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Retail Tech: Lightspeed Buys NuOrder and Ecwid, Qima Invests in Kavida.ai, Aetrex Unveils Foot Scanner

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

E-commerce

Lightspeed/Ecwid/NuOrder

Lightspeed e-commerce platform Ecwid for approximately $500 million and bought B2B commerce platform NuOrder for $425 million as the company continues its evolution from cloud-based point-of-sale company to e-commerce platform serving the whole value chain.

Lightspeed’s strategic vision with the $925 million acquisitions ultimately foresees that merchants within its core verticals will have access to more suppliers, customers, data and insights.

The Ecwid platform helps customers create standalone small businesses. Once integrated, Lightspeed will position Ecwid to help merchants reach shoppers via social media, digital marketplaces or wherever they shop.

And with NuOrder, Lightspeed aims to create a bridge between the merchant and supplier experience, simplifying product ordering for retailers and offering brands insight into how their products move. The acquisition will capitalize on the early success of the Lightspeed Supplier Network and accelerate the growth of its financial services offerings, including Lightspeed Payments and Lightspeed Capital, while establishing the company as a global distribution network for brands, such as Canada Goose, Converse and Arc’teryx.

Ecwid currently serves more than 130,000 paying customers in more than 100 countries around the world, generating revenue of over $20 million, growing at a rate of more than 50 percent year over year. NuOrder currently serves over 3,000 brands and saw more than 100,000 retailers make more than $11.5 billion in orders through its platform in a year. It generated revenue of over $20 million and grew at a rate exceeding 30 percent year over year.

Both deals are expected to close at the end of September, pending regulatory and other approvals.

In April, Lightspeed closed a deal to acquire Vend, a cloud-based retail management software company, for approximately $350 million, doubling its Asia-Pacific customer base. And to end 2020, the e-commerce company fortified its point-of-sale (POS) business with the $440 million acquisition of ShopKeep and the $430 million deal for restaurant POS platform Upserve.

The NuOrder acquisition comes after the B2B wholesale platform entered a partnership with the Latin American Fashion Summit (LAFS) to host a virtual event from June 1-July 25 to showcase the most outstanding talents of their region with a focus on sustainability.

The 2021 LAFS Virtual Event with NuOrder will curate 50 emerging Latin brands that will exhibit their newest collections to more than 500,000 potential buyers from retailers such as Net-a-Porter, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman.

Participating brands include Crisobela, Valentina Karnoubi, Azulu, Juan de Dios, Senda Nelly Rojas, Ana + María Store, Alepel and Maygel Coronel.

After Latinx entrepreneurs Estefanía Lacayo and Samantha Tams founded LAFS in 2018 as an annual summit to connect prominent industry members, the organization has grown to offer a multitude of vehicles to support its community of brands, retailers, stylists, and personalities, among other creatives. Pitch to LAFS is an annual contest where Lacayo and Tams search for emerging Latin American fashion talents.

Women’s ready-to-wear, children’s wear, swim and resortwear, home, jewelry and accessories and hats, bags and shoes, are categories within the event curated by LAFS hand in hand with Camila Straschnoy and Andy Faerman, retail experts and co-founders of the consulting agency Mate House.

Supply chain optimization

Lands’ End/Manhattan Associates

Lands’ End has selected the Manhattan Active Supply Chain solution from Manhattan Associates to shore up the back end of its customer experience.

The American-made retailer, which saw sales jump 48 percent in its most recent quarter, has expanded its market presence through a diverse “uni-channel” strategy, including its own website, a recently launched third-party marketplace, third-party wholesale relationships and 31 company operated Lands’ End stores.

The retailer says Manhattan Active Supply Chain is a “unifying distribution and transportation” to improve agility and responsiveness within supply chain operations.

Lands’ End will start implementing Manhattan Active Transportation Management this month, and will start deploying Manhattan Active Warehouse Management in its U.S. distribution centers in August.

“This relationship will be a key driver for our uni-channel strategy, allowing us command and control of every part of our supply chain, and enabling us to continue to deliver our legendary customer service,” said Chieh Tsai, executive vice president and chief product officer at Lands’ End.

Supply chain compliance

Qima/Kavida.ai

Qima, a provider of quality control and supply chain compliance solutions, has invested in Kavida.ai, a London-based startup that builds supply chain digital replicas and uses artificial intelligence that can help enterprises prevent and mitigate supply chain disruptions in real time or before they occur.

The platform analyzes live publicly available data from sources such as Twitter, YouTube, news channels and more, converts it into simulation mathematics to quantify the impact of emerging threats and identifies the optimal decisions to mitigate these threats.

