industrial floor-cleaning robotics, has raised $70 million in Series C funding.
The financing was led by Jeneration Capital, with strong participation from existing investors True Ventures, Next 47, SOSV, GGV Capital, BDC Capital, Golden Ventures and Kensington Capital Partners. New investors—BMO Capital Partners, Golden Vision Capital and Nicola Wealth—also joined in the latest funding round. With this financing, Avidbots has raised more than $107 million to date.
Avidbots has continued to develop and expand the capabilities of its autonomous robotic product line, most recently with the launch of the Disinfection Add-On to its Neo 2 floor-scrubbing robot.
Powered by Avidbots Autonomy, Neo is built to understand and react to its operating environment, maximize cleaning productivity and minimize human intervention. The Avidbots Command Center can help manage, monitor and measure Neo(s) from anywhere in the world. Today, Neos are being used throughout the world in various high-traffic commercial environments, such as manufacturing, retail, warehousing, airports and transit hubs.
Currently, more than 1,000 robots are deployed, cleaning floors for organizations in more than a dozen countries throughout North America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.
In addition to expanding its fleet of commercial cleaning robots and add-ons, along with enhancing its autonomy software, Avidbots will use the funding to grow its sales and marketing efforts to bring products to more customers in automation growth markets, such as the U.S., and worldwide. Strong demand for the company’s commercial cleaning, autonomous floor-scrubbing robot, Neo 2, also has Avidbots looking to add more than 100 employees in the areas of product, engineering, sales and marketing within the next 12 months.
On the heels of the funding announcement, the Canada-based company has doubled down on its investment in the Kitchener-Waterloo area by securing additional space to support R&D and testing.
The new headquarters, located in Kitchener, Ontario, has expanded from the current 40,000-square-foot location to a new space with more than a combined 70,000 square feet. The new headquarters is conducive to hybrid work, featuring multifunctional spaces along with recreational and rest environments to promote collaboration among “Avidbotters.” The new headquarters will also include an expansion to Avidbots’ testing facilities.
1MRobotics, a startup developing next-generation robotic nano-fulfillment centers, is launching out of stealth in raising a $25 million Series A funding round.
Ibex Investors led the funding round along with 1MRobotics’ existing backers Emerge VC, Target Global and INT3, with participation from other prominent investors. The funding includes a previous seed round of $8.5 million.
The financing will be leveraged for expansion into new global markets and enterprise clients, as well as growing the team.
The company’s robotic nano-fulfillment centers, which function as dark stores for partner businesses, are designed specifically to meet a growing need for delivery and enabling expansion and optimal unit economics.
According to 1MRobotics, the systems are shipped globally inside standard shipping containers, ready to operate. On-site, the systems are deployable either as standalone units (within the containers) or inside any retail facility, granting 1MRobotics the flexibility to position its units at any point around the world.
Headquartered in Tel Aviv, 1MRobotics was co-founded in 2021 by CEO Eyal Yair and chief operating officer Roee Tuval. Yair previously co-founded and led four companies, selling two of them. Tuval has a background in hardware, software, robotics and electro-optics, and brings more than 15 years of consulting experience to companies in Israel and abroad.
To address the key pains of last-mile operations, namely unit economics and scale, 1MRobotics built an off-the-shelf solution designed to be deployed anywhere while reducing workforce headcount to the bare minimum, if not zero, and ensuring optimal operational efficiencies.
TÜV Rhineland/CBX Software
TÜV Rheinland Hong Kong, an international independent third-party testing, inspection, and certification organization, has partnered with global supply chain management solutions provider CBX Software to offer brands and retailers an integrated solution streamlining the quality inspection process.
The new integration extends CBX Cloud to TÜV Rheinland’s neutral, independent inspection services, enabling brands and retailers to book and manage quality inspections via the TÜV Rheinland ComPass Premium Portal to CBX Cloud. ComPass is designed for brands and retailers to navigate the complexities of compliance within the entire supply chain.
CBX Cloud, CBX Software’s flagship cloud-based platform, is relied on by many brands and retailers to digitize workflows and efficiently manage supply chains—from product ideation to sourcing to ordering through production. CBX Cloud enables collaboration between retailers and vendors and third-party testing inspection and certification organizations, creating a central repository of inspection requests and reports. It can also empower merchandisers and compliance managers to efficiently onboard suppliers and monitor their compliance.
The system is built to centralize all communications, replacing emails and spreadsheets to create a single data source, making it easier to see the historical performance of factories and vendors.
Fanatics has partnered with crowdsourced delivery platform Roadie to power local next-day delivery in select markets.
Local next-day delivery with Roadie is currently available on select products in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, St. Louis, and Jacksonville, Fla. with more cities expected to be added in the future.
On Fanatics.com, shoppers can add any item labeled “Next Business Day Shipping” to their cart to order it for local next-day delivery.
This new partnership will use Fanatics’ warehouse and distribution center footprint to fulfill customers’ orders via Roadie’s network of more than 200,000 drivers nationwide. Roadie, which was acquired by UPS in September 2021, says its network reaches more than 20,000 zip codes in the U.S.
