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Retail Tech: Intermix Taps NuOrder, MySize Debuts Smart Mirrors, Robotics Startup Nabs $335M

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

Smart mirrors

MySize/GK Software

MySize, a developer and creator of mobile body measurement solutions, has launched new fitting room smart mirrors, leveraging GK Software’s retail solutions with its own proprietary AI-driven sizing tech.

The interactive smart mirror is the company’s first product solution addressing in-person retail shopping. The technology is designed to enable virtual try-on, provide fit recommendations for a shopper’s current selections and recommend other garments to try on in-store.

The mirror aims to speed up the try-on process, and take the guesswork out of picking a size. Its recommendation engine is designed to help stores maximize purchase size. The mirror is immediately available to GK Software customers across their 346,000 retailer locations spanning 65 countries.

MySize says the solution offers inventory management benefits as well, as store will no longer need to display all sizes of the merchandise available. The smart mirrors would ideally help decrease returns of items that often end up in landfills.

The platform reduces returns by as much as 50 percent and increases average order value by approximately 30 percent in online purchases, the company says. For brick-and-mortar shopping, MySizeID technology aims to provide the same impact, while providing customers with a buying “fast lane” to purchase the items they want.

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MySize’s brand partners including Levi’s, Speedo, and Boyish Jeans, as well as e-commerce platforms including Shopify, WooCommerce, Bitrix, Lightspeed and more.

B2B wholesale

Intermix/NuOrder

Women’s fashion brand Intermix is partnering with NuOrder by Lightspeed to drive digital transformation and deliver a localized boutique experience, both online and in-store.

The technology will enable Intermix to analyze its assortments across categories and regions and quickly  set up products on its e-commerce site while completing wholesale orders. Intermix will also use NuOrder by Lightspeed’s tagging capabilities to expand on exclusives and drive personalization.

The NuOrder by Lightspeed B2B wholesale and digital events platform is built to power commerce and discovery for the world’s best brands and retailers. The solution offers capabilities such as Virtual Showroom technology, visual assortment and merchandising tools, payments and data integration powering businesses of all sizes.

Intermix plans to implement an accelerated rollout with a full launch across all categories for the Cruise 2023 buying season.

The retailer will use NuOrder by Lightspeed to make data-driven decisions to complete their orders. Using pre-populated data and imagery, Intermix can view its assortment across different attributes to build experiences for customers regardless of where they’re shopping.

“Intermix is known for curating the best fashion edit every season, by discovering the most sought-after styles from established and emerging designers and working with brands to develop items exclusively for Intermix,” said Divya Mathur, chief merchandising officer for Intermix. “Our partnership with Lightspeed will allow us to hyper-localize assortments at every one of our 31 boutiques nationwide and expand our e-commerce offering, while still maintaining our unique product point of view.”

“We are excited to combine NuOrder by Lightspeed’s data capabilities with our expertise in spotting trends and editing assortments to accelerate our growth,” Mathur added. “As we continue to scale, we are looking at investments that will enable us to offer a highly personalized boutique shopping experience across both channels.”

NuOrder was acquired by Lightspeed for $425 million in June. The e-commerce platform provider connects approximately 3,000 brands and more than 100,000 retailers.

RFID

Stadium/SML

Swedish sports retailer Stadium has deployed SML’s item-level RFID solutions, Inspire RFID tags, and Clarity enterprise software to help improve inventory management and customer service.

Launching in 2018 with an initial pilot project in two Stockholm stores, Stadium has since fully deployed of item-level RFID technology across 180 retail stores in Norway, Sweden and Finland, allowing the brand to count its stock in every store weekly, instead of its previous once a year stock count. Stadium also currently uses the RFID-enhanced Receiving and Sales Floor Replenishment features within Clarity.

As a direct result, Stadium has seen an increase in inventory accuracy from 70 percent to 99 percent, resulting in improved business performance across the chain.

“Before RFID, we had an unrealistic view of our inventory levels,” said Johan Stenström, supply chain developer at Stadium. “Due to our once-a-year inventory count and existing ERP software that didn’t track lost, stolen, or damaged inventory, we thought our inventory accuracy was nearly perfect when it was actually around 70 percent.”

