Walmart asked the court to award it unspecified damages, with its legal team saying that the company suffered “irreparable injury” as a result of the patent infringement. The Arkansas-based retailer also asked the court to bar BJ’s from continuing to infringe on the patents.
The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Walmart/BJ’s Wholesale Club
Walmart is suing BJ’s Wholesale Club, accusing the big box warehouse retailer of infringing on patented technology that powers the self-checkout option in the Sam’s Club mobile app.
The suit, filed in a Florida federal court, claims Walmart worked for years to develop Scan & Go, a feature that enables Sam’s Club customers to scan purchases on their smartphones while walking through the store, allowing them to avoid a checkout line. In total, Walmart alleged 12 counts of infringement across four patents, with each individual patent including separate accusations of direct infringement, contributing to infringement and inducing others to infringe.
Walmart filed suit through its patent-holding subsidiaries, Sam’s West, Inc. and Walmart Apollo, LLC.
The suit centers on BJ’s Express Pay, a contactless feature serving the same function as the Sam’s Club Scan & Go—enabling members to scan items in the BJ’s mobile app during shopping to make checkout even faster.
“Express Pay is strikingly similar to Sam’s Club’s Scan & Go, offering nearly identical functionality,” the lawsuit said. “Express Pay is an apparent copy of Sam’s Club’s Scan & Go, merely changing the in-app colors and changing the name from Scan & Go to Express Pay.”
The lawsuit also delves into other similarities between the app experiences, with Express Pay also converting a customer’s mobile phone into a point-of-sale device, and creating a virtual shopping cart to save information associated with the scanned items for purchase.
Although Sam’s Club has had the self-checkout option in all its locations since 2016, its parent has had varying success with the technology. Over the past few years, Walmart has piloted different autonomous checkout processes, adding more self-checkout kiosks in many of its stores across the country. The retail giant deployed the Scan & Go program in more than 100 namestake stores in 2017 before discontinuing the service in April 2018. The program reportedly was cancelled due to problems with in-store theft.
But now the Scan & Go option is available again at Walmart locations as a perk for shoppers who sign up for the subscription-based Walmart+, a service that the retailer launched to deepen customer loyalty and better compete with Amazon Prime.
Frame, the fashion lifestyle brand known for its premium denim, cotton, leather and cashmere, has launched the NewStore Omnichannel Platform across its retail business. By powering the brand’s mobile point-of-sale (mPOS), order management, inventory and store fulfillment solutions, NewStore is now the backbone of Frame’s retail operations.
Frame sells its products through e-commerce, wholesale and in 15 retail stores. Earlier this month, it opened its first international store in London.
“While we pride ourselves on providing an excellent customer experience, we’re always looking for ways to enhance our shopping journey by blending our online and offline channels in a friction-free way,” said Frame co-founder Jens Grede. “NewStore is enabling us to optimize our growing business with omnichannel capabilities that scale and create an even more personalized shopping experience.”
Through its partnership with NewStore, Frame’s store associates can view sales, gauge product inventory across store locations and complete mobile checkouts to improve customer convenience and maximize profitability.
Now that all of Frame’s store locations are live on the platform, the brand will work with NewStore to further enhance the customer journey by rolling out features that allow employees to better guide shoppers and create more meaningful relationships.
ESW, the cross-border e-commerce platform provider formerly known as EShopWorld, is partnering with UPS to help brands reach global consumers. With the partnership, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands using UPS will be able to access ESW’s integrated international e-commerce and shipping capabilities.
Through this new bundled offering, UPS customers and ESW clients will also gain opportunities to better localize their online shopping experience and leverage UPS’s global transportation and customs brokerage platform for delivery.
This agreement leverages ESW’s logistics and payments ecosystem as well as UPS’s extensive global transportation network in an effort to remove barriers and alleviate the friction that can often impede brands and retailers from selling DTC globally.
ESW is designed to simplify global commerce for brands trying to scale outside their home turf, offering services that cover all ends of retail including compliance, data security, fraud protection, tariffs, checkout, delivery, returns, customer service and demand generation.
