The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
PacSun will launch a new virtual experience, PacSun Los Angeles Tycoon, in Roblox, the popular immersive gaming platform that has brought the services of H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, Forever 21, Walmart and many more into the metaverse.
The Pacsun Los Angeles Tycoon experience, created by metaverse developer The Gang, pays homage to PacSun’s Southern California roots by offering the community the opportunity to build their own map of SoCal, including initial builds in Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Hollywood, with future expansions to come.
Pacsun Los Angeles Tycoon is an extension of the youth retailer’s existing presence on Roblox and comes almost a year after the March 2022 release of PacWorld, PacSun’s interactive mall experience. The lifestyle apparel retailer first partnered with Roblox in June 2021, and offering select NFTs on the platform alongside various other campaigns since then such as the “PacVerse” holiday campaign.
Once each region is completed, a dedicated piece of a PacSun store will be unlocked in the specific zone that represents a prize for completing the region. Users then get access to the respective stores, which are the epicenter of the cities, and are able to view and buy community-created merchandise. At this point, users can invite friends to engage with their designs in each city.
There will be 20 digital items inspired by PacSun’s Spring 2023 collection of physical apparel, as well as a wearable accessory called “the aura,” which reflects two elements key to the Pacsun brand—sun and water.
“Following positive consumer response to both PacWorld and our seasonal catalog of clothing offering on Roblox, we recognize the importance to expand our presence on Roblox and continue to offer our community new build experiences, where they can step outside the mall and leverage their skills to build their own rendition of the Los Angeles cities that make up the heart of PacSun,” PacSun co-CEO Brie Olson said a statement. “PacSun Los Angeles Tycoon is filled with all-new surprise and delight moments that tie in elements from our physical offerings rolling out this year, and we’re excited to debut our Spring 2023 collection in a way where our community can experience it in both virtual and physical worlds.”
According to the Roblox 2022 Metaverse Fashion Trends report, 70 percent of Gen Z consumers say their avatars dress at least somewhat like their “IRL” style, while equally as many users get physical style inspiration from dressing their avatar. Users will be able to get clothing from PacSun’s recently released Spring 2023 collection virtually to mirror their physical outfits off of their avatar’s style.
“This experience stands out as a first-of-its-kind branded city building tycoon on Roblox. Pacsun is leading consumer engagement in the metaverse through bringing this core piece of their brand—Los Angeles origins—to fans worldwide,” said Evan Opperman, client director at The Gang. “This experience is grounded by a build and collect tycoon game loop, and includes fun elements like street art, beach carnivals and movies among other side quests and challenges. Users will connect in a visually gorgeous, art-driven, and super fun setting that is uniquely differentiated from other experiences on the platform.”
A trove of Easter eggs can be found throughout the game that feature PacSun designs, such as graphic tees for users to lookout for. There are also a number of obstacle courses featuring local L.A.-area regions throughout gameplay to give Roblox users from all over the world a taste of the city’s lifestyle, including a Santee Alley-inspired obstacle course and opportunity to track down celebrities to collect autographs. After completing an autograph seeking quest in the Hollywood-inspired area of the map near the end of the game, users will be granted the PacSun Aura. Within the Santa Monica map, users can also opt to drive around with a classic DMC Delorean.
Kindred, part of Ocado Group, has released the results of an 18-month beta test of its Induct AI-powered robotic induction system. According to Kindred, which partners with brands like Gap Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), Induct automated the induction of more than 1 million items at 95 percent accuracy in its beta trial.
Kindred Induct is a high-speed robotic workcell built on Kindred’s proprietary Core/AutoGrasp artificial intelligence (AI) platform. It combines machine vision, grasping and manipulation algorithms to automate the induction process for a variety of item sets, including boxes, envelopes, parcels and packages. Because it is powered by Kindred’s reinforcement learning-based AI algorithms, the Induct workcells are designed to become smarter, faster and more efficient over time.
At the end of the 18-month beta program, Induct had processed 1 million packages through the induction cycle; achieved of average throughput 1,800 picks per hour (PPH) average throughput and 2,000 PPH at its peak.
Additionally, 95 percent of items processed were placed accurately onto the moving conveyor system, the company said, also touting a 96 percent barcode scan rate and a 99 percent complete autonomous worktime.
The beta test was designed to put the Induct system through its paces in a grueling and fast-paced logistics environment over the course of two peak seasons. An Induct workcell was incorporated into an existing induction line at an undisclosed logistics facility and transportation hub where 200,000 small parcels are sorted each hour, and up to 400,000 parcels are processed during the peak holiday season. The 18-month beta allowed the workcell to operate in numerous peak seasons and measure performance over a significant period.
