The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Retail real estate
Retail real estate owner and developer Macerich is launching QuikSpace, a digital platform bringing new convenience to short-term retail leasing.
The new platform includes a tenant portal offers one-click lease execution for short-term retail space of up to 12 months, enabling users to manage accounts, make payments and renew leases.
QuikSpace users can secure short-term leases for kiosks, carts, popups, temporary in-line stores and specialty retail uses, such as storage. Tenants can start their research online, view virtual tours of available inline and common area space, and access visual tools to aid in merchandising their space.
Macerich said QuikSpace is currently live at six of its properties, including Arizona’s Chandler Fashion Center, Scottsdale Fashion Square and Superstition Springs Center; California’s Inland Center and The Oaks; and Virginia’s Tysons Corner Center. Additional locations will be onboarded early next year.
“By digitizing the process, Macerich is simplifying every aspect of short-term leasing with the goal of providing tenants with a frictionless experience,” said Ken Volk, executive vice president, business development, Macerich. “QuikSpace delivers an easy and fast online process that is a match for how people engage with all kinds of real estate now. Moving into e-commerce for leasing short-term space is an important step toward greater customer access and convenience, as well as added performance for our company.”
Macerich uses real estate industry software developer Yardi’s property data and listings platform CommercialEdge to power QuikSpace. Macerich successfully implemented Yardi’s core ERP system in 2019, including Voyager, Retail Manager, Forecast Manager and Construction Manager.
Bolt, the e-commerce company that touts “single sign-on checkout” capabilities helping retailers compete with Amazon, secured $393 million in new funding, bringing its total raise to over $600 million for a $6 billion valuation.
“Digital commerce is undergoing a complete and total transformation,” Bolt founding CEO Ryan Breslow told Sourcing Journal. “There is more change that has occurred in the last 12 months than in the last decade. Companies that aggregate data and scale in a decentralized way are the future, and we’re proud of Bolt for leading that charge.”
The investment, including $333 million in Series D funding and $60 million in follow-on capital, was led by an unnamed “large London-based investment firm.” Bolt, positioning itself as a “federated checkout network” seeking to unite the fragmented e-commerce experience via a universal login credential, will use the new capital to scale its checkout operating system.
Bolt aims to grow its headcount with experts who can scale its product and engineering teams. With more than 10 million registered shoppers in its network, the company is working with existing partner BigCommerce on a streamlined “one-click installation” so BigCommerce merchants can leverage Bolt Checkout and the Bolt network.
In a blog post, Breslow said another major global e-commerce platform has signed a deal to offer integrate Bolt into its default checkout experience. More platforms are in the process of signing on “in the coming weeks,” he wrote.
With customers including Lucky Brand and DTC mattress seller Casper, Bolt also is partnering with one of the “largest social networks” for product discovery to power their checkout, according to Breslow. Using Bolt’s Remote Checkout feature users can check out at the point of discovery instead of linking out to thousands of different merchants to find the products they want.
“Lucky Brand is an iconic American lifestyle brand, rooted in denim, offering an omnichannel experience where e-commerce is critical to the way customers interact with the brand,” said Mike Dupuis, chief digital officer of SPARC. “In conjunction with our recent site upgrade, we implemented Bolt checkout and are excited to see the new shoppers and low friction checkout experience from Bolt contribute to incremental success for Lucky Brand.”
Other brands in the Authentic Brands Group portfolio such as Aéropostale, Brooks Brothers, Eddie Bauer and Nautica will soon be able to tap into Bolt’s network.
Bolt expects 11 percent of U.S. shoppers to be a part of its network by the end of 2021, one-third by the end of 2022, two-thirds as 2024 closes, and eight out of every 10 American consumers before 2026.
Other investors in the recent round include Untitled Investments, Willoughby Capital, and Soma Capital; existing investors General Atlantic, Tribe Capital, Activant Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures participated.
Ohi, a smart warehousing company that enables same-day delivery for e-commerce brands, has completed a $19 million Series A funding round.
The funding round was led by Palm Drive Capital, a New York-based venture capital and growth equity fund, with participation from a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm Jam Fund.
Ohi’s network of micro-warehouses is designed to enable mid-market DTC and enterprise brands to offer powerful post-purchase experiences from their own websites, with what it calls “Amazon Prime-level delivery speeds” of under two hours.
The company accomplishes this by leveraging a proprietary, data-driven inventory management technology in combination with the micro-fulfillment centers to forward-position inventory within city centers.
Brands that partner with Ohi realize significant ROI via improved customer satisfaction, an average increase in conversion of 28 percent and increases of up to 120 percent in repeat purchase rates. Consumers who order with Ohi have up to 35 percent higher lifetime value for brands than those who choose a UPS/FedEx shipping option, the company claims.
Currently serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Ohi will use the new investment to expand throughout the U.S., with a near-term goal of operating in 25 cities by the end of 2022. Ohi will also use the funding to expand its product offering to include an option for delivery in under 20 minutes.
