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Retail Tech: H&M Taps Google Cloud, Uniqlo Turns to Ayden, Hugo Boss Scales RFID

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

Cloud

H&M Group/Google Cloud

H&M Group has partnered with Google Cloud to leverage the Big Tech firm’s extensive data analytics capabilities and sustainable global infrastructure to further enhance its customer experience and supply chain enablement.

Google Cloud will collaborate with H&M Group to develop an enterprise data backbone including a core data platform, data product and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities. This will also include the establishment of a new “data mesh,” which can further make all types of data and events accessible from multiple sources including the store, online, its brand ecosystem and suppliers.

As the partnership develops, the goal is to boost optimization of internal supply chains, as well as next-generation customer experiences across a variety of sales channels, from physical stores to e-commerce. What’s more, this partnership is built to enable further development of data science and AI capabilities throughout H&M Group’s business.

“H&M Group has a long history of innovation across all our brands and always wants to build meaningful relationships with our customers,” said Alan Boehme, chief technology officer, H&M Group. “We are now further accelerating digitalization as we believe in sustainable growth powered by advanced analytics and tech. Therefore, I’m happy to announce we’ve found a provider who matches our needs.”

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RFID

Hugo Boss/Nedap

Premium fashion retailer Hugo Boss has selected Nedap’s iD Cloud platform for its retail business. The objective of this collaboration is to create supply chain visibility, improve merchandise availability and to deliver excellent shopping experiences.

The iD Cloud inventory management platform is designed to support Hugo Boss with end-to-end, real-time inventory visibility and optimal merchandise availability using RFID technology.

As part of the project, all Hugo Boss stores will be equipped with Nedap’s iD Cloud store app, allowing faster stock counts, efficient replenishment and smart refill suggestions. This mobile solution enables stores to have more of the right products available and, as such, improve omnichannel customer experiences.

By knowing exactly what is in stock in stores, Hugo Boss can offer services such as ship-from-store and click-and-collect (BOPIS) in an even more efficient manner. With the aim of ensuring flexibility in regards to stock levels, the Nedap iD Cloud platform provides real-time insight into stock down to the last item.

Through this partnership, Hugo Boss further accelerates the flexibility and the service portfolio of its omnichannel business globally. The company is aiming to revolutionize the way it interacts with customers and in this context the RFID technology is one enabler to ensure a seamless brand experience across all consumer touchpoints.

Payments

Uniqlo/Adyen

Financial technology platform Adyen has been chosen by Fast Retailing, operator of Uniqlo, to power payments for the brand’s in-store and online checkout in multiple markets.

The integration with Adyen is designed to remove the need for multiple supplier contracts, allowing Uniqlo to consolidate and reconcile payments information across multiple channels. This single platform gives Uniqlo the flexibility to do faster rollouts of omnichannel services, Adyen says.

Sustainable packaging

The R Collective/Avery Dennison

Avery Dennison, a materials science, branding and manufacturing company, has unveiled its partnership with circular fashion brand The R Collective.

This collaboration showcases Avery Dennison’s digitally enabled packaging and labeling solutions, providing a digital experience that immerses consumers in The R Collective’s sustainability story.

Avery Dennison’s digital labels, which are attached to the garment, include a QR code that, when scanned, provides instant access to the brand’s actions to create responsible products. This information includes how The R Collective reduces fashion’s impact through their newly released product-level carbon and water savings achieved by rescuing waste materials. In a further innovation, the garments are supplied in Avery Dennison’s newly-developed plastic-free garment bag.

The R Collective’s Revival sustainable design project features rescued fabrics from leading global fashion brands and includes top-quality silk, cotton and jerseys. The garments have been designed by five award-winning sustainable designers from around the world using different textile waste streams to create wearable and commercial womenswear pieces.

Reducing waste is the overarching aim of this partnership, and the plastic-free garment bag is highly transparent, durable through the supply chain and curbside recyclable, thus reducing waste. The bags provide an alternative to polybags which are commonly used and are generally only recyclable once or twice. The collaboration also sees an R Collective-branded e-commerce mailer which is made from environmentally friendly kraft paper and can be easily recycled by the consumer.

