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Retail Tech: Stord Raises $120 Million, Frankies Bikinis Picks Centric PLM, ESW Acquires Scalefast

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

Supply chain

Stord

Cloud-based supply chain technology Stord has raised $120 million in additional financing led by Franklin Templeton, bringing its total Series D funding to $210 million. Now valued at roughly $1.3 billion, Stord recently crossed $200 million in annualized revenue run-rate and has raised $325 million in total funding.

New investors Sozo Ventures, Strike Capital and 137 Ventures, along with existing investors Kleiner Perkins, Founders Fund, BOND, Susa Ventures, Dynamo Ventures, Lux Capital and Salesforce Ventures contributed to the Series D.

Stord’s digital warehouse and distribution network helps brands bolster their logistics capabilities, leveling the playing field for mid-market and enterprise companies to offer customers speedy deliveries, better prices and great experiences.

The supply chain software gives brands a single, integrated platform that unifies freight, fulfillment, warehousing, packaging and parcel/last-mile delivery, while offering full visibility and insight across their supply chains. Stord says it is currently building additional orchestration and optimization capabilities into its software offering that brands can use to connect and manage their own supply chains. The company is now piloting an entirely new software product to improve operational efficiency across warehouse facilities, whether first-party, third-party or customer-owned.

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The company plans to use funding to expand its capabilities in logistics and technology, while building out its team.

In the past six months alone, Stord has grown its headcount from 400 to over 700, and expects to close 2022 with more than 1,000 employees. There are now more than 1,000 facilities in its network, with the company bringing on new brands to its network including Thrasio, Native, Tula, Judy, Curie and One Fresh Pillow. Stord also has expanded partnerships with enterprise customers including Coca-Cola, BodyArmor, Dollar General and Niagara Bottling.

Stord also launched an integration with Salesforce to enable Commerce Cloud customers to easily integrate their sales channels, retail partners and logistics with its own cloud supply chain software platform. With the software platform, Stord says it has built deeper order and inventory visibility, system connectivity and business intelligence capabilities.

Amazon veterans Steve Swan and Shyam Sundar were named chief operating officer and vice president of engineering, respectively; former Bumble exec Sarah Feulner was named vice president of people; NCR alum Mark Satisky was appointed vice president of corporate development; and Shippo veteran Mario Paganini became vice president of marketing.

Stord acquired Fulfillment Works, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) fulfillment provider, in September. Fulfillment Works still operates as its own business with three warehouses in Reno, Nev., and North Haven and Shelton, Conn. The company offers electronic data interchange (EDI) order processing, logistics management services, warehouse management, inventory management and services such as customer service and call center outsourcing and customized packaging services.

PLM

Frankies Bikinis/Centric Software

Beachwear lifestyle brand Frankies Bikinis has implemented technology from Centric Software to gain visibility into product design and development, and better track individual SKUs.

Kalin Mowry, director of production and development at Frankies Bikinis, wanted to move the design and development from third-party contractors to in-house, building a case for both a PLM platform and an in-house team.

“Not only did we need a great design and development group, we needed a system to track and accelerate it,” Mowry said. “The spreadsheets and basically all of the archaic ways of tracking weren’t really suitable for how quickly we were growing. In 2020 our business increased by 70 percent—I would say about 300 SKUs. With that rapid increase, it was even more challenging to track the design and development that went into those new styles. That was when we raised the flag and said that we can’t use spreadsheets for this anymore.”

Implementing Centric involved two-to-three months of training and learning the system. From there, the Centric team uploaded all the SKUs housed in the brand’s ERP system. Once those uploads were complete, Frankies Bikinis could drive into each style by adding colorways and the appropriate bill of materials (BOM).

Now, Frankies Bikinis has all its product data in a central, digital hub, while communication among team members is efficient. Every department is using Centric PLM to execute tasks from concept, design, development and SKU creation to CAD, costing and setting pricing for both retail and wholesale. The platform also facilitates tech pack creation.

“This is a tool that has saved us a lot of time because you can essentially upload a template, and it’ll populate all of the pieces that go into a garment and then you’re able to update from there,” Mowry said. “Like if the construction is single needle or double needle, all of your points of measure…We have found that it’s easier on our technical team to approve and reject a sample from there and then quickly download the PDF and send those comments, rather than batch-sending Microsoft Excel tech packs.”

