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Retail Tech Roundup: ABG Revamps Checkout for Forever 21, Affirm Files for IPO

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

Buy now, pay later

Affirm

Installment payments platform Affirm publicly filed its S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission two months after raising a $500 million Series G round led by Durable and GIC. Affirm will list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “AFRM.”

In the filing, Affirm reported net revenue of $509.5 million for the fiscal year that ended on June 30—up nearly 93 percent from the same period in 2019.

More recently, the company reported net revenue of approximately $174 million for its most recent quarter that ended on Sept. 30, up nearly 98 percent year over year from the $87.9 million it generated during the same period the year prior.

The company, which has 6.5 million users and partners with 6,000 merchants including retail giants such as Walmart and Shopify, said gross merchandise volume paid for through Affirm grew by 77 percent year over year.

Affirm has still seen significant costs as it continues its growth, with losses falling slightly from nearly $120.5 million in fiscal 2019 to approximately $112.6 million during fiscal 2020.

Although the company, like many of its “buy now, pay later” competitors, is seeking to get a greater piece of the apparel industry, 30 percent of its total revenue in its most recent quarter came from one company: Peloton.

“Following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, our revenue from merchant partners in the travel, hospitality and entertainment industries declined,” the company wrote in the S-1 filing. “But we saw a significant increase in revenue from merchant partners offering home fitness equipment, home office products and home furnishings, though we may see a potential downswing in these categories if the trends we have seen thus far in the Covid-19 pandemic reverse.”

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Affirm most recently partnered with payments platform Adyen, enabling the latter’s eligible e-commerce merchants to integrate the Affirm offering for their customers. Affirm will be offered online, as well as for in-store checkout through QR code in the coming weeks.

Sezzle

Another buy now, pay later platform, Sezzle, recently partnered with global e-commerce platform Wix, bringing the alternative payments option to Wix’s roster of businesses, online stores and their buyers. The Sezzle solution will go live just in time for the holiday shopping season in November, the company said.

The integration serves all Wix users, so that stores on the platform can just turn on Sezzle’s payment solution. After completing a Sezzle application, Wix merchants will instantly be able to turn on the transparent payment experience that enables shoppers to pay for purchases with four interest-free payments.

Sezzle’s integration on Wix is available to all Wix users in the U.S., Canada, India and in the future will be available in other regions as Sezzle expands internationally. To sign up for a Sezzle account on a Wix site, eligible Wix users simply connect Sezzle as a payment method in their Wix dashboard.

Quadpay

Quadpay has released Quadpay for Chrome, a browser extension designed to let customers use the payments platform across all devices.

As consumers shop online, they can use Quadpay for Chrome to pay in four interest-free installments over six weeks with Quadpay on any website at checkout.

In just two clicks, Chrome users can add the Quadpay for Chrome extension to their desktop. The extension will display a “Pay with Quadpay” button when the shopper is in a partner merchant’s product detail page or a page with a credit card form, so that the shopper can pay with Quadpay.

Shoppers can then click the “Pay with Quadpay” button to check out and Quadpay will generate a virtual Visa card and automatically insert it into the credit card form. The merchant is paid upfront, while the shopper gets to pay in in interest free installments.

Social commerce

Hero

Hero, a virtual shopping technology that lets online shoppers connect with in-store associates, has unveiled its newest shopping feature, Shoppable Stories. The feature is designed to allow brands to deliver a carousel of short, shoppable videos curated by in-store associates, enabling online customers to shop the products featured or to go on to initiate a chat or video call.

Shoppable Stories is initially available in beta to shoppers on apparel brand Faherty and U.K.-based footwear brand Size, as well as furniture retailer Hay and beauty brand Credo Beauty. The feature will soon be available for all Hero retail partners starting early 2021.

With the platform, retail brands can welcome shoppers and recommend new products similar to how they would in real life. Shoppers, meanwhile, can choose their level of engagement, shopping the story as they browse, liking their favorite videos, or initiating a chat or video call to continue their shopping journey.

The launch was inspired by the growth of stories as consumers’ preferred way to consume video content on apps like Instagram and Snapchat, and the rise of video shopping, especially in China.

Over the summer, Hero partnered with Shopify, bringing its fast-growing merchants such as Neighborhood Goods and Ministry of Supply onto the platform. Hero enables associates to answer specific product questions, provide advice and check product availability within the store, which can go a long way to giving online shoppers the confidence to buy.

Online checkout

Bolt

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) has partnered with online checkout platform Bolt to power the company’s checkout experiences across its global portfolio over brands, which includes recently acquired Lucky Brand and Brooks Brothers, Aéropostale, Juicy Couture, Nautica and Sports Illustrated.

The first integration of Bolt’s checkout, payments, and fraud protection technology will start with Forever 21’s website and app.

ABG acquired Forever 21 earlier this year with the goal of positioning the retailer for sustainable growth. As part of this effort, the company is focused on building out the brand’s e-commerce abilities and experience to align with how the world shops today.

“Our customer-first mindset means that we are fiercely dedicated to meeting our shoppers’ evolving needs,” said Daniel Kulle, CEO of Forever 21 in a statement. “We are thrilled to rollout Bolt’s e-commerce technology, which both enriches and accelerates the customer journey while streamlining the checkout experience at Forever 21.”