Since closing the funding round in April, Ohi has been building a team of experts from across the e-commerce and fulfillment industries. Russ Griffin, formerly vice president of sales at BigCommerce and ShipStation, joined as chief revenue officer; Rodrigo Silveira, a veteran of Dematic and Flexport, joined as head of engineering; and Jarrod Lovell, who ran network development at Flexe, joined as head of platform. The team has grown to more than 55 people, with Amazon and Uber alumni also filling the ranks.
Additional investors in the round included Flybridge Capital; Afore Capital; RiverPark Ventures; Ryder Ventures; Rxbar founder Peter Rahal; Edward Shenderovich, founder of flexible workspace platform Knotel; and Electric Feel Ventures.
B2B e-commerce platform Digital River has launched an app with Salesforce Commerce Cloud on the Salesforce AppExchange, giving Salesforce users access to Digital River’s checkout solution on the CRM platform.
The new app helps B2B merchants combine Salesforce’s commerce capabilities with Digital River’s “merchant of record model” and global payments, fraud, tax and compliance services.
With the app, Digital River said sellers can reach new markets in as little as six weeks and decrease operational costs up to 20 to 30 percent without having to worry about the complexities of selling internationally.
The new app was built with Salesforce’s consulting partner, Docmation. AppExchange gives Digital River more exposure to a new audience, with its 6,000 listings generating 9 million customer installations and 98,000 peer reviews,
Centric Software, a provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, announced Callaway Golf as its 500th customer. More than 150 clients have chosen its PLM since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
The PLM platform for planning, designing, developing, sourcing and selling consumer products works with retailers and brands across apparel, footwear, sporting goods, furniture, cosmetics and personal care, food and beverage, luxury, consumer electronics, private label goods and more.
Centric said its clients have operations in over 40 countries, and bring in approximately $1.3 trillion worth of goods to market per year via more than 1 million points of sale. The company also said its PLM platforms can improve supply chain efficiency by up to 50 percent, enabling more sustainable product development with reduced costs and improved product margins.
The platform provider also indicated that it has a 99 percent retention rate, and that 40 percent of its clients replaced a previously purchased PLM system with Centric.
“Centric PLM will drive increased efficiency into our product development process,” said Jeff Cross vice president of global operations and development, apparel and soft goods at Callaway Golf. “We create a wide variety of products in diverse categories, and this is going to enable greater efficiencies across our multi-branded apparel, footwear, and accessory categories. These products require distinctly different workflows and Centric provides an exceptional technology solution to handle the vastness and complexity of our global business.”
“Centric PLM has enabled us to utilize our materials more effectively, streamline our costing process and increase process efficiencies,” said Moira Alexander, manager of improvement projects at South Africa’s Woolworths. “We’ve also seen a 15 percent to 20 percent reduction in admin-intensive tasks such as creating items, doing quotes and finalizing costings.”
Buy now, pay later
Visa is expanding its own installment payments offering to Australia in partnership with one of the country’s largest banks, ANZ, and payments tech company Quest Payments. The offering enables Australian shoppers to access “buy now, pay later” financing via their existing ANZ credit cards during checkout.
With the Visa Installments Solution, financial institutions can add BNPL as a feature for credit cardholders, on their already approved credit lines. And likewise, acquirers on the network can activate the ability to accept installments for any of their retailers that accept Visa. First launched as a pilot in 2019, the solution has expanded to the U.S., Canada, Malaysia, Russia—and now, Australia.
When qualified shoppers use their ANZ Visa credit cards at the in-store terminal or while shopping online at participating merchants, they’ll be able to select a repayment term displayed on the screen during the purchase process. Merchants with Quest-integrated point-of-sale (POS) software will not need to make any software changes to enable the solution.
With the Visa Installments Solution, participating lenders can offer a range of repayment plans from three months to 24 months, with no interest in select cases. Customers can view their installment purchases, balances and repayment information directly in their existing banking apps.
Visa extended the launch after it conducted a recent survey finding that 90 percent of Australian credit card holders showed a high likelihood of using an installments option from their issuing bank, while 85 percent say installments would improve their relationship with their card provider.
Nextech AR Solutions Corp., a diversified provider of augmented reality (AR) experience technologies and services, has formally launched “3D Rooms,” an enhancement to its AR suite and WebAR for Ecommerce solution.
3D Rooms, also known as Threedy Rooms, enables customers to virtually preview home furnishings and decor in a desired location, using a simple 2D photo of a room. The solution uses Nextech’s AI to automatically analyze a room layout and then parses out room surfaces, reconstructs the scene and allows 3D objects to be placed inside a 2D photo, as if they were part of the room. 3D Rooms is currently offered as a standalone product, or as an add-on to the WebAR offering and integrated in the Nextech AR platform.
Recently, Lighting Plus, a specialty lighting store in New Zealand, signed a 12-month contract to use 3D Rooms after a successful proof-of-concept trial. Nextech AR will now convert more than 300 of Lighting Plus’ best-selling SKUs to AR models, enabling the retailer’s customers to visualize multiple lighting products, floor, wall and ceiling lighting items alike, by uploading their room photo while shopping on the site.
