The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Secondhand selling marketplace and app Mercari announced the beta launch of Merchat AI, a conversational shopping assistant powered by ChatGPT.
Users can now hold real-time conversations with Merchat AI to find products recommended for their unique needs. The artificial intelligence tool use the large language model, ChatGPT, and quickly combs through the millions of items listed on Mercari’s platform to surface real-time recommendations based on the chat prompts.
“Merchat AI marks an exciting turning point in the evolution of secondhand shopping,” said John
Lagerling, Mercari U.S. CEO, in a statement. “With this technology, we’re leveraging the transformative power of artificial intelligence to make it easier for Americans to shop and explore Mercari’s extensive
marketplace. We anticipate that generative AI will also unlock more opportunities to iterate on our
customer experience, along with additional ways to make the resale experience even more appealing to
buyers and sellers.”
People can ask Merchat AI specific things like “What should I buy my mom for Mother’s Day?” or “How can I add #BarbieCore to my wardrobe?” or “What should I wear to a summer wedding?” to find appropriate results.
Merchat AI is available nationwide to Mercari users on the web and is still a beta experience, which means the tool could still yield some inaccuracies and inconsistencies. Mercari will continuously update Merchat AI based on user interactions and iterate on the experience.
E-commerce shipping provider Parcll is rebranding as Cirro E-Commerce with a new logo and brand identity.
The company says the rebranding reflects its commitment to integrating an extensive and diversifying suite of resources and services to meet the growing demand for U.S. domestic and cross-border e-commerce while reaffirming its dedication to “glocalization.”
Cirro E-Commerce’s e-commerce logistics services provides small parcel delivery to consumers around the world with a focus on creating more seamless customer experiences and maximizing efficiency. With a physical presence in more than 30 European, North American and Oceanian countries, Cirro E-Commerce brings U.S. and Canadian clients to the North American and global markets.
The name Cirro was inspired by the Latin word “cirrus,” meaning a curly high cloud. This references the company’s links to the sky through the movement of e-commerce parcels by air. The inclusion of the harmonic “zero” symbolizes Cirro E-Commerce’s dedication to protecting the environment by reducing unnecessary inefficiencies and thus lowering carbon emissions. The refreshed brand identity combines the colors “Friendly Sky Blue” and “Advanced Supply Green,” reflecting the company’s commitment to operating sustainably, efficiently and resourcefully.
With its mission of delivering logistics services in a thoughtful and sustainable way, Cirro E-Commerce says it is devoted to helping customers save costs and time and promoting peace of mind while reducing their environmental footprint.
In line with its value of “Small parcel delivery for good,” Cirro E-Commerce continuously improves its dynamic IT platform and strategic small parcel delivery network across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and many other markets, allowing it to provide best-in-class delivery services to U.S. online sellers, brands, e-commerce fulfillment providers and digital shipping platforms.
Checkpoint Systems, a global provider of RFID and RF technology solutions, has acquired Denmark’s Alert Systems, an Internet of Things (IoT) specialist with a focus on metal and magnet detection in the retail environment. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Since 1999, Alert Systems has supplied global retailers with solutions to identify tools and techniques used by criminals to steal items from stores. These include boosterbags (handmade containers lined with foil used to shoplift) and detachers (illegal magnets used to easily detach tags), commonly detected at store entrance/exits and fitting room areas.
For a number of years, Checkpoint has been a partner and major distributor for the company to provide metal and magnet detection products, including Hyperguard, Metalguard and Apparelguard—a batch of digital software-driven solutions which work against professional shoplifters using boosterbags and detachers to steal items in supermarkets, fashion stores, pharmacies and other retail stores.
The acquisition further strengthens Checkpoint’s core focus on world-class loss prevention solutions and bolsters its product line.
Organized retail crime (ORC) is increasing globally; in the U.S. alone, retailers saw a 26.5 percent increase in incidents in 2021 and shrinkage represented $94.5 billion in losses in 2022, according to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF). A portion of this due to criminals using increasingly advanced methods of avoiding detection, some of which can defeat traditional electronic article surveillance (EAS) anti-theft solutions. These include foil-lined containers or booster bags which shield the security tag from the EAS system thus allowing stolen items to leave a store without triggering an alarm.
Alloy Technologies, Inc. announced that demand and inventory insights solution Alloy.ai is now available on the SAP Store and is part of SAP’s industry cloud portfolio for the consumer products industry. Alloy.ai helps brands that leverage SAP Integrated Business Planning (SAP IBP) for supply chain visibility to better anticipate consumer demand and inventory across their supply chains.
Alloy.ai leverages the integration capabilities of SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) to integrate with SAP IBP for Supply Chain and SAP BTP data and analytics solutions using SAP Integration Suite to deliver harmonized, granular demand, inventory and other point-of-sale data to customers as part of SAP’s industry cloud portfolio for the consumer products industry.
