The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Supply chain management
Relex Solutions, a provider of unified retail planning solutions, closed a funding round of 500 million euros ($566.4 million) led by funds managed by Blackstone Growth (BXG), Blackstone’s growth equity investing business.
Relex now plans to hire hundreds of developers and experts to grow its technical team that already stands at more than 400 employees. In total, the company employs over 1,300 people worldwide.
The AI-driven, cloud-based Relex Living Retail Platform helps retailers and brands reduce waste, costs, and manual work by automating and optimizing their demand planning, merchandising, supply chain and workforce planning.
The Living Retail Platform helps companies to harness the speed, accuracy and efficiency of data-driven algorithmic decision-making. It does this by using AI-driven demand forecasts to automate smarter, data-based decisions across core processes in stores and distribution and fulfillment centers, from allocations and replenishment to planograms and workforce planning.
Relex Solutions also helps consumer packaged goods companies develop accurate production timelines so that retailers can secure supply in the right amounts in time to meet consumer demand without causing waste.
The solution aims to centralize supply chain, space and workforce data to automatically optimize the flow of goods and use of capacity and resources across the supply chain.
Relex Solutions has previously raised more than 200 million euros ($226.5 million) in funding. In 2021, Relex grew its customer base to over 350 clients and almost doubled its software revenue bookings, most notably partnering with Bed Bath & Beyond to help reinvent its supply chain.
Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, the company has offices in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. Some of Relex’s clients include Dollar Tree, M&S Food, Franprix, Morrisons, PetSmart, Sephora, and Rossmann.
Global product discovery, sourcing and purchasing platform RangeMe, has expanded its service offering by enabling U.S. retail buyers to now purchase products directly from suppliers. The capability will boost regional and independent retailers who can now order the products that they source on RangeMe, helping to get them on their shelves or listed online faster.
Functioning as a sales and marketing channel, RangeMe can enable suppliers to create a B2B digital storefront and open up new direct sales channels, while also putting their products in front of buyers from the largest retailers in the world including Walmart, CVS, Albertsons, Ulta Beauty, 7-Eleven, Tesco, Coles Australia, Petco and more.
RangeMe CEO and founder Nicky Jackson said that the company is looking to continue rolling the platform out to U.S. retailers and suppliers across all major CPG categories this year.
With more than 200,000 suppliers representing nearly 1 million products across all CPG categories, RangeMe will showcase its expanded service offering at the upcoming 2022 Global Market: Spring Buying Days event hosted by parent company ECRM. This season’s Global Market event is designed to bring together suppliers and retail buyers from all over the world to connect, meet virtually and do business. As part of the showcase, RangeMe is offering select food, beverage, health, and beauty suppliers to sell their products with no commission fees.
Buyers can start experiencing direct purchasing on RangeMe with an experience that incorporates search along with one-button purchasing, a multi-order add-to-cart feature, and easily accessible order details and history. For suppliers, it can be as simple as setting up their storefront, selling products and fulfilling orders on top of a full suite of order management tools.
Digital wholesale platform Joor is leveraging its Joor Passport to power a set of marquee global fashion events for the third consecutive year.
Events slated to run on Joor Passport this spring include select Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) member brands showing during New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, Tokyo Fashion Awards, Showcase Japan (in partnership with the Japan External Trade Organization), UK in Fashion, and Passport to Spain, among others currently being confirmed.
The Joor technology will facilitate digital order-taking, creating a virtual component to each event that extends its timeframe and geographic reach, providing access to buyers from around the world. In addition to partnering with premiere global trade show events, Joor will also continue to host its own year-round marketplace events, including The Accessory Collective, Destination Italy and Joor Showcase featuring elevated contemporary brands.
Additionally, Joor announced its support of the CFDA and its new Interim Membership Tier, which recognizes emerging designers and aims to help strengthen and grow their business by providing direct access to industry resources and experts. Joor will support the CFDA’s mission of strengthening the impact of American fashion in the global economy by providing relevant market information for Council Members and by enabling extended commerce opportunities through connection to leading retailers around the world.
“Digital adoption has become critical for success in the fashion industry today,” said Lisa Smilor, executive vice president at the Council of Fashion Designers of America. “We look forward to working with Joor to provide the CFDA’s new Interim Members with knowledge of wholesale market trends, digital selling best practices, and access to Joor’s powerful global network of retail buyers.”
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Joor Passport has enabled fashion business continuity in a time of highly restricted travel. To date, Joor Passport has hosted more than 50 global events, attracting more than 315,000 retail visitors from 152 countries. From the brand side, more than 4,200 designers have participated in a Joor Passport event, with almost 900,000 products sold.
