The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Happy Returns, a PayPal company, has unveiled Return Shopping, which is designed to help Shopify merchants drive more shoppers to their e-commerce storefronts upon returning a product. The feature is built to help sellers retain revenue without the accounting challenges associated with exchanging items of different prices.
Return Shopping is available to both current and future Happy Returns customers using the Return & Exchange Portal and Shopify. This optional feature can be enabled via the merchant’s Happy Returns dashboard.
Unlike many exchanges, Return Shopping keeps the return and the new sale as separate transactions. By creating a new order, all relevant sales and tax details will be accurately represented within Shopify where all downstream systems can ingest these as standard orders.
Merchants can encourage shoppers with customizable incentives: such as a configurable discount amount on the new sale and/or the option to waive the processing fee on the return.
The return portal brings shoppers to the merchant’s e-commerce storefront, putting the latest products and their availability at shoppers’ fingertips.
Because the new sale is not linked to the return, fulfillment of the new items can start without shoppers needing to return any items first. Shoppers may also select a different shipping address and shipping method than their original order.
Merchants can monitor sales and make adjustments to their incentives and have visibility into new orders placed, total order value, length of time to pay and cart abandonment.
This feature is available to both new and existing customers using Shopify and Happy Returns’ Return & Exchange Portal.
Century 21’s anticipated physical revival in New York City in Spring 2023 will get a boost from local market logistics platform Fillogic. Fillogic will assist the retailer with e-commerce and store-based fulfillment, reverse logistics/returns, forward-staging inventory and final-mile delivery.
The department store shuttered its 13 locations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida before the company’s bankruptcy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are very happy to be working with the Fillogic team for many reasons. They are helping us relaunch the Century 21 brand with store and e-commerce fulfillment, returns and inventory management services as well as e-commerce delivery, which enables us to meet the needs of today’s consumer,” said Raymond Gindi, CEO of Century 21. “Plus, it reunites us with a number of our former colleagues whom we know will get the job done up to or exceeding our expectations.”
According to Bill Thayer, CEO of Fillogic, the logistics company wants to help ensure that Century 21 is able to meet modern customer’s expectations for services like two-day delivery, in-store merchandise pickup and easy returns of online purchases.
In conjunction with this partnership, Fillogic will use one of its micrologistics hubs, converted from an underused retail space, to service Century 21. This location, managed and operated by Fillogic personnel, will help Century 21 locations forward-stage inventory, provide merchandise pickup/delivery, offer store-based and e-commerce order fulfillment, and deliver to the end buyer. Through this hub, Fillogic can unlock the middle mile, where customers live, shop and interact, and provide Century 21 with a more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable logistics model.
WorkJam, a store employee management and engagement software provider, has secured $50 million in a Series D funding round jointly led by new investor the Fonds de Solidarité FTQ and returning investor Inovia Capital. Blumberg Capital and new investor Demopolis Equity Partners also participated in the round.
The company will use the new funding to expand its reach in Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the U.S., fuel product innovation and accelerate its business growth.
Amid a tight labor market, companies in multiple industries are competing for talent, WorkJam’s technology is designed to help them empower their frontline employees with digital tools that can manage their schedules and tasks, access learning modules and features, and communicate with colleagues at every level of their organization. American Eagle Outfitters, Aramark, Circle K, Hilton, Shell and Ulta Beauty are among the global companies equipping frontline staff with the WorkJam app to drive retention, productivity and workplace happiness.
WorkJam’s Frontline Digital Workplace is built to enable operational efficiencies, foster collaboration, and drive engagement and higher retention by equipping frontline workers and headquarters staff with a single solution solution to handle scheduling, communication and task management.
WorkJam previously raised a $50 million Series C round in April 2020, before securing another $35 million growth financing in August 2021.
RFID solutions provider SML has partnered with Elo, a global supplier of interactive touchscreen solutions. By combining RFID technology with Elo’s interactive touchscreen solutions, this partnership aims to help enable retailers to enhance customer engagement and the overall user experience.
SML is a global provider of end-to-end, item-level RFID technology to the retail supply chain. With 5,500 stores across the globe, operating its cloud-based, item-level, enterprise RFID software suite, Clarity, SML RFID can enable retailers to boost inventory accuracy and enhance store operations.
And with more than 25 million installations across the globe, Elo boasts a broad interactive product portfolio widely adopted by retailers for interactive applications such as point of sale, digital signage, price checkers and in-store e-commerce. Elo’s partnership with SML on joint end-user engagement and experience enhancement projects will empower retailers to deploy an interactive hardware solution integrating a comprehensive range of products all on the same platform.
“The development of our store concept, combined with new technology like the fitting room solution from SML, facilitates and creates more opportunities for an even better customer experience,” said Mattias Liljenberg, chief information officer at fashion retailer MQ, which has already deployed the solution in its stores in Sweden. “Changing consumer behaviors in retail mean that shopping is also seen as a natural meeting place, combined with experiences and entertainment. We see exciting opportunities in being part of the transformation of the new era of retailing, where digital enhances the personal encounter.”