Bolt will begin integrating its checkout technology across other ABG brand platforms in the coming months. Bolt and ABG will also introduce a new, subscription-based program designed to unlock exclusive user access to a selection of brands, products, perks and rewards in the first quarter of next year.

Bolt’s features include a single-click checkout designed to remove friction by having shoppers fill out fewer form fields, as well as the saving of payment information so that it can be used across all of ABG’s branded e-commerce platforms. Bolt’s shared buying infrastructure enables the creation of seamless cross-brand experiences, making it easy for shoppers to buy across multiple brands with one account.

The platform also includes additional features and integrations such as calculating taxes and shipping to fraud.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce, an open SaaS e-commerce platform for fast-growing and established brands, launched Open Checkout, an open source extension of the platform’s native checkout built to empower merchants, developers and partners to design fully customized checkout experiences.

Open Checkout’s publicly available front-end source code is designed to enable brands to have the flexibility to define every pixel of their checkout page to build differentiated shopping experiences. Additionally, Open Checkout leverages the same production-level source code that powers the platform’s native checkout solution and is actively maintained by BigCommerce’s global team of engineers, making it easy for developers to apply updates on-demand.

The extension builds upon BigCommerce’s Checkout SDK and jumpstarts development of bespoke features and use cases. For example, branded checkout pages within Open Checkout can enable brands to design a brand experience throughout the customer journey by adding custom CSS rules and JavaScript applications. Additionally, users can streamline B2B purchasing by inserting custom fields for buyers to enter account information, pay using purchase order or submit an order without collecting payment at checkout.

With the platform, checkout pages can be optimized to facilitate modern delivery options including buy online, pick-up in store, and can even be used to schedule delivery dates or facilitate pickup from shared locations like lockers and brick-and-mortar stores. Users can present a unique front-end interface using customer group rules to offer specific pricing, payment and shipping methods directly on the checkout page.

Loss prevention

Sensormatic Solutions

Sensormatic Solutions has expanded its Shrink Management as a Service (SMaaS) offerings with new capabilities to help retailers enhance their loss prevention strategies, while introducing its latest SuperTag—the SuperTag 4—offering retailers a higher level of anti-theft protection.

SMaaS includes device management and predictive analytics capabilities designed to reduce shrink, optimize staffing and improve sales. Among the new and enhanced capabilities from SMaaS, the platform now includes a mobile-optimized user interface that features intuitive navigation, which allows retailers to access SMaaS anywhere, on any device.

A new occupancy widget uses retailers’ existing electronic article surveillance (EAS) infrastructure to track occupancy patterns based on user-defined thresholds. Retailers can identify times of increased traffic to manage staff and customers accordingly. This function also can help retailers adhere to both local occupancy regulations and social distancing guidelines.

The platform is designed to seamlessly integrate with Sensormatic Solutions’ RF pedestals, and integrate with its ExacqVideo platform to provide video device health monitoring, and allow retailers to view video clips of alarms associated with EAS and organized retail crime (ORC) events.

SuperTag 4 is available both with or without RFID technology and attaches to apparel targeted by ORC rings. The tag is complemented by its own line of unique SuperTag 4 power detachers, which can also be integrated with SMaaS, giving retailers more insight into better understanding detaching data, including insight into possible internal theft, associate training gaps and detaching activity.

As the product line expands, a dual-tech (Acousto Magnetic/RFID) SuperTag 4 and InFuzion SuperTag 4 (one-piece integrated pin) version will become available. The dual-tech SuperTag 4 combines the benefits of both inventory intelligence and loss prevention, while the InFuzion technology is designed to offer retailers overall time and labor savings associated with hard tag attachment and removal. Both upcoming new hard tags will help retailers boost operational efficiencies.

Other future capabilities for the SuperTag 4 family will integrate into a retailers’ self-checkout solution, a move made to simplify the customer’s ability to remove the hard tag while still maintaining loss prevention measures in this high-risk area.

In-store returns

Returnly

Returnly, a platform that aids retailers in delivering digital return experiences and handling post-purchase payments, has debuted In-Store Returns, a new solution designed to enable retailers and brands to offer safe, convenient online return drop-offs at brick-and-mortar locations.

Within the solution, shoppers can return online purchases, without boxes or labels, for an immediate refund. As a result, merchants can shorten return to stock times by immediately adding merchandise back into in-store circulation or aggregate shipping to their preferred warehouse.

In-Store Returns comes at a crucial time for customers and merchants due to the Covid-19 pandemic, especially as demand spikes for online shipping persist into the holiday season. With potential for delayed shipping times and extended return turnaround, this can result in longer wait times for refunds, creating frustration for customers and a massive increase in customer service ticket volume.

The solution is designed to be dynamically turned on and off based on the status of each store, enabling store managers to customize services and messaging to best set customer expectations for their drop-off experience. After starting their return via an online returns portal, shoppers will be given the option to bring their merchandise to the retailer’s nearby brick-and-mortar location without having to print a label or package the return.

In-Store Returns is the latest feature in Returnly’s suite of digital return experiences helping retailers combat challenges created by Covid-19. The company’s Instant Credit and Exchange experience is designed to enable customers to get the right item even before returning the wrong one. With zero delay between the customer requesting the exchange and the order being placed, merchants can mitigate more “out of stock” frustrations from taking place.