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Retail Tech: True Fit Nabs $30M, Johnston & Murphy Adopts Yoobic, Rakuten Taps Afterpay

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

Store communication

Johnston & Murphy/Yoobic

Johnston & Murphy has implemented Yoobic’s digital workplace platform across 168 of its company-owned retail locations. The move enables Johnston & Murphy to modernize operations, improve employee experiences and improve customer experiences across its entire retail footprint.

A division of Genesco, Johnston & Murphy had previously relied on mass emails and lengthy PDFs to communicate with employees. After implementing Yoobic companywide in three months, the company will now use the platform’s purpose-built app to manage two-way communication, monitor tasks, and help associates provide better customer service.

The Yoobic platform will support Johnston & Murphy’s visual merchandising. By packaging merchandising instructions in videos and bite-sized content, the app enables Johnston & Murphy associates to access the information they need, take pictures of displays for reporting purposes and receive real-time updates as campaigns or promotions change across the course of their workday.

Store supervisors and managers based at corporate offices can also provide targeted directives to specific categories of associates, in an effort to support teams with necessary guidance without being distracted by irrelevant content. This is important in the Covid-19 era, when managers must provide up-to-date information about safety and sanitation policies that can continuously evolve from one store to the next.

Using a streamlined mobile interface, Yoobic also enables information to flow in real-time from store associates back to regional teams and corporate offices, and includes performance tracking and data-driven reporting capabilities. Underperforming stores can be flagged, and findings from store visits can be shared both with store managers and with corporate offices to drive compliance and promote continuous improvement.

“At Johnston & Murphy, we’re proud of our brand history and we want our retail associates to become part of the legend,” said Heather Marsh, vice president of customer experience at Johnston & Murphy in a statement. “That starts with prioritizing our retail associates, and empowering them to become ambassadors for the Johnston & Murphy brand and deliver unrivaled experiences wherever customers meet us.”

Brands such as Lacoste, Puma, Vans, Canada Goose and Untuckit use Yoobic solutions to bolster visibility and communication across their frontline teams.

Supply chain management 

Tecsys

Tecsys, a supply chain management and omnichannel commerce software company, unveiled performance metrics for the four-day Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday weekend, revealing that its multichannel retailers averaged nearly 102,000 orders per brand, far exceeding the 2,400 orders per brand averaged by single-channel retailers, representing a 40 times the volume of orders for those retailers. Peak order volume on Black Friday represented a 4 percent increase over last year’s top out.

Despite the overall softening of the weekend, retailers fulfilling orders with Tecsys’ omnichannel order management platform outperformed last year across two key measures: year-over-year order volume at 21 percent and order revenue by 32 percent.

In total, Tecsys estimates that 98 percent of total retail revenue comes from retailers operating more than a single fulfillment channel.

Globally, the average basket over the weekend was $75. Canadian consumers spent the most per order at $159.59, with U.S. consumers spending $97.97 per order, and U.K. consumers spending $83.75 per order. Europe ($79), Middle East and New Zealand (both $74.26) round out the highest average shopping carts globally.

Footwear and apparel as well as health and beauty represent the two retail categories with the greatest volume of orders and highest total revenue; however, they hold second and fourth position for average order value at $146.95 and $96.39 respectively; edging them out is the sporting goods and outdoor equipment retail category, posting an average shopping cart value of $168.28, with home and garden climbing up slightly from last year to $115.35.

According to Guy Courtin, vice president and industry principal for retail at Tecsys, the large basket sizes in the sporting goods and outdoor equipment categories may be a sign that consumers are more willing to purchase big-ticket items online that have historically been purchased in store.

Multinational retailers averaged $24.5 million each in revenue over the weekend, represented by an average 286,000 orders each over the same period. This is compared with an average $6.7 million each across all retailers. Overall, Tecsys customers saw a 32 percent increase in year-over-year revenue per brand on the Tecsys platform.

Fit technology

True Fit

True Fit, the AI-powered digital fitting room solution that advises shoppers on personalized apparel and footwear sizing, completed a $30 million growth round led by lead investor Georgian.

The funding will reinforce True Fit’s continued expansion in 2022 and help the tech company navigate the increasingly digital apparel market. Since the pandemic, the company said its annual recurring revenue (ARR) grew 85 percent, and consumer adoption rose 109 percent across True Fit’s network, which now serves 82 million active members.

True Fit’s Fashion Genome is a highly structured data set designed to connect millions of detailed garment specs and style product attributes to the individual shopping behaviors of shoppers. The AI-driven models combine product attribution for 17,000 brands, $250 billion in cross market buying behavior, and first-party preference data from more than 200 million registered True Fit members.

With this technology, True Fit focuses on bolstering the customer fit experience across apparel websites including PacSun, Under Armour and Boden. It can generate a 2 percent to a 5 percent lift in revenue, driven by a 47 percent increase in order rate.

Georgian, a fintech investor in high-growth software businesses, was joined by Jump Capital, Signal Peak Ventures, Intel Capital, and new investor, venture debt fund Espresso.

