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Retail Tech: E-Comm Marketplace Jane Raises $40M, M&S Launches ‘Pay With Me’ in 200 Stores

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

E-commerce

Jane

Jane, a curated online marketplace for boutique sellers, has received a $40 million growth investment from private equity Tritium Partners. This financing, Jane’s first since its founding in 2011, will accelerate the e-commerce firm’s growth and support its aggressive plans to expand the Jane brand.

With the funding, Jane, which describes itself as the “go-to source for fashion, home décor and other stylish products,” seeks to provide a more curated customer experience by expanding its set of product categories and markets. The company has not indicated which categories or markets it plans on expanding into. Jane also indicated that it will use the funding to offer new features for its boutique sellers on its marketplace.

Jane says it grew its customer base by more than 80 percent in the first six months of 2020, and as of August, it attracts more than 4.5 million unique monthly visitors on average.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Jane’s momentum grew throughout 2020, “regularly” exceeding 80 percent year-over-year sales growth and breaking daily sales records, it claims. Jane’s user base has purchased more than $1 billion of goods through its marketplace.

“Our strategy is clear. We offer relevant, fashion-conscious products to women and their families in an online, curated marketplace,” said Jane CEO Taleeb Noormohamed in a statement. “Now, as we partner with Tritium and embark on the next phase of our journey, we are focused on building Jane into a global, household brand as we expand our services to reach more customers and empower more small boutique merchants around the world.”

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Noormohamed, the co-founder of home goods marketplace Casaza and the former chief growth officer of luxury fashion marketplace Farfetch, was appointed CEO of Jane in August.

Supply chain visibility

Project44

Project44, a supply chain visibility platform and network for shippers and logistics service providers, has closed a Series D financing round of $100 million, raising the Chicago-based company’s funding to $241 million.

The funding round, led by venture capital firm Insight Partners, will go toward continued, global expansion of its multimodal carrier network as well as new product innovations, partnerships and integrations both up and downstream within the supply chain. The company also plans to add 100 employees to its current staff of 285.

Project44’s technology helps companies see how their shipments are moving through distribution networks and to help make adjustments in case of bottlenecks or changes in market demands. The company’s platform uses application program interface (API) technologies, and other integrations to collect information from numerous freight transportation and logistics providers and put it into a format that retailers, manufacturers and other shippers can use.

The company has more than 400 customers across 140 countries, with customers including retail giants including Amazon, Dollar General, Walgreens and Tractor Supply Co.

The cloud-based platform is connected to over 175,000 carriers worldwide and supports all transportation modes and shipping types, including parcel, final-mile, less-than-truckload, volume less-than-truckload, truckload, rail, intermodal and ocean.

In 2020, project44 added air freight and groupage visibility, as well as expanded global ocean coverage to track more shipments. The company also announced multiple product advancements, including an enhanced, predictive ETA model designed to calculate a shipment’s arrival status with extreme accuracy, helping customers to reduce inventory.

Additional participation in the funding round came from 8VC, Emergence Capital, Omidyar Technology Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Sozo Ventures and Underscore VC.

Fit technology

My Size

My Size, Inc, a developer and creator of AI-driven sizing measurement solutions for apparel such as MySizeID, has entered online footwear with the planned launch of shoe sizing within its solution. According to the company, the footwear measurement solution is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2021.

Citing IBISWorld estimates that online shoe sales in the U.S. are estimated to be $20.9 billion next year, with growth of nearly 10 percent since 2019, My Size says that customer-friendly policies like free returns can put stress on future margins and decrease retention, if fit issues remain unaddressed.

The MySize footwear sizing solution is designed to be “plug and play” with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Lightspeed and Magento.

By pairing a footwear retailer’s product table, Global Trade Item Number, description and other relevant details with MySize’s AI-driven and machine learning algorithms online, shoppers will be presented with a size recommendation that is designed to increase confidence, and reduce returns.

MySize says its technology can reduce returns by as much as 50 percent and increase average order value by as much as 30 percent. Using this technology for footwear, MySize’s solution can provide shoppers with a shoe size recommendation, after providing only a select few details such as their size in their favorite shoe or even a picture of their foot.

Checkout

Marks & Spencer/Honeywell

Marks & Spencer (M&S) launched an “on-the-spot” payment solution called Pay With Me in the days ahead of Christmas in 200 stores to help shorten or even eliminate queues.

With Pay With Me, M&S employees can pick out customers waiting in line that are paying just for a select few items, and quickly process their transaction via a handheld Honeywell device.

With Pay With Me, M&S employees can pick out customers waiting in line that are paying just for a select few items, and quickly process their transaction via a handheld Honeywell device.

 

The rollout follows a successful trial at seven stores and was the latest initiative M&S has launched to hasten the in-store holiday shopping experience. With each store operating a maximum capacity and each store individually counting customers via a bespoke app linked across all floors, Pay With Me also could help free up space for more customers to enter the store and start shopping.

Pay With Me integrates with the retailer’s reward program, M&S Sparks, and allows both contactless payments on purchases of up to 45 pounds ($60.50) and card payments (with no limit). Customers can also pay using Apple Pay.

