The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Digital freight forwarder Flexport has launched the Flexport App on Shopify, which is designed to be a one-stop solution for small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to book ocean freight and track shipments to the U.S.
The flagship app is part of Flexport’s strategic partnership with Shopify to give SMBs the technology and tools they need to grow their businesses. Through the Flexport App, Shopify merchants can now quote, book, track and ship products to the U.S., with additional port coverage coming later in 2023.
Merchants can integrate their product library from their Shopify store, gain SKU-level visibility to inventory in transit and choose an ocean freight shipping solution for their business such as less-than-container-load (LCL) and full-container-load (FCL) services. They also have access to customs clearance and enhanced cargo protection. Merchants can view real-time cost estimates and leverage enterprise-grade reporting and analytics to remove common barriers to freight forwarding.
In combining Shopify’s platform with Flexport’s logistics expertise and technology, both companies want to simplify end-to-end supply chain management.
The app is the first of many products Flexport says it’s making specifically for SMBs as it pivots from focusing on enterprise shippers.
Since Shopify became an investor through Flexport’s Series E funding round in 2022, the companies have forged a strategic relationship and a shared vision to build a unified supply chain network for Shopify merchants from factory floor to customer door. Currently, Flexport provides technology and freight services to thousands of fast-growing businesses, such as Bombas, Parade and Cotopaxi. In December, Flexport appointed Parisa Sadrzadeh as senior vice president of SMB product and technology to lead the newly established business organization and enhance the company’s push to build SMB-focused logistics technology and products.
Shopify has invested in expanding its logistics and fulfillment services in recent years. Shortly after debuting the Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) in June 2019, the e-commerce giant acquired warehousing automation firm 6 River Systems for $450 million to provide sellers with access to a warehouse system that could easily and quickly ship out orders placed online. In May 2022, Shopify further extended its “port to porch” fulfillment ambitions in buying shipping services provider Deliverr for $2.1 billion.
Buy now, pay later
Affirm is the latest retail tech company to cut staff, terminating 19 percent of its workforce, founder and CEO Max Levchin wrote in a company shareholder letter. As of June 2022, Affirm reporting employing 2,552, meaning the layoffs would impact approximately 485 employees.
The layoffs came after a disappointing quarter for the “buy now, pay later” company, with revenue rising 10.6 percent to $399.6 million instead of the expected 15.2 percent increase to $416 million, according to analysts polled by Refinitiv. Affirm also missed earnings expectations, reporting a loss per share of $1.10 for its fiscal second quarter, while analysts were anticipating a per-share loss of 98 cents.
“We expect to keep our headcount essentially flat for the foreseeable future,” Levchin wrote. “In Q2 2023, we redirected the substantial majority of our R&D efforts towards margin-improving projects, repeat consumer engagement and [debit card service] Debit+ and plan to continue executing this focused roadmap for several quarters.”
Even though Levchin called the layoffs the “single most difficult decision” he’s made, he said the company “hired ahead of the revenue required to support the size of the team.” This was a “deliberate decision” based on the company’s then-volume growth and unit economics.
“Everything changed in mid-2022. Over the last three quarters, the Fed increased its benchmark rate at an unprecedented pace,” Levchin wrote in a separate note to employees. “This has already dampened consumer spending and increased Affirm’s cost of borrowing dramatically. The root cause of where we are today is that I acted too slowly as these macroeconomic changes unfolded.”
Levchin told employees that laid off U.S. workers would be offered a minimum of 15 weeks base pay as severance plus an additional week per year of tenure. They will also receive a $5,000 health stipend regardless of enrollment status, covering six months of employee health care. Non-U.S. employees would receive severance and health care benefits “in line with local practices,” he said.
Laid off workers can keep their Affirm-issued devices to aid them in their job search, and they can access three months of career advising and an alumni directory, Levchin said.
Affirm received $800 million in committed funding in January.
Das Kostümland/Descartes Systems Group
Das Kostümland, a German seller of costumes and disguises, has deployed Descartes Systems Group’s e-commerce warehouse management system (WMS) to keep pace with dramatic order volume seasonal spikes.
The Descartes solution streamlines and accelerates the retailer’s fulfillment processes, increasing operational efficiency, reducing costs and enhancing the customer experience.
