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Retail Tech: Merrell Adopts Verifyt Foot Scanner, JD.com Sends Delivery Bots to Shanghai

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

Fit technology

Merrell/NetVirta

Outdoor active footwear brand Merrell is implementing fit scanning platform Verifyt from NetVirta, a provider of smartphone 3D body scanning technology, to power the beta version of its Merrell Shoe Advisor mobile application.

The consumer-facing app from the Wolverine Worldwide brand is designed to ensure an accurate, personalized shoe fit recommendation in every scan.

“At Merrell, we are constantly looking for new ways to improve the consumer experience in the outdoors,” said Janice Tennant, chief marketing officer for Merrell. “Fit of shoes is a major pain point for many consumers especially while shopping and it is the reason why piloting this emerging technology with NetVirta in our mobile app felt like a good partnership.”

Verifyt says it providing a precise, user-friendly interface and scanning speed that can give Merrell’s consumers a gamified augmented reality (AR)-powered 3D experience to find the correct shoe, size and fit. The technology needs less than a minute to complete a foot scan.

The app aims to address an issue that has plagued online shopping since the inception of e0commerce: returns due to poor fit. The company cites industry reports that footwear purchased online generates a 35 percent and 40 percent return rate, with an estimated 72 percent ascribed to bad fit.

Verifyt is the fit scan technology to power Merrell’s beta version of the Merrell Shoe Advisor mobile application.

NetVirta’s Verifyt app technology can also enable the sports equipment industry to provide custom-fit gear to athletes. Professional and college football teams use Verifyt to scan players’ heads for custom-fit helmets.

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Based on research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NetVirta developed the world’s only FDA Class II-cleared smartphone technology app for 3D body shape scanning. Its medical app, CurveCapture, is adopted by thousands of clinicians in more than 13 countries to 3D scan patients for custom-fit orthoses and prostheses.

NetVirta works with some of the biggest names in retail, sporting equipment, and medical including Wolverine Worldwide, Riddell, Orthoamerica, Tecnica and EVO.com among others.

Robotics/last-mile

JD.com

JD.com sent over 100 autonomous delivery vehicles from its driving research bases to Shanghai, which has been significant impacted by strict Covid-19 related lockdowns.

These robots will be used for last-mile delivery of customer orders and PPE to mobile cabin hospitals, lockdown communities, delivery stations and more.

Approximately 50 indoor delivery robots developed by JD Logistics will also be transported to Shanghai to support the delivery of meals and nucleic acid test samples in mobile cabin hospitals.

With AI technology and multiple sensors, the robots can recognize and avoid obstacles, plan their route to the destination automatically and drive on public roads without human interaction. They can also be monitored and taken over remotely, so that even the local volunteers who have never used the robots can operate them after a simple training period.

The robots sent to Shanghai can load up to 200 kilograms of goods and drive 100 kilometers per charge.

Previously, the company announced that it would provide 16 million daily necessities to Shanghai residents, including rice, flour and cooking oil designed to secure a one-month supply for local customers. Additionally, more than 2,000 JD couriers have been called to travel to Shanghai to support the effort.

JD.com debuted its first autonomous delivery vehicle in 2016 and revealed the Level-4 autonomous driving robot in 2019, becoming one of the world’s first companies to put such products on public roads without human interaction.

Product branding

Avery Dennison

Materials science, branding and manufacturing company Avery Dennison has launched Embelex, a full-service ecosystem for on-product branding that supports customization, personalization and smart solutions in the apparel, footwear and accessories manufacturing markets.

Avery Dennison helps bring apparel from brands, institutions and sports teams to life through heat transfers, embroidery, patches, and badges. The company recently announced the continuation of its contract to supply Premier League official shirt names, numbers and sleeve badges for both product on the soccer field and in retail stores. These badges have built-in smart technology that allows users to scan the badge to reveal hidden content on the Premier League app.

With Embelex, Avery Dennison aims to provide everything a brand or organization needs to celebrate its name, personalize products in its ranges and create digital experiences to connect with consumers through on-garment branding.

With Embelex, Avery Dennison aims to provide everything a brand or organization needs to celebrate its name, personalize products in its ranges and create digital experiences to connect with consumers through on-garment branding.

