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Retail Tech: Pacsun Goes Crypto, G-Star Raw Taps RFID

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

Cryptocurrency

Pacsun/BitPay

Pacsun now takes bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in partnership with blockchain payment processing provider BitPay, as more than 54 percent of current or former crypto owners are Gen Z, per a Pymnts.com study.

“With digital sales doubling since last year, we understand the continued importance of creating an exceptional online shopping experience for our customers,” Pacsun president Brie Olson. “It’s incredible to pave the way for the fashion and retail industry, being the first to offer cryptocurrency payments through BitPay, and we anticipate many other companies following suit considering the ease it brings to the checkout process.”

Pacsun is among first major fashion retailers to accept payment via cryptocurrency. Online home and furniture retailer Overstock  accepted bitcoin as far back as 2014.

“The Gen Z audience, our primary consumer, is very tech oriented, and we dedicate a lot of our efforts towards social media and ecommerce to align with their lifestyles and resonate with them on a more personal level,” said Mike Relich, co-CEO at Pacsun. “Seeing their increasing desire towards cryptocurrency, it was clear that we needed to adjust and offer BitPay as another payment option, to further instill their confidence in us as one of their go-to retailers that truly listens.”

BitPay and Pacsun will promote the partnership on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Pacsun will also work with influencers to create TikTok and Instagram content, and host a branded livestream event with a guest influencer and a Pacsun executive.

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After choosing the Pay with BitPay button on the Pacsun site, consumers can select the crypto wallet and currency they will pay with, and then and scan a QR code to complete payment.

Pacsun will support 11 cryptocurrencies under BitPay, including Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), Dogecoin (DOGE), Litecoin (LTC), and 5 USD-pegged “stablecoins” (GUSD, USDC, USDP, DAI, and BUSD).  Acceptable crypto wallets and exchanges include Coinbase, Exodus Wallet, Metamask, Blockchain Wallet, Electrum Wallet, Trust Wallet, Ledger Wallet, BRD Wallet, Gemini, Kraken and Binance.

Marketplaces

Debenhams/Mirakl

Under new management, Debenhams partnered with enterprise marketplace SaaS platform Mirakl to facilitate its new launch.

Despite no longer having a store presence, Debenhams still generates 300 million U.K. website visits per year.

“With the launch of this marketplace, we are evolving the Debenhams brand to stay ahead of the demands of the current digital-first world of commerce,” said Jo Graham, chief information officer, Boohoo Group, which acquired the retailer out of bankruptcy. “Our partnership with Mirakl is critical to this evolution. With its unmatched technology, expertise, and seller ecosystem, Mirakl is supporting us to drive forward Debenhams’ digital transformation while ensuring we maintain the iconic brand that customers have come to love since its creation over 240 years ago.”

By leveraging the Mirakl Marketplace Platform, Debenhams can onboard new brands, as well as maintain and extend both existing Boohoo and Debenhams brand relationships.

With Mirakl’s manpower and technology, the Debenhams marketplace launch took three months. Debenhams has also already made around 200 new brands available through the marketplace, while new suppliers and brands are joining weekly.

Mirakl, which raised $555 million in September, continues to drive marketplace momentum in the U.K., with brands such as sporting goods and apparel retailer Decathlon UK, luxury department store Harvey Nichols, H&M Home and apparel, footwear and homeware retailer Joules.

Conversational commerce 

Quiq

Quiq, an AI-powered conversational commerce platform that counts Lane Bryant as a client, added two new product features to its cross-channel Conversational AI platform: payments and surveys. The new features help brands enhance the quality of customer interactions, drive higher sales within these conversations and generate real-time customer feedback.

Conversational Commerce Payments helps brands accept payment across all Quiq supported channels including SMS/text messaging, Apple Business Chat, Google Business Messages, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and more in 170+ languages. The feature has standard support for Stripe and Braintree payments platforms and integrates with any brand’s payment processing platform, through the Quiq Payments API.

Retail Tech: Pacsun Goes Crpyto, DXL
Quiq Conversational Commerce Payments Quiq

The platform’s In-Conversation Surveys lets users send a short survey immediately after a customer interaction regardless of the channel, in effect empowering retailers with a multi-channel, customer feedback loop. Quiq requires no coding skills to deploy the platform, so the surveys are event-based and triggered at specific customer interaction points, such as the end of a conversation.

This can help brands quickly remedy dissatisfaction. For example, if a customer responds that their issue was not resolved or provides a low rating, Quiq automatically re-engages the customer in the same channel and escalates the customer’s feedback directly to a customer service manager.

In-Conversation Surveys includes a reporting dashboard that allows customer service agents and their managers to see a survey report card that scores each agent on multiple metrics, such as the number of surveys received, average survey score and average sentiment score.

