The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Cole Haan will deploy the Aptos One platform from retail technology solutions provider Aptos to empower its modern store experience, starting with the implementation of Aptos One POS.
Cole Haan is sold in more than 90 direct retail stores within the U.S. and Canada; in over 300 international store locations; on its global digital flagship, colehaan.com; and within department store and specialty retail partners.
“As part of that, we strive to deliver extraordinary retail experiences,” said Ron Edwards, chief operating officer of Cole Haan. “In recent years, what constitutes a great retail experience has changed dramatically. Our investment in Aptos One reflects our commitment to keeping pace with consumers’ evolving expectations. Aptos One gives Cole Haan enterprise-grade point of sale capabilities that are delivered mobile first and cloud native, with highly resilient offline capabilities that give you the confidence of omnichannel transacting anytime and anywhere.”
With its microservices-based design and composable architecture, Aptos One is built to support a set of universal capabilities, available at any touch point. The platform is designed to accommodate new tools and services that allow retailers to quickly adapt to the shifting demands of the customer, the market and the business. Aptos One can remove all dependencies on store servers, leverage open standards and deliver an API-driven architecture that helps retailers avoid ripping and replacing legacy technologies.
Berkshire Grey/Locus Robotics
Two titans in the autonomous mobile robotics (AMR) field are partnering up to help retailers maximize their supply chain productivity and throughput while addressing growing labor shortages.
Berkshire Grey and Locus Robotics have unveiled their combined solution that integrates the Berkshire Grey Robotic Shuttle Put Wall (BG RSPWi) with Locus Origin and Locus Vector bots.
The BG RSPWi is a shelving system with a double-sided sort wall that can be programmed to sort items automatically. It has a workstation with built-in scanning and, according to Berkshire Grey, can increase customer order sortation throughput by up to 300 percent.
Meanwhile, both the Locus robots involved in the combined solutions are AMRs. The Vector is a relatively small robot with a payload capacity of up to 600 pounds, capable of being used for moving shelves, picking orders, and handling materials. The Origin, on the other hand, is a taller AMR with a payload capacity of 80 pounds. It is used predominantly to move multi-tiered shelves, boxes and bins.
Ongoing labor availability and inflation challenges continue to put growing pressures on supply chain and distribution frameworks. And on top of these concerns, retail and e-commerce businesses are strained to keep up with growing customer demands while managing the supply chain issues and keeping operational costs in control. Customers are demanding flexible and seamlessly integrated robotic automation solutions to address these challenges and deliver top-quality customer experiences.
This new combined solution is built to help retailers and e-commerce businesses maximize their throughput by delivering a fast and packaged solution for order fulfillment and store replenishment. Additionally, retailers can process a wide range of SKUs, surpassing SKU coverage of other alternatives, enable a fully-automated, end-to-end supply chain ecosystem and augment supply chain operations with optimized labor and costs.
Berkshire Grey and Locus Robotics are also exploring the future integrations of Berkshire Grey’s Robotic Product Sortation (BG RPS), Robotic Shuttle Product Sortation (BG RSPS), Robotic Pick and Pack for eCommerce Autobagging (BG RPPi). With this end-to-end package of robotic solutions, businesses can automate their order fulfillment, autobagging and store replenishment processes while seeing immediate ROI and throughput improvements.
FedEx is now enabling Shippo to offer U.S.-based merchants with special discounted FedEx shipping services, including FedEx Ground Economy and FedEx International Connect Plus (FICP)—directly from its platform.
With the agreement, Shippo, a platform that helps e-commerce businesses integrate shipping with multiple carriers via APIs, becomes the first company to be given a Platform Account from FedEx.
The shipping services offered can be leveraged by Shippo’s partner merchants without the need to create a FedEx account.
In addition to offering improved rates to merchants using Shippo, this expanded alliance gives FedEx access to the tens of thousands of small-to-mid-market e-commerce sellers that Shippo serves through a single point of contact.
Merchants can access the new FedEx Ground Economy and FedEx International Connect Plus (FICP) rates from the Shippo web app.