Mowry said she can pull a data-driven report based on SKU counts, coverages, colorways, product offerings within that colorway and category. Additionally, users can pull visuals of each CAD out to view a line of clothing that way.

The platform can also help track lead times and is designed to better prep employees hit their deadlines.

“There is a great feature in Centric, where it can ping team members and remind them of their upcoming due dates for the week, the month, what milestones they’re looking to hit,” Mowry said. “This feature has made me feel like less of a micromanager which has been amazing, and then just seeing the results when it comes to getting protos in, getting samples delivered on time and getting tech packs or production calendar approved.”

Cross-border commerce

ESW/Scalefast

ESW, a global cross-border e-commerce company formerly known as EShopWorld, has agreed to acquire end-to-end e-commerce solution provider Scalefast for an undisclosed sum. Subject to customary approvals, the transaction is expected to close by the middle of the year.

The acquisition will further extend ESW’s market strength across apparel, beauty, personal care and luxury brands to include entertainment, gaming and electronics. Scalefast’s data analytics and speed to market will also facilitate turnkey localized stores, digital popup stores and targeted direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand campaigns, which are positioned to complement ESW’s cross-border DTC solutions and end-to-end customer experience.

Scalefast founders, including CEO Nicolas Stehle, chief technology officer Frédéric Bocquet and chief marketing officer Olivier Schott, will join the ESW senior leadership team.

The complementary solutions across both technology platforms are expected to drive accelerated revenue growth and product innovation across the group’s integrated client base. The combined company would have a workforce of more than 1,000 team members, and will serve customers in more than 200 markets.

As global e-commerce continues to accelerate, brands are seeking more specialized and localized services for differentiation and to remain competitive. Scalefast builds e-commerce stores using a feature-rich, in-house developed platform, retail infrastructure and applying proprietary data and behavioral analytics to deliver pre-built DTC e-commerce features and other capabilities that can help brands succeed.

ESW will provide Scalefast’s clients with the platform’s checkout, payment gateway and logistics offerings, which include hub or hubless options, omnichannel solutions such as ship-from-store and an ecosystem of global logistics partners that move hundreds of millions of packages each year on behalf of its clients.

Omnichannel

Lightspeed

Lightspeed Commerce Inc. has launched Lightspeed Retail, a new retail commerce platform that aims to unite advanced POS, payments and e-commerce capabilities all in one solution.

Leveraging headless commerce, various integrations and a completely reimagined interface, Lightspeed Retail helps business owners elevate their strategy while managing the complex challenges of the evolving retail landscape.

Lightspeed Retail is available on all platforms, including web, iOS and Android, meeting the needs of more customers with added flexibility for hardware configuration.

The new platform is now available in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, the U.K. and South Africa, and is designed to meet consumers where they prefer to shop with integrated cross-channel selling and complex multi-store inventory management.

Lightspeed’s newest platform is designed to transform any website, whether it is built in WordPress, Squarespace or Wix, and turn it into an e-commerce engine. The company says brick-and-mortar stores can move online in “just a few hours.”

Additionally, retailers can sell and advertise products where customers spend most of their time, meaning directly on key social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok where Lightspeed has core partnerships, as well as other marketplaces like Google, Amazon and eBay.

With the platform, retailers can customize their POS and back office via tools like product serialization, as well as external partner and supplier integrations. And features like integrated payments, inventory, and advanced reporting are geared to enable Lightspeed users to manage a retail business and back-office, including tracking inventory across online and physical stores.

Self-checkout

Mashgin

Mashgin, an AI and computer vision-powered touchless self-checkout system, has raised $62.5 million in Series B funding at a $1.5 billion post-Series B valuation.

The funding was led by global venture capital firm, NEA, whose prior investments include Robinhood, Cloudflare, Patreon, Uniphore and others, and brings Mashgin’s total funding to date to $74.7 million. Existing Mashgin investor, Matrix Partners, also participated.

Mashgin will use the new funding to grow its team, accelerate expansion and scale internationally.

The company says that its technology requires no need for barcodes or RFID tags: customers can place their items on Mashgin’s tray, pay electronically and can be on their way in as little as 10 seconds.