Latin American e-commerce platform Nuvemshop, which has a network of more than 90,000 merchants, has acquired SMB logistics platform Mandaê for an undisclosed sum.
Mandaê provides services ranging from collecting orders placed on the merchant’s website to last-mile delivery, leveraging its own assets and those of multiple carriers. Nuvemshop believes the company’s business model is a fit to its open-platform strategy—leveraging economies of scale, offering lower costs to retailers, and adding value to the entire ecosystem.
“Acquiring Mandaê and integrating our teams is part of our strategy to deliver even greater solutions to merchants across the supply chain ecosystem,” said Santiago Sosa, CEO and co-founder of Nuvemshop. “With this merger, we will strengthen our services offering, as well as continue with our open-platform DNA, incorporating various companies in logistics and other markets so entrepreneurs may choose the best solution that meets their needs. Our goal is to have more variety and quality within our ecosystem, to cater to retailers of different sizes, segments and regions.”
The acquisition is Nuvemshop’s first direct step into the logistics market, which is growing rapidly in Brazil, where both companies are located. The strategy is part of Nuvemshop’s expansion plan, which projects business growth of more than 20 times over the next five years.
Under the deal, Mandaê will continue to serve its business partners and clients in addition to Nuvemshop merchants.
The acquisition follows Nuvemshop receiving a new $500 million investment in August, and $90 million in financing in March.
“Combining scale and a focus on what entrepreneurs and their consumers really need, we will improve their buying experience, enable new business models and improve results for entrepreneurs who choose to partner with us,” Rodrigo Rivera, chief strategy officer at Nuvemshop and responsible for the logistics and payments business units in Latin America, said.
Nuvemshop currently integrates products, payments and shipping platforms all in one ecosystem that includes more than 1,000 partners, such as marketplaces, brick-and-mortar stores, Facebook and Instagram. The company currently has more than 600 employees and offices in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
Global leading transport and logistics provider Geodis has partnered with Bastian Solutions to implement an AutoStore system into a new fulfillment site for an undisclosed apparel retailer. The $48 million material handling equipment deal will support the retailer’s omnichannel capabilities, including e-commerce and its more than 1,000 U.S. stores.
AutoStore is a goods-to-person automated storage and retrieval system, with Bastian serving as the company’s integration partner. AutoStore Bins are stacked vertically in a grid and retrieved by robots that travel on the top layer of the system, allowing the grid to be placed around columns and on mezzanines and multiple levels. This design allows bins of products to be stacked on top of each other in a condensed grid-style system, increasing storage capacity up to four times in the same footprint and performance up to 10 times without added workers.
In addition to featuring the AutoStore storage and fulfillment technology, the 400,000-square-foot facility will include robotic piece picking with five robotic arms, automated packing and carton closing, and more. Construction for the site is expected to begin in January 2022 and wrap in November 2022.
This project marks the second AutoStore system that Bastian Solutions has implemented on behalf of Geodis. Construction is currently underway on an AutoStore system at a highly automated fulfillment site on behalf of a pet product retailer, slated for completed in November.
Click Partners LP, an online marketplace technology and smart locker network, has acquired Latin American logistics and payment services provider Aeropost for an undisclosed sum from PriceSmart Inc.
Click was formed to service the need for cross-border logistics and online shopping in the Caribbean and Central American markets. The company has developed an online marketplace, API and proprietary smart locker software solutions for use across its network, and currently has contracts with two smart locker manufacturers. Click operates 8,000 individual smart locker units, and is prepping to deploy them across 150 sites.
Integration efforts between Click and the Aeropost will begin immediately, starting with the transformation of Aeropost’s front-end marketplace, revamping the user experience and optimizing functionality. The payment services provider’s new roadmap will also include the deployment of its integrated marketplace and smart locker offering into new markets where Aeropost currently does not have a presence, starting with the Bahamas as its first expansion territory.
Based in Costa Rica, Aeropost currently services 38 countries and territories with local pickup points and a local payments platform that allows buyers to purchase U.S.-sourced merchandise online.
The convergence of Click’s marketplace and smart locker technology with Aeropost’s established logistics and shipping operations handles collectively more than $400 million of cross-border merchandise annually.
Digital payments provider Blackhawk Network and Magstar Inc., an ERP software business for midsized retailers, have partnered in an effort to expand digital wallet acceptance and enhance digital payments options in-store.
Through the relationship, merchants and retailers can expand payment access beyond traditional payment methods without adopting an entirely new point-of sale (POS) system, the companies say.
The partnership comes after a March study from Blackhawk found that 59 percent of surveyed consumers have been using their digital wallets more frequently than before the pandemic began.
The survey also indicated that digital wallet acceptance may also lead to increased shopper loyalty, as 63 percent of respondents report they are more likely to shop at a retailer if they accept the digital payments they use. Seventy-three percent of respondents say they want to be able to pay the same way they pay online and in-store.
Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.