FedEx Ground Economy enables e-commerce merchants to ship packages weighing up to 70 pounds and measuring up to 130 inches in length plus width. This service level usually takes packages 2-to-7 business days to arrive at customers’ doorsteps.
Benefits beyond the discounts allow merchants to use their own custom shipping boxes, Monday through Sunday shipping, 24 Hour visibility for packages with FedEx Tracking, and coverage and liability of up to $100.
FCIP enables merchants to ship packages originating in the U.S. to over 190 countries across the globe, covering 95 percent of the globe within an average delivery time of two-to-seven business days.
Alongside the discounts, FCIP also offers “day-definite” service so customers can plan ahead to receive shipments, and allows merchants to redirect shipments to convenient pickup locations for customers if they have a FedEx Delivery Manager account.
Merchants can also allow customers to specify delivery instructions, like whether or not to knock their door, and can offer 24-hour shipment tracking. Customs clearance is included when creating a FedEx shipping label.
Discounted FedEx rates are available to U.S.-based Shippo customers now, the companies say.
Warp, a tech-powered freight network specializing in middle-mile solutions, said it has secured $5.7 million in funding to bring its total to $8.1 million for its first operational year. Los Angeles-based venture capital firms MaC Venture Capital, Bonfire Ventures and Frontier Venture Capital contributed to this follow-on round, with additional contributions from some of Warp’s previous investors.
Warp emerged from stealth mode in February 2022 with a $2.4 million seed round with a goal to digitize the legacy trucking model and create the most efficient routes for middle-mile freight. This follow-on round of funding will allow Warp to scale its network and tech platform to further automate traditional supply chain “hacks” that were previously done manually.
Today’s shippers operate in a volatile environment. Between inflation, ongoing Covid spikes, and fluctuating transportation costs, they continue managing a complex supply chain. Whenever a shipper’s volume goes up or down, they need to readjust their logistics strategy, which decreases efficiency and increases cost. Warp is built to take existing supply chain solutions and provide real-time optimization based on dynamic demand while removing manual processes for shippers, carriers and back-office teams.
With its heterogeneous fleet of 53-footers, box trucks, and cargo vans, Warp seeks to offer customers the right vehicle for every load based on their speed, price and service preferences. By pairing proprietary tech with a broad network of carriers and cross-docks, Warp automatically optimizes middle-mile routes through a single integrated platform, giving shippers enhanced visibility of their loads.
The routing algorithm accounts for the desired transit time and price, and is designed to calculate the best route and type of vehicle. The technology meshes three points in the routing process: the carrier picking up the load; the cross-dock facilities known as “Warp Stations”; and the carrier delivering the shipment—all to provide the shipper with the most efficient supply chain based on their desired delivery time and cost.
Warp’s technology automates processes such as direct store delivery, inventory replenishment, inbound consolidation and direct last mile carrier injection to provide better visibility throughout the whole supply chain.
For direct store delivery, Warp provides transparency at a lower cost by right-sizing capacity based on the pallet-level/piece count of shipments that day, time, and place.
With a traditional replenishment and transfer strategy, shippers easily lose track of where their loads are due to multiple transactions, each with their own manual reporting processes. Warp can provide visibility through the entire process by real-time inventory management and tracking across all distribution channels.
Large retailers that stock multiple brands usually order inventory from multiple vendors, using multiple different carriers for pickups and deliveries. Those carriers all move these shipments through their own hub and spoke networks that provide zero visibility. Warp’s proprietary technology and network of carriers is designed to allow the carrier to send the right size vehicle depending on the load, and if appropriate, consolidate at Warp Stations.
And by directly injecting into last mile sortation centers, Warp bypasses the expensive and damage-prone first and middle mile of legacy national parcel carriers. This can yield not only cost savings, but decreased time in transit and improved on-time delivery.
Parcel and freight transportation company GLS has announced the public availability of its service via Tusk Logistics, a national network of regional parcel carriers aimed at unlocking access to reliable, predictable parcel delivery at significant savings, with no additional software or operational overhead.