In the past three years, the size of Avery Dennison’s on-product branding business has doubled due to the demand for its services. New sites have opened for woven press and heat transfer services and the company recently acquired Rietveld (RTVPRINT), which is based in the Netherlands and Turkey. Rietveld specializes in in-house designed and manufactured crests, heat transfers and decorative sublimations, along with embellishment application and the provision of an end-to-end service to the team sportswear market.

World-class service, speed of product delivery, and innovations in embellished garments are priorities for Embelex. For instance, digitally enabled branding elements such as “smart heat transfers” allow consumers to scan a label or transfer, using a phone, to access product information that enriches the end-user experience.

Avery Dennison launched Embelex after discovering that fashion and sportswear brands want to offer differentiated SKUs such as personalized prints and applications to stay relevant and competitive in today’s crowded apparel market.

The materials science company cited a Technavio report in outlining the upcoming market opportunity, saying that the custom apparel market is set to accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8 percent by 2025, which would mark $1.13 billion in incremental growth. Global research by Accenture has found that 84 percent of consumers are interested in personalized products, and many would not hesitate to pay more to get them.

Customer experience

Salsify

Salsify, the commerce experience management (CommerceXM) platform provider, has announced it closed a $200 million Series F round of financing led by global alternative asset management firm TPG.

The round, which includes investments from Permira’s Growth Opportunities Fund, Neuberger Berman Funds and Cap Table Coalition, brings Salsify’s valuation to $2 billion.

The new funding follows Salsify’s $155 million Series E round led by Warburg Pincus in September 2020, bringing total funding to over $450 million.

Salsify aims to use the new investment to deliver on its vision to serve as the global system of record for e-commerce experiences, with product data at its core.

As part of the investment, the company is delivering an open Salsify Commerce Experience Management Platform to allow a global network of systems integrators and tech partners to build capabilities that support automation, flexibility, and consistency across the full lifecycle of a product, from product ideation through purchase.

Additionally, the company aims to expand beyond its current presence in the U.S., the U.K., France, Portugal and Australia.

Since its 2020 Series E round, Salsify has delivered constant growth both from existing customers and through global expansion. In 2021, Salsify generated over $110 million in annual recurring revenue, a more than 50 percent increase from 2020. The tech provider now serves nearly 1,200 customers across the globe.

The company has consistently achieved net dollar retention rates in excess of 115 percent in consecutive years, while Forrester, IDC and Ventana have all listed Salsify as a leader in product information management.

The company’s CommerceXM platform is designed to serve as the system of record for products, facilitate cross-team and cross-organization collaboration at scale and provide the insights needed to optimize product pages across channels continuously.

Fintech/buy now, pay later

Ritmo

Madrid-based fintech firm Ritmo has secured $200 million in a debt funding round led by i80 Group and Avellinia Capital, bring its total debt and equity financing to approximately $225 million since the company’s founding in 2021.

Founded by Raimundo Burguera, Iñaki Mediavilla, Iván Peña, and Prageet Sharma, Ritmo has achieved a 12X growth rate in the past seven months, the company said. The fintech platform provides working capital financing and an automated buy now, pay later (BNPL) payment system.

With this new funding, the company aims to help thousands of e-commerce entrepreneurs scale up rapidly and overcome the current supply chain challenges by providing them with the capital and tools to effectively manage their cash flow cycles, Burguera said in a statement.

In particular, the company wants to bolster its financial operating platform for online sellers by making capital more accessible to sellers across Europe and Latin America. It will go to help more than 2,000 European and Latin American e-commerce customers for the next 18 months, with plans to expand into new markets around the world.

Through this range of products, its technology is embedded in the day-to-day operations of its clients, offering finance for growth and enabling merchants to extend payment terms with suppliers.

In line with its growth strategy, Ritmo now has access to more than 150,000 merchants via its partnerships in payments and e-commerce. In March 2022, the company partnered with fintech and international payments service provider WorldFirst to launch a 100-million-pound ($130 million) growth package for fast-growing e-commerce businesses in the U.K. and Europe.

Logistics

Shufersal/Via

Shufersal, the largest retail group in Israel with more than 390 stores nationwide, has partnered with transportation software provider Via to digitize its middle-mile delivery process. Shufersal will introduce Via’s software platform to enable more efficient and accurate movement of goods from distribution centers to more than 300 locations across Israel, and to improve the overall distribution process.

