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Retail Tech: Optitex Integrates Alvanon 3D Library, Nuvocargo Raises $12M

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

Trade

Nuvocargo

Nuvocargo, a software-enabled freight forwarder and licensed U.S. customs broker that helps shippers move cargo between the U.S. and Latin America, closed a $12 million round of Series A funding led by QED Investors.

The freight forwarder will use the funds to accelerate its product roadmap and ramp up hiring across Silicon Valley, the logistics industry, the U.S. and Mexico. Specifically, it will invest more aggressively in engineering, product, design, analytics and marketing while continuing to invest in sales and operations. Today, the team consists of 35 employees in the U.S. and Mexico, but that number will likely grow to more than 100 in the coming 12 months.

Nuvocargo is also developing a series of add-on financial products for shippers and carriers, targeting the $125 billion market for supply chain finance between the U.S. and Mexico with offerings such as cargo insurance, working capital financing, trade financing, inventory loans and more.

In March, Nuvocargo announced a platform upgrade with new tracking features available in English and Spanish that can provide shippers with enhanced visibility and the ability to track and monitor their cargo shipments all in one place.

This round brings Nuvocargo’s total funding to $17.3 million.

While on the surface Nuvocargo appears to be primarily a logistics company, founder and CEO Deepak Chhugani said the company’s vision has always been to build an all-in-one digital platform to simplify trade for businesses across the Americas.

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The company saw major milestones in 2020, growing revenues by 25X, growing its customer based\ by 9X and opening new offices in Mexico City and Laredo, Texas.

New investors in the round included David Velez, founder and CEO of Nubank; Michael Ronen co-founder of Amazon brand acquirer Branded; Sebastian Castro, founder of Latin American online payments startup Kushki; Karim Atiyeh, founder and chief technology officer of fintech startup Ramp; as well as other venture firms like Caffeinated Capital; Homebrew; FJ Labs; Clocktower and more. Existing investors NFX, ALLVP, MAYA Capital, Magma Partners, One Way Ventures, Ride Ventures and others also participated.

RFID

SML RFID/Impinj

SML RFID has launched a tag family built on Impinj M700 series chips in a move set to reduce the size and cost of RFID tags for retailers. The family is currently home to six tags, including the GB3, GB4, GB5, Maze, GB25 and GB18. These are designed to be a “full upgrade” for all of SML’s major inlays, company says. There are also additional tags that use the Impinj M700 series for closed loop customizable inlays.

There are various size and performance options available within the new tag family. They can also be attached or embedded to nearly any retail item to enable solutions for high-speed inventory counting and loss prevention, with frictionless self-checkout and embedded tagging with seamless product returns.

The Impinj M700 chip is significantly smaller than previous chips, and SML will be able to offer a more cost-effective inlay product for customers. The unique inlay antenna design from SML offers compact size, material robustness, high sensitivity, and a broad frequency bandwidth.

3D/Virtual fashion

Optitex/Alvanon

Optitex, a provider of integrated end-to-end 2D and 3D CAD/CAM software solutions for the fashion and apparel industry, and fashion fit technology company Alvanon have extended their long-term collaboration to support Optitex’s O/Cloud platform. With the partnership, O/Cloud customers would continue to gain access to Alvanon’s library of fit standards and 3D avatars.

This enhanced collaboration enables Optitex customers to facilitate teamwork between brand and vendor designers, patternmakers and collection product managers across the global supply chain, facilitating faster and easier collection and style-level decisions.

By integrating the Alvanon Body Platform’s (ABP) library of over 6,000 3D virtual avatars, each representing a specific brand’s fit standards, into Optitex O/Cloud’s 3D environment, Optitex customers, apparel design and development teams, fashion brands and retailers can use Alvanon’s range of 3D avatars to test patterns in all sizes, and ideally validate fit.

Under the partnership, Optitex users can share and review 3D garments simulated on Alvanon virtual bodies over O/Cloud, collaborate with various view options and a variety of tools, including real-time 3D sphere rotation and commenting. Alvanon’s library offers both standard (ASTM) and brand-specific avatars.

With access to Alvanon’s extensive library of 3D virtual bodies, patternmakers can run online fit sessions via the cloud, and collaborate with all stakeholders—supervisors, designers and team members—to review how garments look and feel on their Alvanon virtual body, using a variety of Fit tools, such as Tension Map, Mesh View, and Distance Map.

