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Retail Tech Roundup: SAP Spins Out Qualtrics with IPO, Centric PLM Lands Chinese Client

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

PLM

Centric Software

Inner Mongolia Erdos Investment Holding Group Co., Ltd. (Erdos), a China-based cashmere clothing company, has successfully implemented Centric Software’s Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution.

Overall, Erdos Group’s end-to-end supply chain covers pastures, sheep breeding, cashmere harvesting, R&D, production and direct-to-consumer retailing. To accelerate its transition to omnichannel sales, Erdos deployed Centric Fashion PLM to establish a product-centered digital R&D collaboration platform and a unified digital asset management system that strategically support its internal business processes.

“Close communication and multiple rounds of seminars between teams from both sides helped Erdos’ users gain a deeper understanding of the application of Centric PLM,” said Luo Qi, IT director of the Erdos brand division, in a statement. “PLM will be the fundamental tool for our future development, and R&D digitalization will advance the entire Erdos system.”

Erdos Group operates brands such as 1436 for rare baby cashmere products, namesake modern cashmere fashion brand Erdos, classic cashmere brand Erdos 1980, modern women’s fashion brand Blue Erdos and Erdos Kids for children.

Inner Mongolia Erdos Investment Holding Group Co., Ltd. (Erdos), a China-based cashmere clothing company, has successfully implemented Centric Software’s Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution.

Seen here: various styles from numerous Erdos brands.

With Centric Software, Erdos said its PLM project was successfully launched and has achieved its four major goals: building a design and R&D platform, setting up a basic brand database, clarifying cost control mechanisms and promoting digitalized R&D decision-making.

“The Covid-19 epidemic brought challenges, but also opportunities,” said Dai Tana, executive deputy general manager of Erdos brand division. “It gave us time to review and optimize existing work methods, so that different teams can understand the operations of the entire business chain from a broader perspective.”

Enterprise software

SAP/Qualtrics

Qualtrics, a customer experience management platform currently owned by ERP software giant SAP, is spinning off into a public company. SAP, which acquired Qualtrics in 2018 for $8 billion, had first announced in July that it had planned to separate the firm.

Qualtrics plans to trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker XM, and anticipates that the initial public offering (IPO) price will be between $20 and $24 per share. After the IPO, SAP will retain about 80 percent of the outstanding shares.

More than 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies use the Qualtrics platform, with users including Adidas, Under Armour, L.L. Bean and Target. In November, specialty retailer Talbots become the most recent major apparel seller to implement the Qualtrics CoreXM platform.

Qualtrics says its XM Platform “helps organizations both design and improve the experiences that turn their customers into fanatics, employees into ambassadors, products into obsessions, and brands into religions.”

The XM Platform’s smart features and capabilities include a “listening engine” designed to capture consumer sentiment across channels such as live chat, text messaging and ERP/CRM systems; an XM Directory designed to centralize all collected experience data in one place; a “Qualtrics iQ” analytics suite that analyzes feedback to recommend actions; and an “XFlow” software layer designed to assign and route actions to the people in the best position to drive improvement using workflow automation.

Secondhand marketplace

Less_

Less_, a Poland-based e-commerce marketplace specializing in the sales of secondhand clothing, fashion and accessories, is preparing for an undisclosed financing round to will help the company expand into the Eastern and Southern European markets,

The company says that 700,000 users across the world have joined the Less_ platform since it was launched in June 2019. The company first obtained 4 million euros (approximately $4.9 million) in a December 2019 seed round.

The platform provides access to thousands of virtual wardrobes owned, among others, by celebrities, influencers, athletes and singers, who can then offer their fans access to the merchandise. Global brands such as H&M, Zara, Pull&Bear and Stradivarius offer used apparel on the marketplace as well, while users on the marketplace can integrate their Less_ account with their TikTok profile to showcase items they are selling on video.

“Less_ was born because we saw a need to create a space for conscious fashion lovers. Together we change the approach to shopping by giving the opportunity to enjoy life in the vein of minimalism,” Mateusz Oleksiuk, CEO of Less_, said in a statement. “We educate and inspire to change. We promote a conscious view of consumption. In our opinion, fashion and minimalism can go together. It is one of the strongest global trends and we already are on it building our global advantage for our investors. The growth of e-commerce during the pandemic is also a global trend and this trend boosts the rise of e-commerce initiatives.”

Data analytics

Absolutdata/Infogain

Infogain, a company that leverages cloud technologies, microservices, robotic process automation, IoT and artificial intelligence to further digital transformation initiatives for clients, has acquired Absolutdata, a provider of AI-powered solutions, advanced analytics and data science services, for an undisclosed sum.

Currently, Absolutdata offers AI-driven recommendation engines designed to increase retail sales, and aims to help retailers understand shopping patterns to optimize shelf placement and space utilization, and enhance pricing and discounting strategies. The platform also is designed to help retailers forecast demand at product and category levels.

