The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Gatik, the autonomous vehicle startup, is now operating daily in Walmart’s Bentonville, Ak. hometown without a safety driver behind the wheel—a worldwide industry first, the company claims.
The move follows extensive trials with the nation’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer, which is using Gatik’s services to automate the movement of goods in the oft-forgotten middle mile between microfulfillment centers or dark stores and pick-up points such as retail outlets.
Gatik’s driver-free autonomous mid-size box trucks are running the 7.1-mile route several times a day, seven days a week on a revenue-generating basis using public roads, the company said.
Though grocery and consumables remain Gatik’s near-term focus, fashion players are interested in the startup’s value proposition, namely “addressing the labor shortage, making the supply chain more efficient, making the roads more safe and making the numbers work at scale,” co-founding CEO Gautum Narang told Sourcing Journal.
Vntana, a 3D content management software (CMS) provider, secured $10.5 million in Series A funding to scale, recruit new talent, and enhance the platform’s production, sharing and management of 3D models and augmented reality (AR).
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider’s tech suite helps fashion, footwear, furniture, tools, sporting goods brands and more to share and embed 3D and AR for sales and marketing use, with the platform improving conversion rates and increasing cart size by as much as 60 percent.
Deckers Brands, Staud and Diesel are leveraging the company’s algorithms to use their existing 3D designs to create high-fidelity assets that can be optimized for use across online, social media, advertising, game engines and one of today’s biggest digital trends, the “metaverse.”
Vntana recently signed strategic partnerships with PLM platform provider PTC and B2B digital wholesale events platform Joor to offer its suite of products, including 3D CMS, 3D e-commerce and 3D optimization to retail clients.
Mark Cuban, Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe and Flexport participated in the round.
Kmart Australia/Centric PLM
Kmart Australia selected Centric Software’s Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution for planning, designing, developing, sourcing and selling products such as apparel, footwear, sporting goods, furniture, home décor, cosmetics, food & beverage and luxury to achieve strategic and operational digital transformation goals.
“Centric will deliver improved internal and external collaboration and greater use of data to influence design, buying and sourcing decisions, leading to improved product outcomes, speed, flexibility, visibility and systemic workflow management,” said Yu Min Thong, head of strategic projects at Kmart. “A cohesive digitized ecosystem will empower teams to effectively manage and optimize the development of product ranges.”
Online marketplace development platform Mirakl has acquired Octobat, a French startup specializing in invoice compliance to help marketplace operators manage local and global regulations in multiple geographies.
With the deal, marketplace operators can manage invoicing compliance directly as part of the Mirakl solution, removing the need for them to invest in expertise in-house or develop a custom solution.
Octobat says its SaaS solution can integrate with payment gateways and billing applications to create tax invoices for every online transaction. Octobat operates a web application and API-based invoicing solution that enables the automatic creation, delivery and storage of invoices and credit notes in order to ensure compliance with global and local invoicing regulations.
The acquisition comes two months after Mirakl concluded a $555 million Series E funding round, bringing the company’s total valuation to over $3.5 billion. This is the first acquisition Mirakl has made as a business.
As marketplaces become a larger part of retailers’ business strategies worldwide, Mirakl is banking on its customers needing both the platform and the knowledge to help them navigate global and domestic legal and compliance requirements.
Today, online marketplace operators and sellers have to handle complex scenarios such as geographic tax regulation, region-specific invoicing content and formatting rules, all while managing the storage and filing of invoices and the transition to e-invoicing.
Wolford selected NewStore to power its store experience. The luxury skinwear brand is working to integrate all direct sales channels, including stores, e-commerce and social media, to offer seamless experiences and immediate service to global customers.
Wolford will utilize NewStore’s support for multiple languages and currencies, global payments and delivery, and a proven and repeatable localization process unifying global touchpoints. The NewStore Omnichannel Platform combines mobile point-of-sale (mPOS), order management, clienteling, inventory and fulfillment, giving Wolford a single system to operate across geographies.
“NewStore is a key component of the Wolford X initiative as it will replace our existing, monolithic technology stack and become the backbone of our retail operations,” said Rainer Knapp, global director IT & digital for Wolford, referring to the brand’s comprehensive omnichannel digitalization initiative that will go live in Q2 2022 and consists of several sub-projects covering all necessary functional areas to enable brand perception and engagement globally.
