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Retail Tech: Google Retail Search, Threekit Try-On, CB Insights Retail Services

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

Product discovery

Google

Google made its product discovery solution, Retail Search, generally available to global retailers. Built on Google’s technologies to understand user intent and context, the solution helps businesses improve the search and overall shopping experience across their digital touch points.

The solution stems from a previous iteration of the search engine giant’s product launch. Last year, Google Cloud debuted a suite of Product Discovery Solutions for Retail that helps retailers enhance their e-commerce capabilities and deliver personalized consumer experiences in the first phase of their shopping journeys. Then called Google Cloud Search for Retail, the solution provided retailers with product search functionalities they could embed into their websites and mobile applications.

At the time, the solution was beta tested by retailers such as Macy’s, which confirmed its use of the technology last year.

In a blog post, Google said early adopters like Lowes, French electronics and appliances retailer Fnac Darty and Brazilian mass merchant Casas Pernambucanas have been using Google Cloud’s discovery solutions to increase sales conversions, boost basket sizes and improve customer engagement.

“Now, through the power of Retail Search, when a shopper searches for a ‘long black dress with short sleeves and comfortable fit’ on an e-commerce site, they should immediately get results for precisely that—rather than refining their search multiple times, or worse, giving up their shopping journey,” Srikanth Belwadi, group product manager, Google Cloud, wrote.

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According to a 2021 Google Cloud survey, 94 percent of U.S. consumers abandoned a shopping session because they received irrelevant search results. The Big Tech firm also estimates that U.S. retailers miss out on $300 billion each year due to search abandonment.

“While we’ve come a long way from the days when search was largely based on keywords and boolean rules, shoppers still struggle to find what they’re looking for,” Belwadi said. “They often have to come up with a perfectly-worded query that a retailer’s site search engine will understand, sometimes rephrasing several times before getting the results they want—if they find anything relevant at all. Traditional search technologies don’t work in the modern age of online retail, where tens or even hundreds of thousands of items are available on a single e-commerce site.”

This fully managed service is customizable in a way that lets organizations craft shopper-focused search experiences. The site search solution builds on Google’s experience and innovation in search indexing, retrieval and ranking.

Capabilities in Retail Search include advanced query understanding, which produces better results from even the broadest queries, including non-product searches, as well as semantic search to effectively match product attributes with website content for fast, relevant product discovery.

The feature also includes results that leverage user interaction and ranking models to meet specific business goals, and also offers security and privacy practices that can isolate retailer data using strong access controls.

“With limited customer signals and no historical data, descriptive long-tail searches are some of the most challenging queries to understand,” said Neelima Sharma, senior vice president, technology, e-commerce, marketing and merchandising at Lowe’s. “We have been partnering with Google Cloud to give our customers relevant results for long-tail searches and have seen an increase in click-through and search conversion and a drop in our ‘No Results Found’ rate since we launched.”

Pernambucanas says Retail Search has helped improve the indexing and quality of search results on digital platforms and bolstered sales conversions.

“On Black Friday in November 2021—the largest retail date in Brazil—we saw a 20 percent reduction in search refinements per user, for which Retail Search was instrumental. We are proud to be an early adopter and to have Google Cloud as a strategic innovation partner,” said Fabiano Rustice, chief information officer at Pernambucanas.

Joor/Lily AI

Joor, a digital wholesale platform and data exchange, has announced an exclusive partnership with Lily AI, an AI-powered image attribution and customer intent platform for e-commerce.

Lily AI allows Joor platform users to reduce the time dedicated to manually tagging products. This integration helps retailers to better plan assortments in less time, and to optimize product discovery on their e-commerce sites.

Joor has a network of more than 13,300 brands and more than 380,000 retailers transacting over $1.5 billion in wholesale order volume on the platform each month, and these retailers will strive to improve their decision making due to greater tagging detail and benefit from unparalleled tagging accuracy.

As such, the integration aims to prevent retailers from needing to rely solely on brands to input product details. Retailers can directly tag the products on their e-commerce sites, leading to better product discovery and increased sales.

