The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, textiles, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
UPS entered into an agreement to acquire same-day delivery platform Roadie for an undisclosed sum as it ramps up its own fulfillment capabilities ahead of the holidays. Alongside plans to recruit 100,000 seasonal employees, the nationwide delivery service now has a network of 200,000 crowdsourced drivers.
Already an investor in the startup, UPS said that its customers, including large enterprises, are increasingly looking for ways to cater local same-day delivery solutions for all types of goods. Roadie adds value to the UPS delivery ecosystem by providing service for shipments not compatible with the UPS network because of their size and perishable nature, and often because they are in shopping bags without the packaging required to move through the parcel carrier’s system.
And unlike UPS and other major carriers, Roadie doesn’t have shipping deadlines or cut-off dates for holiday delivery since it is a same-day service. “All of the delivery resources we have scale up in real time, which is different than if you have a fixed number of trucks,” Roadie CEO Marc Gorlin told Sourcing Journal last year.
Roadie’s technology has been used by major retailers including Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and Chico’s. The platform also will provide opportunities to improve existing, and potentially add additional, UPS small package capabilities. The Roadie technology platform connects merchants and consumers with contract drivers to enable efficient and scalable same-day local delivery services nationwide.
When the acquisition closes, likely in Q4, Roadie will operate with the same name, while UPS package car drivers will continue to deliver packages within the UPS network. Roadie’s network of crowdsourced drivers use their own vehicles to complete deliveries.
Goods transported by Roadie will not cross into the UPS network and packages transported in the UPS network will not cross into the Roadie network, UPS said.
MasonHub, a provider of fulfillment technology and services founded by retail operations, has opened a 200,000-square-foot East Coast fulfillment center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., tripling the company’s fulfillment capacity and now enabling two-day ground shipping to 90 percent of U.S. customers.
The custom-built facility is close to New York City and within the densely populated Northeast corridor, complementing MasonHub’s Los Angeles headquarters, the company said.
With this new facility, MasonHub offer clients advanced order-routing capabilities based on the location of available inventory and transit time to the customer. In the future, MasonHub expects tech to automatically recommend the best inventory distribution through its network and recommend the fastest and most cost-effective way to route returns.
Both facilities offer ambient temperature-controlled storage.
In 2018, the fulfillment services provider raised $6.5 million in seed funding led by Canvas Ventures, enabling it to open its first warehouse, a 100,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Los Angeles’ Inland Empire.
The company said the launch of the Wilkes-Barre fulfillment center comes as retailers and brands “search for a more cohesive way to connect and manage the disparate systems required for omnichannel distribution.”
Locus Robotics, a developer of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for fulfillment warehouses, has secured $50 million in additional funding from existing investor Tiger Global Management. With the funding, Locus seeks to facilitate continued growth and expansion into new global markets, and more effectively meet the needs of its growing customer and partner ecosystem.
This additional funding augments Locus’s Series E round in February, and brings its total outside investments to nearly $300 million.
In August, the company surpassed the milestone of 500 million units picked, only 94 days after reaching 400 million. The 500-millionth pick was made at a VF Corporation fulfillment center in Prague, and the item picked was a pair of Vans Old Skool Shoes.
Through the 2020 holiday season to late December, robots picked more than 70 million units on behalf of its global retail and third-party logistics customers, a 250 percent increase over last year.
The rapid increases come as more retailers and fulfillment warehouse operators are turning to AMRs to meet growing demand and mitigate labor shortages to avoid the risk of losing valuable customers.
Locus Robotics’ multi-bot solution is designed so these AMRs can operate collaboratively with human workers to double or triple piece-handling productivity, with less labor compared to traditional piece-handling systems, the company said.
The retailer, which sells products from brands like Nike, Adidas, Puma and The North Face and offers its own brand labels such as Pink Soda and Supply & Demand, first launched live shows OOOOO in July. Since then, the companies agreed to extend the partnership across other JD verticals including footwear, outdoor and fashion.
The partnership paves the way to expand to other markets in which JD does business, throughout Europe and North America, the retailer said.
“We’re excited to become an exclusive partner of OOOOO to develop market leading video commerce content on their rapidly growing platform—the early results have been great,” said Dan Finley, group multi-channel director of JD Sports.