Saks Off 5th/Skypad
Saks Off 5th has partnered with Sky I.T. Group to leverage Skypad, a product performance analytics platform for retailers and brands. This partnership is designed to shift the way sales and inventory data is shared between Saks Off 5th and its vendor partners, with the aim of optimizing the customer shopping experience.
Skypad will advance Saks Off 5th’s current vendor selling data distribution process by leveraging automation and a self-serve reporting interface that can meet the needs of brands and buyers alike. Eliminating the need to email manual reports or rely on limited metrics, the platform will repurpose time spent on selling distribution. Skypad will provide vendors product and location level insights with year-over-year comparison capabilities in a more effective and efficient, shared view, digital platform. The company says this will result in more expedient insights and maximize in-season opportunities, while synergizing relationships.
The partnership comes as more retailers and vendor partners need access to data to evaluate performance and clearly identify opportunities, while minimizing potential risk. Leveraging the power of standardized information, both brands and buyers can gain insights that echo the voice of the consumer, driving proactive and confident action.
“As Saks Off 5th continues to experience significant growth, we are focused on increasing our digital capabilities to ensure we deliver a best-in-class customer experience,” said Molly Taylor, chief merchant, Saks Off 5th. “We believe Skypad’s innovative technology will provide a new level of insights between our dedicated merchant team and vendor partners further enhancing our ability to deliver a compelling assortment to our fashion-seeking customers.”
Today, Skypad services more than 3,000 users, from 2,000+ brands across several industry verticals and geographic regions. The company’s client brand portfolio of industry leaders includes Gucci, Prada, Rag & Bone, Lucky Brand, Burberry, and L’Oréal. The Skypad retailer partner network includes Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Sensormatic Solutions, the global retail solutions portfolio of Johnson Controls, updated its Sensormatic IQ platform and transformative services.
Sensormatic IQ’s open, scalable platform can integrate the complete Sensormatic Solutions portfolio with third-party offerings designed to improve operations at every level. The connected, agile, secure, cloud-based SaaS solutions and services leverage an intelligent operating core, cutting-edge IoT, and AI technologies to deliver strategic insights that enable retailers to pursue next-generation retail experiences. The enhanced connected solution suite includes a comprehensive set of transformative services to help clients manage technology complexity, performance, and resources more efficiently.
To support retailers’ digital transformation efforts, Sensormatic Solutions now offers six services within its suite of offerings, including: professional consulting on technology strategy; design, deployment and integration; management and support services; learner services; customer success tailoring; and retail-specific consulting.
The professional consulting offering provides technology strategy, assessments, and business roadmaps with relevant technology recommendations based on analysis of the client’s data, industry insights and Sensormatic Solutions experience. Design, deployment and integration encompasses solution design and architecture, program delivery, deployment, installation, and standardization to ensure interoperability between retailers, third parties and Sensormatic Solutions systems.
Sensormatic’s management and support services offer hardware repairs and maintenance, remote and on-site technical support and upgrades, and system health monitoring. On the other hand, the company’s learner services facilitate consumer-facing training programs focused on applications that support chosen business outcomes, hardware, software, and other client-specific needs.
Customer success support gives clients access to customer success managers who provide guidance tailored to each retailer’s specific needs, goals, and pain points, while the retail consulting practice connects clients with industry professionals with the expertise to execute custom projects and devise new methods to reach profitability goals.
Strategic relationships with data, analytics, technology, and retail leaders can help bolster Sensormatic IQ’s enhanced capabilities, such as Google and Intel. Additionally, Sensormatic Solutions recent collaboration with Unacast provides a new level of awareness into consumer’s retail brand visitations. The company also collaborates with other third parties to facilitate industry-wide progress.
Identiv, Inc., a provider of in digital security and identification solutions in the Internet of Things (IoT), has unveiled the Identiv Secure Authentication Platform for validating high-security near field communication (NFC) tags. The platform is built to enable consumer engagement interactions to provide a unique user experience through Identiv’s validation service.
The new service builds on Identiv’s industry focus on authentication and verification for luxury goods, consumables, healthcare, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, specialty retail and smart packaging. Use cases for the Secure Authentication Platform and NFC tags include embedded packaging that activates online content on a customer’s phone, anti-counterfeiting packaging for luxury items, product registrations, gathering consumer feedback and more.
NFC technology allows two devices to communicate wirelessly and enables consumers to interact with products. Every NFC tag has a unique identifier (UID), so that when a consumer interacts with the tag via a mobile device, it creates a URL and generates a signature. The Secure Authentication Platform is the assurance layer between an interacting device ID and the NFC tag’s UID.