“We have more than 10,000 SKUs and, during seasonal peaks such as Halloween, we process upwards of 2,000 orders per day,” said Daria May, founder and CEO of Das Kostümland. “With Descartes’ barcode-based pick and pack processes, we’ve increased our warehouse productivity to handle even extreme seasonal order fluctuations without hiring additional labor. By optimizing our fulfillment processes, we’ve reduced picking errors, boosted our returns management efficiency, and improved inventory transparency—which translates to happy customers and a stronger bottom line.”
Descartes’ cloud-based e-commerce WMS helps direct-to-consumer brands and e-commerce retailers, such as Das Kostümland, to drive efficiencies across order fulfillment processes to optimize the customer experience. The WMS helps companies ship the right items on time, avoid overselling existing inventory and gain full visibility into warehouse operations.
Pre-integration with major e-commerce platforms, like ChannelAdvisor, Shopify Plus, Magento and others, can accelerate implementation and time to value.
British family lifestyle apparel brand FatFace implemented True Fit to improve digital customer satisfaction, drive new customer acquisition and reduce fit-related returns. With 180 stores in the U.K. and 20 in the U.S., FatFace’s range includes women’s, men’s, kids’, footwear and accessories.
FatFace is leveraging True Fit’s Fashion Genome, a connected data set for apparel and footwear that brings together data from 80 million active members and more than 17,000 brands, to unlock insights and serve fit personalization to shoppers. Fit personalization can be beneficial to a brand’s new customer acquisition strategy, as it can build confidence into the buying journey whether the shopper is new to the brand or new to a particular category.
FatFace also leverages True Fit’s solution to unlock insights, data and analytics to improve fit consistency across their range, enabling the brand to learn more about loyal shoppers’ preferences to provide greater personalization over time.
“It will help us continue to deliver on our promise to our customers, which is to help them find the products they are looking for, but also help them hold onto these items and keep them, because they are the perfect fit,” said Liam Price, head of digital at FatFace. “Adopting True Fit is about winning on two fronts—by improving conversion, revisit rates and average order value on the one side, and preventing returns on the other. It will help us continue to deliver on our promise to our customers, which is to help them find the products they are looking for, but also help them hold onto these items and keep them, because they are the perfect fit.”
MGO Global Inc., a performance-driven lifestyle brand portfolio and parent company of the Messi Brand, has implemented CGS BlueCherry Enterprise Suite to improve end-to-end ERP and warehousing/logistics management.
MGO wanted to shorten inventory turn cycles for its own e-commerce marketplace. In using BlueCherry’s technology platform, MGO plans to fortify its supply chain logistics to digitize, collect, and validate important insights that can inform its decision-making processes as part of its go-to-market strategy.
BlueCherry by CGS is an end-to-end supply chain management solution designed to support the needs of high-growth organizations operating in consumer lifestyle products, retail and apparel. The platform offers visibility and supply chain management tools from planning and product development to manufacturing and sales. The solution’s feature set is built to enable customers to utilize individual components or take advantage of a single, unified platform.
“Our top priority is to meet and exceed customer demands through design and delivery of high-quality products using the finest materials. Of equal importance is the accessibility of our goods by ensuring they are available when and where our customers are,” said Maximiliano Ojeda, co-founder, chairman and CEO of MGO Global, Inc. ”In seeking a technology partner to offer us a high level of visibility into our global supply chain, we required a company that understood our industry, had the technical innovation to support our goals, and possessed the expertise to successfully manage it. For these and future supply chain needs, BlueCherry met and exceeded our expectations.”
Island Daze/Apparel Business Systems
Island Daze, a retailer that sells private-label outdoor and action sports apparel, has selected Apparel Business Systems (ABS) to replace multiple systems across its business operation. In addition to integrating processes and data onto the ABS single web-based application, Island Daze will be using the ABS Salesrep Portal to better streamline order fulfillment.
ABS offers an apparel ERP solution designed for multi-channel operations including wholesale, distribution, manufacturing and B2B e-commerce. The company’s cloud, SaaS, and on-premise software delivery options are designed to fit the needs of apparel, footwear, and accessory companies of all sizes.