Items ranging from time-sensitive legal documents to fragile packages arrive at the facility by plane or truckload. Within two hours, these items are accurately unloaded, sorted and reloaded to be transported to final delivery points, within guaranteed timelines.
Kindred engineers made adjustments to the workcell and algorithms to handle new packaging materials and form factors that would appear in the item flow.
The company will use the data collected during the Induct beta to expand and strengthen its Core/Autograsp AI platform, as well as other product lines, such as its Sort robotics system.
Induct workcells are commercially available and can integrate into facilities that process and handle item sets, including boxes, envelopes, parcels and packages. Multiple workcells can perform collaboratively along the same fulfillment line for maximum productivity and alleviate capacity shortages for parcel, post, logistics, delivery, and e-commerce supply chains, distribution centers and warehouses.
Induct is compatible with a range of communication protocols, customizations and customer and warehouse management systems. Kindred’s integration team can develop customized performance statistics and parameter configurations for ease of implementation.
Since Induct is offered as a Robots as a Service (RaaS) model, companies can realize immediate financial returns and minimize the capital investment of working with robotic systems by paying per item handled.
Renner, one of the largest fashion retailers in Brazil, optimized its in-store and e-commerce operations after deploying inventory intelligence technology from Sensormatic Solutions, the retail solutions portfolio company of Johnson Controls.
After implementing the RFID-powered Sensormatic Solutions’ Inventory Intelligence solution across all its stores in 2019, Renner reported an 87 percent reduction in stockouts and a 64 percent increase in inventory accuracy.
According to Renner, more than 500 million of the retailer’s products sold have been tagged with Sensormatic Solutions RFID technology since 2019, enabling over 4 million item-level readings daily. In addition to increasing the abundance and quality of its data, the retail giant can now better optimize the route each product takes from distribution center to stores with greater visibility. With access to real-time data management and product availability, the retail giant can have accurate inventory information, which is essential for their omnichannel operation.
For example, Renner can now see which items were taken into the fitting room and if they were eventually sold or not. Additionally, shoppers, regardless of the channel (in-store or online), can have better visibility of where a product is located to help choose the right purchase model.
“By leveraging greater inventory intelligence across our physical and online channels, we boosted our omnichannel strategy and digital sales,” said Alexandre Ribeiro, risks director at Renner, in a statement. “Additionally, with Sensormatic Solutions RFID technology, we have a single source of truth for inventory data which allows our sales associates the ability to process our inventory in a matter of hours on a monthly basis, rather than annually.”
As a one stop, end-to-end solution provider, Sensormatic Solutions enabled Renner to transform and improve existing processes and technologies throughout its stores by using a single smart RFID label to enable data capture as well as security applications, eliminating the need for additional labels while improving the project’s ROI. The retailer implemented RFID at checkout to eliminate the need for barcode readings and improves customer service, and also added RFID alarm pedestals at the store entrance to provide visibility of theft events and effectiveness of their loss prevention strategies.
True Fit/Google Cloud
True Fit, a data-driven fit personalization platform for fashion retailers and brands, has announced it has extended its strategic partnership with Google Cloud.
In forging deeper integrations with key Google Cloud services, BigQuery and BigQuery’s Analytics Hub, True Fit aims to optimize how it serves and shares the data and analytics from its Fashion Genome with its retail and brand partners.
True Fit’s Fashion Genome brings together data from 80 million active members and 17,000+ brands, to unlock insights and serve fit personalization to shoppers. The high-fidelity fit recommendations generated by the platform build confidence into customer buying journeys. This assists retailers to improve the customer experience, drive conversion, and increase revenue, while also reducing fit-related returns to deliver growth.
True Fit is leveraging BigQuery, a fully managed cloud-based data warehousing solution closely integrated with Google Cloud products, and Analytics Hub, a service within BigQuery that simplifies how data is served, to deliver more actionable insights to its retail partners. This powers enhanced personalization, making it even easier for brands and retailers to leverage the Fashion Genome to bring personalization to customer buying journeys.
In optimizing how data is served and enable more actionable insights via the Google Cloud integration, retail partners can deliver better shopping experiences, higher conversion and ultimately greater revenue, according to Raj Chandrasekaran, chief technology officer at True Fit.
National Retail Solutions
National Retail Solutions (NRS), the operator of a point-of-sale (POS) network and payment processing service for independent retailers, has launched three new features available to existing and new customers: Find My Biz with add-on service; Manage My Reviews; and the NRS Loyalty Program, all designed to help small retailers better be found online, improve their reviews and retain customers.
NRS has debuted three new services to their core customer base of independent retailers to empower them with the tools needed to keep up with the growing consumer demand for e-commerce and delivery services. These three new services are designed to empower independent brick-and-mortar retailers with new resources to facilitate increased store visibility and on-demand delivery services. The need for these new services was more noticeable during the Covid-19 pandemic when local mom-and-pops and independent stores struggled to stay afloat as shoppers flocked to online retailers.