Supply chain digitization

Asda/Blue Yonder

Asda will implement several SaaS-based capabilities from digital supply chain and e-commerce fulfillment platform Blue Yonder to optimize its end-to-end operations and deliver business transformation.

The British retailer is implementing the Luminate Platform, which includes Luminate Planning, Luminate Commerce and Luminate Logistics, as well as Luminate Control Tower.

Asda was looking for solutions that could cover commercial, supply chain, logistics, and retail operations.

Using Blue Yonder, Asda says it will be able to use machine learning (ML) at scale to better project and calculate demand and risk that enables better inventory management, waste reduction and an improved understanding of demand drivers and customer behaviors.

Additionally, the retailer aims to optimize pricing strategies, reduce excess stock and avoid waste. Users seek to gain visibility into forecasting, fulfillment and transportation, leveraging Blue Yonder’s automation while keeping a high level of control. In particular, Asda hopes to gain inbound visibility for both domestic and import orders, ensuring products are available to meet consumer demand at the right place, at the right time.

Finally, Asda wants to provide employees in stores and in distribution centers with a more robust workforce management capability.

“We are embarking on a large-scale, exciting business transformation project to build our future, in which we want to work with the very best retail technology providers in the market with proven experience and world-class capabilities,” said Carl Dawson, Asda’s chief information officer. “We are looking forward to implementing this project with our strategic partner Blue Yonder, as we continue to build a fast, effective and agile business.”

Artificial intelligence

DXL/FindMine

Destination XL Group partnered with FindMine, an AI-based program helping shoppers “complete their look” via personalized recommendations.

“Our shopper is an underserved customer, and he often finds it difficult to outfit and buy clothes at other places due to a lack of broad selection and fit,” said Ujjwal Dhoot, DXL’s chief marketing officer. “We are most excited about FindMine’s ability to bring to our digital channels the high touch store service around styling and outfitting that customers have come to expect from our store associates, while saving us significant time and effort in doing so.”

FindMine’s outfitting technology helps DXL improve the customer experience by allowing shoppers to access in-store DXL-expert style guidance.

In the first few months since launching with FindMine, DXL said it made a “meaningful” gain in incremental revenue per visitor (as measured in an A/B test) and improved product discovery and sell-through of strategic product categories.

DXL’s marketing campaigns achieved a 65 percent interaction rate and an 8 percent conversion rate (versus an industry average of 2 percent) across FindMine-powered dynamic and themed landing pages, which take advantage of “micro-moments,” such as growing trends like backyard weddings.

Fashion analytics

Omnilytics

Retail market intelligence platform Omnilytics launched its Fashion Trade Insights product. Available as a module on the Omnilytics Market Insights Platform, Fashion Trade Insights is specifically designed for small and medium-size enterprises and smaller fashion brands, enabling them to strengthen their market, competitor and trend analysis to power their growth strategies.

Omnilytics co-founding CEO Kendrick Wong said brands need more data to make better business decisions amid brewing competition in the fashion space.

Fashion Trade Insights is designed to simplify the market research process, consolidating several existing capabilities in the Omnilytics platform to provide a starting point for newcomers to retail data analytics, while providing key actionable insights for immediate deployment.

In a single module, Fashion Trade Insights can address the needs of management teams, merchandisers and buyers, and designers alike, including assortment planning, competitor shopping analysis, pricing planning, trends analysis, and trading and reporting capabilities.

“When it comes to fashion design, Omnilytics has provided us with the necessary information and market analysis needed for the first step,” said Sinyi Siow, fashion designer and product management specialist at Fu Yuan Clothing. “I’m able to make well-informed design decisions with the help of Omnilytics as a one-stop platform for both trend and market analysis.”

More than 50 fashion and retail brands across the Asia Pacific region, the U.S. and Brazil have begun using the Fashion Trade Insights module to inform their business strategies, including Fast Retailing, Puma, Zalora, South African apparel retailer Mr Price, Australian sportswear retailer The Iconic and Singapore’s Global Fashion Group.

Omnilytics says that some brand partners have seen a 20-percent-plus increase in sell-through rate, over 17 percent increase in product margins, and a 15 percent reduction in deadstock.

With its competitor analysis capabilities, Fashion Trade Insights helps brands gain a full view into product selling and demand patterns, as well as categories that are undersupplied, enabling them to address gaps in the market.

The pricing planning function also provides a better understanding of the success of competitor pricing strategies, providing the insights for a data-driven approach to revenue optimization. Lastly, Fashion Trade Insights trend analysis capabilities help validate category and sub-category trends to maximize supply chain and product profitability.

