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Retail Tech: NewStore Books Boot Brand, Verishop Sidles Up to Snapchat

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

Social commerce

Snap/Verishop

Verishop and Snap Inc. launched Verishop Mini: a curated shopping experience that lives inside Snapchat, allowing users to discover and shop the latest in fashion and beauty products without leaving the app. Verishop Mini, which debuted Tuesday, seamlessly delivers Verishop’s e-commerce experience to the 280 million daily Snapchat users.

The curated store, accessible through Snap’s rocket icon within chat and search, will feature a rotating selection of cult-favorite fashion labels including Ganni, Faithfull the Brand, Labucq, The Line by K, Dannijo, Frankie’s Bikinis, Bebe, Richer Poorer and Fifth & Ninth; as well as beauty brands including Kosas, R+Co, Blume, EXA and Saie.

Snapchat users can use Verishop Mini to “shop their mood” via 10 themed categories, created exclusively for the platform, including Free Spirited, Mid-Century Modern and High Glam among others. The experiences integrate directly with Snapchat’s chat function, so users can share favorites in real time with friends.

Users can virtually sample popular beauty products and accessories available from Verishop through Snap’s new augmented reality try-on experiences. For example, they can now see how they look in five shades of Kosas Wet Lip Oil Gloss, and virtually try-on select styles and colors of Fifth & Ninth Sunglasses. The AR shopping lenses will live on Verishop’s Snapchat profile and will be accessible in the filter carousel in Snapchat’s main camera.

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“Verishop is a new kind of shopping platform, offering easy discovery of unique products through an entertaining shopping experience. We’re passionate about helping independent brands be successful and building features to help these brands connect with the consumer,” said Imran Khan, Verishop co-founder and CEO. “We’re excited to introduce Verishop to the Snap community, and will continue to extend our platform, as we have with this partnership.”

PLM

Lands’ End/PTC

Lands’ End has reached a major milestone with product lifecycle management (PLM) platform PTC, having worked with the solution provider for digital transformation for 15 years.

The multi-channel retailer of casual clothing, accessories, footwear and home products has leveraged the FlexPLM solution and its team of retail technology experts, as the bedrock for its digital transformation for 15 years.

Lands’ End originally selected PTC FlexPLM in 2005, with the goal of using the platform to centralize its product data, communicate with and coordinate its supply chain, and bring new products to market as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Since that time, FlexPLM has accompanied Lands’ End throughout numerous cycles of process innovation and has become the primary system of record for every product category the legendary brand sells. Today, Lands’ End has “hundreds” of FlexPLM users internally and across its supply chain, the companies said.

Today, Lands’ End has “hundreds” of FlexPLM users internally and across its supply chain, the companies said.

 

Lands’ End also supplies the apparel and merchandise for PTC’s official online store, from baseball caps to polo shirts and gilets, making the two companies mutual customers, as well as long-time collaborators.

“Great quality, uncompromising service, and exceptional value are the key pillars of Lands’ End’s company ethos, and maintaining those high standard means taking advantage of the best technology available to us,” said Chieh Tsai, executive vice president and chief product officer of Lands’ End. “Ever since we first implemented FlexPLM, and throughout our ongoing engagement with PTC’s roster of retail technology experts, we have found PTC to be the right technology partner. Our 15-year relationship has delivered significant benefits for Lands’ End across all the product types we produce, and every channel we address from physical stores to catalogs to e-commerce.”

Product discovery/sourcing

RangeMe

Global product discovery platform RangeMe has fully launched its service to retailers in Australia, New Zealand and the wider APAC region. Prior to the expansion, retailers using RangeMe in this region were able to access 20,000 local suppliers, but now they can access more than 200,000 suppliers.

This expansion into APAC comes on the heels of RangeMe’s launch in the U.K. earlier this month as it scales operations worldwide. RangeMe first launched in 2013 and is used by more than 12,000 retailers in the U.S., including Walmart, Sephora, Walgreens and Albertsons.

RangeMe is designed to help retailers and their buying teams scale product sourcing efforts with streamlined submissions, simplified discovery tools and a digital sell sheet. Buyers can filter searches to find brands and products meeting sourcing needs and offering curated collections to help identify and understand category trends and emerging brands. The buyers also can use RangeMe to search trends and communicate directly with brands.

The platform also invites suppliers in the region to join grow their retail relationships, showcase their range, bring new products to market, increase brand visibility and grow sales.