The new Find My Biz service aims to help small businesses and independent retailers maintain a meaningful online presence through listings. Online listings are an excellent way for small businesses to market their store online and have customers easily find them on many web-based directories, apps, websites, and social media platforms such as Google, Waze, Siri, Apple Maps, Facebook and more.
Find My Biz provides independent retailers with a single, aggregated platform to input all their business information and have that information appear in searches across the web. Through the NRS Find My Biz portal, retail customers can gather data on how their online listings are performing, post to social media platforms and respond to reviews.
The Manage My Reviews add-on service was built to evolve the Find My Biz platform, and leverages a team of specialized individuals to respond to reviews on their behalf, without using bots.
NRS is also unveiling is its Loyalty Program, which enables retailers to build and maintain loyalty programs for customers through its POS machines. Examples of customized, automated loyalty programs include award points given for each purchase, “buy x-get one free” offers and other substitutions for the traditional loyalty punch card model.
These new NRS features join the latest feature, the POS Panic Alarm, a patented safety and security technology to help convenience stores and bodegas deal with ongoing crime.
The NRS POS system includes a variety of hardware and software features that help small business owners be more efficient, including an in-store items section to gain control over your items for sale, a universal product code (UPC) catalog, one-click items, a barcode/ID scanner and a user-friendly touch screen.
Users can even run customer-facing ads, and build and set up promotions. The system’s remote store management app and web portal enables users to manage their store from anywhere.
TForce Logistics, a final mile delivery provider for e-commerce, has partnered with Shipium, an enterprise shipping platform for e-commerce retailers and third-party logistics providers.
TForce Logistics is an asset-light final mile logistics and transportation provider with extensive coverage across the U.S. and Canada, with a focus on customization rather than standardization. The firm prioritizes flexible solutions paired with competitively priced same-day and next-day delivery services.
Shipium shares a similar priority for flexibility within its shipping platform. Customers turn to Shipium when leveraging a multi-carrier strategy becomes a priority, and existing legacy tech proves to be an anchor on implementing the desired changes. Most customers transition from single-threading a national carrier to utilizing six carriers, on average, in their first quarter of using Shipium.
TForce Logistics says that costs are reduced 15 percent on average when using a multi-carrier approach that includes its own platform and services, while on-time-delivery jumps to 92 percent on average.
E-commerce shipping solution ShipStation unveiled that UPS is live on its carrier services platform in the U.K.
This new collaboration gives U.K.-based merchants using ShipStation access to UPS’s domestic and international shipping services at discounted rates, making it easier to scale their delivery operations, save on shipping costs and grow their revenue.
The integration is designed to give merchants more choice and transparency when it comes to shipping. Merchants will also have the option to drop off at a network of nearly 35,000 UPS Access Point locations across Europe, enabling them to offer greater convenience and gain more control over their deliveries. With no volume commitments, all merchants with a ShipStation account can add and access UPS as they streamline their delivery operations.
Businesses on the ShipStation platform can directly access UPS’s rates via the former’s carrier services platform to ship “wherever they need to in the world,” according to Mike Hayers, general manager Europe at ShipStation.
NuVizz/Metropolitan Warehouse & Delivery
Last-mile delivery and transportation management platform Metropolitan Warehouse & Delivery (MWD) is leveraging NuVizz’s furniture and appliance delivery management solutions to capture 100 percent final-mile shipment visibility, 99.95 percent delivery ETA accuracy and a five day reduction in their billing processes since 2016.
As MWD grew to accommodate more retailers in its delivery network, the company sought an advanced technological solution that could facilitate scalable growth.
To meet the need for steady expansion and changing consumer demands, MWD turned to NuVizz to integrate existing systems and provide a single point-of-truth for retailers looking to consolidate their logistics insights. The NuVizz platform was implemented to manage all final-mile delivery orchestrations and executions across 40 MWD terminals and 300+ daily active drivers.
With the integration, real-time updates from drivers are synced with MWD’s ERP system. This connection can enable MWD to be nimbler and efficient when responding to user comments, and also invoice customers in real-time and settle driver payments accurately. By automating the entire delivery execution process with NuVizz, MWD can save on CO2 emissions through route optimization, reduce billing time with electronic document management, provide customers with delivery ETAs, configure customizable datasets for customers and gain full visibility into their own fleet and shipment status.
NuVizz’s ability to streamline MWD’s processes and enhance their tech stack allowed the company to spend more time on white glove delivery excellence and less time managing manual data entries, the companies said. MWD’s chance to focus on user experience has facilitated an increase in overall customer satisfaction.