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Retail Tech: Guess Virtual Stores, J.Crew and Madewell Tap PTC, MakerSights

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

Virtual store tours

Guess/Matterport

Guess has adopted technology from Matterport, a spatial data company that enables retailers to view and create 3D and virtual tours of real-life stores, to ensure brand consistency across its stores and create immersive, virtual experiences for its employees, external buyers and wholesale partners.

Since 2017, the global fashion giant has used Matterport digital twins, which are photorealistic digital replicas of stores, to engineer a 200 percent increase in productivity, while cutting travel costs 30 percent and reducing departmental paper and printer ink costs 95 percent.

Additionally, by equipping employees with iPads, Guess trained and collaborated remotely with staff, engaged partners and wholesale customers, and replaced in person store and showroom visits with virtual experiences.

“Brick-and-mortar retailers still face a lot of uncertainty, but digital twins have enabled us to streamline our operations worldwide and build exciting, virtual experiences that set us up for long-term success,” said Jacklyn De Antunano, project manager, training and development for Guess. “Whether we are onboarding new employees or making updates to our store displays, brand consistency is crucial. With Matterport digital twins, merchandising teams at our Los Angeles headquarters can set clear directives for our stores worldwide, while new hires can more easily familiarize themselves with our brand. In addition, creating digital twins of our showrooms help us provide a seamless, virtual experience for buyers.”

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To ensure global brand consistency across stores, Guess configures new layouts and displays in a mock store at its corporate headquarters. Guess captures a digital twin of its sample space with a Matterport camera and then shares it with store managers globally to replicate in-person. To provide detailed instructions for store teams, each digital twin contains “Mattertags,” which are color-coded, visual tags anchored to a specific product and embedded with audio, video or detailed notes from Guess HQ.

Equipped with an iPad, Guess’ store teams can view their Matterport digital twins directly through Bigtincan, the company’s sales enablement platform and central hub for proprietary content and knowledge.

With the access to digital twins, retail associates can make merchandising updates and onboard new employees with 3D visuals that demonstrate brand guidelines and in-store layouts.

To liaise with buyers and wholesale partners, Guess relies on showrooms to market new products and collections. With that in mind, the fashion brand also used the Matterport digital twins in place of in-person showroom visits to create an immersive, virtual experience for buyers. With digital twins, Guess can remotely share new collections and convey detailed product information, enabling buyers to view a garment from any angle, zoom in for closer inspection, and make direct purchases. Since adopting digital twins, Guess has doubled its number of showroom appointments and significantly reduced the air travel previously required for its staff and wholesale customers.

PLM

J.Crew/Madewell/MakerSights/PTC

J.Crew and Madewell have implemented a tech integration between collaborative assortment management technology MakerSights and PLM platform provider PTC.

The integration synchronizes product data from FlexPLM V12 within the MakerSights Workspace for the product creation and merchandising teams, enabling them to engage with consumers on in-development products.

“Integrating MakerSights with FlexPLM has made testing new products with consumers and finalizing assortments a much more seamless and efficient process at Madewell,” said Grace Brooks, divisional merchandise manager Madewell. “We are now able to move from evaluating newness to finalizing an assortment more quickly and with far greater confidence because we’re making decisions based on product-specific feedback from our target consumers. This is a game-changer for us in terms of productivity, efficiency and scalability.”

This integration is designed to break down data silos and connect two digital tools within a brand’s value chain, in effect creating a direct path to cross-functional collaboration on assortment management within a single digital workspace.

Automating this workflow aims to ensure product information in MakerSights is always current, saves time and empowers teams to test products in development with consumers at scale more quickly, resulting in faster, data-informed decisions.

The partnership is aimed at giving product, merchant and other cross-functional teams and stakeholders at brands a complete, updated view of in-development assortments within the context of consumer sentiment data and internal feedback. This view of the assortment can also potentially reduce the risk of over-assortment and overproduction, and deliver higher-performing assortments with improved SKU productivity, margins and full-price sell-through rates.

Supply chain visibility

CGS/Inspectorio

Inspectorio, creators of an AI-powered collaboration platform for quality control, tracking and compliance across the production chain, and CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services, have unveiled a global sales, marketing and product partnership.

This agreement aims to make it easier for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to align internal shop floor control operations with external quality, compliance and on-time delivery (OTD).

The partnership aims at improving the value proposition for the companies by combining CGS’s BlueCherry Shop Floor Control technology with Inspectorio’s Sight quality management system.