Consumers can access educational materials on the sustainable packaging via a QR code listed on the packaging and through the garments’ digital labels.

Consumers can access educational materials on the sustainable packaging via a QR code listed on the packaging and through the garments' digital labels.

“Our core focus at The R Collective is finding new ways to actively reduce fashion waste. Our Revival collection is a very exciting moment for us,” said Christina Dean, founder and CEO of The R Collective. “Not only is it our most commercial collection to date, it will also launch direct-to-consumer and be available to purchase globally.”

“Avery Dennison’s innovative plastic-free garment bag has enabled us to actively reduce waste via our packaging,” Dean said. “We’ve enjoyed working closely with the Avery Dennison team to ensure that our brand story is told every step of the way through the digital labels and digital packaging solutions. We’ve taken our focus on packaging and shipping one step further and partnered with UPS to achieve carbon-neutral shipping for this collection too.”

This partnership is part of a series of innovation-based collaborations that underscore Avery Dennison’s commitment to a circular apparel supply chain, and support its 2030 sustainability goals.

PLM

Lindex/Aptos

Lindex has partnered with end-to-end retail technology provider Aptos for its Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution. With Aptos PLM, Lindex will streamline and automate critical processes involved in the creation and management of its collections, ideally resulting in faster time to market, increased emphasis on quality and sustainability and better collaboration within the organization and with suppliers.

Founded in 1954, the Sweden-based Lindex operates 440 stores in 18 markets and has online sales worldwide through third-party partnerships. With an assortment that spans women’s wear, kids’ wear, lingerie and cosmetics, Lindex aims to offer inspiring and affordable fashion.

As demand for Lindex’s collections has grown, both in its own channels and in partnership with global fashion platforms, Lindex recognized the need to centralize product information and allow its design, product management, planning and buying teams to access a single source for all data throughout the product lifecycle.

“Lindex was looking for a PLM solution that offered a modern and scalable technology platform, advanced functionality specific to the fashion vertical, and robust support and tracking for sustainability initiatives,” said Elisabeth Hedberg, director of design, purchase and production at Lindex. “We found that—and more—with Aptos PLM. We were impressed with the fashion know-how of the Aptos team as well as the system’s ability to facilitate improved collaboration across our end-to-end product development processes.”

The solution will also support Lindex’s sustainability programs, which focus on driving circularity in the fashion industry and taking action for the climate.

With the tool, Lindex can assess the environmental impact of its designs and suppliers in real time and better meet consumers’ demands for environmental impact transparency and accountability.

Once it’s fully deployed, Lindex expects Aptos PLM to be used by internal and external stakeholders, resulting in gains in productivity, collaboration and visibility for all parties involved, according to Hedberg.

“We have production offices in Europe and Asia,” Hedberg added. “Our employees at these offices need to work closely with our design and buying departments as well as our suppliers to ensure the styles we produce meet our high standards for quality, fit and sustainability.”

Logistics

Outrider

Outrider, a company dedicated to building and managing autonomous yard operations for logistics hubs, has released its next-generation autonomy kit for yard automation. Supporting over-the-air software updates and field-swappable units, the latest autonomy kit is designed to deliver enterprise-class reliability, enable remote technical support and efficiently service the system in the field, all at scale.

The next-generation autonomy kit includes the Nvidia Drive autonomous vehicle platform for perception system processing; Ouster’s high-resolution LIDAR sensors for perception; and Yaskawa’s industrial robotic arm for connecting and disconnecting trailer lines. The autonomy kit is installed and integrated on autonomy-ready Class 8 battery-electric yard trucks. Outrider uses the autonomy kit along with proprietary software to transform these yard trucks into fully autonomous vehicles.

Outrider has developed an autonomy-ready electric yard truck with Orange EV. Outrider and its customers have purchased 24 of these vehicles for expanded customer pilot programs and test operations with the latest autonomy kit. In addition, customers planning future vehicle purchases may now order yard trucks with the “Autonomous Outrider Specification.”

