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Retail Tech: Nordstrom Taps Afterpay, Inspectorio Raises $50 Million, Avery Dennison Acquires TexTrace

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

Supply chain

Inspectorio

Inspectorio, a cloud-based AI-powered SaaS solution built to help retailers, brands, suppliers and manufacturers manage risk through digitized quality and compliance programs, has raised $50 million in a Series B Round led by New York-based global private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners.

Other investors in the round include Target’s Techstars accelerator program, freight forwarder Flexport, Ecolab and Matchstick Ventures.

The platform provides quality management software with the intent to automate supply chain operations and stop issues before they arise. Additionally, the company offers compliance management software to manage all components of a company’s sustainability program; and production tracking software to prevent supply chain delays and improve on-time delivery performance.

Inspectorio will use the new funding to expand its research and development capabilities and to grow its development, product and go-to-market teams.

According to CEO Carlos Mocayo in a statement, the company will expand product capabilities to go further upstream in the production chain, namely focused on production tracking and supply chain traceability.

Inspectorio’s technology helps retailers, brands, vendors and factories optimize their quality, sustainability and compliance operations via leveraging machine learning to transition from reactive interventions to a proactive, preventative approach to supply chain management. The company has more than 7,000 customers, including Target, Crocs and Carter’s.

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With the investment, Insight Partners vice president Nicole Shimer will join the Inspectorio board.

The company’s portfolio includes Inspectorio Sight, Inspectorio Rise and the most recently introduced Inspectorio Tracking, all working to digitize quality, compliance and production tracking activities by removing data silos and bringing all activities onto one platform. The platform enables real-time data and reporting across all these activities, enabling organizations to have a predictive approach to quality, compliance and production monitoring.

Inspectorio released Inspectorio Tracking earlier in January to give clients better insight into the production floor via real-time data. The production monitoring platform is designed to help retailers, brands and suppliers keep their production on track to prevent delays and ensure on-time delivery.

The feature enables users to access activity logs and exception management reporting for each purchase order to identify areas of risk or delays timely. In addition, it can minimize overhead costs by centralizing all activities and communications related to production tracking onto a digital platform.

Originally based in Hong Kong, the company moved its headquarters to Minneapolis after participating in the Techstars program. Inspectorio now has more than 200 employees across the U.S., China, Ecuador, Vietnam and Belarus.

Open Sky Group/Dotcom Distribution

Supply chain consultancy and Blue Yonder platform specialists Open Sky Group has completed the first phase of e-commerce and multi-channel digital supply chain transformation for its client, Dotcom Distribution.

Dotcom Distribution, a third-party logistics provider serving beauty, fashion, electronics, and high-touch retail brands, partnered with Open Sky to implement Blue Yonder’s warehouse management and labor management solutions, as well as Optricity’s Opti-Slot DC slotting optimization solution. After the first implementation, the companies will start a next-phase deployment of Blue Yonder’s workforce management solution.

The combined solutions will give Dotcom greater visibility, increased productivity, improved scheduling and overall increased operational optimization for cost-effective, high-velocity fulfillment services.

Open Sky Group is the systems integrator managing the project, software design and implementation and working collaboratively with the Dotcom team and other partners including Optricity and Blue Yonder.

Maria Haggerty, CEO of Dotcom Distribution, said in a statement that the implementation will enable the company to onboard new technology, automation systems and additional facilities. The Dotcom team wants to leverage the Blue Yonder and Optricity solutions to better empower warehouse associates to have autonomy over their own schedules, and give supervisors and management greater insight into employee productivity, retention, forecasting and scheduling.

Buy now, pay later

Nordstrom/PVH/Afterpay

Nordstrom and PVH’s Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger have partnered with installment payments provider Afterpay, with Nordstrom already offering the platform both online and in retail stores.

Afterpay, now officially a part of Block (formerly Square) after last year’s $29 billion acquisition closed on Monday, says spending through the payments service has increased 230 percent since 2020.

The three brands seek to benefit in various ways, as they can tap into Afterpay’s core Gen Z demographic. They can also gain additional exposure through Afterpay’s Shopping App, which refers more than 1 million shoppers per day to their online and physical stores.

“We are constantly evolving to enhance the customer experience both in-store and online at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. This includes offering flexible payment options to meet customer needs,” said Dennis Bauer, president of payments and credit at Nordstrom. “We have heard from our customers that buy now, pay later programs resonate with them and are excited to partner with Afterpay to make these options available to them.”

Nordstrom, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger will join Afterpay’s network of 100,000 global retailers.

With the Square integration, retailers can access Afterpay from the Square Online dashboard, which gives shoppers the option to pay for items with four interest-free installments. Afterpay also will be available on Square’s developer platform and for in-person payments in the near future.