The Alloy tech serves as a demand and inventory control tower purpose-built to help consumer products companies sell more, save time and solve complex supply chain challenges. With daily SKU-store level insights in Alloy.ai, brands can sense problems, potentially predict issues their competitors may not see coming and respond in real time, within seconds instead of days.
With Alloy.ai, consumer brands can get an early warning system when their demand and supply are out of sync, powered by daily SKU store-level insights. The company offers 850+ pre-built connectors to automatically pull and harmonize data from all their retailers, e-commerce partners, channel inventory and ERP system.
The company says it serves as a single source of information for their sales and supply chain teams to make faster business decisions, and can provide near-term forecasts in the realm of two-to-six weeks based on daily SKU-store level data. This data helps users make better decisions about inventory allocation, promotions and order adjustments with retail partners.
Additionally, C-level executives and analysts alike can have more access to better insights relevant to their jobs, making it easier to collaborate on decisions and have insightful data-based conversations with retailers.
Alloy.ai is a partner in the SAP PartnerEdge program, which provides the enablement tools, benefits and support to facilitate building high-quality, disruptive applications focused on specific business needs.
DeepStream, a procurement software provider, has launched a new Supplier Discovery AI Tool built to speed up and simplify the supplier discovery process.
The company’s procurement technology supports a wide range of industries globally, including manufacturing, shipping, renewable energy, oil and gas, food and beverage and aerospace.
Powered by DeepAI, Supplier Discovery AI Tool allows businesses to search for suppliers based on specific criteria including location, product and service specifications and “suppliers similar to”. It then returns a list of new suppliers to explore and shortlist within minutes that matches the scope of work.
From this point, procurement teams can invite potential vendors to bid on a request, replacing traditional methods which often can involve spending days conducting desktop research to find new suppliers to engage with. It also can help businesses reduce the amount of risk introduced into the supply chain during the vendor selection process.
At this stage, high volumes of information are being researched and exchanged with potential suppliers before contracts are awarded. And with crossed wires, lengthy email chains and lack of due diligence, risk can be introduced at the supplier selection stage.
DeepStream’s DeepAI tool is continually learning, so it can produce accurate results that are aligned to the latest market insights, the company says. This allows companies to strengthen their partner network and supply chain with more opportunities for cost savings, diversification, sustainability gains and better value.
Coldwater Creek, a specialty retailer of women’s apparel, has selected digital commerce agency CQL and e-commerce platform provider BigCommerce as partners to transform its digital ecosystem.
In modernizing its e-commerce infrastructure, Coldwater Creek aims to drive brand growth, deliver a better customer experience and allow its e-commerce and customer care teams to leverage new marketing tools and third-party solutions to scale operations and grow revenue.
“Coldwater Creek’s multi-year growth plan includes updating its Ecommerce capabilities to enhance the online customer journey, improve omni-channel customer touchpoints and scale our direct-to-consumer business,” said Dave Walde, CEO of Coldwater Creek.
Coldwater Creek plans to launch the new site in the third quarter this year.
Infor, a cloud-based ERP platform provider, has developed a partnership with Foresight Retail, a provider of merchandise and assortment planning, to help fashion brands and retailers improve inventory management and better balance supply to demand. With the deal, the companies want to help apparel companies avoid stock outs, markdowns and obsolete inventory to keep products out of landfills.
The partnership comes as fashion brands need to set seasonal targets and budgets based on the prior season’s inventory performance. Additional brand tasks include creating an overall line plan to give guidance to product development of new collections, planning estimated demand by sales channel, including initial allocation to stores, proposing a suitable buy plan to make sure supply aligns with demand and monitoring in-season progress to propose accurate replenishment of stores.
The pain point for fashion brands is that this process is often managed outside the ERP system, in Excel for example, making it prone to error and time consuming to manage. The major risk is that the overall planning mechanism is not accurate, leading to inventory excess or shortages.
Together, Infor and Foresight Retail can provide a more robust fashion offering, with support on merchandise and assortment planning that includes financial planning, range planning for different sales channels, forecasting, inventory allocation and replenishment. Foresight Retail’s solution offers preconfigured accelerators to cover standard planning needs and help speed deployment—with a possibility to fine tune as needed to suit unique needs.
Riskified, a provider of e-commerce risk intelligence, has partnered with Deloitte to empower merchants with real-time insight into how their chargebacks, approval rates and fraud costs compare to similar companies in their space.
This benchmarking service is designed to help retailers formulate a scorecard that can uncover new opportunities to reduce operational costs, lower chargeback and fraud losses and boost revenues by minimizing false declines.
This offering is underpinned by Riskified’s extensive e-commerce, fraud and identity intelligence derived from analyzing more than 2.5 billion transactions worldwide. This, in conjunction with Deloitte’s experiences in payment and fraud advisory, can help merchants elevate their payment and fraud capabilities. Benchmark analyses cover a wide range of industries including fashion, ticketing, travel, luxury, digital goods and more. Key metrics include approval rates, authorization rates, fraud losses, false declines, chargebacks and the cost of policy abuses surrounding returns, refunds, promotions and resellers.