“We are proud to offer our customers a best-in-class assortment of ready-to-wear and accessories from over 1,000 established and emerging designers,” said Allison Reilly, general merchandising manager of accessories and men’s at ShopBop. “Joor’s Auto Attribution functionality anticipates assortment gaps, allows for bulk product detail implementation and creates attribution efficiencies, which help us to deliver a customer-centric product offering.”

Augmented reality

Threekit

Threekit launched its Immersive Shopping Suite, Advanced Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Try-on features as part of its Spring 2022 product launch.

The suite expands on Threekit’s existing augmented reality offering, which already has helped improve customers’ e-commerce sales by as much as 50 percent, the company said. According to Gartner, 46 percent of retailers plan to deploy AR solutions to drive shopper engagement and conversion.

With Advanced AR, the customization aspects don’t end on the product page. Once users put a product in the viewing space, they can still adjust product options like materials, fabrics and parts. They can also move products around individually and independent of one another.

Powered by 8th Wall, Advanced AR enables an interactive and cross-platform AR shopping experience that brands can use to feature their products online. This includes making use of custom elements such as interactive buttons that enable product configuration, hotspots and annotations that provide product information and integrated calls to action within the AR scene. 8th Wall’s newly launched Absolute Scale feature can help enable this level of customer interactivity, while keeping the product in WebAR true to scale when viewed in the real world using an iOS or Android smartphone.

The Virtual Try-on technology helps shoppers to see how wearable products especially in luxury apparel, accessory, jewelry and shoes look on them via a mobile phone or camera-enabled laptop. It also encourages customers to spend time trying new product variations, buy at their own pace and even share the try-on experience with their network. Threekit’s Virtual Try-On is web-based and doesn’t require a separate app download.

Retail Tech: ThreeKit Debuts Try-On, Google
The ThreeKit Virtual Try-on app Threekit

Threekit enables companies to enhance, manage and distribute 3D, 2D and augmented reality product visuals for scale and transformation. Additionally, it is the only end-to-end solution that has features to enhance the entire product lifecycle, from pre-manufacture design and visualization through post-sale servicing.

Brands like Duluth Trading and TaylorMade use Threekit, which the company claims also reduces photography costs 90 percent and cuts returns 80 percent. With Threekit, Crate & Barrel created 3 million hyper-realistic images in a month at a fraction of the cost of traditional photography.

Data-driven decisions

CB Insights

Business analytics platform CB Insights, which helps companies to make smarter technology decisions, launched new features helping e-commerce, supply chain and store operations leaders identify promising technology companies and accelerate their technology purchasing and partnership decisions.

Now, CB Insights clients such as Walmart, Alibaba Group and The Hershey Company can access research to identify technology solutions and providers, in areas such as supply chain visibility platforms, contactless self-checkout solutions, as well as a database of thousands of companies offering those solutions and a community of peers and vendors to connect with.

According to the 2022 Connected Retail Experience Study, 83 percent of retailers expect to see an increase in technology adoption in their stores. With these new offerings, CB Insights helps companies understand trends in the space, what technology their leaders should care about, and how to grow their businesses.

“Technology decisions are increasingly being made outside of the IT department, which requires more business leaders to quickly understand and prioritize technology,” said Brian Lee, SVP of Intelligence Unit at CB Insights. “Our aim with these new offerings is to give our clients access to a trusted resource on the technology decisions they need to make today so they stay ahead of the competition and keep up with their clients’ expectations.”

Primary research and feature offerings for clients include: tech market maps that can identify and organize key technologies and solutions, offering a view of the market and who’s in it; MVP (Monitor, Vet, Prioritize) Reports that prioritize technology markets, and explain which technologies to invest in now; ESP Reports that dive deeper into individual technology markets and identify the specific technology providers worth evaluating; and a Connect Technology Platform that allows clients to connect directly with technology providers.

CB Insights also will offer communities and events that provide opportunities to connect virtually with a group of peers to learn more about the trends in the market, see new tech solutions and connect with others in the space. Additionally, the firm’s industry home pages are designed to offer a “one stop shop” within CB Insights to gain access to industry-specific research, data and tools.

IoT

Wiliot

Wiliot, an Internet of Things (IoT) company that combines self-powered, stamp-sized computers and cloud-based sensing to enable trillions of “things” to communicate with brands, has unveiled an enhanced version of its Works with Wiliot (WwW) partner program.