Identiv’s validation service aims to give consumers and brands confidence in the interaction by directly correlating with a pass or failure prompt generated by the unique signature within the platform. If successfully passed, the consumer receives secure content via the URL. This unique experience cannot be copied or shared. If the consumer posts the URL on social media, it produces a fail result, and any follower who clicks the link is directed to a generic experience.
NFC and the Identiv Secure Authentication Platform aim to establish a powerful, engaging, loyalty-building brand connection for consumers.
Identiv’s RFID and NFC solutions verify identities and security in the IoT and are embedded in billions of everyday objects, including medical devices, books, toys, athletic apparel, perishable goods and pharmaceuticals.
Global Blue, a company best known for tax-free global shopping app, has acquired a minority share in retail logistics technology company, Toshi.
Toshi is designed to bridge the gap luxury retailers often have when matching their online offering with their exclusive in-store experience. The company leverages proprietary SaaS technology that enables brands to offer a concierge-style service directly to the customer’s destination of choice. The e-commerce solution integrates into all major platforms and the in-store interface can be activated via an app or incorporated into the brand’s existing clienteling software.
Once activated, Toshi’s intelligent logistics infrastructure can provide a suite of client delivery options, including same-day, client-scheduled, 30-to-60 minute delivery windows, as well as returns management.
A network of highly trained assistants can deliver the “in-store” dressing room experience, with services such as wait and try, try before you buy, size up/size down and “Inspire Me,” in an effort to create upsell opportunities for the brand and increase average order value (AOV).
Toshi combines logistics capabilities and elevated customer service to provide opportunities for inventory optimization, stronger conversion rates and higher customer retention. It provides a client delivery experience much more in line with luxury brand and client expectations, and drives key performance metrics, increasing AOV and revenue, while reducing return rates.
The company has partnered with many of the world’s top luxury brands and it currently operates in the U.S. and the U.K., with plans to expand into Europe (Paris, Milan) and Asia (Hong Kong).
Global Blue Ventures, the new entity created by Global Blue to focus on investing in and partnering with third parties that offer best-in-class retail technology, advised on the Toshi deal.
The investment enriches Global Blue’s portfolio of omnichannel technology solutions that aim to empower luxury retailers to improve their performance. Toshi will join other industry players working with Global Blue including Yocuda, a digital receipt provider and ZigZag Global, an e-commerce returns service.
Toshi and Global Blue will take advantage of cross-selling opportunities and explore integrations of its services with Global Blue’s Tax Free Shopping and e-commerce returns services.
As part of the deal, Tomas Mostany, senior vice president, strategy & chief product officer at Global Blue, will join Toshi’s executive board.
More than 30 million international shoppers receive personalized shopping experiences via Global Blue, enabling them to claim back the value-added tax (VAT) on their eligible purchases when they shop abroad and to pay in their home currency at a guaranteed best rate. Customs and authorities in more than 40 countries leverage Global Blue to increase the attractiveness of shopping their country and ensure a secure and compliant tax-free shopping structure.
Creative Realities/Reflect Systems
Digital signage experience producers Creative Realities and Reflect Systems have finalized the merger the companies first disclosed in November 2021. The combined company now operates under the Creative Realities, Inc. brand name and remains listed on NASDAQ as CREX.
The official closure comes just weeks after the two digital signage powerhouses announced they won their first joint customer—a multi-million dollar, national retail project—demonstrating the breadth of their combined offerings.
The combined Creative Realities represents a full integration of both companies’ industry knowledge and track records. Creative Realities has a historic strength of deploying large-scale and sophisticated digital signage projects for brands in the automotive, convenience retail, quick-service restaurant and stadium environment spaces. Similarly, with Reflect’s extensive experience and expertise in industries such as specialty retail, healthcare, banking and corporate communications, the door has opened for the integrated company to address digital experiences across every environment, venue or sector.
Full-scale offerings of the combined Creative Realities include experience planning, technology design and content creation, including custom and HTML web-based apps. Additionally, the company has a robust, purpose-built CMS Software via ReflectView, Reflect Xperience and Clarity for digital menu boards—all offered as an SaaS model.
The combined firm also leverages data-driven analytics and menu board methods to optimize design and drive ROI, as well as design engineering, project management, installation and technical support.
Clients can use Creative Realities’ Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) streaming platforms, as well as an in-house, 24/7 network operation center for “day-two” support and service to support the lifetime of the deployment.
The combined company will be headquartered in Louisville, Ky.