Resale

Arrive

Arrive has expanded its existing enterprise rental platform to include resale, offering a circular B2B e-commerce solution for brands and retailers. With the platform, Arrive builds and manages the circular commerce design and technical infrastructure, takes on all inventory management, and offers fully branded customer support.

Arrive’s expansion into resale comes at a time when the market is exploding—the re-commerce market, including rental, resale and subscriptions, is expected to double by 2025 to $77 billion, according to ThredUp.

While many resale platforms are focused on a customer take-back model, Arrive’s primary focus is turning the returns problem that companies face into a revenue-driving channel.

Retail Tech: Nordstrom Turns to Afterpay, Avery Dennison Nabs TexTrace
The Arrive platform

Rachelle Snyder, CEO and co-founder of Arrive, said in a statement that the company’s business model accepts rejected returns that can be refurbished, cleaned, graded and resold directly on a branded resale e-commerce site, “ultimately turning a cost center into a profit center for our partners.”

Similar to how financing options like Affirm and Klarna have proliferated e-commerce product pages, Arrive has a simple e-commerce resale and rental integration that enables a brand’s customers to buy products that can no longer be sold at full price or rent premium products.

Retail real estate

Leap

Leap, a platform provider that helps digital brands launch physical store presences, has raised $50 million in Series B financing.

The round was led by BAM Elevate with participation from new and existing investors including Harbor Spring Capital, Northern Trust, Simon, Costanoa Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and Equal Ventures.

The new capital will be used to accelerate growth through investments in the company’s platform and store location network. In 2021, Leap quadrupled its store fleet and total system sales, with more than 30 brands using its platform to power 50 stores across eight markets.

The Leap platform helps brands rapidly deploy stores that work in concert with e-commerce and can reduce cost and risk. Stores powered by Leap are designed to bring digital native brands to life with immersive customer experiences and data-driven operations.

Utilizing the platform, brands construct customized stores with a sales team provided by Leap. Ideal store locations, operations and merchandising are determined by leveraging Leap’s millions of data points and proprietary algorithms.

The Goodlife store in Manhattan's West Village is powered by Leap.
The Goodlife store in Manhattan’s West Village is powered by Leap. Leap

In a statement, Leap co-founder and co-CEO Amish Tolia said more than 500 brands have registered with the company to activate retail locations.

Alongside the investment, J.P. Van Arsdale, general partner at BAM Elevate, joined Leap’s board of directors.

Leap’s growth in 2021 provided apparel brands such as Naadam, Something Navy, ThirdLove, Mack Weldon, Lunya, Birdies and more with the opportunity to deploy stores in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Scottsdale, Ariz., Florida and Texas. The company also has expanded its category capabilities into a broader range, from apparel and footwear to accessories, jewelry, intimates, and home goods.

“Our customers are our greatest asset,” added Heidi Zak, co-founder and CEO of ThirdLove. “By scaling our physical retail channel on Leap, we’re able to maintain our focus on designing and creating the best fitting under garments and activewear for our customers while Leap delivers a premier in-store experience that seamlessly connects with our website and shopping channels. We’re really excited to continue to grow our brand and better connect with our customers with the opening of our first four stores in California over the next few months and look forward to opening many more with Leap.”

In addition to brands, Leap works with retail landlords, developers and brokers to build up high performing retail markets, from local neighborhoods to shopping centers. By deploying stores in clusters, Leap creates cost efficiencies and sales synergies, and mitigates risk for its brand customers and landlord partners alike.

Brian Berger, founder and CEO of Mack Weldon, said, “Leap allows us to showcase the range of Mack Weldon products in a way that complements our digital experience. The in-store experience results in greater customer loyalty and insights.”

Leap employs 300 people, including 80 full-time corporate staff split between New York and Chicago. The company has raised approximately $70 million so far.

Point-of-sale

Purolator/Tulip

Purolator, an integrated freight, package and logistics provider based in Canada, has partnered with retail mobile solutions provider Tulip to help modernize checkout processes and improve the customer experience across 133 retail locations.

With an extensive network in Canada and regional locations across the U.S., Puralotor chose Tulip’s solutions to increase customer engagement, maximize sales and provide a platform for future growth across its bricks-and-mortar and mobile locations.

Purolator will be using Tulip’s enterprise point-of-sale (POS) solution, Tulip Checkout, along with its Performance Planning and Intelligent Staff Scheduling solutions. Together, they will enable Purolator to identify and address performance risks, while providing an omnichannel checkout experience.

Partnered with Apple and Salesforce, Tulip’s cloud-based solutions equip retailers to build connections with customers, fulfill orders, checkout purchases and optimize operations.

Fashion retailers Mulberry, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kendra Scott, Kate Spade, Coach and Michael Kors use Tulip to elevate their shopping experiences, increase sales, and improve customer service across channels.