Dean Frew, chief technology officer and senior vice president, RFID solutions at SML Group, said that he believes integrating RFID technology in Elo products will allow the company to further streamline in-store operations for Elo customers.
On Wednesday, Nov. 23, TalkShopLive debuted what it called its first “live commerce window shopping experience.” Beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time and running through the holidays, select retail windows in New York City will stream TalkShopLive shows through a partnership with FrontRunner Technologies.
The partnership brings cutting-edge live shopping technology to NYC’s busy retail streets to highlight the convergence of physical and digital, bringing forward an entirely new retail experience never before seen.
The partnership’s first live shopping experience will feature music superstar Gloria Estefan as she promotes her newly released holiday album, “Estefan Family Christmas.” Consumers will be able to scan QR codes on the windows which will allow them to shop while watching the content. Live shopping shows will continuously roll out through the holiday season while select re-airs from dozens of other TalkShopLive shows will stream in the windows, including live shopping with Shania Twain for her upcoming album and a cooking demo with celebrity chef Bobby Flay. On other scheduled streams, Dolly Parton will discuss her book, TikTok influencer Noah Schnacky will showcase new products, author and rapper Ludacris will feature his new kid’s book and actress/daytime TV host Drew Barrymore will talk about her new line of home goods.
TalkShopLive, which recently won favor with Walmart to become one of its media partners, hopes it can lead the future of shoppable livestreams by attracting top celebrities, publishers and brands who are relying on the platform for its innovative, frictionless buying experience and proprietary multi-embed point of sale technology, which allows video content to remain shoppable wherever the content is shared.
Retailers are harnessing the power of TalkShopLive’s shoppable content by simultaneously sharing livestreams on their domains, social platforms, and with publishers and suppliers to create multiple storefronts through content. Earlier this year, Adweek recognized Walmart with a Commerce Award for the retailer’s foray into live shopping, which is mostly powered by TalkShopLive. Together, Walmart and TalkShopLive have hosted more than 160 livestreams.
When using TalkShopLive, sellers can showcase their products via live shows, displaying product details and chat in real time with customers that can purchase with one click on the buy button. The platform and iOS app offer a full service for sellers, from live show creation to order processing to ease of shipping and payouts. Buyers are able to access unlimited channels and live product shows.
Pepperfry, an e-commerce home goods company headquartered in Mumbai, India, has partnered with intelligent delivery platform provider FarEye to simplify last-mile delivery, particularly for oversize deliveries requiring installation.
The partnership comes as e-commerce is expected to grow significantly in India over the next decade. In a release, the companies cited the 2022 Global Payments Report by Worldpay from FIS, indicating that online growth in India is expected to jump 96 percent between 2021 and 2025, reaching $120 billion in transaction value. With that growth comes delivery complexity, particularly for big and bulky deliveries such as furniture and other oversized home items.
From ensuring the appropriately skilled two-person crew is assigned to each delivery for installation, to offering flexibility in scheduling delivery and installation appointments, to providing a simple returns process, big and bulky last-mile deliveries have added complexity. Companies like Pepperfry need to manage a multitude of factors while ensuring a consistent, branded consumer experience with every delivery.
“Consumer experience is crucial for us. We chose FarEye to help us gain real-time visibility into orders throughout the delivery process. Our goal is to decrease delivery time and eliminate missed or delayed deliveries, increase the productivity of our delivery fleets, and ensure furniture installations are smooth,” said Piyush Agarwal, head of supply chain at Pepperfry. “We’re looking forward to continuing to refine our last-mile strategy, and add a level of intelligence and automation that will reduce manual processes and costs, leading to customer satisfaction.”
Pepperfry plans to use FarEye’s last-mile delivery solutions, including Track, the Returns module and Experience.
Track is built to provide real-time visibility throughout the delivery journey, and help avoid delays and disruptions so that every delivery arrives on time, every time. The Returns module aims to make returns and exchanges seamless through a branded self-service interface for a holistic post-purchase experience. And with Experience, sellers can offer a branded customer experience throughout the pre- and post-purchase process, from order tracking and scheduling, to delivery notifications, returns and exchanges.
Uberall, a global provider of hybrid customer experience (CX) solutions, announced a series of new features within its offering. This includes Local Inventory, which assists merchants with promoting localized stock online; Messages, a messaging solution that helps multi-location businesses shorten their customer’s path to purchase via live agents and lifelike local AI chatbots; as well as Review Generation, which allows businesses to get more reviews by inviting customers to share their experiences online.
Uberall’s new Local Inventory solution allows retailers to dynamically publish and promote products they have in stock at their local stores online, in places such as Google Search and their website. This innovation helps them get discovered and drive footfall in those “want it now” moments, or get their local goods in front of customers who are currently “just browsing.”