Kavida.ai wants to specifically address vulnerabilities in global supply chains that were made more obvious during the Covid-19 crisis, with CEO Anam Rahman noting that the company covers external risks such as weather and port disruptions. Rahman said the platform’s service complements Qima, which focuses on internal and compliance risk, and can build synergistic features within its Qimaone supply chain quality and compliance platform.

Qima already partners with 14,000 retailers, importers, consumer goods and food brands within its global supply network and has a team of 4,000 technical experts that perform quality inspections, supplier audits, certification and laboratory testing in 85 countries.

Buy now, pay later

Klarna

Klarna, the banking, payments and shopping fintech giant, launched its Shopping app for U.K.-based consumers, enabling users to “Pay in 3” in any online shop directly through the platform.

This new Shopping feature allows U.K. users to shop at any online retailer, regardless of whether they’re partnered with Klarna or not, and split the payment into three interest-free installments, effectively eliminating the need to use a credit card. It will also integrate monthly budgets and personal spending limit functionalities for users to set and remain in control of their spending.

Additional features include personalized wish lists and curated content based on consumers’ interests and their favorite stores, price drop notifications, “thousands” of deals updated daily, and lists of retailers for users to decide where to buy their favorite product.

Klarna's new Shopping feature allows U.K. users to shop at any online retailer, even those that aren't partnered with the fintech, and split the payment into three interest-free installments.

Klarna’s new Shopping feature allows U.K. users to shop at any online retailer, even those that aren’t partnered with the fintech, and split the payment into three interest-free installments.

For May, Klarna reported global gross merchandise value (GMV) of $18.9 billion in the first quarter. Klarna also recently partnered with retail giants SPARC Group and Authentic Brands Group (ABG) to extend its “Pay in 4” BNPL service to more retail brands. Some of Authentic’s brands include Aéropostale, Brooks Brothers, Nine West and Nautica.

Fit technology

Aetrex Worldwide, a developer of foot scanning technology, and a seller of orthotics and comfort and wellness footwear, has unveiled Albert 3DFit, a 3D foot scanner that can calculate customers’ 3D foot measurements in less than 10 seconds with accuracy of up to 1 millimeter.

Albert 3DFit features Aetrex’s FitGenius AI platform, which matches customers’ unique foot profiles with their ideal footwear styles and size. This can ultimately provide personalized footwear recommendations that can be accessed across a retailer’s digital shopping platforms after leaving the store.

The foot scanner guides customers through the scanning process manually by using a tablet, or touch-free with voice activation technology. The software uses artificial intelligence to match footwear data by brand and style to each unique foot’s profile providing sizing recommendations in seconds, resulting in personalized shoe recommendations to help customers make informed buying decisions.

After leaving the store, users can leverage the software’s FitGenius feature to view and shop footwear styles that work best for their feet. Each shoe is then assigned a FitGenius score.

The FitGenius plug-in allows retailers to integrate the shoe recommendation software into their website or across their email and social messaging.

The Albert 3DFit scanner also provides retailers with data that they can use to optimize key areas of their business, such as marketing, store performance, and product planning and development. Retailers can then use the collected data to develop targeted digital marketing messages to customers based on their foot profiles.

With units launching in stores this fall, the Albert 3DFit scanner is available now for $1,995, or $55.42 per month.

Since the inception of Aetrex’s foot scanning technology in 2002, the company has placed over 10,000 scanners globally, averaging a total of 2.5 million scans per year and 40 million scans total.

Aetrex says it will also be launching its new mobile app for at-home foot sizing and footwear recommendations later this year.

Fashion technology

Tukatech

Fashion technology solution provider Tukatech, has released its 2021 line of technologies geared toward on-demand manufacturing, micro-factories and made-to-order businesses.

Founding CEO Ram Sareen said the new technologies improve productivity with fewer operators necessary during manufacturing.

The company’s Tukacad platform now enhances new product development based on old blocks. Users can import Excel or CSV files or fill in new measurements directly in the chart by typing in the desired value and the new pattern will be ready in seconds.

This system keeps the style lines and shape by adjusting the patterns proportionally. If a measurement is taken across multiple pattern pieces, each piece will adjust proportionally to maintain the original shape and balance, the company says. This feature is added to Tukacad PE (Professional Edition) to further “de-skill” the pattern making process.

Other new functions are designed to improve productivity, such as the Rule Table in the MTM module (Made-to-Measure). Now users can run commands with a single click, as opposed to one by one. There are also more options for internals, such as adding double notches (most often used to distinguish back pieces) and reopening darts after they have been closed.

In January of 2020, Tukatech released Tuka APM, an automatic pattern making module within the Tukacad software. For this year, the company added more template categories for men and women to the built-in block pattern library. Additionally, users can import their own block templates into Tuka APM so the generated patterns follow their own fitting conventions. This is designed to enable better process engineering within product development, even without an advanced skillset.