Bally/Oracle

Switzerland-based luxury footwear and accessories retailer Bally is replacing its current point-of-sale systems with Oracle Retail Xstore across 18 countries. With the mobile Oracle systems, Bally associates will gain access to data that can help them understand customer preferences better an enable them to better find the merchandise they are seeking.

Bally has more than 320 retail stores and 500 multi-brand points of sale spanning nearly 60 countries worldwide, including a global e-commerce platform serving 58 countries.

“The boutiques are a real destination, where customers can enjoy a personalized shopping experience, interact with the sales staff, and feel the quality of the products first-hand,” said Nicolas Girotto, Bally CEO. “With the Oracle Retail POS solutions, store associates will always be able to guide the customers throughout the shopping experience, offer first-class omnichannel services by combining physical and digital experiences, and process payments quickly.”

Accenture, a long-time Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) member, will lead the strategic, multinational deployment and oversee the change management process.

After reviewing multiple options in the market, Bally chose to replace its more than 500 POS systems with Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service and Oracle Retail Xstore Office. Critical in this decision was the technology’s reputation in the market and reference library, which offers built-in processes and retail-specific best practices that will support a roll-out and ongoing support by Bally’s small IT team.

RFID

Avery Dennison/TexTrace

Avery Dennison has acquired TexTrace a technology developer that specializes in custom-made woven and knitted RFID products which can be sewn onto or inserted into garments. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

TexTrace was formerly a subsidiary of Jakob Müller Holding, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the textile industry located in Switzerland. The acquisition includes ownership of TexTrace’s portfolio of intellectual property, and employees that will continue to be based in Frick, Switzerland.

The technology developed by TexTrace provides the opportunity to integrate RFID into garments. Brand labels with built-in RFID are an all-in-one solution for product branding, brand and theft protection, product availability, consumer interaction and enhanced convenience, such as self checkout. In the future, it could offer supplier and materials information to enable the circular economy through recommerce and recycling, providing the opportunity to gain insights into the true carbon footprint of the garment.

Francisco Melo, vice president and general manager of Avery Dennison Smartrac, said the woven and knitted RFID products that TexTrace has developed, will add “significant value to the traditional way the apparel and retail sector uses RFID, creating the opportunity for a more sustainable and intelligent future where digital ID’s can live with the life of the garment.”

TexTrace is the newest addition to Avery Dennison, which already offers pressure-sensitive materials for labels and graphic applications; tapes and other bonding solutions for industrial, medical, and retail applications; tags, labels and embellishments for apparel; and RFID solutions serving retail apparel and other markets.

Sustainable fulfillment 

Ohi/EcoCart

Same-day delivery startup Ohi, has partnered with e-commerce plugin EcoCart to offer a carbon-neutral e-commerce fulfillment option to brand partners and their customers. The partnership is designed so merchants that use Ohi’s instant commerce solution can minimize the carbon footprint associated with delivery of their online orders through the use of carbon offsets.

Ohi’s partnership with EcoCart seeks to mitigate the impact of brands’ and consumers’ carbon footprint alike at a moment when shoppers are more mindful of the effects of their consumption on the planet.

A recent survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value in association with the National Retail Federation found that nearly 80 percent of consumers consider sustainability important and that nearly 60 percent are willing to change their shopping habits to be more sustainable.

EcoCart’s proprietary technology allows Ohi merchant partners to offer a carbon-neutral order option at checkout. Shoppers who choose that option trigger an automatic donation to an independently verified carbon-offsetting project, capturing or counteracting the harmful effects of the amount of carbon associated with their order delivery. Customers pay nothing extra to make their Ohi deliveries carbon-neutral, while Ohi’s merchant partners can choose to pay a small fee to EcoCart based on the estimated carbon footprint for each delivery. Ohi doesn’t retain any of the fees, which EcoCart contributes directly to a variety of ecological projects across the globe.

Ohi is committed to carbon-neutral delivery, minimizing its carbon footprint in urban areas by using bike, e-bike, scooter and foot couriers to provide same-day delivery. In addition, Ohi encourages the use of eco-friendly, reusable totes for two-hour and same-day deliveries whenever possible.

As part of its commitment to more sustainable local delivery, Ohi will be covering the first month of carbon offsetting for Ohi-fulfilled orders for any brand that wants to try this new service, with no further commitments required.

Freight forwarding

Logixboard

Logixboard, a customer experience platform for freight forwarders and logistics service providers, has raised $32 million in a Series B round led by New York-based global private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners, with continued participation from Redpoint Ventures, F-Prime Capital, Social Leverage, Founders’ Co-op, and other existing investors.