Sustainable commerce

Cerqular

Cerqular, a marketplace of sustainable and ethical brands, has announced the successful close of its pre-seed round of financing amid the company’s launch.

The marketplace platform is dedicated to end-to-end sustainability and what the company calls “guiltless commerce” with over 48,000 highly curated products in categories that include home, apparel, kids, pets, beauty and body, vintage and gender-neutral items.

Partnering with innovative brands and products that are thoroughly vetted against strict sourcing, manufacturing, and efficacy standards, Cerqular wants to “remove the guesswork” that often comes with shopping for sustainable goods. After certifying each brand application and verifying product, the platform will review product and label changes, and conduct random checks once the goods are on the marketplace.

Cerqular will deploy the new capital to continue fueling its seller growth with platform upgrades, and its B Corp certification, with the goal of continuing to scale the largest and most centralized destination for sustainable goods.

The company has opened its next round of financing to continue to fuel its accelerated growth and further impact the global sustainable goods market, which Cerqular estimates at a potential $8 trillion.

More than 80 percent of Cerqular’s brands are women-owned, underscoring its commitment to delivering a global destination that is both environmentally and socially responsible. Taking its mission of a net-zero carbon footprint even further, Cerqular wants to help consumers shop from local sellers and has partnered with carbon-neutral shipping service Sendle to save time and capital in the process.

The marketplace also offers shoppers sustainable fulfillment capabilities, with strategic partners in the blockchain and AI space aligned to drive both time and cost efficiencies.

The round was led by Green Space Investments, a tech-enabled sustainability-focused fund, and several strategic angel investors.

Fulfillment

Gymshark/Radial

Lifestyle fitness apparel retailer Gymshark is implementing a new central pick engine at its Allentown, Pa. distribution center with assistance from Advanced Handling Systems (AHS), a full-service integrator of automated fulfillment and distribution solutions, and Radial, a provider of omnichannel e-commerce technologies and operations.

The implementation is an extension of Gymshark’s current partnership with Radial, which helped the DTC brand scale fulfillment capabilities in opening a new distribution center in Rialto, Calif. in July.

This facility will use the Exotec Skypod System as the engine, switching between batch and discrete picking to optimize the 640,000-square-foot fulfillment center. This system will support output of over 240,000 units per day.

This facility will use the Exotec Skypod System as the engine, switching between batch and discrete picking to optimize the 640,000-square-foot fulfillment center. This system will support output of over 240,000 units per day.

The Exotec Skypod System.

“Working with both Radial and AHS—we believe we are investing in a partnership and solution that will not only allow us to offer a best-in-class service to our customers in the U.S., but also allow us to scale the operation as we continue to grow in the North American market,” said Chris Ormonde, operations director for Gymshark.

AHS integrates the Exotec robotics solution in North America, having launched and installed several Exotec Skypod Systems in the U.S. This system will have over 100 Skypod robots to aid in Gymshark’s mission of providing innovative and effective performance wear for its customers.

The system is scheduled to go live in the third quarter of 2022.

The Exotec Skypod System uses mobile robots that can move in three dimensions and reach heights of 40 feet to enable efficient, high-density inventory storage. The Skypod itself uses laser scanner navigation in conjunction with software to increase warehouse throughput by up to five times with a two-minute response time for all SKUs.

In addition to meeting evolving client needs, the integration of the Exotec system supports Radial’s goals of improving the associate experience. The system fosters more sustainable warehouse productivity by reducing highly repetitive, physically intensive tasks like walking, lifting and bending.

Last-mile delivery

DispatchTrack/Beetrack

DispatchTrack, a global last-mile delivery software-as-a-service leader that powers experiences for shippers, drivers and recipients, has acquired Latin American logistics software provider Beetrack for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition will expand DispatchTrack’s global footprint with the addition of more than 850 customers across 20 countries in Latin America including Chile, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Founded in 2010, DispatchTrack received $144 million in a first round of growth equity funding in May 2020 from Spectrum Equity. The SaaS platform, which is designed to simplify complex last-mile deliveries and service operations for major B2B and B2C brands, powers more than 60 million deliveries every year.

DispatchTrack serves global brands across a broad range of industries including retail, CPG, furniture and appliance, construction, grocery, restaurants, food and beverage, and third-party logistics firms (3PLs).

The company’s platform and proprietary hybrid-routing algorithm automatically and dynamically determine the optimal delivery route and truck loads, and provides end-to-end delivery tracking—from the moment an item leaves the warehouse to the moment it is delivered or installed at its destination.

With DispatchTrack, retailers and delivery companies can enable customers to self-schedule a delivery window, receive proactive real-time updates about the shipment’s progress, and experience predictability and visibility every step of the way.

Beetrack is headquartered in Santiago, Chile, with offices in Mexico, Peru, and Colombia, offering logistics technology for optimal route planning, traceability and control of last mile deliveries. The company now has over 100 employees and manages more than 55,000 deliveries per hour, with a portfolio of 850 companies for leading brands including Walmart, Coca Cola and Cencosud, the largest retailer in Chile.

Merchandising

DemandTec

DemandTec, a retail price and promotion optimization technology, has launched a new retail merchandising platform called Unify by DemandTec.