Additionally, the 2021 version of Tukamark and Smartmark has an automated way to create nested bundles by size, a feature that was previously only available for Smartmark Q and Net-Q users, or else would have to be done manually. Now it is an automated feature included for all users, which aims to increase productivity and cutting quality.

This year, the company added advanced features and productivity tools to its 3D fashion design and fitting suite, Tuka3D Professional Edition.

These tools were designed to simplify draping complex styles in 3D, such as advanced mirror stitching for symmetrical and “cut two” pieces that can make pattern preparation more efficient. After draping, users can adjust 3D garment sits and smooth out the layers for a higher quality look. They also have options to apply specialized fabric settings, including elastic presets.

Designers can draw in 3D and export a 2D CAD pattern from the shape. Since Tuka3D is connected to the Tukacad system for pattern making, users can clean up drawn patterns during the design process to reduce the amount of work done in pre-production.

Tuka3D is integrated with the Vray rendering engine, which now allows for detailed 3D fur rendering. This is beneficial for categories like virtual outerwear and luxury goods, the company says.

Alongside the Professional Edition, Tukatech also offers a lite 3D fashion design software for surface visualization—Tuka3D Designer Edition is a lite 3D fashion design software for surface visualization.

Rather than using a full Tuka3D Professional Edition station to drape a garment for visualization, designers can purchase ready-made 3D fashion garments in a variety of categories, such as men, women, children and plus size. In 2021, hundreds of new garments were added to the Tukaweb marketplace, including tops, bottoms, outerwear, dresses, swimwear and even accessories.

Designers can use these 3D garments for visualization, then after approval they can purchase the accompanying pattern and adjust, grade and produce the style in real life.

The Tukacut automatic fabric cutting machine has an updated look and a new processor. Combined with the Tukacut software, which calculates instructions to analyze cut path and sequencing, the update provides gives 16.8 percent higher productivity than almost any other cutter, the company says.

Tukatech also claims that Tukacut can cut through 200 layers of plastic, useful for manufacturers producing PPE.

The Tukaspread automatic fabric spreading machine is designed to remove fabric relaxation, with the most recent update increasing its capacity to hold up to 600 kilograms. The smart tension controller lays fabric evenly without pulling, including for fabrics like modal, which has four-way stretch.

The Tukaspread automatic fabric spreading machine is designed to remove fabric relaxation, with the most recent update increasing its capacity to hold up to 600 kilograms. The smart tension controller lays fabric evenly without pulling, including for fabrics like modal, which has four-way stretch.

Self-checkout

Grabango

Grabango, a provider of checkout-free technology for existing grocery and convenience stores, has raised $39 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Commerce Ventures with participation from Founders Fund, Unilever Ventures, Honeywell Ventures, and Wind Ventures.

To date, Grabango has signed five retail partners, each over $1 billion in revenue, including a global top-10 grocer and a Fortune-25 multinational retailer. Multi-store deployments are underway at several partners. The company has filed 38 patents, and the earliest ones have already been awarded, it says.

Grabango retrofitted its checkout-free technology into an already-operating Giant Eagle grocery store, letting shoppers skip the line within an environment that includes more than 15,000 SKUs and tens of thousands of transactions each month.

With Grabango, visitors can shop as usual and then skip the line by scanning the code in their Grabango app on the way out. Grabango’s solution uses computer vision technology to identify items as they are picked up. It counts those items and sends the receipt to the shopper’s phone after they leave the store.

Grabango will use some of the new capital to add more members to its research and development team.

Personalization

Nosto/Stackla

Nosto, an AI-powered commerce experience platform, has acquired Stackla, a global visual content marketing platform. This transaction marks the first acquisition for Nosto. Terms and conditions of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The deal helps retailers deliver personalized user-generated content (UGC) experiences to online shoppers as they increasingly demand authenticity from brands. Jim Lofgren, CEO at Nosto, said in a statement that he thought brands were “struggling to create enough engaging and diverse content” to fulfill shopper expectations.

The company highlighted Stackla’s research showing that 79 percent of nearly 1,600 consumers surveyed say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. Additionally, Nosto pointed to Adweek data that said customers are six times more likely to purchase a product if the page includes pictures from social media.

By incorporating Stackla’s market intelligence and deep expertise in UGC, Nosto says brands will be able to automate how they curate and publish high-converting content. With this automation capability, brands could ideally leverage AI-powered content curation and recommendations to continuously publish content with less effort.

Nosto will soon offer Stackla’s AI-powered platform to brands, also enabling them to centralize digital assets so that they can build libraries of authentic visual assets available to all relevant teams. Additionally, brands can build their own creator communities to grow content and customer loyalty.

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