Having completed the full deployment at the end of 2021, Stadium has now implemented SML’s item-level RFID technology using RFID tags, Zebra handheld RFID readers, and SML’s Clarity software suite.

Stadium also rolled the technology out to all of its distribution centers, and began source and distribution center tagging.

“We implemented the Clarity solution in our stores to really help our personnel. The enthusiasm about using the technology was so palpable that other stores started calling us to move up their go-live dates,” Stenström said.

Omnichannel

Backcountry/Oracle

Backcountry, the specialty retailer of premium outdoor gear and apparel, is expanding its store footprint with Oracle. After 25 years as an online-only retailer, Backcountry opened two brick-and-mortar stores in 2021 with plans to quickly expand across the U.S. Each store is designed to double as both a shopping destination and gathering space for the outdoor community.

Using Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service, retail associates can better help shoppers.

“Our mission is to get people outside and to connect them to their passions. Forming friendships and sharing adventures with fellow outdoor enthusiasts in our stores was a natural progression of our brand DNA,” said Chris Purkey, senior vice president of retail at Backcountry. “Oracle Retail will provide the scalability we need to support our growing business, wide assortment of inventory, and extensive services. With the new mobile systems, our associates will be able to deliver a personal touch only our team can offer.”

Backcountry is replacing its homegrown point-of-sale system with Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service at its soon-to-be three stores in Utah and Colorado, starting in the second quarter 2022. The rollout will carry over into future store openings as Backcountry continues to expand its brick-and-mortar footprint.

By adopting Xstore, Backcountry’s customer service team of outdoor experts, known as “Gearheads,” will gain the flexibility to move about the store and guide customers through its expansive product assortment. In addition, Gearheads will have inventory and customer information in the palm of their hands to help them provide improved service.

Robotics

Exotec

Exotec, a global warehouse robotics company, secured $335 million in Series D funding at a $2 billion valuation. The company will leverage the funds to continue to launch large-scale deployments in North America, Europe, and Asia for global brands. The company also plans to hire 500 new R&D engineers by 2025 to accelerate the development of its warehouse automation technology.

The Growth Equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management led the round with follow-on investments from 83North and Dell Technologies Capital. To date, Exotec has landed $477 million.

“Exotec warehouse robotics have transformed our logistics operations in multiple markets around the world, most recently in our Montreal fulfillment center,” said Richard Tremblay, logistics manager at sports apparel retailer Decathlon Canada. “We value the unique combination of speed, performance, and flexibility that allows us to provide leading service to our customers. We look forward to a long-term partnership with Exotec.”

Exotec doubled its revenue and tripled its customer base since closing its $90 million Series C funding round in the fall of 2020. In North America, Exotec signed eight new, large enterprise customers including Gap and Geodis and expanded its work with existing clients in new markets.

Decathlon deployed the Skypod System in its Montreal fulfillment center following successful deployments in Europe, while Gymshark recently added the system in its Allentown, Pa. distribution center

Over the past year, the company debuted its Skypicker technology, an articulated arm able to move 600 items per hour to support high-volume fulfillment and returns. To date, Exotec employs more than 300 professionals around the world and aims to double its global headcount by 2023.

Ariat International/Körber

Ariat International, a leading footwear and apparel brand for equestrian sports, outdoor activities and work industries, has chosen German supply chain solutions provider Körber to increase throughput and maximize capacity in their central warehouse. As a result, Ariat can shift resources away from physically demanding, strenuous jobs to more skilled tasks for enhanced customer experiences.

Ariat is already leveraging Körber’s K.Motion Warehouse Management System (WMS) at its Texas facility. Körber is further driving Ariat’s supply chain vision with autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in collaboration with another warehouse automation company, Geek+. The retailer has now rolled out 88 robots for the fulfillment of their entire portfolio of products at this Texas distribution center.

Retail Tech: Exotec Raises $335M, MySize
The autonomous mobile robots, seen here operating in Ariat’s distribution center.

