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Retail Tech Roundup: Neiman, Saks Off 5th, Express Turn to ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’

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

Installment payments

Affirm

Neiman Marcus is partnering with buy now, pay later platform Affirm, which recently filed for an IPO and will be listed on the Nasdaq. Eligible shoppers at the luxury department store can now pay over time on a schedule designed to best fit their needs and budget.

When shopping online, eligible Neiman Marcus shoppers can select Affirm at checkout and split the total cost of any purchase over $50 into simple payments with terms from six weeks to 36 months depending on the cart size, for as low as zero percent APR (annual percentage rate). Customers are shown the total cost of their purchase upfront, according to the payments provider.

Affirm, which partners with more than 6,500 merchants, says that shoppers never pay more than they agree to, and that customers are never charged any late or hidden fees. For example, a $200 purchase might cost $67 per month over three months at zero percent APR.

“Neiman Marcus was founded on the principle of building long-lasting and meaningful relationships with our customers. We are committed to providing all shoppers with access to leading luxury fashion and high-end products, paired with superior service,” said Katie Mullen, chief digital officer, Neiman Marcus Group. “Partnering with Affirm not only allows us to reach customers who need payment flexibility and price transparency in the way they pay, but also increases our sales and average order value.”

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Klarna

Saks Off 5th and Express are the latest apparel destinations to implement the Klarna platform, joining Macy’s, which deployed and invested in the buy now, pay later platform in October.

With the partnership, U.S. shoppers on Saksoff5th.com and Express.com can now split their purchases into four interest-free payments. Saks Off 5th also intends to launch Klarna in-store in 2021.

Earlier this month, Express and Klarna kicked off the “Express Cheer” holiday campaign, in which the companies award 100 prizes of $100 gift cards to customers who use Klarna when checking out at Express.com each week through Dec. 21. A total of 700 winners will be selected, including one grand prize winner who will receive a $1,000 Express gift card.

Klarna most recently rolled out a new iOS price drop widget ahead of the holiday designed to enable consumers to stay on top of the latest deals and sales, and debuted new curated holiday “Wish Lists” and personalized deals based on price points, shopping categories and holiday gift recipients.

Last-mile delivery

JoyRun

In another effort to beef up its delivery capabilities, Walmart has acquired select assets of JoyRun, a technology startup that operates a peer-to-peer last-mile delivery platform. Srini Venkatesan, executive vice president at Walmart Global Tech, confirmed in a LinkedIn post that the retail giant acquired the talent, technology platform and IP of the company for an undisclosed sum.

JoyRun connects members of a community and enables users to pick up and deliver items for friends and neighbors. The team already has built a network of approximately 540 official merchant partners, and more than 30,000 people have served as drivers, which the company calls “runners,” since the service launched in 2015.

This acquisition is designed to further augment Walmart’s supply chain team and aid them in their efforts to explore more ways to deliver for customers in the future. For instance, Venkatesan says the company’s runners could complement its Spark program and third-party delivery providers. Spark program delivery drivers are independently contracted, like those from major third-party delivery companies and ride-hailing services.

The company expects the deal to close in the coming weeks. Walmart has bet big on new delivery capabilities in recent years, particularly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, through work with autonomous vehicles, third-party partnerships such as the recent Instacart collaboration, Express “store-to-door” associate delivery, InHome delivery and even drones.

Fit technology

Wair

Wair, an AI-driven fit solution designed to provide personalized size recommendations that bring the precision of a dressing room fitting online, has emerged from stealth mode and has announced its first partnerships with Cuts Clothing, Rhone and Superdry.

Using proprietary AI technology, Wair works with a network of body dimension data to help apparel brands and retailers put shoppers’ bodies and preferred fit at the center of their business—from design and planning to marketing, sales and customer experience. Wair’s intelligent fit solution is aimed at increasing shoppers’ confidence that a garment will provide the fit they want, which in turn can reduce cart abandonment and returns while increasing conversions. The result is deeper brand loyalty and a healthier bottom line.

“Wair has been an incredibly powerful technology tool for us, and has been instrumental to the success of our brand,” said Steven Borrelli, founder and CEO of men’s fashion brand Cuts Clothing. “Our customers simply type in their size, weight and desired fit and Wair produces the most accurate size. We’ve seen a decrease in returns, have been more accurate in our ordering and are increasing our revenue.”