The acquisition could be significant for Absolutdata’s existing customers, which include various Fortune 500 clients and major apparel companies such as Gap, Levi’s, VF Corp. and Burlington. As part of a larger organization, Absolutdata’s data scientists and solution engineers can now work with strategy, experience, and cloud technology experts to deliver its AI and analytics capabilities along with the infrastructure needed to execute digital transformation strategies.

The Absolutdata acquisition follows Infogain’s earlier acquisitions of cloud transformation technology services company Silicus Technologies and digital transformation consultancy Revel Consulting. With the deal, Infogain now adds Absolutdata’s Nabik AI platform and advanced analytics services to its portfolio. With these additions, Infogain hopes to further help clients drive rapid growth, improve revenue and create deeper customer relations across multiple industries.

Quantzig

Quantzig, a business intelligence solution provider, has added new solutions to its advanced analytics portfolio.

With the portfolio, Quantzig aims to help businesses revamp business processes and eliminate business challenges by integrating data with workflows across critical functional areas and offering actionable insights that can aid smarter business decision-making.

Quantzig’s portfolio is designed to help companies improve decisions in various fields, including supply chain, e-commerce, sales, marketing, operations management and asset management. The solutions can also provide actionable insights for business process management, reporting, and can support key processes around consolidation, forecasting, and planning.

Robotics

AMP Robotics

AMP Robotics Corp., a provider of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics solutions designed to eliminate waste and create a more sustainable, circular economy, has raised $55 million in corporate equity in a Series B financing.

This new round of funding follows a $16 million Series A financing led by Sequoia Capital in November 2019.

AMP will use this latest funding to scale its business operations to meet market demand for the technology and develop new AI product applications that integrate into materials recovery facilities to increase recycling rates for its customers. The new capital will also support the company’s market expansion as it works with consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies like Keurig Dr Pepper, to help them achieve their recycled content and sustainability goals for a circular economy.

The round was led by startup hedge fund XN with participation from new investors Valor Equity Partners and GV as well as existing investors Sequoia Capital, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Congruent Ventures, and Closed Loop Partners.

The robotics company aims to aid companies in identifying and sorting paper, plastics, metals, and other recyclables from the waste stream, which often can create a major challenge for material recovery.

AMP Robotics’ technology seeks to help industry meet these challenges by modernizing recycling—improving material quality, ensuring worker safety, increasing productivity, lowering costs, diverting waste from landfill and reducing greenhouse gas emissions—while increasing overall rates of recycling and resource recovery.

Proprietary technology applies computer vision and deep learning to guide high-speed robotics systems to precisely identify and differentiate recyclables found in the waste stream by color, size, shape, opacity, consumer brand and more, storing data about each item it perceives.

Proprietary technology applies computer vision and deep learning to guide high-speed robotics systems to precisely identify and differentiate recyclables found in the waste stream by color, size, shape, opacity, consumer brand and more, storing data about each item it perceives. The company’s technology can recognize and recover material as small as a bottlecap and as unique as a Keurig coffee pod from complex material streams so that these materials may serve another productive life in the economy.

In late 2020, AMP signed a long-term agreement with Waste Connections, Inc. to deploy 24 AI-guided robotics systems, the company’s largest contract to date.

Rewards

Giift

Giift, a rewards management platform, has launched Giift Engage, a new marketing tool designed to drive customer engagement through rewards-based offers.

With the platform, Giift aims to address a need within retail to evolve from “passive” and automated point-granting systems to a more proactive engagement platform by letting companies push their customers points-based promotions in the form of personalized digital customer experiences, games and more across multiple communication channels.

The company says clients would use Giift Engage for a wide range of activities across acquisition, lead generation, portfolio usage and digital adoption. Moreover, Giift Engage can be used internally, for instance to incentivize staff for activities and outcomes, productivity, project completion and collaboration.

B2B e-commerce

Spryker

Spryker, a commerce technology for global enterprises, announced in December that it has raised over $130 million in a Series C financing round, led by growth equity firm TCV. Existing investors One Peak from London and Project A Ventures from Berlin also participated in the round.

The funding will be used to expand Spryker’s B2B and Enterprise Marketplace products and create a third-party technology app store. Spryker also intends to grow its international footprint with a focus on the U.S., which already accounts for 10 percent of its annual software revenue.

Used by more than 150 global customers, the Spryker technology is designed to accelerate e-commerce capabilities for B2B companies so that they can deliver more transactional business models.

In particular, Spryker aims to continue to support and grow its wider business building e-commerce tools for all kinds of companies, building more agile e-commerce storefronts and in some cases also developing marketplaces around them.

The company leverages headless and API-based architecture, alongside a cloud-native PaaS (Platform as a Service) delivery model to empower sophisticated businesses that have outgrown SaaS (Software as a Service) and on-premise single tenant models.

Spryker also intends to grow its global talent to maintain its innovative edge and continue to build new products for future use cases and touch points, including IoT commerce, subscription, and click and collect.

With the funding, Spryker says its valuation exceeds $500 million.

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