“Kӧrber’s partnership and experience in deploying their comprehensive technology solutions has allowed us to further improve our customer and employee experience,” said Matt Hardenberg, vice president of distribution, Ariat International. “Automating picking with the AMRs and the WMS allows us to reinvest our team’s time in customer-facing activities.”

Owing to the pandemic, ongoing labor challenges and shifts in shopping habits requiring integrated online and brick-and-mortar fulfillment, Körber has seen a rapid uptake in autonomous mobile robots being deployed in retail environments. Since 2020, Körber says it has deployed thousands of robots in the market across varied AMR workflows.

AutoStore

Warehouse automation company AutoStore has debuted its R5+ Robot. The newest addition to the AutoStore Robot fleet will enable warehouses to manage larger items, thanks to the R5+’s ability to handle bins up to 425 millimeters, the tallest bins available in the AutoStore system.

AutoStore uses robots and bins to quickly process small parts orders. It seeks to provide better use of available space than other automated systems due to a design that enables direct stacking of bins on top of each other and storage of multiple SKUs in a single bin.

With the R5+ launch, AutoStore says it has introduced a more economically competitive offer to companies operating in a wider variety of markets, such as footwear, semiconductors and other similar applications. The maximum grid height for AutoStore customers using the R5+ with 425 mm bins will be slightly higher than a grid with the R5 using 330 mm bins, creating a grid composed of 14 layers of bins that is around 6,044 mm tall.

Personal closet

Fash-on

Fash-on, a fashion and retail tech startup, is launching its fashion commerce O4O “online for offline” solution in 2022. Designed to connect shopping across online and offline channels, the solution merges the strengths of brick-and-mortar stores and personalized contact-free technologies.

Fash-on offers a Personal Digital Closet Service that enables customers to fill out information on their favorite clothes and brands, so the platform can better understand their own preferences and use them to personalize the shopping process.

The solution also provides a Personal Shopper Service that connects customers with salespersons at brick-and-mortar stores to help them with remote shopping and styling. The mobile app for the service will be available by the end of the year.

Fash-on will also connect with in-store kiosks of partner brands and retailers so users of the online platform can access in-store promotions and share their smart closet data.

Since it was selected as a style tech startup partner by the Korea Institute of Design Promotion (KIDP) and LG Display, Fash-on has been preparing proof of concept (PoC) and market optimization for its service model.

Store fulfillment

Fluent Commerce

Order management system technology provider Fluent Commerce has introduced Fluent Store, a web app made for more efficient in-store order fulfillment. Developed in response to client demand, this configurable web app is designed to help retailers and brands increase staff productivity, reduce training time and order errors and increase pick and pack efficiency.

Fluent Store was designed to empower business users, allowing them to configure the UX for a faster, lower cost rollout and help accelerate development of new components, without a technical background.

The app allows for configuration of a custom-tailored pick and pack process, and includes features designed to activate store-to-store shipping and receiving, BOPIS (click-and-collect), BORIS and in-store returns.

Each of these features can be configured, allowing Fluent Store users to adapt to consumer expectations and market forces as necessary, regardless of store size. For example, a smaller store might want to pick by order, while larger stores might find greater efficiency in picking by item, location or product category. Users of the Fluent Store app can choose their picking preference.

The app also includes order prioritization, so staff can view which orders need to be ready for pickup quickly, and which can wait. And it can help stores without dedicated staff to pick and pack orders that often have to rely on their store staff to do so, taking them away from customer interactions and leading to labor and time inefficiencies.

Fluent Commerce works with global and regional brands such as JD Sports, L’Oréal, Aldo, Ted Baker and Marks & Spencer.

Checkout 

Checkout.com

Checkout.com raised $1 billion in a Series D funding round for a $40 billion valuation.

Checkout.com offers a full-stack online platform that is designed to simplify payments processes for large global enterprise merchants. Given the company has been profitable for several years, the Series D capital will help strengthen the company’s balance sheet and drive three key initiatives: its ambitious growth plans for the U.S. market; the continued evolution of its proprietary technology platform and solutions; and its goal to remain on the cutting edge of Web3 technologies.