The company’s new Works with Wiliot (WwW) program features new matching functionality that connects Wiliot customers—including large brands across apparel, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals—with the right ecosystem partner to deploy Wiliot’s technology. The matching model accounts for industry, location and other needs including the required level of integration.

Responding to demand from its Tier 1 clients, Wiliot taps into its existing ecosystem of Bluetooth beacon/tag and RFID services companies, offering them opportunities to change the way products are made, distributed, used and reused with its sticker-sized, cloud-connected, battery-free computer.

Wiliot’s vision is to expand the Internet of Things to include everyday products, adding intelligence to plastic crates, packaging, clothes, pharmaceuticals and other products, connecting them to the Internet and changing the way products are made, distributed, used, reused, and recycled.

The Works with Wiliot program guides customers through a diverse and expansive ecosystem to discover and align with the Wiliot partners that possess the capabilities, expertise, and resources to help them achieve their IoT objectives. The process is designed to minimize research requirements for Wiliot customers and partners, enabling quicker deployment and time-to-results.

By bridging the gap between its customers and partners, Wiliot is poised to accelerate adoption of its Wiliot Platform and IoT Pixel tagging technology across global supply chains in ways that can improve agility, profitability and sustainability.

The latest organizations to join the partner program can help Wiliot’s customers scale faster than the IoT provider can enable on its own, the company says. Specializing in a wide range of markets, these new partners offer solutions that—together with Wiliot and its existing partner-base—can enable Wiliot customers to build a complete, fully-networked IoT infrastructure.

One of the new partner program members, Tactical Edge, offers customized software and data management solutions that can reduce costs, optimize business processes and extend system lifespans. The company’s Total Visibility Anywhere (TVA) application is a real-time supply chain management and monitoring application, giving organizations a better view of supply, distribution and transportation activities.

SATO, a provider of auto-identification solutions that integrate printers, smart labels and more, is another new partner. Wiliot can now leverage SATO’s expertise in Bluetooth, RFID, vertical applications, as well as its approach to solving customers’ problems with complete systems.

To accelerate onboarding of new WwW partners, Wiliot is also launching its Partner Enablement Kit, which provides current and prospective partners with the tools necessary to begin developing with and experiencing the Wiliot platform.

The Partner Enablement Kit includes one year of Wiliot Cloud Service; IoT Pixels; bridge devices; gateway devices; a Wiliot Starter Kit; and access to the Wiliot community forum and support portal.

Additional new software companies in the partner program include Sensize, 2Plus, Digipal, Xsights, VisionID, MLINK, Codegate and Blyott.

Fulfillment

Tuckernuck/Whiplash

Tuckernuck, an online seller of updated American clothing classics for men, women and kids, has entered a multi-year distribution and fulfillment contract with Whiplash, a provider of omnichannel fulfillment and logistics services.

Supported by the Whiplash order and inventory management platform, Tuckernuck was able to transition its business during the holiday 2021 season.

Alongside faster fulfillment times, Tuckernuck required a technologically advanced third-party logistics (3PL) provider that could integrate with their proprietary ERP, shopping cart and return management systems. The Whiplash team built a custom integration solution so that all of Tuckernuck’s systems could connect within the fulfillment provider’s platform and maintain a flow of real-time data.

Since the start of their partnership with Whiplash, Tuckernuck has made significant savings on shipping costs via the 3PL’s SmartRate Selection tool and achieved much faster fulfillment timeframes.

“Faster turnaround has enabled us to scale up how many orders we can ship per day,” said Jon-Mark Craddock, director of logistics at Tuckernuck. “Our biggest day so far with Whiplash saw us ship between 19,000 to 20,000 orders during our January sample sale—a volume that would have taken around 14 days with our old 3PL. Despite the complexity of the implementation, the results were totally worth it.”

Whiplash also repositioned the retailer’s inventory from the East Coast to one of its three Columbus, Ohio, distribution centers, a multi-client facility located in the city’s industrial zone, allowing the brand to shorten transit times to U.S. customers.