Users will also be able to navigate the model, view all of its colorways, and add comments directly on the garment, all of which can help accelerate the design review process. As all garment-related information is viewed in 3D, users may have less of a need to share static images of their garment in different map views.

Users will also be able to navigate the model, view all of its colorways, and add comments directly on the garment, all of which can help accelerate the design review process. As all garment-related information is viewed in 3D, users may have less of a need to share static images of their garment in different map views.

“At Alvanon, we believe that the 3D journey begins with the 3D avatar. Not just any avatar, but the fit standard that represents the brand’s target customers’ body shapes and sizes,” said Jason Wang, chief operating officer of Alvanon. “It’s via close collaboration with leading 3D digital software providers such as Optitex that we can deliver our range of virtual avatars, and provide the fit accuracy that brands and retailers demand.”

Since 2001, Alvanon has dedicated itself to body shape data research and has gathered more than 1.5 million body scans in more than 30 countries.

‘Buy now, pay later’

Afterpay/Adyen

Installment payments platform provider Afterpay and global payments platform Adyen are joining forces in partnership that enables the latter’s retail clients to use the former’s “buy now, pay later” service.

Premium British footwear brand Hunter is the first Adyen partner retailer publicly saying it is offering Afterpay to its customers.

“We wanted a way of offering our customers more flexibility through payments, as we know giving our customers choice to pay in a way that suits them drives on-site conversion,” said Bryony Longden, senior e-commerce manager for Hunter. “By offering Afterpay through Adyen, we were able to implement this new payment method quickly and effectively to offer a seamless checkout experience. The ability to split payments really helps to make higher-price-point items accessible to our customers.”

Hunter can now offer Afterpay, known as Clearpay in the U.K., without the need to take out a traditional loan or pay upfront fees or interest. Offered at nearly 74,000 retailers worldwide, Afterpay now has more than 13 million customers globally and 1.6 million shoppers in the U.K.

Merchants of Adyen can offer Afterpay in the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand to their customers. The support of Afterpay underlines Adyen’s continuous expansion of supported payment methods, with the company also entering a similar partnership that brought Affirm to its retail clients last year.

With the growing “buy now, pay later” sector, retailers attract a growing segment of the population who prefer to pay without incurring traditional credit-style debt, interest or fees. Afterpay says that its retailers see an average conversion increase of approximately 22 percent in part to the changes in the traditional payment system. Afterpay also reports increased basket size, higher customer satisfaction and repeat customers.

E-commerce optimization

CommerceIQ

CommerceIQ, an Amazon technology partner that provides an e-commerce channel optimization (ECO) platform for businesses seeking to advertise on Amazon, has expanded its solution with new capabilities enabling it to support advertisers across all major online retailers.

Advertisers in particular can leverage CommerceIQ’s expanded capabilities to track and optimize their digital shelf, activate machine learning-based automations and generate integrated cross-channel reporting from a single portal. CommerceIQ’s approach focusus on driving revenue growth at the point of purchase instead of just generating a high return on ad spend.

CommerceIQ’s expanded omnichannel capabilities and tech-led service offerings include a “share of voice” builder, which tracks thousands of constantly changing keywords that impact the share of voice metric across multiple retailers and automatically allocates advertising spend to trending keywords with a low share of search.

The platform also includes an outcome-based strategy builder that sets business objectives—such as increasing awareness, share of voice, profitability, conversion, return on ad spend, etc.—by product category and creates custom strategies and machine learning-driven automations for thousands of actions to achieve those outcomes.

Additionally, the unified reporting capability is designed to normalize data and retailers for different attributions, placement and ad types to provide a combined view of performance, insights and opportunities. Brands can then compare share of voice, ad spend, normalized ad attributed sales and competitors across retailers to make investment and strategy decisions accordingly.

Live video shopping

Bambuser

Bambuser launched a self-service version of its Live Video Shopping One-to-Many platform as a “starter” package aimed at small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs).

Featuring the core functionality of Bambuser’s Live Video Shopping One-to-Many platform, the self-service platform was developed in response to surging demand from retailers of all sizes. Requiring no long-term commitments or extensive onboarding processes, Bambuser expects the solution to drive a significant increase in new implementations among SMBs. To date, Bambuser has seen widespread adoption by larger retailers and global brands including Samsung, Farfetch and Adidas.

Bambuser's Live Video Shopping One-to-Many platform
Bambuser’s Live Video Shopping One-to-Many platform Bambuser

The Starter version of Live Video Shopping is designed so that any business can incorporate shoppable livestreaming into their e-commerce strategy. To sign up for the solution, businesses need only create an account with a valid credit card for payment.