“We chose the NewStore Omnichannel Platform because it is fast, flexible and easy to use,” Knapp said. “On top of that, we needed a retail solution that aligned with our strategy of implementing a scalable, best-of-breed architecture composed of specialized and highly integrated technologies.”
Bolt Logistics (Bolt), a Canadian logistics technology and last-mile delivery provider, raised $115 million CAD ($92.5 million) in financing, bringing its total raise to more than $150 million CAD ($120.6 million).
Bolt says it can manage a range of packages from small items to heavy-and-hard-to-handle fulfillment and delivery. In less than five years, the company has demonstrated an ability to scale logistics and drive exponential growth, building its initial consumer storage business out into an expansive business-to-business (B2B) offering serving Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver.
Bolt will further penetrate operations in existing markets while identifying new opportunities to expand its partner pool to serve current and prospective clients. Additionally, the financing will allow Bolt to continue growing its talent, with a projected headcount of 1,000 employees by the end of 2021 – a 400 percent increase from January’s 200.
“Meeting customers where they need us most has been a relentless focus of the team since inception. While our business has undergone significant change in the past year, it’s clear that our focus on e-commerce fulfillment and last-mile logistics is exactly what the market needs,” said Mark Ang, CEO of Bolt Logistics. “The support of our existing and new investors is extremely validating, and it’s the continued vote of confidence from our merchants and their shoppers that drive our business forward. I am incredibly humbled by how much we’ve accomplished so far and look forward to the milestones ahead, including an expansion into the United States.”
The investment was led by new investors Yaletown Partners. Additional participation came from Ingka Investments, the investment arm of Ikea parent Ingka Group, as well as Northleaf Capital Partners, the Bank of Montreal, and Kensington Capital and existing investors including Whitecap Venture Partners, Intact Ventures, MIG and Michael Hyatt.
“We are excited to support Bolt as it scales up and accelerates its next phase of growth in a rapidly changing space,” said Ian Carew, managing director at Northleaf Capital Partners. “Bolt is well-positioned to be a next-generation leader in supply chain logistics.”
Buy now, pay later
Klarna is expanding its partnership with ContextLogic Inc., more commonly known by its customer-facing brand name, Wish to bring “buy now, pay later” capabilities to the mobile shopping platform.
The partnership will initially allow flexible payment options to U.S. consumers, letting them split the cost of their purchase over four interest-free payments through Klarna’s Pay in 4 solution. Users are required to pay the first 25 percent of the transaction at checkout, while the remaining three payments are automatically collected every two weeks.
Klarna and Wish will roll out alternative payment options to additional users in the E.U., including the U.K., Italy, Spain and France, as well as Australia and Canada, among other countries.
“We’re thrilled to expand our longstanding partnership with Klarna to give our U.S. customers a greater level of freedom to shop and pay for their items when and how they want,” said Tarun Jain, chief product officer at Wish, in a statement. “This partnership furthers our mission to bring an affordable, accessible and entertaining shopping experience to millions of our customers around the world.”
Wish, which has 90 million monthly active users in more than 100 countries, and partners with 550,000 merchants across the globe, initiated its partnership with Klarna in Europe in 2014. In the time since, the mobile shopping platform introduced various alternative payment options.
Bold Metrics, an AI-powered size recommendation and virtual try-on technology, has updated its Smart Size Chart to include inventory data. With the new data, the Smart Size Chart can show online shoppers which sizes are out-of-stock, while simultaneously giving size options based on real-time stock availability.
The new Smart Size Chart features customizable elements designed to deliver an “on-brand” experience for shoppers, while at the same time helping apparel brands address supply chain shortages.
Beyond striving to provide an accurate sizing experience based on customer body data, as well as out-of-stock data, the chart also simultaneously gives fit options based on the next best available sizes. By taking into consideration individual fit and style preferences, layered with specific garment and style data, the Smart Size Chart has already been delivering significant return rate reductions of 32% or more due to its accuracy, ease-of-use and fast results. Now, by integrating inventory data into the platform, the Smart Size Chart enables a seamless retail experience for shoppers, with enhanced accuracy between product availability and size recommendations on the product display page.