This is the single largest purchase of “Class 8” electric vehicles specifically designed for autonomous yard operations in the industry, according to Tom Baroch, head of global supply management at Outrider.

The latest autonomy kit and drive-by-wire yard truck incorporates operational, design, and technical experience gleaned from over 12,000 autonomous trailer moves conducted at customer sites and Outrider’s advanced testing facility in Brighton, Col. Using data collected from these moves, Outrider’s latest autonomy kit is designed to address scenarios encountered by yard trucks in real distribution yards, from the common to the obscure.

In addition to automating the yard truck, Outrider automates other manual tasks traditionally performed in the yard, such as hitching and unhitching trailers; connecting and disconnecting trailer lines; interacting safely with loading docks; tracking trailer locations; integrating with supply chain management systems; and centrally managing and monitoring system functions.

Outrider partners with many large, logistics-dependent enterprises that represent over 20 percent of all yard trucks operating in North America. The company has raised $118 million in funding to date.

Last-mile

Circuit 
Circuit, a last-mile experience software company, unveiled a significant milestone, where 100,000 drivers in more than 100 countries have adopted its platforms to date.
The technology startup says it has become a profitable company without traditional venture capital funding and has seen a steady rise in revenue year over year. From 2019 to 2020, the increase of direct-to-consumer delivery as a result of the pandemic helped expand Circuit’s revenue more than threefold, from $3 million to $10 million. In 2021, that number increased 60 percent to $16 million.
Circuit was developed on the basis that vital processes such as planning delivery routes, managing deliveries and training new drivers are difficult and often overly complex, consuming valuable time that could be spent on the road getting goods to customers. With Circuit, CEO and founder Jack Underwood said his team wanted to create a solution that allowed courier companies to maximize the use of their drivers, thereby cutting costs and satisfying customers.
The company has rolled out a swath of new features for Circuit Route Planner and Circuit for Teams to help delivery drivers and dispatchers optimize their processes. Circuit Route Planner is designed for individual drivers, while Circuit for Teams services companies dispatching multiple drivers. Both are available for iOS and Android.

Users can export monthly metrics for all routes and all drivers directly from the app, designed to make driver payment, fuel reimbursement and internal data analysis easier.

And with better driver location tracking, users can view where drivers are at the exact time they complete a delivery, helping them to ensure packages are delivered to the correct location and quickly identify any “misdeliveries.”

Dispatchers can receive notifications of when deliveries are completed, allowing them to verify each individual driver’s delivery speed, which is then used in route operation. With enhanced delivery type specification, Circuit aims to remove the confusion between pickup and dropoff deliveries.

Circuit has several new updates in the works for 2022, including the option to add driver breaks, import skipped stops to a new route, input addresses by voice and edit live, in-progress routes for changes on the fly. Additionally, the software company plans to roll out improved driver analytics for better reporting on Circuit for Teams, as well as support for multiple delivery depots, a critical resource for large teams.

E-commerce

BigCommerce

BigCommerce, an Open SaaS e-commerce platform for B2C and B2B brands, has expanded its European presence into Austria, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and its Latin American presence into Peru.

With its latest expansions and localized tech and agency partner ecosystem, BigCommerce will enable merchants of all sizes and complexities to build and scale their online businesses to deliver seamless shopping experiences to local and cross-border customers and drive revenue.

The company cited an EMarketer survey predicting that retail e-commerce sales worldwide will reach $7.39 trillion by 2025.

With BigCommerce’s e-commerce platform, merchants in Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Peru can bolster their online businesses to create versatile shopping experiences that power growth.

In addition to a translated control panel and native-language support, retailers can use multi-language, multi-currency, secure payment capabilities and more to create local storefronts or expand their customer reach in new markets. Global merchants can also use Multi-Storefront to efficiently manage multiple storefronts, brands, customer segments and/or geographies from a single BigCommerce store.

The platform’s “open SaaS” approach enables direct integrations with global channels like Facebook Shopping, Instagram Shopping and TikTok Ads to help merchants develop strong omnichannel strategies to bolster sales.

BigCommerce’s suite of native functionality and strong ecosystem of integration partner applications can even make it easier for B2B merchants to offer seamless B2C-like experiences to customers, the company says.

