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Retail Tech Roundup: Zebra Acquires Reflexis for $575M, Qurate Taps RangeMe for ‘Big Find’ Event

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

Retail Management

Zebra/Reflexis

Zebra Technologies, a designer and manufacturer of enterprise mobile computers, advanced data capture devices such as laser, 2D and RFID scanners and readers, and specialty printers for barcode labeling, has acquired workforce management and communication platform provider Reflexis Systems, already a Zebra integration partner, for $575 million.

Reflexis, which aims to aid in the retail task management process, expands Zebra’s software portfolio, which includes current software offerings such as Zebra Prescriptive Analytics, Workforce Connect and SmartCount.

Together, Zebra, Reflexis and their partner retailers and manufacturers will leverage these edge software assets to help customers elevate the performance of their teams and businesses by fueling frontline workflows with richer and larger sets of real-time data. The addition of Reflexis provides Zebra with the opportunity to unify the store associate experience and empower frontline workers to “execute the best next action,” according to Anders Gustafsson, CEO of Zebra Technologies.

The Reflexis ONE intelligent work platform is designed to enable clients to improve customer engagement along with store associate productivity and retention. Specifically, Reflexis ONE enables managers to schedule hours against projected store traffic demand and task requirements. It also gives store associates a single place to view assigned tasks from all levels of the organization that can then be monitored for completion.

Zebra reported second-quarter revenue of $956 million, down 12.9 percent from a year ago, with net income of $100 million, or $1.85 a share. Reflexis generated $66 million in revenue in 2019.

Payments

Lightspeed

Lightspeed has unveiled new features designed to help its small business retail customers accelerate their digital transformation in the COVID-19 era. The new tools include mobile tap for curbside pick-up and contactless payment, a digital wallet for e-commerce purchases and an analytics core for retail insights.

The tools are designed to offer increased mobility when processing transactions, more options for viewing business insights and SMBs as they continue to adjust to consumer behavior.

Lightspeed merchants in the U.S. using Lightspeed Payments can now process transactions with just a tap, anywhere in-store or curbside, offering greater flexibility in situations of social distancing. The Mobile Tap hardware connects through Bluetooth, essentially turning an iPad into a contactless mobile payments terminal. Payments are processed with the integration of end-to-end encryption technology.

Optimized for mobile, the introduction of the digital wallet in North America is designed to support faster e-commerce conversion, integrating with a plethora of payment methods globally, including Google Pay and Apple Pay. The company cited that with 21 percent of U.S. e-commerce shoppers abandoning their cart at checkout due to a lengthy or complicated process, this one-click e-commerce checkout experience is part of the answer to improved conversions online.

Within the analytics core module, users will have access to a variety of business dashboards and insights on sales, inventory and employee performance, enabling SMBs to make more data-driven decisions about the future. The feature will be released globally.

Lightspeed continues to share industry knowledge for users and non-users alike through an online resource guide that serves to protect SMBs during the pandemic.

Retail Personalization

Qubit

Qubit, a provider of artificial intelligence-led merchandising and personalized experiences, has extended its partnership with Google Cloud, making the search engine’s Recommendations AI feature available for e-commerce teams.

The product recommendations solution is integrated within Qubit’s new product interface for merchandising, enabling e-commerce teams to leverage Google Cloud’s latest AI technology. Included in the offering is access to Recommendations AI which is designed to predict the best product to show a consumer, adapt to changing customer behavior in real time and use a wide array of data points like assortment, pricing and user history.

Merchandising and marketing teams can use implement Recommendations AI and activate bespoke business rules that enable them to boost, bury and run campaigns without having to write a line of code.

Graham Cooke, CEO and founder of Qubit, noted that the company’s mission is to power relevance in the shopping experience, particularly since the pandemic has been so challenging for brands.

Recommendations AI uses deep learning to introduce customers to new and relevant products and is “inspired by the same technology that powers relevance on YouTube,” according to a Qubit statement.