Already profitable, Mashgin has completed more than 35 million transactions and $310 million in total transactions through the platform to date. The self-checkout system can identify items from virtually any angle and ring them up in a single transaction.

Data collected from the transactions shows an increase in transaction throughput by as much as 400 percent.

Mashgin kiosks are currently deployed in more than 800 locations, including convenience stores, sports stadiums, arenas and entertainment venues, airports, universities, corporate and hospital cafeterias. The company calculated that its technology has saved consumers over 33 years of time wasted in line.

The self-checkout system rings up multiple items in half a second and has an identification accuracy rate of 99.9 percent, the company says. Among the added benefits, the technology is built to allows checkout lines to move at high speed without interruption, reduce wait times and allow retailers to invest more in the overall customer experience. Mashgin kiosks can be installed in as little as an hour. They also integrate with loyalty systems, facilitate cash payments, and allow customers to pay for gas at convenience stores.

Supply chain financing

LiquidX/U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank has entered into a collaboration agreement with trade finance fintech firm LiquidX to help expedite and simplify supply chain transactions between suppliers and buyers.

This collaboration will pair the bank’s balance sheet with LiquidX’s platform technology to help address supply chain finance friction and cash flow challenges facing many companies.

Suppliers and buyers will be able to connect their supply chain systems directly to U.S. Bank and transact through LiquidX’s platform. U.S. Bank financing solutions that are delivered through this collaboration will enable suppliers to be paid nearly immediately and help buyers receive extended payment terms.

The U.S. Bank and LiquidX collaboration enhances existing supply chain finance solutions currently available to U.S. Bank clients. The Receivables Purchase Program can allow sellers to convert credit sales to immediate cash flows and reduce days sales outstanding while extending payment terms for buyers. The Approved Payables Financing Program seeks to help buyers pay suppliers early, reduce payment-processing costs and give suppliers faster and more predictable access to cash.

As supply chain decisions become strategically critical for businesses, innovative supply chain finance solutions can provide opportunities to strengthen vendor and client relationships, reduce costs and diversify sources of working-capital funding. In addition, supply chain finance solutions can advance other important company priorities such as ESG initiatives, by providing financial incentives and greater access to working capital for diverse suppliers.

Robotics

Berkshire Grey

Berkshire Grey, an AI-enabled robotic solutions that automate supply chain processes, has unveiled its next-generation mobile robotic platform, BG Flex, for general audiences.

The platform includes dynamically controlled fleets of Berkshire Grey’s mobile robots that work together to induct, transport, sort, sequence and fulfill items, cases and containers of merchandise. The solution is now integrated with new high-density buffering capabilities and enhanced goods-to-person and goods-to-robot picking stations in a single, modular package.

With BG Flex, retailers can convert floors into a flexible any-to-any induct-to-discharge sortation system and implement complete fulfillment systems designed for different environments from back-of-store to stand alone micro-fulfillment centers to distribution center implementations.

Berkshire Grey, an AI-enabled robotic solutions that automate supply chain processes, has unveiled its next-generation mobile robotic platform, BG FLEX, for general audiences.

Berkshire Grey’s BG Flex mobile robotic platform can change fulfillment operations by reducing store truck unload and aisle replenishment times with granular presorting, enabling curbside pick-up and extended BOPIS product selection, facilitating delivery-route alignment for quick commerce and home delivery and maximizing transport utilization in delivery networks.

The platform can reduce re-shelving, while maximizing inventory pick station utilization for e-commerce, all while automatically integrating resale-ready returned goods with existing inventory. Additionally, users can store and consolidate partial orders together with filled orders for just-in-time transport loading. The solution integrates with Berkshires Grey’s family of AI-enabled robotic picking solutions.

BG Flex also aims to reinvent warehouse automation by orchestrating a range of “hundreds to thousands” of mobile robots working in concert, Berkshire Grey said. The platform can help brands improve performance over time via AI and machine learning to interpret and adapt to the variability of each customer’s operations and provide ongoing throughput optimization.

The technology can scale from moderate-to-large operations in a matter of days “with no down time,” the company says, and also offers design flexibility, so that the solution can either be well-suited for deployment within existing (brownfield) operations or new (greenfield) operations. BG Flex includes simulation capabilities designed for planning operations virtually with real-time visualization to deliver rapid deployments and production performance out-of-the-box.