The offering is currently available via Deloitte Canada, with plans to extend into new regions in the future.
Buy now, pay later
Digital River, a provider of global commerce, payments and marketing services for established and growing brands, has unveiled it now offers Afterpay and Clearpay to address growing consumer interest in buy now, pay later (BNPL) options.
The new offerings represent an expansion of Digital River’s portfolio of payment options, and can grant added flexibility to consumers navigating economic headwinds. A 2022 Digital River report found that 64 percent of those who use BNPL services were doing so more in their online shopping, with many citing tighter finances and rising costs as reasons for doing so.
Afterpay allows customers across the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand to leverage BNPL with four interest-free installments over six weeks, with no fees when paid on time. Afterpay reports an increased average order value of 40 percent and an increased purchasing frequency of 50 percent.
Clearpay is a leader in buy now, pay later payments in the U.K. Customers can pay later with three interest-free installments over 60 days, with no fees when paid on time. On average, offering Clearpay can help merchants attract up to 40 percent more new customers.
In partnering with services like Afterpay and Clearpay, Digital River aims to add choice to the purchasing journey and make e-commerce more seamless for online sellers and shoppers alike.
Rally, a composable checkout platform for e-commerce merchants, has secured a $12 million Series A investment, led by March Capital with additional participation from Felix Capital, Commerce Ventures, Afore Capital, Alumni Ventures and Kraken Ventures.
These investors include early backers of technology companies such as Farfetch, BNPL provider Affirm, online marketplace platform Mirakl, e-commerce fraud prevention company Forter, custom website builder Webflow and online stock trading app Robinhood.
This investment follows Rally’s $6 million seed funding round in 2021.
Rally’s checkout solution is built to give merchants the freedom to design and implement a bespoke checkout that works best for their teams. The platform offers e-commerce businesses a one-click checkout solution as well as tools for post-purchase offers, that the company says can reduce the industry average 70 percent cart abandonment rate and increase revenue by over 12 percent.
The funding will help Rally further strengthen its team, penetrate enterprise and international markets, and expand integrations beyond Swell and BigCommerce with other commerce platforms such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Commercetools and payment methods such as Affirm and AfterPay.
Co-founders Jordan Gal and Rok Knez previously ran CartHook, a checkout solution that processed nearly $3 billion in transactions for Shopify merchants. They launched Rally in 2020 after seeing demand from merchants for a next-generation checkout platform outside of the Shopify ecosystem. Their launch came at a time during the e-commerce boom when merchants demanded a more customizable solution as well as greater control over the checkout process to scale and provide consumers with a better shopping experience.
Leveraging years of checkout experience, Gal and Knez have consistently grown the number of Rally Pay vaulted shoppers by high single-digit percentages on a weekly basis with nearly 50 e-commerce merchants. The company has nearly doubled the size of its team in the last year.
Rally’s existing infrastructure can be integrated with any offering, and currently offers support for multiple back-end and front-end platforms, payment processors and payment methods. Later this year, Rally will strengthen its fraud protection offering and plans to build out Web3 features, starting with allowing merchants to accept cryptocurrencies in their checkout.
Movista, a provider of retail execution technologies, has released Amp by Movista, a mobile execution app designed for frontline retail teams. Amp supports new features aimed at enhancing the productivity and experience of in-store work.
Feature enhancements include mobile tasking, which gives team leaders the ability to create tasks on the fly; work escalation, which automatically notifies managers or relevant employees of urgent or at-risk work for always-on-time completion; and mobile reassignments, which enables frontline employees to redirect tasks to other individuals or teams. Amp also includes a redesigned and fully integrated communications module that supports individual messages, group messages and team announcements for quick and compliant work collaboration.
Amp acts as a mobile extension of Movista’s retail execution platform for retailers and field teams, giving all workforces the ability to execute tasks at scale and optimize merchandising and sales performance through one collaborative application.
Toshiba’s retail division, Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, is partnering with distributor BlueStar to promote awareness, drive demand and deliver its hardware solutions to new customers and potential partners. The partnership will expand Toshiba’s reach of its point-of-sale (POS) systems and self-checkout hardware products to BlueStar’s network across the United States and Canada.
The company’s commerce solutions are built to enhance customer engagement, reimagine the in-store experience and accelerate digital transformation to advance the future of retail.
Toshiba’s POS offerings through BlueStar address the unique needs of the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries. Some of these solutions include the TCx 300, TCx 810, and the TCx 810E POS designed for optimal performance and retail functionality. The TCx 810 and TCx 810E are also options for the head unit in Toshiba’s Pro-X Hybrid Kiosk self-service solution and can be used for bespoke self-service solutions. The Pro-X Hybrid Kiosk will be a future item added to BlueStar inventory. Toshiba’s retail-hardened TCx Single Station and TCx Dual Station printers are also available to BlueStar customers.