“Fanatics is incredibly excited to partner with Roadie and bring our customers the merchandise they crave faster than ever before,” said Lonnie Phillips, chief customer officer, Fanatics Commerce, in a statement. “We place a continued emphasis on optimizing the fan experience, and this latest partnership with Roadie directly contributes to achieving that ultimate goal.”
Fanatics’ licensed sports merchandise assortment features teams and players from hundreds of top leagues and sports and entertainment properties including the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, WWE, NCAA and more.
With the partnership, Roadie is the sole local next-day delivery solution across all of Fanatics’ U.S. fulfillment centers.
A new platform has launched to offer consumers doorstep return pickups for in-store and online purchases. Founded by Jonathan Crawley and Joseph Hatch, Oops raised a $5 million seed round led by Peterson Partners, with contributions from Epic Ventures, Maverick Ventures, Pelion Venture Partners, Village Global and angel investors.
The startup, which launched in June, currently serves neighborhoods and counties along the I-15 corridor in Utah.
Using an intuitive website and mobile app, Oops is built to solve the pain of making returns by doing all the heavy lifting. Customers schedule a pickup, and an Oops driver in a signature blue van completes the return on the customer’s behalf.
Boxes and printed labels are not required, and all returns are insured up to $1,000.
Oops also provides donation pickups and returns furniture and oversized items. The goal is to reduce shopping anxiety by empowering customers to buy multiple options, keep what works, and easily return what doesn’t.
New customers can take advantage of a 30-day free trial, then pay $15 per month for unlimited returns, or request a single pickup for $6 for the first pickup.
The business concept came to Hatch while he was making returns of his own, feeling frustrated by the need to drive to multiple stores and wait in long return lines.
“The idea for Oops came as I was sitting in a UPS parking lot, the first stop on a returns escapade that I realized was about to steal my Saturday,” said Hatch in a statement. “The core value-add of the platform is to create a single, consumer-oriented touch point for returns and give people time back to spend doing the things that they love with the people they love.”
Bazaarvoice, a provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions, is partnering with social proof messaging software Taggstar.
The incorporation of UGC such as ratings and reviews, from Bazaarvoice into Taggstar’s social proof messaging combines two conversion rate optimization technologies into one user experience, the companies say. This combination can enable shoppers to easily understand review ratings and social proof data in a single glance, leading to better buying decisions.
FatFace, a British family, lifestyle clothing brand and client of both Bazaarvoice and Taggstar, was able to highlight the percentage of people that recommended an item and the number of people that rated an item five stars on their product description pages (PDP).
This resulted in an additional 1.71 percent conversion rate uplift in 10 days on top of the 4.4 percent delivered by the initial implementation of social proof.
“Our customer product reviews provide shoppers with the confidence they need to make a purchase,” said Liam Price, head of digital at FatFace. “Reviews reinforce our great customer ratings and product quality, working with Taggstar allows us to bring this important part of the purchase consideration forward in the customer journey. Integrating reviews with social proof delivered an additional 1.71 percent conversion rate uplift for FatFace.”
Taggstar leverages the Bazaarvoice API to aggregate review content into a form that can be displayed as a social proof message balloon, along with Taggstar’s real-time messages including audience, order volume and trending products.
Impinj, Inc., a provider of RAIN RFID and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, unveiled Impinj Authenticity solution engine to provide real-time, high-volume product authentication for brands and their customers. Impinj Authenticity is built to cryptographically authenticate everyday items such as retail merchandise, automotive parts and medications to help prevent counterfeits, ensure product safety, and secure the supply chain.
The launch comes as businesses seek to mitigate counterfeiting, with Impinj citing a 2021 report from The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that said counterfeit and pirated goods amounted to up to $464 billion in world trade in 2019.
The Impinj Authenticity solution engine is designed to offer cost-effective product authentication across the entirety of an enterprise’s supply chain, from manufacturing through shipping, customs, store inventory, point-of-sale, and returns processing to slow down counterfeits. Impinj Authenticity also supports single-item or bulk-item authentication, wirelessly verifying the authenticity of individual items packed singly or in bulk without opening a box or product packaging.
Impinj partners can integrate the Impinj Authenticity solution engine with their current product offerings or quickly develop solutions to meet the most demanding needs of their enterprise customers.
Using standards-based RAIN RFID and cryptographic methods, the Impinj Authenticity solution engine combines new tag chips and cloud services with readers and partner products to enable streamlined enterprise IoT solution development.
Impinj M775 RAIN RFID tag chips connect individual items and enable partner services to determine the connected item’s authenticity in addition to its identity. A cryptographic computation engine, combined with a unique cryptographic key in each tag chip, is designed to enable secure authentications while defending against malicious attacks.
The company’s RAIN RFID readers can scan hundreds of connected items simultaneously and send authentication requests to verify the connected items are genuine. Reader options include Impinj R700 readers and partner devices built with Impinj E family and Indy reader chips.
Impinj Authentication Service can verify each tag chip’s authenticity in milliseconds, the company claims. This cloud service uses APIs to speed integration into partner and enterprise product authentication solutions.
Avery Dennison and select Impinj partners provide additional solution components, such as a product database that stores, retrieves and verifies item data.