OOOOO co-founding CEO Sam Jones described the platform as “a little like a modern-day mall, powered by live video.” Since it launched in November, the OOOOO platform has seen over 300,000 installs to date and onboarded brands across fashion, sport, beauty and wellness.
Live video commerce platform Immerss raised $1.1 million in seed funding, led by Oak Stream Investors III, Ltd. and Muse Family Enterprises Ltd.
The funding will allow Immerss to invest in marketing and sales initiatives to accelerate the adoption of the Immerss solution, so that its online merchant partners can provide an in-person virtual shopping experience.
Immerss helps brands and retailers humanize their e-commerce experience by connecting online customers with sales associates, using live shoppable video, turning faceless online transactions into human-to-human experiences.
Merchants that have implemented Immerss live video commerce have increased average order value 61 percent, cut returns 25 percent, seen 29 percent sales conversion rates and ultimately get a collective 4.9 out of 5 stars in customer satisfaction.
Buy now, pay later
The acquisition will expand PayPal’s capabilities, distribution and relevance in the domestic payments market in Japan, which is the third-largest e-commerce market in the world. The deal also complements PayPal’s existing cross-border online business. The payments giant jumped into the BNPL market last year when it deployed its “Pay in 4” solution ahead of the holiday season.
Paidy’s payment services allow Japanese shoppers to make purchases online, and then pay for them each month in a consolidated bill at a convenience store or via bank transfer. The company essentially acts as a middleman between consumers and merchants in Japan, and uses its proprietary machine learning technology to score creditworthiness, underwrite transactions and guarantee payment to merchants.
The Japan-based company’s ability to develop and launch products, including its Paidy 3-Pay monthly installment offering, has driven engagement with its more than 6 million registered users and helped establish strategic relationships with global brands and online marketplaces. Its prior integrations with PayPal and other digital and QR wallets through Paidy Link expands Paidy’s reach to online and offline merchants beyond its platform. Paidy Link was launched in April 2021, allowing users to link digital wallets with their Paidy account. PayPal was the first digital wallet partner to integrate with Paidy Link.
Following the acquisition, Paidy will continue to operate its existing business, maintain its brand and support a wide variety of consumer wallets and marketplaces. Paidy founder and executive chairman Russell Cummer, and CEO and president Riku Sugie will continue to lead the Paidy team.
Scalapay, a buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider based in Italy, raised $155 million in equity funding as part of a Series A investment round led by Tiger Global, with participation from Baleen Capital and Woodson Capital. The fintech startup is now valued at $700 million.
By spreading the payment over three installments without interest, Scalapay has been able to boost average basket sizes by 48 percent, and improve checkout conversion 11 percent.
This new funding will help Scalapay grow its team and operations. Additionally, the investment is designed to help scale internationally and launch new products to support merchants in luxury, fashion, and travel.
The company was founded in 2019 by CEO Simone Mancini and chief technology officer Johnny Mitrevski.
Since launch, Scalapay has opened its services to Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Belgium, Netherlands and Austria. The team has doubled in size, to over 150 people, since its seed funding announcement in January. The latest funding round brings the total amount raised to $203 million.
Scalapay recently became the official sponsor for Milan Fashion Week in a three-year contract, as the company continues its effort to become the “buy now, pay later platform for fashion merchants.” Brands like Alberta Ferretti, Intimissimi, Liu Jo, Luisa Spagnoli, Moschino, MSGM, Twinset and other fashion retailers have signed up for Scalapay.
Mitrevski said in a statement that the payment platform processes as much as “30 percent to 50 percent of the transactions from our luxury fashion merchants.”
More than 3,000 merchants have used Scalapay’s payment solution, the company said.
Johnson Controls, a manufacturer and producer of fire, HVAC and security solutions, said its retail solutions wing Sensormatic Solutions is streamlining its store shrink visibility offering globally. The reorganization comes as the company seeks to combat recent increases in shoplifting, internal theft and organized crime across retail enterprises.
This new offering combines RFID-enabled detection systems and Electronic Product Code (EPC) item-level data with Sensormatic IQ. Together these systems unify diverse data and insights through an intelligent operating platform designed to drive improved shopper experiences and retail outcomes.