M&S took numerous measures ahead of the holiday season to improve the in-store shopping experience, including installing 1,000 brand-new self-service registers at 69 of its higher footfall stores and rolling out Scan & Shop to 30 stores to help speed up the payment process.

The retailer also expanded its checkout-free technology “Mobile Pay Go” to every U.K. store, meaning customers can skip the queues and pay for their items using their smartphone. Customers can scan items as they shop and leave the store without visiting a till via the M&S App. Mobile Pay Go is available at all 573 U.K. M&S-owned stores.

Trigo

Trigo, a frictionless checkout technology provider, has raised a $60 million Series B funding round led by global venture capital firm 83North. The round brings Trigo’s total funding to $94 million. The new funds will be used to scale the company’s ability to meet growing demand, boost R&D and expand its global presence.

European grocer Tesco has tapped Trigo’s technology, implementing a trial of the checkout at a Tesco Express convenience store in Welwyn Garden City, which is 20 miles north of London. Guus Dekkers, chief technology officer at Tesco, says the grocer has made “great progress” with the trial.

Trigo says it is working with European retailers to open an undisclosed number stores during 2021, and is banking on the growth of smart checkout technology worldwide. The checkout provider cited Juniper Research data indicating that smart checkout tech will process nearly $400 billion of transactions within the next five years. The same report also predicted that retailers will invest $23 billion into artificial intelligence by 2025, up from $5 billion in 2020.

Trigo uses AI-powered computer vision technologies together with off-the-shelf hardware to retrofit existing stores. The company applies its proprietary algorithms to ceiling-mounted cameras which automatically learn and upload data on shoppers’ movements and product choices, enabling customers to simply walk into a store, pick up their desired items and walk out without stopping at the checkout. Payments and receipts are settled digitally.

A rendering of how Trigo's ceiling-mounted cameras capture shoppers' movements and product choices.
A rendering of how Trigo’s ceiling-mounted cameras capture shoppers’ movements and product choices. Trigo

No biometric or facial recognition data are gathered or analyzed. Based on anonymized movement and product choice data within stores and across a chain’s stores, Trigo offers retailers a range of additional solutions powered by its 3D engine model called RetailOS, including predictive inventory management, pricing optimization, security and fraud prevention, planogram compliance, and event-driven marketing.

Existing investors joined the new round, including Vertex Ventures Israel, Hetz Ventures, Red Dot Capital Partners, Tesco, and Morrag Investments.

Livestreaming

LiveXLive/Custom Personalization Solutions (CPS)

LiveXLive Media, a global platform for livestream and on-demand audio, video and podcast content in music, comedy and pop culture, has acquired Custom Personalization Solutions (CPS) in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $12 million.

CPS develops, manufactures and distributes personalized products for wholesale and direct-to-consumer distribution, offers over 10,000 exclusive personalized gift items for family, home, seasonal holidays, and special events. CPS utilizes 10 types of personalization methods including embroidery, laser engraving and direct-to-garment printing for shoppers’ personalization/print-on-demand needs.

By integrating this merchandise within the LiveXLive music, podcast and original content stack, the company can offer its “superfans” unique and personalized merchandise from their favorite artists, shows and events, according to Robert Ellin, CEO and Chairman of LiveXLive.

As a result of the acquisition, LiveXLive intends to further the revenue reach of its current partners and talent lineup across all of its subsidiaries to target these fans and partner with other artists and stars from the music, podcast and entertainment industry to create and distribute unique and limited-edition personalized clothing, jewelry, toys as well as virtual goods.

In addition, LiveXLive will work with artists and celebrities to manufacture custom products and licensing partnerships similar to its existing collaboration with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Digital and physical distribution of merchandise will be mainly online, but is also expected to include numerous big-box retailers like Walmart.

CPS, which is expected to generate approximately $20 million in revenue and $1 million of EBITDA in 2020, will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of LiveXLive. The acquisition is expected to be immediately accretive to shareholders’ equity and includes approximately $5.2 million of estimated working capital.

Retail management

Sage/Brightpearl

Sage, a cloud business management solutions provider, has partnered with e-commerce operations platform Brightpearl in a move aimed at helping retail customers better take advantage of best-of-breed cloud finance and retail management platforms.

Under the partnership, Sage will make a minority investment of approximately 17 million pounds ($23 million) into the business and take a seat on Brightpearl’s board of directors.

With its global headquarters in Bristol, U.K. and a U.S. headquarters in Austin, Texas, Brightpearl’s back-office solution helps 1,000 retail customers to streamline and automate their retail operations across order management, CRM, fulfillment, retail accounting inventory and warehouse management as they scale and grow.

The company partners with organizations like Shopify, eBay, Amazon, Magento and BigCommerce, and has seen the number of online companies joining its platform grow by 75 percent in the last quarter of 2020.

Overall, Brightpearl manages more than 10 million transactions per year, totaling $3 billion of business.

Sage led a larger round of 25 million pounds ($33 million) raised in this Series C round, with existing shareholders including Cipio Partners, Notion Capital and Verdane investing the further 8 million pounds ($10 million).