Brand acquiring

Foundry

Foundry, the brand platform that acquires, nurtures and grows enduring online brands, has officially launched after raising $100 million in debt-free equity capital from LightBay Capital and Monogram Capital Partners.

The funds will be used to selectively build a portfolio of what it calls “omni-digital” brands, hire new team members and deploy its data-driven technology platform designed to cultivate lasting brands.

This patient capital structure allows Foundry is geared to create long-lasting relationships with founders to support their next big idea and advance their legacies.

The company is built for today’s environment which has seen massive e-commerce acceleration, but has left many small and medium-sized brands scrambling without the resources and capital to scale and compete.

Foundry targets brands with revenue ranging from $1 million to $50 million across categories such as home, kitchen, pets, outdoor, fitness and beauty. To identify and scale those brands, Foundry has created its own proprietary toolkit to enhance marketing, product development and technology.

While channel agnostic, Foundry accelerates the brand’s growth by optimizing it for third-party marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart, namely helping the brand out within its product pages and marketing. The acquirer also aims to enable brands to expand across DTC e-commerce channels, ramping up new product development and improving cost structures to help companies run smarter.

“Our team is committed to championing great founders who build brands that households can’t live without. Brands like that can be born anywhere online today, whether that is on Amazon, Shopify, Instagram or a DTC channel. Those brands simply need access to the best capabilities to thrive,” said Tom Shipley, president and co-founder of Foundry in a statement.

Foundry is deploying a proprietary and back-tested ScoreCard Assessment of 29 key quantitative and qualitative metrics to vet brands’ qualities like scalability, durability and growth potential. Foundry will also offer flexible purchase arrangements that allow brand owners to maintain a portion of their equity and have ongoing participation, as desired.

The launch comes at a time when brand acquirers are gaining popularity amid the popularity of sales on e-commerce marketplace platforms. In May alone, Digital Brands Group went public, while two other marketplace-focused acquirers raised significant funding rounds. Heyday raised $70 million in Series B funding and Perch raised $775 million in a Series A round.

Marketplaces

BigCommerce/Mercado Libre

Latin American e-commerce giant Mercado Libre is partnering with BigCommerce, enabling the platform’s merchants to sell across the region to nearly 133 million unique consumers on its online marketplace.

The collaboration marks Mercado Libre’s first partnership with a major North American e-commerce platform and complements the company’s recent U.S. expansion.

Mercado Libre sells in 18 Latin American countries and has global selling operations active in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Mexico. The marketplace is forecasted to account for one-quarter of all e-commerce sales in Latin America by the end of 2021, BigCommerce said citing eMarketer data.

“We are always looking for ways to better serve our customers, and this partnership gives them access to an entirely new variety of products from BigCommerce merchants,” said Jose Luis Hervás Fernández, director of cross border trade for Mercado Libre LATAM (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia). “As e-commerce continues to expand in Latin America, choosing BigCommerce as our first major platform partner is important for our long-term strategy and gives storeowners access to this fast-growing market.”

BigCommerce merchants can find Mercado Libre via the BigCommerce Channel Manager to apply for approval to start selling into the Latin America region.

Mercado Libre will provide free currency conversions and language translations to merchants in an effort to ease the cross-border transition. Merchants can accept transactions in a new region without changing their banking, so they can continue to accept payments directly within their current U.S. bank account. Additionally, all new merchants are provided with a personal BigCommerce Key Account Manager to help with onboarding.

Through an integration with BigCommerce Preferred Partner CedCommerce, merchants can automatically sync their product listings on Mercado Libre and centrally manage orders from within BigCommerce.

Personalization

Qubit

Qubit, a AI-powered personalization technology provider, has launched Qubit CommerceAI, an engine designed to understand and react instantly to customer context and ultimately unlock more value from a retailer’s entire product catalogs.

Qubit CommerceAI combines customer data, including intent, and design tools to accelerate conversion rates and customer lifetime value while reducing abandonment. Through its use of deep learning, Qubit is built to enable brands to learn more about their customers and determine which products from their catalogs will drive actual sales performance.

The engine’s deep learning capabilities leverage algorithms designed to be more sophisticated than those from machine learning, which can help process massive amounts of data in real time to power the entire end user shopping experience. E-commerce teams can use this data to generate insights to make important business decisions about merchandise, inventory, campaigns, offers and more.