The platform includes Fit Advisor, Wair’s e-commerce recommendation solution that matches products to a shopper’s individual body measurements and fit preferences. Using this plug-in, brands can help shoppers purchase the best fitting clothes without size sampling and returns. The data created with each use then powers the rest of the Wair platform, which retailers and brands can opt into to get the full value.

With an analytics dashboard, users can track optimized performance metrics and integrate personalized shopper insights throughout planning and sales cycles.

The complete product suite includes solution add-ons such as fit optimization, which generates updated size specifications for optimized fit coverage for a target audience; inventory forecasting, which can predict inventory needs and size runs down to the store level; and ad campaign contribution, which is designed to optimize ad targeting for inventory full value sell through and adjust ad spend based on the body data of shoppers.

“Wair has increased consumer confidence in our sizes, produced significant lift in our checkouts, and helped us become body-first,” Adam Bridegan, chief marketing officer of Rhone, said in a statement. “Knowing our shoppers’ body dimensions helps us evaluate grade rules, plan size runs for next season, and increase full value sell through.”

Brands that have adopted Wair’s solution have experienced an average 50 percent increase in conversions, an 11 percent increase in cart value and a 30 percent reduction in returns. From the shoppers’ point of view, the data shows an 89 percent increase in their confidence around selecting the right size.

The launch comes as the company unveiled proprietary survey data indicating that nearly 80 percent of brands and retailers are not using size and fit recommendation technology, despite the majority (53 percent) stating that determining fit and size was a challenge their customers face when shopping on their site. A quarter of respondents said their e-commerce platform was not at all effective and accurate when it comes to predicting size and fit for their customers.

Additionally, only 30 percent of brands and retailers said their current sell-through rates are satisfactory—with 66 percent of respondents pegging their full value sell through at 60 percent or less.

Gifting

SmartGift

SmartGift has expanded its partnerships with VF Corporation and Pandora Jewelry to offer its gifting services to consumers in Canada, France, Germany, and the U.K.. SmartGift is now available through Timberland Canada’s website and Pandora Canada, France, Germany and UK’s websites.

Through SmartGift’s technology, which is designed to eliminate the fear of returns or sending the wrong size, color, shade, fragrance, etc., the company is seeking to bolster consumer confidence in the gift giving process by having the gift notice arrive instantly and empowering the recipient to customize their perfect gift.

The company is also developing a new, dedicated corporate gifting service which will include an expanded catalog of top branded gift offerings, and customization features for small, medium, and large organizations.

E-commerce marketing

Wunderkind/SmarterHQ

Wunderkind, a performance marketing solutions provider formerly known as BounceX, has acquired e-commerce personalization and segmentation platform SmarterHQ for an undisclosed sum.

This acquisition is designed to speed up Wunderkind’s ability to ship new, high-impact products for enterprise retailers. The initial integration will leverage SmarterHQ’s segmentation for Wunderkind’s SMS platform in an effort to help top e-commerce brands customize their SMS capabilities at scale.

With SmarterHQ, retailers aggregate their in-store, online and in-app data to leverage it across channels. Marketers using the platform would be able to pull detailed audiences to orchestrate tailored messages with unmatched customization.

The Wunderkind platform has already been working with retailers to help them deliver personalized email and SMS messages with the company saying that its identity resolution capabilities have helped some e-commerce retailers drive up to 25 percent of their total digital revenue while scaling their marketable lists across channels.

Wunderkind and SmarterHQ count some of the largest retailers in the U.S. as their clients, like Sam’s Club, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Uniqlo, Sonos and HelloFresh.

Earlier this year, Wunderkind announced that it reached a milestone of $100 million in annual recurring revenue. The company is tracking towards double-digit growth this year despite the negative economic impacts of Covid-19.

Wunderkind has raised more than $44 million to date and is backed by Battery Ventures, Primary Venture Partners, Cross Creek Advisors, and Contour Venture Partners. SmarterHQ had previously raised over $42 million from investors including Battery Ventures and Simon Property Group. ComCap LLC served as exclusive financial advisor to SmarterHQ in connection with this transaction.

Augmented reality

Resonai

Resonai, an AI and computer vision company, launched Vera Concierge, a mobile application that uses augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to provide digital concierge services to visitors of retail outlets and commercial buildings.

Built on Vera, Resonai’s enterprise platform transforming any physical space into an intelligent digital environment, Vera Concierge provides personalized assistance, indoor navigation, and context-aware information through an AR interface.