The cloud-native platform is designed to unify disparate data and fragmented merchandising systems to understand shopper behaviors holistically, which would ideally drive actionable insights and prescriptive recommendations, and result in profitable revenue growth.

Unify by DemandTec includes four initial applications, available together as a platform or separately: DemandTec Autonomous Pricing; DemandTec Autonomous Promotions; DemandTec Autonomous Markdowns; and DemandTec Autonomous Collaboration.

With Unify by DemandTec, retailers can gain a 360-degree view of shopper demand across all channels to elevate AI-powered pricing, promotions, and markdowns and maximize profitable revenue growth.

Retailers can also take advantage of direct integration with DemandTec’s Autonomous Collaboration trade network, which features more than 700 brands, suppliers, and brokers already on the platform orchestrating trade deals.

DemandTec launched its autonomous merchandising platform to assist retailers in accelerating their digital transformation and to support the expanding shopper-centric initiatives of retailers.

Leveraging AI-powered data science, machine learning and autonomous technologies, DemandTec looks to cut out merchandising silos. Retailers using the platform can now manage end-to-end merchandising to gain a heightened understanding of consumer behavior and drive improved predictive accuracy, which the company says is above 95 percent.

“Merchandising today is tough. Profitable revenue growth is becoming nearly impossible to achieve without consolidating the growing number of data sources, disparate systems, strategies, and—let’s not forget—the people and processes,” said Steve Rowen, managing partner at RSR Research. “With next generation systems like Unify by DemandTec, retailers can be better equipped to compete in the modern retail economy.”

Retailers can unite their disparate data sources and teams, and create AI-powered, unified merchandising strategies, optimized across the entire product lifecycle, including pricing, promotions, and markdowns, across in store and digital sales channels.

The platform also is built to accelerate and streamline trade collaboration between retailers and their brand partners. As a result, retailers and their suppliers can run personalized promotions and invest trade funds more efficiently, with accurate accounting. DemandTec’s collaboration capabilities are designed to reduce ineffective promotions, grow customer engagement, and increase revenue and profitability.

Unify by DemandTec enables retailers to add their own insights, algorithms, and modelling techniques, with open APIs. Demand insights such as forecasting intelligence can also be exported to downstream systems.

Buy now, pay later 

Rakuten/Afterpay

“Buy now, pay later” provider Afterpay is partnering with shopping rewards and cash back platform Rakuten in an effort to help shoppers ease financial stress this holiday season.

Shoppers enrolled with Rakuten and Afterpay who make purchases from participating merchants such as Crocs, Ulta Beauty, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People and Ugg will earn cash back while opting to pay over time in four, interest-free installments. The Rakuten rewards program offers cash back, deals and rewards from thousands of brands across apparel, health and beauty, dining, grocery, travel, on-demand services, subscription boxes and more.

Rakuten and Afterpay want to enable retailers to leverage the cash back and installment payments strategies together to offer elevated incentives that deliver even higher value for savvy shoppers. In turn, the combined offering can help merchants experience benefits like higher conversion rates and average order values.

Kristen Gall, president at Rakuten Rewards, said luxury items saw an 86 percent sales lift over non-luxury items in a recent cash back promotion, illustrating the popularity of the program even among those that aren’t traditionally coupon cutters.

Members have earned $3.5 billion in cash back for starting their shopping at Rakuten.com, in the Rakuten mobile app or with the Rakuten browser extension. Similarly, recent findings have shown that Afterpay’s U.S. customers could save up to $459 million in credit card fees and interest in 2021 by making purchases with Afterpay instead of a credit card.

Data analytics

Target Australia/Teradata Vantage/AWS

Target, an Australian department store that has no relation to the U.S.-based retail giant, has migrated its Demand Chain Management (DCM) architecture to Teradata Vantage. Within the cloud, the data will be delivered as-a-service via Amazon Web Services (AWS).

DCM is a solution suite designed to employ customer demand data that can help Target develop accurate daily or weekly sales forecasts that may ensure in-store and online inventory are available to meet their customers’ needs.

Teradata Vantage is a connected multi-cloud data platform that is designed to enables ecosystem simplification by unifying analytics, data lakes and data warehouses. With Vantage, enterprise-scale companies like Target can reduce silos and query all their data, all the time, regardless of where the data resides, to get a complete view of their business. This means that the retailer can examine the data in the cloud using low-cost object stores, on multiple clouds, on-premises or any combination thereof.

Continuing its established relationship with Teradata, Target selected Vantage for its enterprise scale and performance in the cloud, its deployment options for multi-cloud environments and its suite of analytical and data management capabilities.

The initiative was led by Target’s delivery manager, Eesha Gupta and involved collaboration from multiple parties.

“As part of our ongoing work to modernize our DCM technology stack, we knew we had to leverage the cloud for our data analytics platform,” said Samantha McIntyre, general manager, technology, Target, in a statement. “We recognized that we needed the latest analytics innovation to help us understand demand and supply chain performance, accurately predict consumer demand, and align inventory exceptions at the most granular level of store SKU, and to aggregate views across our entire business.”

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