In bringing together the two platforms, the companies want to give customers greater visibility into the supply chain and manufacturing. Seamless integration will bring CGS SFC production data into Inspectorio quality control dashboards. As a result, suppliers and manufacturers get end-to-end visibility with real-time production tracking.

Earlier this year, CGS announced the launch and global availability of Shop Floor Control (SFC) Essential at TexProcess Americas. This latest addition to its BlueCherry suite is a cloud-based solution that can enable manufacturers, brands, and subcontractors to gain real-time visibility, control and insights into their complete supply chain and factory floor operations from any mobile device or browser.

Inspectorio’s Sight technology is built to empower retailers, brands, vendors and factories to optimize their quality, sustainability and compliance operations. Inspectorio leverages machine learning in an effort to ideally transition manufacturers from reactive interventions to a proactive, preventative approach to supply chain management. Sight automates quality operations, including activating self-inspections and analyzing large datasets to mitigate risk and ensure compliance.

By partnering with CGS, Inspectorio can combine its network collaboration features, such as self-inspection program governance, remote inspections and risk-based automations, with expansive and detailed Shop Floor Control data to enhance its AI algorithms and improve its reporting and analytics offering for users across all levels of the production chain. 

Last-mile delivery

Delivery Solutions/Gophr

Delivery Solutions, a provider of third-party aggregation and experience-driven orchestration software for last-mile delivery and fulfillment, has partnered with U.K.-based delivery company Gophr, in an effort to advance the last-mile delivery ecosystem in the U.K.

With this partnership, Delivery Solutions will be able to offer more customer-focused fulfillment services via the Gophr courier service, in an attempt to simplify shopping across all channels in the U.K., namely with same-day delivery. Gophr customers will be able to gain access to same-day delivery services, as well as other fulfillment options, whether it be curbside pickup, in-store pickup, shipping, lockers, autonomous and drones.

Founded in 2018, Delivery Solutions has provided an end-to-end white-label solution built to empower same-day delivery aggregation and orchestration. The company’s API and dashboard can be used across various ends of the post-purchase experience, whether by providing e-commerce delivery intelligence while the consumer is browsing, assisting in the selection of the most optimal fulfillment partner, to post-purchase tracking, visibility and communication.

Cross-border e-commerce

Global-e/Borderfree

Global-e has acquired fellow cross-border commerce platform provider Borderfree from global shipping and mailing company Pitney Bowes for $100 million in an all-cash transaction. The move is aimed at helping Global-e target larger enterprises looking to expand in new markets.

Borderfree is designed to help retailers enter new global markets by localizing their domestic website in more than 200 countries and territories, simplifying compliance and regulations processing.

The companies will begin a strategic partnership and commercial relationship in which Pitney Bowes will provide cross-border e-commerce logistics services to Global-e and its clients. In turn, Pitney Bowes clients will receive access to cross-border solutions on the Global-e platform.

Current Borderfree clients will gain access to Global-e’s platform localization capabilities, in combination with the Israel-based company’s data models and AI-algorithms for conversion optimization.

The deal comes seven months after Global-e acquired another cross-border e-commerce business, Flow Commerce, for $545 million.

Borderfree is expected to generate in excess of $40 million in revenues in calendar year 2022. The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter 2022, subject to customary conditions.

LianLian Global

LianLian Global, a global cross-border payment service provider, has launched a multi-currency Cross-Border Wallet after securing licenses to operate in all 50 states. The digital wallet is designed to make payments faster, more accessible and cheaper than the traditional cash and bank transfers for U.S.-based retailers and merchants that sell their products on international marketplaces.

The company cited the Data Catalyst Institute (DCI), which found that almost 70 percent of U.S. SMBs use third-party online marketplaces, with most firms opting to use multiple online markets. However, despite these sellers having such a significant digital presence and many selling to multiple countries, cross-border payments remain a significant challenge for these merchants, especially those looking to make payments in less familiar, emerging market currencies in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

For instance, the evolving international regulatory requirements and capital control policies concerning the transfer and movement of funds in local currencies adds a considerable compliance burden for many U.S. e-commerce businesses. Such supplier payment challenges can significantly impact the supply of goods and services from those regions.

LianLian Global’s Cross-Border Wallet is designed to address these concerns by enabling U.S. businesses to make and receive payments or convert U.S. dollars to other regional currencies compliantly. The wallet is designed to eliminate the bureaucratic burden of facilitating payments between Western businesses, customers and suppliers in China and other emerging markets worldwide.