The integration comes as the ecosystem for regional carriers nationwide is fragmented and often difficult for shippers to access. Today, the company say that less than 3 percent of all domestic small parcel volume is delivered by regional carriers.
Shippers also may find it difficult to access regional carrier networks due to each carrier requiring a negotiated account, bespoke technical integration and tailored operations. Tusk aims to solve each of these challenges for GLS and its shippers, enabling them to unlock regional carriers’ low pricing and reliable service.
Tusk says its pre-negotiated regional rates with leading regional carriers like GLS can lower shipping costs by an average of 30 percent to 40 percent below commercial rates with UPS or FedEx.
Jones Logistics/Nationwide Express
Jones Logistics (JoLo), a national specialized transportation and logistics company, has acquired Nationwide Express for an undisclosed sum.
JoLo, a portfolio company of Jones Capital based in Hattiesburg, Miss., delivers freight brokerage, managed transportation and dedicated services to clients across the U.S.
Based in Central Tennessee, Nationwide provides dedicated trucking services, warehousing, third-party logistics (3PL) services, recycling transportation and waste management solutions. Its geographic footprint includes operations in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. It has 102 trucks registered, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Through this acquisition, JoLo expands not only its geographic footprint, but also its service line offerings and capabilities, which will now include warehousing and enhanced intermodal and managed transportation solutions. Further, JoLo can now offer Nationwide’s customers access to its carrier base and its dedicated offerings.
With the acquisition of Nationwide, JoLo’s headcount now tops more than 700 team members, with a fleet of over 500 trucks. The combination of the business further enhances JoLo’s national presence, flexibility in operations and facilities, and breadth of service and logistics solutions.
Brazilian fashion retailer Renner is leveraging inventory intelligence solutions from Johnson Controls’ global retail solutions wing Sensormatic Solutions to help optimize in-store and e-commerce operations.
After implementing RFID-powered Inventory Intelligence from Sensormatic Solutions across all its stores in 2019, Renner reports an 87 percent reduction in stockouts and a 64 percent increase in inventory accuracy.
According to Renner, more than 500 million of its products sold have been tagged with Sensormatic Solutions RFID technology, enabling more than 4 million item-level readings daily. In addition to increasing the abundance and quality of their data, the retail giant says it can now better optimize the route each product takes from distribution center to stores with greater visibility.
For example, Renner can now see which items were taken into the fitting room and if they were eventually sold or not. Additionally, shoppers, regardless of the channel (in-store or online), can have better visibility of where a product is located to help choose the right purchase model.
“By leveraging greater inventory intelligence across our physical and online channels, we boosted our omnichannel strategy and digital sales,” said Alexandre Ribeiro, risks director at Renner. “Additionally, with Sensormatic Solutions RFID technology, we have a single source of truth for inventory data which allows our sales associates the ability to process our inventory in a matter of hours on a monthly basis, rather than annually.”
As an end-to-end solution provider, Sensormatic Solutions enabled Renner to transform and improve existing processes and technologies throughout its stores by using a single smart RFID label to enable data capture as well as security applications, eliminating the need for additional labels while improving the project’s ROI.
The retailer implements RFID at checkout in an effort to eliminate the need for barcode readings and improves customer service, and added RFID alarm pedestals at the store entrance to provide visibility of theft events and effectiveness of their loss prevention strategies.
Standard AI, a business that uses computer vision technology to transform existing stores into checkout-free retail experiences, has acquired self-checkout solutions provider Skip for an undisclosed sum.
With the acquisition, the company formerly known as Standard Cognition will connect self-checkout with AI-powered autonomous checkout in one integrated experience. The combination is designed to give retailers that seek immediate relief from labor pains a self-checkout option with a clearly-defined path to an autonomous future.
Standard AI will also integrate Skip’s cloud-based point of sale (POS) with the complex back office ecosystem to streamline operations and give greater control over price, discounts, promotions and more.
The company says Skip will also offer shoppers a way to access autonomous retail experiences through the self-checkout kiosks that they’re already familiar with. Additionally, Standard AI claims that “Skip kiosks can be installed quickly and at a fraction of the cost of competitor options,” while providing robust functionality.