E-commerce teams can use data to generate insights to make important business decisions about merchandise, inventory, campaigns, offers and more.

Qubit CommerceAI includes numerous features, including 1:1 product recommendations, 1:1 product badging, personalized content, abandonment recovery, visitor pulse and replenishment.

The latest version of recommendations is powered by deep learning and Qubit’s real time visitor data to deliver personalized recommendations based on a deeper understanding of the consumer and of the brand’s entire product catalog.

The product badging module includes best practice strategies such as social proof, scarcity and urgency, enabling brands to create custom badges or use pre-built badging templates to launch campaigns in just a few clicks. This module also includes dynamic decisioning, which manages audience prioritization and multiple cascading strategies for smarter targeting ability.

Users can set up, update and manage personalized content campaigns, and rapidly deploy campaigns and promotions with personalized content at any point in the customer journey. Additionally, real-time systems monitor customer behavior to trigger abandonment strategies when a visitor leaves the site, which are executed on site, via email, or by SMS or push notifications.

The “visitor pulse” lets brands ask customers their preferences, their interests and/or their intent to bolster the personalization experience. Qubit’s CommerceAI engine also is built to predict when customers will need to reorder items, such as beauty products, and automatically serves replenishment prompts for each visitor. An open integration framework enables replenishment to be executed on site, in real time, or via email.

Sustainable DTC footwear brand Cariuma, which sells consciously made, high quality, comfortable sneakers to customers in more than 60 countries worldwide, is already leveraging CommerceAI capabilities.

“Unlike other providers, Qubit welcomed our participation and influence in product development,” said Felipe Araujo, chief digital officer of Cariuma. “That, combined with Qubit’s personalization technology’s ability to garner customer insights from readily accessible quality data, made the decision to establish a partnership an obvious choice.”

MandM Direct, a European online off-price retailer that sells apparel, footwear and accessories, is leveraging Qubit’s product recommendations for customers in 25+ countries.

“From our perspective, Qubit’s deep learning-driven product recommendations solution outperforms the competition,” said Paul Allen, head of e-commerce, MandM Direct. “The Qubit team is continually building products that enable us to leverage our customer data and curate more relevant user journeys. Through a combination of technology and services, our seven-year partnership is critical to the success of our online operation.”

Omnichannel

R.M.Williams/NewStore

R.M.Williams, an Australian handcrafted boot maker and leather brand, has chosen the NewStore Omnichannel Platform to power the shopping experience across its 74 retail locations.

As part of its broader digital transformation initiative, the brand is streamlining customer, order and inventory data across all channels into one omnichannel order management system (OMS).

Additionally, R.M.Williams’ store associates will leverage the NewStore mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solution to offer a more convenient and unified shopping experience across both digital and physical channels. With the NewStore OMS and mPOS, R.M.Williams will offer mobile checkout as well as other features such as endless aisle, buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) and ship-from-store.

The company was founded in 1932 as a made-to-order boot manufacturer and has held onto that legacy by offering a bespoke boot service, which allows customers to create their very own pair from the ground up. R.M.Williams’ hopes to further augment this experience with the NewStore platform, enabling associates to digitally guide customers through a seven-step process of designing their own one-of-a-kind pair of boots directly within the mPOS.

By hosting the made-to-order experience on the associate’s iPhone, R.M.Williams is honoring the brand’s roots and dedication to customer service by modernizing the traditional customization process, offering the next best thing to physically making the boots in-store.

“Before making the decision to partner with NewStore, we were relying on outdated systems that couldn’t provide the level of innovation needed to support our digital transformation goals,” said Nathan Alexander, chief technology officer at R.M.Williams. “We thought to ourselves, there must be a retail solution out there that is as intuitive as using an iPhone, so when we were introduced to the capabilities of the NewStore Omnichannel Platform, it was a game changer for our strategy.”

R.M.Williams can integrate NewStore with its current technology stack, which also includes Infor’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and Salesforce’s e-commerce solution, to replace its previous point-of-sale system with the OMS. The partnership announcement comes a week after NewStore revealed it raised $45 million in Series B-1 funding.

E-commerce education

Parsons/Yellowbrick

The New School’s Parsons School of Design is again partnering with New York-based education platform Yellowbrick to launch Ecommerce Foundations, a program designed to help entrepreneurs understand the process of building and designing e-commerce businesses.