The next generation of Berkshire Grey’s mobile robotic platform builds on the success of its first-generation systems which are in use at major retailers. Here, hundreds of mobile robots sort and sequence tens of thousands of items, cases, and reusable containers on a daily basis. Trucks are optimally loaded based on each customer’s preferred strategy, which can result in shorter unload times and significant improvements in store operations for product put away.

The new features of the BG Flex platform, including high-density buffer and multiple picking options, extend the system’s functionality to provide end-to-end fulfillment and sortation processing in an optimally sized footprint appropriate for operational environments.

Retail data

SoundCommerce

Retail data platform provider SoundCommerce has acquired key talent and leadership from now-shuttered data analytics business Outlier.ai. With the new team members, SoundCommerce is expanding its sales, marketing, customer success and solutions engineering teams.

SoundCommerce is an end-to-end retail data and intelligence platform that aims to connect marketing, operations and merchandising to optimize order and shopper profitability. The Outlier acquisition aims to accelerate SoundCommerce’s success serving DTC consumer brands and retailers.

Backed by tenured venture capital investors, SoundCommerce serves omnichannel retailers that include PacSun, Eddie Bauer, Constellation Brands, FTD-Proflowers and others, alongside high-growth, digitally native brands Bala, GLDN and BRCC.

SoundCommerce appointed Steve Davis as chief revenue officer, where he will lead the company’s direct and channel sales, partnership alliances and customer success operations. Davis previously oversaw revenue generation at Outlier.ai and managed Outlier’s sales and customer success teams.

SoundCommerce works with retail brands’ existing technology stacks to help improve the customer experience across marketing, merchandising, supply, fulfillment, delivery and customer service. The data platform tracks real-time operational events, profitability and customer lifetime value to drive decisions and actions fundamental to cross-channel and direct-to-consumer success.

In-store navigation/analytics

Oriient

Oriient, a company that uses indoor positioning technology to help digitize physical spaces, has secured an $11 million Series A funding round, bringing total funds raised to $16 million.

OurCrowd, a global venture capital equity platform with more than $1 billion of assets under management, participated in this round, as well as Regal Four, F2 Venture Capital, NGN Partners, and Future Energy Ventures.

The funding will help scale implementation of Oriient to what the company says is “tens of thousands” of locations, open new verticals and drive global sales. The company’s technology integrates directly with a business’s mobile app, harnessing existing sensors in every smartphone to deliver positioning that is accurate within three feet, Oriient claims.

For retailers, Oriient enables in-store navigation that can capture revenue that would otherwise be lost due to unfound products, proximity marketing and foot traffic analytics. The technology aims to streamline operations with route optimization and the ability to track task execution. In smart buildings, wayfinding enables a seamless user experience for visitors, and provides facility managers the visibility to enhance security and operational efficiency.

Oriient partnered with Instacart to power in-store navigation used by Instacart’s shoppers at hundreds of stores in North America. A Google partnership makes Oriient indoor location services available on Google Cloud’s Marketplace as an SDK for retailers’ mobile apps.

Founded in 2017, the Tel-Aviv-based company has created proprietary algorithms that use Earth’s magnetic field, smartphone readings and AI to pinpoint any user inside a building, without the need to install any hardware.

Global retailers, delivery services and smart buildings rely on Oriient to deliver incremental revenue through various means, whether it be indoor navigation and proximity marketing, reducing fulfillment costs, security enhancements and increased efficiency of physical environments.

Web3

Arianee

Arianee, an end-to-end web3 solution for brands, has raised a 20 million euro ($21 million) Series A led by Tiger Global. Bpifrance, ISAI, Noia Capital and Cygni Capital, who were already involved in the last round of financing, once again contributed and Commerce Venture and Motier Ventures also joined the round.

Arianee will use the funding to continue its mission of enabling brands to reinvent their customer relationship with seamless and innovative experience from digital to physical to the metaverse. The round is a mix investment of equity in Arianee’s SaaS solution and $ARIA20 token powering the Arianee open-source protocol.

Arianee said it plans to grow its New York City office, recruit new talent and continue developing its platform that brands use to create, distribute and interact with NFTs. The platform and products enable brands to tokenize, distribute and leverage value through NFTs, it says.