Later this year, Standard AI will bring the platform to market. When the acquisition closes Standard AI will continue to sell Skip standalone or together with its Vision OS^ offering.
“Standard AI’s addition of Skip’s self-checkout solutions creates a well-rounded suite of capabilities to address varying levels of retailer needs—from traditional SCO to fully autonomous stores and hybrid stores in-between,” says Kevin Struthers, associate director of digital at e-commerce consultancy W. Capra. “Additionally, Skip’s cloud-based point-of-sale system and back-office integrations will help streamline retailer implementations, especially for stores operating hybrid models that include a fixed register with self-checkout or autonomous capabilities.”
Buy now, pay later
Payments acceptance solutions provider Ingenico and card-based installment platform Splitit have entered a global strategic partnership to bring one-touch, no-interest, buy now, pay later (BNPL) capability to the physical checkout experience using Ingenico’s cloud-based Payments-Platform-as-a-Service (PPaaS) and Splitit’s Installments-as-a-Service solution.
According to a recent white paper from Juniper Research, buy now, pay later (BNPL) users will surpass 900 million globally by 2027, an increase from 360 million in 2022. At the same time, 75 percent of commerce is anticipated to remain in-store, highlighting the opportunity for retailers to offer customers a flexible installment option at the point of sale (POS).
But Ingenico and Splitit believe that traditional BNPL services have struggled to make headway at the POS due to the friction created by a lengthy checkout process. In stores, shoppers often follow a multi-step process to register, apply for funding or log into a third-party service or app that creates an out-of-brand experience—which can lead to consumer frustration and abandoned sales.
The partnership between Ingenico and Splitit aims to eliminates these barriers by embedding their combined service into the merchant’s existing POS terminal. Ingenico’s PPaaS solution is built to enable its clients, such as banks and merchant acquirers, to select from a catalog of payments and value-added services without requiring lengthy and expensive software development. It also avoids the complexity associated with deployment across a variety of terminal brands.
Splitit’s Installments-as-a-Service platform is designed to drive BNPL through a white-label, merchant-branded experience embedded within a brand’s existing checkout flow. Unlike legacy BNPL services that originate new loans, Splitit unlocks existing consumer credit on credit cards for 0 percent interest installments. Any consumer with available credit on their credit card is automatically pre-qualified to use Splitit for the value of that available credit. There’s no application, registration or redirects and no additional interest, hidden fees or credit checks.
The global partnership has strong initial interest coming from clients of both companies, particularly in the U.S. and Western Europe, the companies said.
Bold Commerce, an e-commerce technology company that powers checkout and subscription experiences for retailers and DTC brands, has announced a new integration with PayPal.
Through this integration, retailers and brands can use Bold Commerce’s headless checkout suite together with the PayPal Commerce Platform to launch sales channels beyond their traditional website and accept the full line up of payment options, including PayPal, Venmo, PayPal Pay Later solutions and credit and debit cards.
With 53 percent of shoppers abandoning checkout before completing their purchase, according to Bold Commerce, the integration is aimed at helping retailers offer tailored checkout experiences based on shoppers’ profiles and how they’re shopping (e.g., device, touchpoint, location). This requires extending the checkout experience beyond conventional e-commerce channels to meet shoppers where they are, with the flexibility to offer payment options that meet their preferences.
The collaboration between PayPal and Bold Commerce enables retailers to accomplish this by bringing payments and checkout together into a single, pre-integrated solution. Retailers can now place checkout capabilities wherever shoppers interact, like blogs, social and QR codes on packaging.
Using both PayPal and Bold Commerce, retailers can drive revenue growth through increased checkout conversion on their website and new shoppable touch points. Retailers can leverage the headless, all-in-one payments and checkout solution through Bold’s Checkout Experience Suite—and drive more revenue without the cost and time involved to replatform.
PayPal and Bold Commerce are currently the preferred payment providers for brands like Harry Rosen and Vera Bradley.