The program is applicable for anyone looking to start in online commerce, but the new program will also serve as a valuable follow-on for students who have completed other Parsons and Yellowbrick courses including Fashion Business Essentials, Streetwear Essentials, Sneaker Essentials and others.

Ecommerce Foundations consists of five course modules covering topics including the planning phase, data protection and reporting. The modules include “Starting Up and Strategy,” “E-tail Design,” “Brand Identity & Marketing,” “Customer Experience” and “Back End Services & Reporting.” Students will earn a non-credit certificate of completion from Parsons at the culmination of the program. Like other current Yellowbrick programs, Ecommerce Foundations will be 100 percent online and self-paced, and it can enable students to learn directly from leading academic and industry experts.

Parsons faculty and industry experts, including specialists from Shopify, Printful and more, will share their expertise and experience through compelling video lessons. Contributors include Chris Lacy, Parsons lead faculty; Chris Snyder, senior community manager, Shopify Spaces; Nathalie Benzing, chief operating officer, Stamped.io; Nora Inveiss, brand manager, Printful; Madison Schill, communications manager, Livescale; and Wenqi Li, creative front-end engineer, WIREWAX.

“E-commerce has become so integral to commercial success within creative fields, that we felt it was imperative to offer a deep exploration of the tools and processes,” said Rachel Schreiber, Executive Dean of The New School’s Parsons School of Design. “In every program we’ve co-created with Yellowbrick, we see learners who aim to someday build their own brands or businesses. This course is for them.”

Cloud POS

GK Software

GK Software has released Cloud4Retail OmniPOS 5.19, a POS solution that provides an enterprise-class, unified platform for all retail formats that includes touchless mobile payments and integrated payment processing.

The platform is designed for today’s era of retail convergence across channels as greater emphasis is put on customer engagement and mobile apps. OmniPOS 5.19 provides headless commerce services so that it can integrate third party apps into the platform that address retailer-specific requirements.

Support for quick-service and full-service restaurants is a key feature of the new release, with features including full table-service functionality and integrations with kitchen production systems.

OmniPOS 5.19 also provides improvements for retailing that include EMV and contactless payments in the store, visibility of external applications, such as security monitors, workforce management and even widescreen POS support for fuel pump displays at gas stations. Ultra-thin POS (utPOS) clients provide a mobile POS that can operate on any device or platform with full functionality.

Payments

Verizon/Mastercard

Verizon Business and Mastercard have partnered in an effort to bring 5G technology to the payments industry, working together to deliver solutions across contactless shopping and autonomous checkout technology to cloud-based point-of-sale.

The technology provides will work closely to unlock Internet of Things (IoT) sensor connectivity with near real-time edge computing to power the fintech, payments and banking industries, in addition to working to arm SMBs with hyper-automated and immersive commerce experiences.

Verizon Business and Mastercard have partnered in an effort to bring 5G technology to the payments industry, working together to deliver solutions across contactless shopping and autonomous checkout technology to cloud-based point-of-sale.

In particular, the companies want to enable smartphones or connected devices to accept payment: Mastercard’s commitment to delivering contactless payments at scale will be coupled with Verizon 5G to turn certain connected devices into commerce-enabled devices.

These devices would include Tap on Phone, a feature that allows businesses to deliver contactless consumer experiences by turning qualifying smartphones into payment acceptance devices.

Verizon 5G and Mobile Edge Computing will be integrated with Mastercard’s retail technology solutions to reduce hardware requirements for autonomous checkout in-store, with a goal of faster deployments and new use cases, such as mobile updates, voice and video ordering, and more.

Additionally, the companies will continue to explore ways that 5G mobility, business internet and near real-time edge computing can provide real-time access to industry best practices customized for SMBs through Mastercard’s Digital Doors curriculum, helping businesses drive greater efficiencies and effectiveness in their online operations to meet customer needs.

As part of the partnership, Verizon will also tap Mastercard’s Bill Pay Exchange real-time messaging network to enable enhanced communication between consumers and billers. Bill Pay Exchange will allow Verizon to streamline bills paid through digital banking channels, digitize paper bills and deliver a mobile-first solution, reducing costs and enhancing the payment experience for Verizon customers. Verizon will also leverage technology from Ethoca, a Mastercard company, to identify and resolve fraud.

At Mastercard’s New York City Tech Hub, located in the Flatiron District, Mastercard and Verizon will test and embed 5G and continue to explore the technology’s use cases.