According to Uberall data, while 75 percent of consumers say they prefer to engage with brands via messaging, instead of traditional channels, 72 percent of businesses report they don’t offer chat on their Google Business profile, most likely due to the difficulty of scaling messaging across multiple locations and channels.
Uberall Messages helps businesses activate messaging channels for each location with confidence and speed, equipping them with a single interface where they can engage directly with customers on popular messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and Google. Businesses can choose to respond to messages manually, or activate conversational AI chatbots that draw on their location’s data profiles to provide lifelike answers and interactions 24/7. This means customers now have a quicker way to check opening hours or product availability, reserve a table or service and more.
In a 2019 study conducted by Uberall, the company found that a star rating increase of just 0.1 stars could lead to a 25 percent improvement in conversion rates.
With this in mind, Uberall debuted Review Generation, enabling brands to scalably invite customers via email or text using customizable templates and a link to leave a review for the specific location they visited. Combined with responding to customer reviews, generating more reviews can help businesses boost trust and gain deeper insights across every location. Review Generation is the latest addition to Uberall’s end-to-end review management suite that allows businesses to not only encourage more reviews, but to efficiently monitor and respond to them, as well as analyze sentiment.
Additionally, Uberall Premium Photos streamlines the process of publishing local photos to every location’s online business profile, with an end-to-end service that includes professionally shot photos optimized for search and discovery. Another new service, Uberall Media Manager, helps businesses to centrally organize local photos and videos and take control over how their locations look on Google, Apple Maps, Facebook and other directories. An early Uberall customer case study shows how optimized photos help search engines assess the relevance of a business, improving visibility: The customer saw a 60 percent month-over-month improvement in rank for “breakfast” and “breakfast sandwich” after publishing related photos.
Motom is a connected social shopping platform designed to empower creators to launch their own storefronts where all their content from TikTok, Instagram and YouTube can be made shoppable in one place.
Creators can sell, connect and share with their audience while earning more from their content using Motom’s tools and gaining access to more than 250,000 monthly social shoppers. Motom says that its platform neutrality and exclusive shopping focus can not only expand opportunities for all creators, but enable brands and retailers to lower customer acquisition costs.
The social commerce platform is backed by a team of retail innovators that allows creators and consumers to shop the direct feeds of thousands of creators across TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
This holiday season, Motom is extending its affiliate fees and discounts to 15 percent for all consumers and creators. Whether creating LikeBoard gift guides, posting shopping lists, or posting curated lists directly to the storefront, Motom will give consumers and creators cash back to shop for their family, friends and colleagues.
Current creator gift guides on Motom’s LikeBoard feed include “Under $50,” “Gifts for Fashion Girlies,” “Best TikTok products for your BFF,” “Coquette Looks for the Holiday,” “Gifts for Wellness Lifestyle,” “Stocking Stuffers” and more.
Flowspace, a software platform built to power independent e-commerce fulfillment, has updated its OmniFlow suite of tools in an effort to better fit omnichannel brands with the visibility, insights, and optimally located networks to provide a better end-customer experience.
The holiday shopping season is already underway, and online spend alone is expected to top $260 billion, according to a recent Deloitte report. Flowspace saw sales across its platform increase nearly 20 percent year-over-year heading into Q4 of this year.
Consumers are casting a wide net across sales channels, allocating approximately 65 percent of holiday spend online and 35 percent in stores per Deloitte, necessitating that merchants provide a consistent customer experience that maintains trust and brand loyalty.
OmniFlow software updates and integrations are designed to expand visibility, reporting and fulfillment capabilities for Flowspace customers, equipping enterprises across the retail sector with unified, omnichannel control over their inventory, orders, and operations.
A centralized order and inventory visibility dashboard allows sellers to integrate best-in-class software such as NetSuite to view cross-channel orders, shipments, and fulfillment in one place. Real-time order tracking across delivery stages can enable customer success teams to proactively communicate updates before customers ever have to reach out and ask, reducing “Where is my order?” inquiries.
OmniFlow also includes open, API-based connectivity that facilitates order processing and fulfillment across any system or channel, as well as retail-compliant EDI capabilities that support wholesale orders and retail drop shipping, built to integrate with any EDI provider.
Now, the software can integrate with platforms like Mirakl Connect to support connectivity and fulfillment for more than 300+ Mirakl-powered retail marketplaces, in addition to Passport to support delivered duties paid (DDP) international shipping.
The introduction of WMS SellerView provides merchants with inventory at locations running the Flowspace WMS access to OmniFlow Visibility Suite software to access inventory and order visibility and insights.
Flowspace is trusted by hundreds of brands to enable efficient omnichannel fulfillment, and provide visibility and control over orders from any source, to any end customer. Its open platform is equipped to integrate with systems, channels and partners across the retail ecosystem, including direct-to-consumer storefronts, third-party marketplaces, brick-and-mortar retailers and beyond.