By integrating Via’s intelligent algorithms and software platform into Shufersal’s distribution system, the supermarket chain aims to dynamically plan, optimize, track and monitor deliveries in real time across hundreds of trucks transporting goods from its logistics centers to its branches.

Via’s technology will enable Shufersal’s planners to build the route plan for the entire distribution fleet, from its logistics centers to all Shufersal branches nationwide. A digital control center powered by the Via logistics system will enable planners to monitor operations and respond to unexpected changes like sick drivers and changing traffic patterns in real time. Drivers will have access to a mobile app that will increase task visibility with clear routing instructions, a communications tool to connect with dispatchers, and a feature to confirm proof of delivery.

The new system is designed to reduce operating costs by reducing miles driven and shorten planning processes, while improving communication between the control center, drivers and Shufersal’s stores. The decision to upgrade Shufersal’s digital distribution system ensures an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective business model over time.

“Shufersal encourages technological innovation in all areas of its business,” said Yiftach Bloch, director of the supply chain division at the Shufersal Group. “Our cooperation with Via to introduce an intelligent logistics platform for the transportation of goods will significantly improve and streamline our distribution system, reducing miles traveled and air pollution.”

Via builds software to enable its customers—cities, transit agencies, transport operators and corporations—to transform their legacy transportation systems into advanced digital networks, in more than 35 countries worldwide. The software is geared to address the challenges of the last and middle mile by working with retailers and couriers to intelligently plan, optimize and manage their distribution systems.

Outside of Israel, Via’s platform has provided smart logistics solutions for partners in the U.S., Japan, Germany, the U.K. and Malta.

FlavorCloud/ShipBob

FlavorCloud, a cross-border logistics software service, has partnered with ShipBob, a global omnifulfillment platform with over 30 fulfillment centers across North America, the U.K., Europe and Australia. ShipBob is fully integrated with the FlavorCloud platform and its cross-border services, allowing its customers to experience a loyalty-building international shipping and returns experience, regardless of product type, shipment origin/destination or desired service level.

The partnership is designed to allow ShipBob customers to ship orders guaranteed Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) to more than 200 countries by collecting duties and taxes at checkout, all without leaving the checkout cart.

FlavorCloud provides a mix of shipping services, collection of duty and tax, trade compliance and automated customs filing and clearance for their customers, which ShipBob says is a first for its customers. Shipping DDP opens ShipBob customers up to new premium international parcel shipping services, often a prerequisite for an increasing number of customers worldwide.

As this new solution is rolled out, ShipBob customers can use FlavorCloud’s DDP solution for shipments originating from either their own facility (as part of ShipBob’s Merchant Plus program) or at ShipBob facilities worldwide.

The FlavorCloud platform is fully integrated with ShipBob, allowing for enablement of the service within 24 hours. FlavorCloud is platform agnostic with the ability to support sellers on Shopify, BigCommerce and any other platform/custom cart via the FlavorCloud APIs.

ShipBob merchants shipping internationally with FlavorCloud can expect to experience a significant decrease in lost/damaged packages, a healthy uptick in international conversion rates, and increased brand loyalty thanks to the white glove offering of shipping DDP.

FlavorCloud, which is based in Seattle, says it has experienced 3X revenue growth and 4X customer growth in the last year and expects a 5X increase in two years.

Post-purchase/loyalty

Clyde

Clyde, a product lifecycle platform provider, has launched its Ownership Enrichment Platform, a technology designed to helps brands deepen customer relationships and drive lifetime value through reimagined product protection, registration and issue resolution experiences.

The platform includes Registration and Claims Plus—two new products that join Clyde’s Extended Warranty solution that can potentially bring more value to the post-purchase experience for merchants and their customers.

As market forces such as supply chain bottlenecks, rising oil prices and worker shortages are dramatically increasing merchants’ operating costs while eroding their profit margins, the Clyde platform offers brands a way to acquire first-party data by connecting with new and existing customers. These points of connection help protect a brand’s investment in customer acquisition, while growing its customer base’s lifetime value (LTV).

The Registration feature invites retail customers into a brand’s digital onboarding experience so brands can connect with their third-party customers directly. Reclaiming these customers can enhance product, marketing and outreach efforts so merchants can reach 100 percent of their customer base. With the combination of product onboarding, a consumer-grade experience and marketing automation integrations, brands can leverage the tech to retarget and re-engage customers in the future.