Logixboard will use the new funds to enhance its all-in-one customer experience management platform and to triple its headcount with a focus on its engineering team. The company plans to introduce a suite of new features that have been directly requested by freight forwarders and logistics service providers including: expanded partnerships and integrations with leading freight forwarding software; payments processing; enhanced shipment tracking data; and order and booking creation and communication.

The platform is designed so freight forwarders can collaborate with their customers on invoicing, exchanging messages and sharing real-time shipment locations. These activities happen inside a white-labeled, tailored platform that can be branded for each customer. Logixboard integrates into existing software, requiring minimal changes to operational processes so that the final product can be end-user-ready in just a few weeks.

Customers on average see an annual revenue increase of $9.4 million. The company calculates a 900 percent increase in customers since its $13 million series A funding round in April 2021.

Logixboard says it helps freight forwarders and logistics service providers offer digital transparency and collaboration to their customers during their shipment’s life cycle. The company has a dedicated product and user experience research team focused on analyzing shippers so that the company can develop products to help freight forwarders better serve their customers.

E-commerce

BigCommerce

BigCommerce, a cloud-based e-commerce platform for fast-growing and established brands, has extended its global presence into Germany, Mexico and Spain. With BigCommerce’s enterprise-grade platform and best-of-breed partner network, local merchants can build, scale and grow their B2C and B2B businesses internationally and leverage omnichannel capabilities for marketplace selling to drive revenue.

The company’s latest expansion comes six months after its successful launch into France, Italy and the Netherlands and marks BigCommerce’s official market entry into Latin America.

BigCommerce’s Open SaaS e-commerce platform is designed to scale with business growth and enables merchants of all sizes—from small startups to large enterprises—to deliver localized and innovative customer experiences.

Merchants can access a range of multi-language, multi-currency and secure payment capabilities to create storefronts tailored to local or cross-border customers and test new markets. Additionally, the platform enables retailers to discover new revenue streams by exploring new sales channels like Facebook Shops, Google Shopping, Instagram Shopping and more.

As the global B2B ecommerce market size continues to grow, international merchants can transition their businesses online with BigCommerce’s native B2B functionality and strong ecosystem of integration partner applications.

BigCommerce’s roster of established clients in each region includes brands such as Tienda Chivas, a soccer apparel brand in Mexico; alcoholic beverage company Diageo and workplace safety equipment and apparel seller Safeguru in Spain; and scooter seller Unu Motors and skincare brand Dr. Barbara Sturm in Germany.

Post-purchase

Wonderment

Wonderment, the cloud-based platform that provides order tracking technology for Shopify merchants, has closed a $6 million round of seed financing.

The round, led by CRV, will be used to strengthen the Wonderment platform and expand the team. Underscore VC and Defy.vc also participated in this round, along with Klaviyo co-founders, Andrew Bialecki and Ed Hallen; Loop CEO Jonathan Poma; Shopify product lead Guillaume Racine; and several founding employees of HubSpot.

The Wonderment platform gives Shopify brands an affordable platform offering instant visibility into their shipments, so they can notify customers about delayed or lost packages before they write into support. They can also deliver a better, branded tracking experience that they can control, regardless of which carriers or warehouse providers they use.

The platform enables these stores to proactively send consumers shipping updates through email or SMS, and provide support and operations teams with real-time reports of shipping issues.

Together, the three co-founders Jessica Meher, Brian Whalley, and Wesley Abbey pull on their respective experiences building billion-dollar e-commerce and SaaS companies including Klaviyo, Drizly, HubSpot and Wayfair to build a platform that enables small businesses to deliver Amazon-like shopping experiences.

When brands leverage Wonderment’s shipping intelligence and workflow automation, they can also lighten the load for support agents and improve repeat purchase rates, Whalley said.

Product reviews

The Desire Company

The Desire Company, a content media platform featuring video reviews, how-to’s, and classes from professionals, has unveiled an $8 million Series A backed by private investment firms Valor Equity Partners and Cleveland Avenue, LLC.

Co-founded by husband-and-wife duo Eric and Judith Sheinkop, The Desire Company aims to change the traditional shopping experience by delivering credible, expert advice instead of influencer-driven reviews for a more trustworthy shopping experience.

The funding will be used to support the lineup of brand and retailer partnerships, and open a new studio in Chicago to increase production capabilities and meet the growing demand from consumers and partners.

With a total $14 million raised since its start and a $78 million valuation, the company is focused on providing high-quality video reviews from professionals across industries using their recommended products. From NFL athletes and celebrity fitness trainers, to licensed wellness experts, makeup artists, stylists and dancers, The Desire Company has a growing library of more than 4,000 expert videos.

With Chicago roots throughout the company from the founders to investors, the new studio location will help The Desire Company deliver scale at a rapid speed to meet retailer demands, as well as continue to grow their roster of industry experts that ensures consumers receive the most honest, accurate, and helpful product recommendations.