Using similar or shared patterns across customer attributes and behavioral data, the recommendations engine creates models to determine what the user would likely click next or purchase next and recommends these new or existing items from the catalog.

Jivox

Jivox, a personalized digital marketing technology company, has debuted Kairos, a newly patented purchase prediction technology for the e-commerce market. Powered by Jivox’s artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, Kairos can enable brands to increase the performance of e-commerce marketing campaigns by using sophisticated user scoring and product affinity ranking algorithms based on their interests, exhibited purchase intent and immediacy indicators.

Jivox uses its in-memory clustered Personalization Hub technology and first-party identity solution IQiD to identify, store and process consented consumer data used to generate predictions of the likelihood of a consumer to purchase along with predictions of the products they are likely to purchase. Personalization Hub processes trillions of data signals to make data available to Kairos for real-time decisions in less than seven milliseconds, according to Jivox, allowing for real-time decisions on products, pricing and offers.

Kairos is designed to approach e-commerce marketing differently from other technologies that might rely on simplified retargeting algorithms that can often base a recommendation on the last product browsed or clicked on by the consumer.

Additionally, Kairos allows brands to engage with consumers using consented data that consumers provide to brands in a privacy-compliant manner.

Kairos is currently available to a limited set of brands as part of an early access program and will be generally available later in the third quarter of 2020.

Product Discovery

RangeMe

RangeMe, a platform designed to streamline product discovery between retailers and suppliers, is partnering with Qurate Retail Group, the operator of QVC US and HSN, to simplify the product submission process for the company’s second annual The Big Find international product search.

The search is designed to discover the latest and most innovative entrepreneurs and brands that will share their stories to an audience of millions across QVC and HSN’s multiple platforms including broadcast, digital and streaming. This year, The Big Find will be held virtually to allow for safe and convenient engagement between vendors and QVC and HSN judges.

Through Aug. 19, The Big Find will accept applications, which will include video submissions, from brands across nine categories, including apparel, jewelry, accessories, footwear and beauty and new categories for this year including home décor, home innovation, electronics and culinary including food. Interested brands can submit their information through the RangeMe platform and select entrepreneurs or vendors will be invited to pitch their products virtually in September via videoconference to a panel of QVC and HSN judges.

RangeMe is designed to enable product suppliers to grow their retail relationships with a platform that gives them the tools to manage their products, market their brand and build awareness.

More than 65 rising brands in beauty and fashion were selected to introduce their products across QVC and HSN platforms throughout 2020, including Act & Acre, Alkaglam, Mented Cosmetics, Follain, Have Some Fun Today, Valencia Key and many more. This year, QVC and HSN expect to exceed the number of brands identified through The Big Find 2020.

Site Search

Searchspring

Searchspring, a provider of e-commerce search and merchandising technology, has expanded into the Asia Pacific region with the deployment of APAC infrastructure in Sydney, Australia. On the back of its recent hiring of a new vice president of product, as well as intentions to double its engineering team, this move doubles down on the company’s aggressive investment in its Site Merchandising product.

After Searchspring’s merger with e-commerce search provider Nextopia in February, the joint company boasts a substantial customer base in the APAC region, with customers including apparel companies Ripcurl, Patagonia and Volcom generating more than $450 million in annual online revenue. This addition to the Searchspring infrastructure is anticipated to improve the speed at which Searchspring-powered product results display for shoppers by as much as 25 percent.

The company noted that speed affects numerous metrics for e-commerce stores including SEO rank, shopper engagement and conversion rates, making any improvement to speed a critical component in optimizing digital commerce.

Searchspring said in a statement that it plans to quickly invest in dedicated customer-facing teams in the region after the infrastructure release, but did not offer a tineline.

Searchspring cited a July report from Deloitte Access Economics, which found that Australia Post’s deliveries during the peak pandemic period generated an additional $2.4 billion in e-commerce compared with the same time last year. These numbers are indicative of a pandemic boom in a region that was already expected to support 24.4 percent growth in e-commerce year over year.

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