RFID/Inventory visibility

G-Star Raw/Nedap Retail

Denim brand G-Star Raw has selected the Nedap iD Cloud platform to achieve full inventory visibility to support its omnichannel strategy. The brand had been leveraging Nedap Retail solutions for inventory visibility over the past few years, but with the new solution, G-Star says it can now match demand and supply anywhere at any moment.

In optimizing digital product availability through RFID-tagged store stock, the denim brand aims to improve the efficiency of the ship-from-store and BOPIS (click-and-collect) fulfillment processes. With iD Cloud, G-Star Raw can check on incoming goods and optimize availability based on refill suggestions.

“We have clearly seen a change in the traditional role of stores. They used to be the go-to spot to try and buy denim, but the actual purchase isn’t necessarily made in stores anymore these days,” said Barry van Wijk, head of retail operations, Europe, G-Star Raw. “Stores are transforming into an even more important asset to give shoppers a full omni-channel brand experience as we now also use them as mini distribution centers. This enables our customers to pick up an item they have just purchased online or have it delivered to them within a day.”

Bruno Bakker, business development manager at Nedap, indicated that the RFID provider already source-tagged G-Star Raw’s merchandise—applying the RFID label to the garment in the factory—thus making it easier to implement the technology.

Product customization

JTB Custom

JTB Custom, a consultancy that helps large and small brands offer unique custom products to their customers, has closed a multi-million-dollar funding round and partnership with investment firm Greybull Stewardship.

The round will be used to significantly enhance its software, expand infrastructure and continue building out a full suite of customization services.

“Greybull is an ideal partner for JTB given their decade long expertise scaling SaaS businesses and growing recurring revenue streams.  We look forward to the long-term and productive partnership in growing JTB’s comprehensive customization solution.” said Jud Barr, founder and CEO of JTB Custom.

JTB Custom offers a scalable product customization solution and small-batch manufacturing capabilities, already working with a wide range of clients including Chaco, handbag seller The Sak and golf equipment and apparel manufacturing TaylorMade.

“JTB Custom has been the leader in customization for some time and is a great partner,” said Mark Talucci, CEO at The Sak. “We’ve been very happy with our customization program and it has made a real difference for our business. I’m excited that JTB has added capital and resources to provide even more support for partners like us.”

Retail operations

Linnworks

Linnworks, a commerce automation platform, secured a majority investment from global investment firm Marlin Equity Partners. Linnworks operates globally in over 140 countries and is a major partner to commerce industry leaders including Shopify, Amazon and eBay.

Initial growth capital will be used to expand Linnworks’ product suite, advance its core platform, and develop deeper intelligence capabilities. The investment will also support Linnworks’ continued expansion in North America and Europe to further enable brands in these regions to maximize customer acquisition as omnichannel shopping continues to gain traction.

Headquartered in London, the company wants to increase its Austin, Texas, workforce from 40 to 200 within the next two to three years. Linnworks CEO Callum Campbell will continue to lead the company’s day-to-day operations.

As both Amazon and eBay’s largest European commerce partner, Linnworks processes over $9 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) each year globally. Founded in 2010, Linnworks helps brands and retailers, from small-and-medium to large enterprises, to grow and connect their online selling channels, automate product listings, orders and inventory management.

The company enables brands to offer customer experiences through the ability to sell wherever their customers are and manage their commerce operations in a centralized location. That way, brands can manage their inventory, orders and fulfillment from a single dashboard, all while pushing a single product listing to multiple online stores.

Linnworks brands to offer customer experiences through the ability to sell wherever their customers are and manage their commerce operations in a centralized location. That way, brands can manage their inventory, orders and fulfillment from a single dashboard, all while pushing a single product listing to multiple online stores.
The Linnworks platform Linnworks

Brand acquiring

Mainfactor

Mainfactor, an e-commerce company that buys, builds, and operates direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses, raised $69 million through a mix of seed round equity capital and a credit facility led by investment firm Upper90.

The company will use the capital to acquire DTC businesses and grow them through digital marketing and collaborations with creators and artists. Mainfactor will also acquire DTC and merchandise rights for entertainers in addition to making brand acquisitions.

Launched in 2020, the Philadelphia-based business joins a recent trend of larger firms buying up small online sellers. Mainfactor is focused on buying profitable brands in the apparel, health and beauty, fitness, and entertainment categories that lend themselves well to influencer and entertainment-driven marketing.

It also plans to develop technology that will enable entrepreneurs to receive attractive valuations and quickly exit their e-commerce businesses. Upper90 was joined by strategic investors including Intermix founder Khajak Keledjian, Gary Veloric, the founder of Red Stripe Plane Group and co-founder of JG Wentworth, and Jean Pigozzi, a tech investor and renowned art collector.