Vera Concierge is part of the Vera suite of applications for use within any commercial building. Other apps include Vera Universal Controller, which offers a way to manage and control all of a building’s IoT-enabled devices from a single, intelligent place; and Vera Maintenance Manager, which uses AR and building intelligence to automate a facility’s maintenance processes and improve the efficiency of its maintenance team. The applications draw on Vera’s 3D semantic understanding of the environment and positional tracking of users within it.

Building tenants and visitors can use Vera Concierge to check in or register upon their arrival and get personalized, contactless information. The app provides turn-by-turn navigation guiding users to their destinations and offers context-aware AR content along the way.

In a retail environment, for example, the app can provide consumers with product information, deliver AR-based brand experiences, or point out where restrooms and other facilities are located. The app provides real-time analytics on traffic flows, user behaviors, product interactions and other valuable data as consumers move through a store or shopping mall, enabling managers to integrate brick and mortar data with ecommerce data to map the complete buyer journey.

Vera also delivers new monetization opportunities for building owners by creating new digital real estate that can be monetized through promotions, sponsorships and branding opportunities.

Digital experience monitoring

SAP/Dynatrace

Software intelligence company Dynatrace has expanded its partnership with SAP to drive better business outcomes during the holiday season and beyond under a multi-year agreement in which the platform will serve as a strategic observability partner for SAP Commerce Cloud.

By embedding Dynatrace’s AI-powered observability and digital experience monitoring capabilities into SAP Commerce Cloud, customers would ideally gain a deeper understanding of applications and microservices running in their environment, including third-party services.

Dynatrace’s digital experience monitoring capabilities, including user monitoring and synthetic monitoring, and answers from its AI engine, Davis, are now available for SAP Commerce Cloud’s digital experience monitoring feature, which customers can subscribe to via the online SAP Store. The solution enables retailers to maximize customer satisfaction and online conversions by optimizing every step in their user journey, from the first click on a mobile app or website, to code-level insights detailing the performance of underlying cloud services.

SAP Commerce Cloud’s digital experience monitoring feature, including Dynatrace’s capabilities, was released in October 2020.

Dynatrace is designed to identify anomalies that can be problematic during major shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, such as mobile app crashes, errors or performance issues, prioritize them by business impact and supply precise root-cause determination. This enables digital teams to understand how application performance and new features influence business KPIs, including conversions and revenue, so they can continuously optimize user experience across mobile, web and other edge-device channels.

“As a part of our digital transformation efforts, we needed to migrate our e-commerce to a more advanced platform. This required digital experience monitoring to understand precisely which improvements to prioritize and ensure everything performs as expected,” said Christoferson Chua, B2B e-commerce lead developer, Asics. “The combined power of Dynatrace digital experience monitoring and SAP Commerce Cloud helps us understand and pinpoint bottlenecks across our e-commerce integrations, enabling our teams to proactively drive innovation and optimizations to achieve a fast and responsive storefront. Ultimately, this allows us to strengthen our relationships with customers and partners, as well as our brand value.”

Packaging and shipping

PackageX

PackageX launched Parcel, a privacy-oriented inbound and outbound shipment and smartphone app with a streamlined interface designed to track all incoming packages without email access. Parcel also can help small home-based businesses maintain a record of sent packages, generate package labels and track deliveries.

Instead of reading emails, Parcel uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology to scan tracking numbers via a phone camera and create a streamlined report of inbound package statuses. Parcel also has AR technology capabilities so consumers or small home businesses can measure their items simply by scanning the box with their smartphones to see shipping speed and price estimates from USPS.

Parcel assists recipients and senders through features including inbound package tracking, which notifies users about incoming packages and tracks these throughout their journey, regardless of which courier service is used, as well as outbound shipment initiation, which allows senders to generate a shipping label, take images of the package and send visually enhanced notifications to recipients without a trip to the courier store.

Additionally, Parcel includes AR-based measurement and shipping estimates, in which AR enables senders to measure the dimensions of their packages, and then see shipping speed and pricing estimates from USPS. Senders can take photos of all outbound shipments to serve as proof of record and recipients can see the contents of their package before it ships.

When paired with PackageX’s flagship software, Mailroom, Parcel enables users to remotely direct mailroom staff to take actions on their packages, including holding them, scanning and forwarding them to a different address or, as in the case of junk mail, destroying them. The app can function for residential, commercial, retail and college and university mailrooms, providing full in-app tracking transparency, delivering automatic package notifications and optimizing the customer experience.