The company allows e-commerce customers of all sizes to make payments up to $1.5 million USD at a time. Additionally, the wallet can hold multiple currencies, including the U.S. dollar, Canadian dollar, Hong Kong dollar, British pound sterling, European euro, Chinese yuan and Polish złoty.

In particular, the company wants to make it easier to manage multiple currencies on a single platform and enable foreign exchange (FX) conversion at fair and transparent rates. The aim is to help U.S. customers better navigate the volatility of FX.

Customers can use the Cross-Border Wallet without committing to an annual fee or (in certain countries including the U.S., U.K. and China) paying to open an account or receive payments. Instead, LianLian Global charges a fixed 0.5 percent rate for FX conversion, with more competitive rates available to high-volume customers, the company says.

“With the new platform, we can secure our supply chain networks in China and other parts of the world because the digital wallet ensures we can make and receive payments quickly, efficiently and safely,” said Jeremy Cai, founder of Italic, a U.S.-based online luxury fashion retailer. “The extra time allows us to focus on growing and diversifying our business into hundreds of high-quality goods across a range of home, fashion, and lifestyle categories.”

LianLian Global helps more than 1.2 million e-commerce stores grow their cross-border businesses, owning over 60 regulatory approvals and payments licenses worldwide, with full coverage in all 50 U.S. states. The company has also partnered with leading financial institutions such as Citi, Deutsche Bank, and J.P. Morgan to power their solutions.

Citcon/Bold Commerce

Mobile wallet payment provider Citcon Inc. has integrated its unified payments API into the Bold Commerce headless checkout experience. The combined Citcon and Bold Commerce solution is aimed at enabling retailers and DTC brands to accept and process more than 150 payment methods, including popular digital wallets, local payment schemes, and credit cards preferred by overseas customers through one integration.

According to the Bold Commerce Checkout Benchmark report, 53 percent of shoppers who proceed to checkout abandon the process before completing their purchase. This problem can get even worse in foreign markets, when carts are often abandoned during checkout when customers can’t use their preferred local payment method.

The Citcon full-stack payments solution encompasses payment processing and gateway services, as well as reporting and fund settlement all through a single API integration. Integrating this capability into the Bold Commerce checkout platform enables merchants eager to serve overseas markets from Asia Pacific to Latin America, as well as domestic consumers who use these payment methods, to accept and process these foreign transactions.

Bold Commerce already works omnichannel retailers like Vera Bradley, Harry Rosen and Staples Canada, enabling customers of those businesses to gain access to the new payment methods provided by Citcon. Citcon already integrates with POS and e-commerce systems such as Oracle, Toshiba Cegid, Shopify and SAP and is currently deployed at more than 30,000 merchants’ sites and locations, including major brands such as Revolve, Macy’s, L’Oreal and Tumi.

RFID

Impinj

Impinj, Inc., a RAIN RFID provider and Internet of Things technology company, released the Impinj E910 RAIN RFID reader chip for next-generation enterprise-grade readers.

The new chip is built to discover and engage a high volume of connected items such as retail apparel, pallets, airline baggage and automobile parts. In particular, the chip delivers the performance, low-power consumption, and ease of use needed for loss prevention, inventory management and supply chain automation solutions.

The company says the Impinj E910 provides the best receiver sensitivity—the minimum signal strength a receiver can detect—of any reader chip available today at -94 dBm. This enables reader manufacturers to meet the speed and distance requirements of demanding RAIN RFID applications such as fast-moving conveyors and high-bay warehouse rack systems.

Available now to select Impinj partners, the high-performance E910 expands Impinj’s existing E family of reader chips, which includes the E710, E510 and E310.

Together, these chips can provide improvements over the prior-generation Impinj Indy reader chips. For example, the RAIN RFID system designs are up to 80 percent smaller, which are considered ideal for small, next-generation readers and IoT devices. Additionally, the chip’s power consumption is 50 percent lower, supporting battery-powered, energy-efficient readers and IoT devices.

The chips offer software- and pin-compatible designs for performance upgrades and design reuse between E family chips.

Alongside the new chips, Impinj wants to leverage its recently introduced Impinj R515 reader reference design to allow partners to accelerate new reader innovation.

The reference design includes documentation and engineering drawings that can help IoT device manufacturers maximize the capabilities of the Impinj E910 reader chip in their readers, while at the same time speeding time-to-market.