Augmented reality

Nextech AR/WooCommerce

Nextech AR Solutions Corp., a provider of augmented reality (AR) experience technologies and services, has revealed that its ARitize 3D WooCommerce app is now live and available to consumers.

With this app going live, Nextech AR’s ARitize 3D SaaS offering for e-commerce extends the company’s 3D model creation services to WooCommerce merchants. This is a major expansion opportunity for Nextech AR’s ARitize 3D model making business for e-commerce, with WooCommerce claiming that it powers approximately 30 percent of all online stores.

The WooCommerce integration provides Nextech AR with another major distribution channel, according to CEO Evan Gappelberg. The augmented reality technology already integrated with Shopify and BigCommerce earlier this year.

Through these retailers, thousands of 3D models are being shown to tens of thousands of consumers. With the new launch of this low-cost 3D modeling self-serve app with WooCommerce, the company believes that it will continue to expand its reach to small and medium sized e-commerce websites.

With ARitize 3D, WooCommerce businesses can transform their e-commerce stores into virtual 3D showrooms, allow customers to see products from every angle and position them using AR to visualize them in their own space prior to purchasing. This is designed to be an immersive shopping experience that keeps customers more engaged, better informed and helps brands stand out from their competition.

With this new app launch, Nextech AR now provides WooCommerce merchants with the software needed to generate as much as a 94 percent increase in click through rates and a 40 percent reduction in returns online, with one-click integration for 3D model making.

As demand for 3D models rises, the company also plans to integrate with other e-commerce platforms, continuing to rollout its third-party SaaS integration to more global online merchants.

The app will provide self-serve access to Nextech’s proprietary AI-powered solution for 3D/AR e-commerce to all merchants who use WooCommerce to power their online business. Implementing 3D/AR has already given many benefits to e-commerce businesses, including increased engagement, increased conversions and reduced returns. ARitize 3D can make the adoption of 3D/AR simple, convenient and affordable for WooCommerce merchants, with the ability to subscribe and manage the app themselves from their WooCommerce merchant account.

Nextech’s pricing plans are designed to be more affordable than other 3D modeling service providers, which often require the purchase of expensive equipment or hiring artists for individual models.

With Nextech AR’s artificial intelligence powered technology now integrated with WooCommerce, any merchant can create 3D/AR models in three steps: installing the ARitize 3D Marketplace App, initiating the creation of 3D models of their products and publish engaging 3D models on product pages.

Robotics

inVia Robotics

inVia Robotics, a provider of e-commerce fulfillment and warehouse automation systems, announced the launch of Traffic Quality Index (TQI), a new algorithm of the AI-powered warehouse execution system (WES) software, inVia Logic.

The latest software update is designed to speed up e-commerce order fulfillment by anticipating and mitigating the congestion of pickers in warehouse aisles. TQI will be added to inVia Logic software versions 7.2 and later.

TQI is designed to enhance the existing inVia Logic optimization algorithms that calculate efficient routes for pickers to retrieve ordered goods and assign orders based on SKU proximity (limiting the number of trips pickers make to the same aisle). The new algorithm anticipates the movements required to fulfill orders in real time, throughout the day. When the paths of individual pickers are predicted to overlap and slow down the process, inVia Logic dynamically recalculates those paths to avoid aisle congestion and slowdowns.

Avoiding overlap in the picking process is a core component of how inVia Picker robots are directed to navigate the warehouse, reducing the number of stops and idle time created throughout the day as one robot waits for another to pass by or finish a pick. Now that same guidance is available to workers using inVia PickMate, the productivity tool used to intelligently direct people on paths to pick, replenish and put away inventory. inVia’s robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model provides retailers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) with a solution that can increase productivity in existing facilities. The RaaS system allows customers to pay for the productivity delivered by inVia Picker robots versus competitors who lease or sell robots. The subscription service includes all system updates and 24/7 monitoring and support through inVia’s Robotics Operation Center (ROC). inVia subscribers automatically receive inVia Logic system updates and improvements to stay ahead of the technology curve.