The combination comes in an era of labor shortages and increasing store traffic, putting retailers at an even bigger risk of theft or fraud.
With inventory and shopper behavior insights from Sensormatic IQ already helping retailers create positive interactions with consumers, they can now understand what, when and how specific items go missing in real-time with integrated shrink visibility offerings. These actionable insights can provide a new perspective of loss events across the enterprise and allow retailers to target shrink mitigation efforts more precisely while still delivering a frictionless experience for shoppers.
Sensormatic Solution’s latest shrink visibility offering, the RFID Overhead 360°, developed in collaboration with fellow RFID provider Impinj, is built to deliver storefront visibility performance to complement any store décor. The RFID Overhead 360° helps provide retailers with item-level loss event visibility while reducing nuisance alarms and prioritizing real-time actionable alerts. When combined with Sensormatic’s TrueVUE shrink visibility analytics, retailers can ideally learn more about loss events at the storefront and help target shrink mitigation efforts more precisely.
Omnichannel payments gateway technology Cardknox, now supports 3-D Secure 2.0 (3DS2) technology, a next-generation e-commerce payment security protocol developed by EMVco. 3DS2 is designed to authenticate cardholder identities in real time during the checkout process, so that retailers could reduce fraud and chargebacks without compromising on the checkout experience.
This technology is now available through a Cardknox gateway e-commerce integration, as well as the company’s customizable online payment form, PaymentSite.
Cardknox said additional benefits of the 3-D Secure 2.0 technology include risk-based authentication that uses a more data points than the original 3DS, an embedded authentication process without checkout redirects, fewer abandoned shopping carts that could lead to higher sales.
To facilitate 3DS2 for merchants, the Cardknox payment gateway passes along customer- and transaction-specific data points to the cardholder’s issuing bank. The bank can then evaluate the risk of fraud without the use of redirects within the checkout flow that require the cardholders’ involvement. If the bank successfully verifies the customer’s identity and decides that the transaction poses a low fraud risk, then they authorize the transaction. In the unlikely event that the bank cannot authenticate the cardholder’s identity with the provided data points, the cardholder may be prompted to enter their preset password for verification purposes.
3DS2 is built to improve upon the original 3DS technology by collecting and cross-referencing 10x more data points during authentication than before, according to Cardknox. This is designed to filter out fraud and verify the cardholder’s active participation in the sale. As a result, merchants should see a decline in both fraudulent transactions and also in friendly fraud chargebacks—a practice in which a customer disputes a legitimate transaction in order to get their money back.
Cardknox also says it created the 3DS2 technology in response to the growing number of card-not-present transactions that occur primarily online. E-commerce fraud is expected to surpass $20 billion in 2021, a Juniper Research report found, with liability often falling on the individual merchant. This loss would represent an 18 percent increase, compared to the $17.5 billion recorded last year.
Supported by Shopify’s $30 million strategic investment in Yotpo, the platform partnership is designed to empower merchants to better connect with their customers and grow their businesses through marketing tools and solutions.
This alliance will position Yotpo as one of the early launch partners for new Shopify development features. In this role, Yotpo aspires to develop first-to-market technologies that help merchants of all sizes stand out in a competitive landscape.
Aligning product development roadmaps, the two companies will work to develop shopping experiences that are connected between touch points and improve the one-to-one relationship between merchants and their customers.
Shopify has been launching a variety of new partnerships during 2021 to extend its retail presence and capabilities, including bringing organic product discovery and shopping tabs to TikTok, enabling retailers selling on the Shopify platform to feature their products across Google in just a few clicks, expanding the availability of its Shop Pay secure payment solution to all Shopify retailers selling on Google, and expanding its partnership with installment payments platform Affirm to all Shopify merchants.
Yotpo, which aims to strengthen customer relations through SMS marketing, loyalty, referrals, reviews, and visual UGC, has been a major beneficiary of Shopify’s ecosystem of developers and partners, who make apps that support 1.7 million merchants.
Mutual customers for Yotpo and Shopify include Steve Madden, Princess Polly, Brooklinen, ThirdLove, UnTuckit, Chubbies, Sol de Janeiro, Alkaline Herb Shop and Parks Project.