Claims Plus is a smart resolution app that plugs into a merchant’s existing support workflow to unite disparate data sources and automate instant claims resolution for product issues, whether a product is under warranty or not. By facilitating a quick and reliable issue resolution process, brands can prevent costly mistakes and improve customer satisfaction.

With Extended Warranty, Clyde aims to help brands build trust and drive profitable revenue with product protection, including bespoke brand-native design, purpose-built programs and data-driven optimization.

As part of the new platform, Clyde is focused on building out its partner program to enable digital agencies and technology companies to support businesses looking to offer ownership enrichment experiences. These partnerships can streamline a brand’s e-commerce experience with best-in-class applications and integrations through Clyde’s network of technology partners, ranging from software designed to optimize post-purchase email campaigns to leading buy-now-pay-later providers.

For example, Gorgias, a helpdesk that provides customer service experiences designed for online stores, is partnering with Clyde to offer new customer service solutions to merchants. Other partners include Klaviyo, Affirm and Registria. Through an open API, these technology integrations can work together in one place, eliminating siloed data and optimizing a merchant’s operations.

Consumer behavior

NielsenIQ/Fetch Rewards

NielsenIQ plans to expand its Omnishopper panel in the U.S. through their strategic agreement with Fetch Rewards, a mobile consumer rewards app with 13 million monthly active users in the U.S. that recently raised $240 million in funding.

Omnishopper is designed to track consumer purchasing behavior from brick-and-mortar and e-commerce storefronts across multiple channels, ultimately to deliver accurate insights that empower brands to make better decisions and strategy plans.

By scaling the sample size of their existing Omnishopper panel, NielsenIQ can provide deep granularity across thousands of retailers that the company says is not traditionally available through small scale panels.

NielsenIQ’s Omnishopper panel, launched in 2021, leverages sales data and rich product reference data to bolster consumer insights across granular geographies, demographics, disruptive brands and retailers and match the speed at which new product launches and industry trends can be capitalized upon by clients. The panel is composed of longitudinal omnishopper data curated from Fetch Rewards’ user base.

This enhancement to NielsenIQ’s Omnishopper product will combine the company’s investments and technology to holistically track shopper behavior online and offline across products and categories to identify underlying behavior. Clients who already subscribe to NielsenIQ’s Omnishopper tool will have first access to this exclusive solution.

Using comprehensive data sets and measuring all transactions equally, NielsenIQ gives clients a forward-looking view into consumer behavior in order to optimize performance across all retail platforms.

Retail media

Vsblty

Vsblty Groupe Technologies Corp., a software provider of security and retail analytics technology, is actively presenting its Store as a Medium (SaaM) technology at three major industry events both in the U.S. and abroad.

Earlier this year, Vsblty and its ecosystem partners released a free Store as a Medium app and a corresponding white paper that demonstrates how international and U.S. retailers, both large and small, can boost sales, improve store efficiency and receive data that will enable them to better understand shoppers.

The platform provider’s lead product, the Proactive Digital Display, is designed to transform retail and public spaces as well as place-based media networks with SaaS-based audience measurement and security software that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The firm was invited to present its SaaM technology earlier this month at the World Retail Congress in Rome, which attracted some 14,000 attendees from more than 70 countries.

The promotion of the new app comes as Boston Consulting Group projects retail media to be a $100 billion annual revenue stream. In addition to buying advertising at point-of-purchase, brands will pay retailers for the increasingly available data about shopping and purchase behavior that reveal predictive patterns.

Using both exhibits and speakers’ platforms, Vsblty is scheduled to present its credentials at three other technology industry events: Intel Vision, May 10-11; the BIG 5G Event, May 16-18, and Lenovo Accelerate, May 16-19.

At Intel Vision, Vsblty will demonstrate how SaaM provides large and small retailers with a new revenue stream, while allowing manufacturers and brands to have deeper engagements with customers right at point of sale and benefit from the data collected.

The technology is designed to provide enhanced customer engagement and order audience measurement using machine learning and computer vision. Its VisionCaptor and DataCaptor software combined motion graphics and interactive brand messaging with computer vision measurement and insights. Vsblty’s AI-driven software Vector provides enhanced facial recognition that can help enhance today’s security requirements when recognizing weapons or suspicious persons in a crowd.