After completing the automated onboarding process, they are immediately able to stream live shopping events from their own domain, providing shoppers with a high-quality interactive experience. Providing greater interactivity and an increased sense of urgency, these experiences can drive higher levels of engagement and longer viewing times while contributing to add to cart click rates that far exceed industry benchmarks.

Bambuser says that in the fourth quarter of 2020, the Live Video Shopping platform saw average viewing times nearly 3X the general three-minute benchmark for e-commerce sites, while the average add-to-cart click rate exceeded 15 percent.

Reverse logistics

SCI/B-Stock

Canadian third-party logistics provider SCI Group Inc. and B2B online recommerce network B-Stock have teamed up in an effort to reduce the waste from returned online purchases.

B-Stock, an online platform for returned, excess and other liquidation merchandise, handles inventory from a number of e-commerce leaders including nine of the top 10 U.S. retailers and “hundreds of thousands” of small businesses, and sells it to businesses through more than 60 specialized online marketplaces. But the company needed a Canadian partner that could set up a scalable end-to-end, reverse logistics strategy for one of its largest retail clients, according to sales director Paul Busch.

Enter SCI Group, which operates an extensive national distribution and transportation network in Canada, consisting of 30 distribution centers along with more than 40 critical parts stocking locations and specialized white glove shipping hubs.

Busch said that as part of the partnership, which has been running prior to the 2020 holiday season, SCI offered a state-of-the-art facility that could manage everything from inbound staging, palletizing and storage, to inventory management for auction on the marketplaces.

The SCI reverse logistics team receives, inspects and tags returned merchandise, and also removes items that cannot be resold, either returning them to the manufacturer or arranging for an environmentally appropriate disposal. The 12,000-square-foot facility near Toronto receives multiple truckloads each day, with items ranging from clothing to electronics to patio furniture.

The client’s returns are processed the same day as they are received and immediately made available for auction. Sales cycle time, from when an auction goes live to paid and shipped, is 12 days or less, according to Busch.

Computer vision

Trax

Retail computer vision and analytics provider Trax has raised $640 million from investors in a Series E financing round. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and technology-centered funds managed by BlackRock, an existing investor in Trax, led the investment round.

Trax’s cloud platform is seeking to accelerate the digital transformation of CPG companies and grocery retailers by providing granular visibility of rapidly changing store conditions. Trax solutions enable users to make data-driven decisions and implement immediate corrective actions.

Trax, which was founded in 2010, plans to harness the funds to help it expand its role in developing retail technology to gain insight into physical stores in a way similar to how they track shoppers online, according to CEO Justin Behar in a blog post. The company, which already works with retailers in more than 90 countries, also intends to use the money to expand to parts of the world where it does not already have a presence and for potential acquisitions, he added.

The Trax Retail Watch shelf-monitoring robot deployed in China in 2020.
The Trax Retail Watch shelf-monitoring robot deployed in China in 2020. Trax/Businesswire

Beyond simply recording footage, computer vision systems can analyze images and identify objects, such as products on shelves. This makes it possible for the equipment to determine when customers take items from shelves and automatically charge people’s accounts as they exit a store, providing visibility akin to what e-commerce technology offers.

In the past year, Trax has launched a suite of autonomous shelf-monitoring solutions and an AI-driven, enterprise-level dynamic merchandising service to help brands and retailers keep products on shelves with the assistance of Trax Flexforce, an on-demand crowd marketplace.

New investors in the round include OMERS, a defined benefit pension plan for municipal workers in Ontario, Canada, and Sony Innovation Fund by IGV.

Commerce experience

Zadig&Voltaire/Contentsquare

Zadig&Voltaire is redesigning its digital experience with the help of Contentsquare, an experience analytics platform. The French luxury brand is leveraging the platform’s customer behavior insights to enhance its merchandising decisions while also improving the checkout funnel.

“A solution like Contentsquare allows us to be confident in our experimentation, since we are able to access real-time understanding of how site changes enhance or hinder the customer journey,” said Jonathan Attali, chief digital officer at Zadig&Voltaire, which derives about 75 percent of its digital traffic from smartphones. “We also rely on Contentsquare insights to optimize the inspirational content that is the bedrock of our merchandising strategy. Our digital ROI is directly tied to our understanding of customers, and that’s why we chose Contentsquare as our analytics solution.”

Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.