Since its Series C in early 2021, the platform provider has more than doubled its valuation.

Grown rapidly in its home market of EMEA and tripled the volume of transactions processed for the third year in a row. Today the company serves large-scale e-commerce and services merchants like Netflix, Farfetch, Shein and Sony; fintech unicorns such as Klarna, Qonto, Revolut and WorldRemit; and many of the world’s largest crypto players, including Coinbase, Crypto.com, FTX and MoonPay.

Over the past year, Checkout.com opened new offices in six countries across four continents to cater to surging merchant demand. But with the new funding, the company aims to further its growth in the U.S., doubling down on its commitment to scaling its platform, partnerships and products for customers in the market.

The technology provider expects its North American employee base to grow by 200 percent this year alone.

After comprehensive testing with multiple global merchants over the past several months, Checkout.com plans to launch its solution to service marketplaces and payment facilitators later this year. This will expand the company’s capability to service payments within online marketplaces—a sector that has seen a dramatic increase in transaction volumes given the shift to digital during the pandemic and the expansion of the gig economy for several years prior.

With global e-commerce expected to keep outpacing the growth of traditional commerce—especially with the adoption of emerging technologies like crypto currencies and NFTs—Checkout.com is continuing to strengthen its position in the Web3 space. The company is privately beta-testing a solution to settle transactions for merchants using digital currencies.

Primary investors include Altimeter, Dragoneer, Franklin Templeton, GIC, Insight Partners, the Qatar Investment Authority, Tiger Global, the Oxford Endowment Fund, and another unnamed mutual fund management firm on the U.S. West Coast. Several of the company’s other existing investors also participated in this round.

Supply chain workforce

WorkStep

WorkStep, a workforce hiring and retention platform for the supply chain, has raised $25 million in Series B funding to combat the current labor shortage. The investment was led by NewRoad Capital Partners, and brings the company’s total capital raised to $42 million.

The company enables organizations to hire better-fit candidates by tapping into its talent network of over 1 million supply chain workers, what Workstep calls the largest supply-chain-specific talent network in the U.S.

The company’s Retain solution equips enterprises to engage frontline workers at scale, identify the underlying drivers of turnover, and make changes to increase retention and performance. The platform, which is used by companies like third-party logistics provider NFI, packaging solutions provider Westrock and Kroger, has reduced employee turnover by up to 33 percent, with the company saying it can save customers millions of dollars in hiring, temp staffing and replacement costs.

WorkStep will leverage the investment to scale its platform, grow the team and help more hourly workers find rewarding careers and employment opportunities. Tripling revenue year-over-year leading up to the current funding round, WorkStep expects to more than triple its team in 2022. The Series B follows a $10.5M Series A investment, led by FirstMark Capital, less than 12 months ago.

Prologis Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Social Capital, Quiet Capital, Latitude Ventures, and Engage VC also participated in the funding round.

Associate enablement

Yoobic

Yoobic, a deskless workforce optimization platform, has debuted Yoobic One, an all-in-one digital workplace for retail frontline teams. A unified platform giving store associates tools to work, learn, and communicate, Yoobic One also features data analytics, collaboration tools, and new productivity features.

Untuckit, Peloton, and Lacoste use Yoobic’s workplace solutions. The Yoobic One launch comes as businesses seek new ways to overcome pandemic-related uncertainty including labor force shortages amid “The Great Resignation” and rising costs—all while pivoting into new business models and striving to provide compelling experiences for consumers.

The company says Yoobic One delivers benefits to retailers with more than 300 stores, including up to 40 percent time savings for routine operational tasks, and between $1.5 million and $5 million in total annual savings per retailer. The tech provider says it quadruples training adoption, speeds up training and course completion rates 50 times over, and at least triples operational performance visibility across the network.

In particular, retail businesses may choose Yoobic One to simplify and automate daily tasks, enabling learning in the flow of work and driving real-time collaboration and communication.

Additionally, users can gain actionable business insights with automated and gather real-time AI-powered intelligence into network-wide operational performance.