“With ongoing strong growth, we recognized that relying on siloed systems and manual processes were no longer sustainable for our business,” said Abe Allouche, founder, Island Daze. “Pulling many existing spreadsheets into one single source of truth was a strong appeal and need for us. Being a primarily apparel business, we were excited about the industry specific applications and knowledge that ABS has. As we continue to expand our offerings in both apparel and non-apparel goods, we know ABS has the scalability we will need.”
Allouche founded Island Daze in 1998 by making premium quality boardshorts. The business has since evolved to sell both branded and private-label apparel and accessories for men, women, and children.
Kepler Analytics, an international provider of foot traffic monitoring and sales optimization solutions for retailers, has debuted a Prescriptive Analytics System designed to identify potentially overlooked sales opportunities on a zone-by-zone level and deliver real-time recommendations to increase sales and profits throughout a store or group of stores.
The Prescriptive Analytics System uses data gathered by the company’s proprietary in-store sensors, which measure both perimeter and interior traffic analytics, including traffic volume and capture rates, dwell times, zone counts and mapping, fitting room counts and configurable abandonment rates. Originally created to locate workers in mining disasters, the sensors monitor shopper behavior using radio frequency (RF) density, rather than cameras or by tracking Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signals of shoppers’ smartphones.
The system can provide a comprehensive feedback loop for store managers, allowing the retailer to know actions were taken and understand which steps deliver best sales growth.
Each individual sensor can cover 4,000 square feet, and gather metrics from defined physical and POS zones within the store and determine which of those zones are not aligned with the store’s sales trends. The Prescriptive Analytics System calculates the value of potential sales losses in underperforming zones and delivers specific actions store personnel can take to ensure each zone meets or exceeds its sales potential.
The Prescriptive Analytics System measures each store or group against its own performance over the prior four weeks. These four metrics include share of traffic, sales conversion rate, average transaction value and average visitor value.
Kepler’s Prescriptive Analytics System is available now as a fully customizable in-store dashboard and will be available as a mobile app later in 2023. Kepler’s proprietary technology enables the company to complete global, enterprise-wide store installations of its comprehensive in-store solutions in a matter of weeks, rather than months or, in some cases, years.
In January, the Australia-based Kepler Analytics acquired U.S. traffic analytics provider Countwise LLC. The combined company works with more than 500 retailers with 30,000 locations in 35 countries.
BigCommerce, an e-commerce platform for fast-growing and established B2C and B2B brands, has expanded the availability its self-service Multi-Storefront feature to SMB merchants.
Multi-Storefront (MSF) originally was only accessible to enterprise sellers, but by expanding accessibility of MSF, BigCommerce merchants of all sizes can now manage multiple storefronts to grow sales in new regions, streamline operations for multiple brands and customize various customer segments to drive global growth.
To manage multiple storefronts, merchants may sometimes work with separate back-ends that are difficult to manage, time consuming and expensive to maintain, especially for growing small to midsize businesses. BigCommerce sought to remove these resource constraints by consolidating the management of multiple stores into a single dashboard with enterprise-grade tools.
New self-service capabilities enable sellers to purchase and set up storefronts directly from the BigCommerce control panel to easily begin testing new revenue and growth strategies in a streamlined, cost-efficient manner. BigCommerce’s “Open SaaS” approach means that new functionalities and upgrades are frequently added to Multi-Storefront on the fly, in an effort to drive better-performing stores and experiences for merchants and their customers.
With Multi-Storefront, merchants can make pushes into new markets by creating custom storefront experiences for various buyers. They also could potentially cut costs and streamline operations by trimming down the number of systems and integrations a business relies on, which can decrease maintenance costs and drive higher revenue.
Additionally, the feature can help improve efficiency by ditching duplication of efforts with a centralized system to manage all storefronts. Whether it’s adding a new product or updating pricing, users can make those updates in one time and place.
And with a unified data source to analyze business activity holistically, users can make smarter, data-driven decisions or dial in to review the performance of a specific storefront.
Several BigCommerce merchants have turned to Multi-Storefront to power localized experiences for its shoppers including Ted Baker.
Multi-Storefront is generally available now for self-service for all BigCommerce Pro, Plus and Standard retail plans.