Whiplash reduced order turnaround times to 48 hours or less, resulting in guaranteed three- to four-day delivery times to Tuckernuck customers nationwide. With enhanced visibility into inventory and orders, and centralized fulfillment from the Midwest, Tuckernuck is positioned for growth with a scalable fulfillment provider. Operating 24 distribution centers nationwide across more than 10 million square feet of space in addition to its international partner network.

EnVista

EnVista, a global software, consulting, managed services and automation firm dedicated to optimizing and transforming physical and digital commerce, has launched a mobile fulfillment app, EnStore.

The mobile solution aims to integrate omnichannel order fulfillment, enterprise inventory available-to-promise (ATP) and mobile point of sale (mPOS) capabilities. The customizable solution can help brands seeking visibility, interoperability and agility across their customer and associate functions.

EnVista’s EnStore solution includes customizable onboarding, training modules and in-app assistance, ideally making it easier and more efficient to train associates across the store network. EnStore also includes built-in gamification features to incentivize, engage and reward associates around picking, packing and selling, and ultimately, to focus on delivering quick and delightful experiences for customers.

Leveraging microservices architecture, EnStore can run on Apple iOS, Windows or Android devices and can integrates with a retailer’s existing technology. While EnStore is pre-integrated and built on a common data model with EnVista’s OMS and POS solutions, it can be leveraged with any order management system or POS.

Robotics

Retail Robotics

Robotics solution provider Retail Robotics is expanding its solutions to include a click-and-collect service and a robotic parcel locker. The company has launched the new solutions as the current fulfillment infrastructure struggles to keep up with increased online demand volumes.

In particular, Retail Robotics now provides Arctan technology, a click-and-collect robotic solution built to increase profitability and improve customer experience, while offering the lowest carbon footprint.

Used largely for online grocery so far, one Arctan has the capacity of 202 logistic bins and 28 freezer lockers, and can replace 14 classic refrigerated lockers. Retail Robotics has released a curbside pickup version of the solution called Arctan Drive, which has a capacity of 896 logistic bins and 56 classic lockers. Arctan Drive can fit eight standard parking spots and serve seven customers at a time. It can be integrated within micro-fulfillment centers for remote loading to improve efficiency.

Retail Robotics said it also enables logistics providers to reduce delivery costs by up to 90 percent with its other flagship innovation, robotic parcel locker PickupHero. The company claims it can fit within 90 percent of local stores and doesn’t require a salesperson to operate. The company said local shops leveraging the technology generate a 70 percent pickup-to-purchase ratio.

PickupHero enables rapid expansion in cities such as New York, Paris or London, just by leveraging an area’s local store networks. After the platform’s debut at the NRF Big Show’s 2022 Innovation Lab, the company announced plans to implement PickupHero in several European markets in 2022.

Retail Tech: ThreeKit Debuts Try-On, Google
Retail Robotics’ PickupHero at the NRF Big Show Innovation Lab. Retail Robotics

Transportation visibility

Overhaul

Overhaul, a software-based, supply chain risk management solution, has unveiled Asset Manager, an offering designed to provide real-time vehicle and in-yard visibility, enabling greater control over trucks and rail cars that are both in-transit or stationary.

The new offering leverages real-time data to empower warehouse, yard and fleet management teams to make better business decisions and add value to the company’s operations, increasing utilization rates up to 5 percent by improving processes and productivity across teams.

A typical vehicle fleet can generate millions of data points, but as fleet managers are increasingly tasked with more responsibilities and updating numerous tools for visibility, the ability to process the data and better use that information can fall by the wayside.

Overhaul’s Asset Manager grants users a single, unified view of all vehicles in real-time, enabling control to make the most of every asset in the fleet. Asset Manager’s key features include a single, unified view of every asset in the fleet down to its parking space in the yard; a management system designed to better maintain and manage asset life cycle to make strategic, data-based decisions; and real-time visibility of the vehicle’s location, including important details about what distribution center it belongs to or whether it’s out for leasing.

The Asset Manager also includes geo-fenced arrival/departure notifications alerting user to when the asset is ready for its next deployment, as well as temperature reporting data for refrigerated containers that could be visible down to zone-level. Additionally, remote control management can reduce hands-on prep of assets before dispatch.

Following controlled launches with clients in logistics, pharmaceuticals and perishables, Overhaul’s Asset Manager solution will be available to the general audience starting April 1, 2022.