New predictive analytics features also help Yoobic One users to identify gaps in operations, preempt compliance risks, course correct and address areas for improvement to enable companies to outperform the competition.

“Digital workplace solutions for store associates offer a path to improve day-to-day task compliance, streamline communication across locations and associates, and build associate knowledge and skills quickly and efficiently to simultaneously tackle these integrated challenges,” said Jon Duke, research vice president for IDC Retail Insights.

Demand forecasting

TransImpact/Avercast

TransImpact, a supply chain technology and services company, has acquired inventory forecasting, demand planning and inventory optimization software provider Avercast for an undisclosed sum.

Avercast aims to empower global clients to forecast and plan the right products, in the right place, at the right time, for the right price. The acquisition adds seven software products to TransImpact’s current technology solutions, deepening the company’s technology offering in the supply and demand planning stages of the supply chain process.

The software provider has more than 250 forecasting algorithms that let clients produce expert-level forecasts for up to 60 months into the future, according to Berkley Stafford, CEO of TransImpact.

With this acquisition, TransImpact also expands its footprint to add an international presence in six countries to support global clients. In addition, TransImpact will maintain the Avercast offices in Rigby, Idaho and will integrate the Avercast team with the TransImpact teams in California, Ohio and North Carolina to develop new technology solutions.

The merger also brings together the companies’ two distinct market-leading technology capabilities, forecasting and analytics.

In-store analytics

Pathr.ai

Pathr.ai, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered spatial intelligence platform, has partnered with The Lionesque Group, an experiential retail strategy and design studio, and its parent company, global design and architecture firm MG2 Corporation, to bring real-time analytics to popup shops.

As retailers navigate ever-changing shopping habits and customer demands, popups have become an integral part of retail strategy. Under the partnership, retailers seeking to analyze the success of their popup shops can use Pathr.ai’s spatial intelligence technology to gain insights to deliver improved customer experiences at these locations.

The partnership comes as brands and retailers embarking on short-term physical retail engagements have had limited insights from in-store analytics on their customer behavior.

These businesses can better understand how their popup shop is performing through a variety of analytics such as: entrance and group sizes for measuring sales conversion rates; shopper behavior including dwell times and heat mapping; merchandising insights; staffing optimization via insights around customer and staff interactions; and checkout queue and wait times.

“Partnering with Pathr.ai to create ‘Pop-up Shop Analytics’ is the next necessary evolution for the industry. The ability to tap into customer behavior and analyze that data will help drive how we use pop-up shops as a tool to better understand customer behaviors, in-store interactions, purchase intent, and utilize the store as a living lab to inform how we design the most successful physical retail experiences possible for our clients,” said Melissa Gonzalez, CEO and founder of The Lionesque Group and principal at MG2.

Pathr.ai’s real-time analytics for popup shops are available starting in February.

BlueZoo

BlueZoo, a provider of foot traffic measurement and analytics solutions, has launched BlueFox 2022, a next-generation solution to measure the presence and movement of people.

GDPR-certified BlueFox 2022 delivers a new integrated data warehouse, new analytics dashboards, advanced user roles and a mobile application to accelerate sensor calibration, in an effort to make it easier to realize insights about people, movement and crowds.

Crowd measurement accuracy relies on sensor calibration to help the sensor distinguish between mobile phones inside and outside the target detection zone. BlueFox 2022 delivers a new mobile application to streamline the collection of ground truth data. The mobile app cuts ground truth collection time by more than 90 percent, BlueZoo says, all while increasing accuracy and simplifying the sensor audit process.

Built on top of a new data warehouse is a set of new interactive dashboards for comparisons across sensors, locations, and time. The new dashboard permits visualizations of visitors, visits, dwell time, unique visitor recurrence, and several advanced metrics. Enterprise access control features role-based access control and two-factor authentication to ensure that data is protected, but also easily accessible to the right person at the right time.

As deployments grow in size, users can benefit from instant visualization of fine-grain historical data from Google’s BigQuery.

BlueFox 2022 is expected to become generally available this quarter.