Wholesale payments

Dock & Bay (D&B)/TreviPay

Dock & Bay (D&B), a sustainable wholesaler that sells products across lifestyle categories including camping, fitness and beauty, has joined the payments and invoicing network of B2B payments company TreviPay.

Approved retailers will be able to select TreviPay as a payment method when checking out on D&B’s online store, which is designed to make large orders easier for business buyers. In completing the transaction, retailers will receive an invoice with their established terms for added payment convenience and flexibility.

To meet B2B customer expectations for payment terms, D&B chose TreviPay to launch a payment and invoicing network that can ideally enable them to build more profitable and loyal trading relationships with its buyers. D&B wholesale customers can now place larger orders without the need to pay by credit card or to pre-fund orders, which can negatively impact cashflow.

D&B can offer a line of instant trade credit, a payment method specifically designed for B2B buyers and sellers, to its wholesale customers while leaving responsibility for risk assessment and underwriting to TreviPay. This means that D&B will always be paid on time, even if its B2B buyers default on a payment.

“We wanted to create a competitive advantage by offering our B2B customers a deferred payment option, similar to the rising BNPL trend in B2C retail today,” said Ben Muller, the co-founder of Dock & Bay, in a statement. “With TreviPay’s experience in industry-leading technology and trade credit underwriting with a strong international footprint, D&B can now meet our wholesale customers’ unmet need for flexible payment terms, without using our own valuable working capital.”

TreviPay processes $6 billion in transaction volume across 32 countries, 19 currencies and 90,000 active buyers. The company partners with major brands across 80,000 selling locations to deliver invoices with net terms and guaranteed payment across all sales and distribution channels.

User experience

InMoment

InMoment, a provider of Experience Improvement (XI) solutions, is bringing select features into its XI Platform in an effort to help organizations acquire new customers, retain and increase loyalty of existing customers and drive improved business performance—all within one integrated platform.

The newly integrated XI applications can help retailers understand changing consumer expectations, needs and preferences across their lifecycle, with the aim to help them take better action on the insights.

The company’s new applications will include the Product Experience Cloud, an experience ecosystem built to help product managers, developers and UX designers understand friction points that need to be addressed while also providing perspective to customer experience teams on how product interaction impacts the larger customer experience.

Additionally, the applications will include InMoment’s first search-based text analytics solution, Data Exploration, which explores unstructured data from any source for a single integrated view of experiences based on key themes, underlying sentiment, relative customer effort, intent and emotion so businesses can explore feedback and take action faster.

InMoment is also bringing the Spotlight and Moments applications into the XI Platform. Spotlight, the AI-based and natural language processing (NLP) user applicatio, can drive real-time automated insights from customer experience signals to improve customer and employee acquisition or customer recovery and retention. Moments, InMoment’s real-time mobile app, is built to socialize experience feedback through a curated data feed. This feed can  be displayed on a user’s phone or tablet, or through monitor displays in an office environment, to help teams drive improvement on the go by sharing feedback.

InMoment’s latest acquisition, ReviewTrackers, allows companies an unparalleled and seamless application for both solicited and unsolicited feedback to provide deeper customer insights, analytics, and action. Reviews are now seamlessly integrated into the InMoment CX (customer experience) cloud and available for analysis, trending and comparison alongside other forms of customer feedback. In addition, the ReviewTrackers’ applications are available for full customer review management in the InMoment MX (market experience) cloud.

In addition, enhancements have been made to existing XI applications to better facilitate inclusion, intelligent decision making, and sophisticated data workflows, all while leveraging AI. They include a feedback collection solution that uses a proprietary enhanced method, allowing businesses to integrate data workflows, reducing errors and ultimately cost. Reporting capabilities include expert-designed industry and role-specific dashboards for the front line, CX teams, and C-Level stakeholders that deliver an aggregate view of what’s happening by program, across regions and through locations with flexible data views that unearth key business drivers.

And automating a time-consuming part of data analytics processing, the Workflow enhancement can segment and drive automated action within the XI Platform and trigger events in existing enterprise systems such as Slack, Hubspot, Marketo and Salesforce.

Underpinning all XI applications is InMoment AI, an intelligence engine powering both structured and unstructured analytics across the platform. InMoment AI combines advanced machine learning algorithms with industry-specific taxonomies, near-universal language support and encapsulated vertical knowledge to deliver insights, predictive analytics and actionable recommendations through the XI application ecosystem.