In3D has launched the In3D app, a 3D photorealistic avatar scanning app for the fashion, gaming and entertainment sectors that harnesses computer vision technology to build a full 3D replica of the user from a simple “video selfie.”
The app is built to capture the shopper’s body data with 1 cm accuracy, according to In3D.
Users of the In3D app can use the avatars they make to enter digital worlds as themselves with extensions to the virtual fashion marketplace Second Life, virtual reality-based social platform VR Chat and the popular video game Grand Theft Auto V.
In addition, the In3D app includes a virtual fitting room where users can virtually try clothes on their avatar and examine style and fit. Users can share their looks, or even try fully digital clothes made by digital-only fashion house Replicant featuring more than 35 other digital designers. The startup also offers a fully customized virtual fitting room to fashion retailers.
MySize, Inc., the developer and creator of measurement solutions for apparel and footwear, has made MySizeID available to Wix e-commerce stores. Users can integrate the MySizeID platform by downloading the MySize API. The partnership would serve a large audience for Wix, which saw the number of active stores on its platform increase 200,000 in 2020 to more than 600,000 stores.
Wix customers implementing MySizeID into their e-commerce sites will receive three months of MySize expert support (new customers only) to optimize the MySizeID AI-size widget on their e-commerce site. Additional Wix customer support features include a chatbot capability, along with a new MySizeID help center for Wix users.
Brands using the AI-powered MySizeID, including present partners like Levi’s, Speedo, US Polo, and Boyish Jeans, have benefited from increased revenue per visitor, conversion rates and average order value (AOV), the company says.
An internal MySize e-commerce business intelligence report found that in the 2021, AOV for consumers rose by an average of 15 percent while e-commerce conversion rates grew by an average of 2.75x when MySize tech was applied to 40 percent or more of product listings.
Hot Topic, the specialty apparel retailer for music and pop culture fans, has relaunched new mobile iOS and Android apps for its Hot Topic and BoxLunch brands using a “composable commerce” mobile app stack from Poq that leverages the Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
The California-based retailer offers licensed music, entertainment and pop culture inspired merchandise, fashion apparel and accessories, collectibles and more at over 700 Hot Topic and BoxLunch stores, online at hottopic.com and boxlunch.com, and via the Poq-powered mobile shopping apps.
Poq’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) composable commerce offering is built to enable the retailer to manage its own no-code, fully branded app design with numerous features. This includes the Poq App Styler, as well as other options to increase conversion and sales, such as Instagram-like App Stories, Lookbooks and marketing banners and push messaging, among others.
“Given our mobile customer base, we needed a platform that could scale and provide customers with a rich customer experience,” said Javier Marimon, vice president of digital products at Hot Topic. “We saw this as a strategic move to keep customers engaged with our brand and grow our overall e-commerce business. We are pleased with the results and highly optimistic for the future of our apps.”
The retailer also recently launched buy online, pickup in-store services.
Truepic, a developer of secure camera technology for mobile devices, has raised $26 million in Series B funding, led by Microsoft’s venture fund, M12. The investment will help expedite the scale of Truepic’s patented camera technology across applications and smartphones globally.
The company calls itself a pioneer of the “provenance-based” approach to media authentication, in that it has verified “millions” of photos and videos captured them from more 150 countries. Its growth comes as AI-generated synthetic videos called deepfakes become increasingly difficult to identify.
The secure camera technology acquires high-integrity provenance data (origin, contents, and metadata) about photos and videos from the moment they are captured and uses cryptography to protect the images from tampering before they reach the intended recipients. Long term, the provenance-approach to verification can establish trust in all digital content shared across the internet, the company said.
Truepic’s technology is used by 100+ enterprise customers and partners such as Accion Opportunity Fund, Equifax, EXL Service Inc, Ford Motor Company, Palomar Holdings Inc., Transunion, thw United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and many more. In 2020, Truepic revenues grew by over 300 percent as a result of dramatic client growth across the insurance, banking, automotive, peer-to-peer commerce, project management and international development industries.
Truepic is a founding-member of the world’s first media authentication standards body, the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA), alongside steering committee members including Adobe, Arm, BBC, Intel, Microsoft and Twitter.
In addition to M12, Adobe, Sony Innovation Fund by IGV, Hearst Ventures and individuals from Stone Point Capital participated in the round.