According to ESW’s Global Voices 2022 survey, the number of cross-border DTC consumers increased across all age groups between December 2020 and July 2021 with younger millennial and Gen Z consumers driving this trend. The data revealed that millennials and Gen Z shoppers are buying significantly more from outside their home countries than Gen X and Baby Boomers, with the younger cohorts preferring to purchase cross-border to access products they cannot find locally. The same survey found that shipping timing and shipping costs are the two biggest deterrents preventing more consumers from shopping across international borders.
Brands integrating with ESW’s Fluency and Symphony DTC solutions can enter both domestic and new international markets in a matter of weeks, the tech provider said. These companies also can access a suite of e-commerce solutions across store, pricing, payments, checkout, fraud and delivery.
Alongside using the technologies provided by ESW, brands can access the company’s Velocity consultancy service, which provides the expertise to execute successful growth initiatives across customer experience, acquisition and retention, while engaging directly with customers and retaining ownership of all the data collected during the shopping journey.
ReturnBear has expanded its platform to include new package-free drop off locations, enhanced product offerings and new merchant partners.
Backed by retail restate estate operator Cadillac Fairview (CF) and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, ReturnBear now has a presence in 10 premier Cadillac Fairview malls in Canadian provinces such as Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba.
ReturnBear’s SaaS solution has been updated to include a merchant admin app to manage return operations, analytics to monitor return trends, a consumer experience designed to make self-serve returns quick and convenient and a tablet application for ReturnBear kiosk staff to accept returns and process exchanges, refunds or store credit.
The expansion comes in tandem with ReturnBear adding new retailers to its merchant-base, including K-Swiss owner Mint Green Group, conscious clothing seller Franc, vintage-inspired casual apparel merchant California Cowboy and women’s wear brand Numi.
“Mint Green Group has been driving brand growth in the Canadian market for 40+ years now, and delivering great customer experiences is always top of mind for us,” said Manny Alamwala, director of e-commerce at Mint Green Group. “We connect global brands like ’47 and Palladium to Canadian consumers in ways they want to be reached, and we’re excited to offer more convenient, cost effective and environmentally friendly returns to those customers through our forthcoming rollout with ReturnBear.”
ReturnBear is designed to simplify the end-to-end return experience by streamlining the process for retailers, providing a one-stop solution where shoppers can drop off their returns without printing labels, repacking their products or having to wait in line at a post office. ReturnBear’s software is integrated into the merchant’s website, providing a self-serve experience for customers to initiate returns and exchanges, and choose the drop-off or mail-in option for their return that is most convenient to them.
“When we announced our partnership with ReturnBear last year, we knew Canadians would respond positively to the unique, multi-retailer return offering,” said Jose Ribau, executive vice president, digital and innovation at Cadillac Fairview. “We recognize shoppers’ pain points when it comes to online returns and are prioritizing convenience through national expansion across our CF properties, as well as support for retailers by reducing reverse logistics costs and operational challenges when it comes to returns. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
ReturnBear’s hands-on item quality control, repacking and batch shipping are built to ensure that products get back into forward supply faster—which can potentially save brands money, and reduce the risk of product waste. With features that include store credit bonuses, the ability to create custom return rules, and analytics that help retailers identify patterns and opportunities for improvements, ReturnBear removes manual intervention from merchants’ online returns operations, and helps them bring more convenient experiences to their customers.
3DLook, an AI-first mobile body measuring and virtual try-on solutions provider, has launched YourFit 2.0, an omnichannel fashion personalization and engagement platform.
Built with privacy and inclusivity at the core, the solution is designed to help fashion brands and retailers fight massive increases in return rates—which can be detrimental to both a brand’s bottom line and its active sustainability efforts.
Overall, 3DLook says its customers have seen overall decreases in return rates by 30 percent year-over-year, combined with a fourfold increase in e-commerce conversions and 30 percent increases in average order value.
But now with the introduction of YourFit 2.0, 3DLook aims to offer the combination of a photorealistic virtual try-on with instant feedback on what size would fit best, powered by its core technology which is designed to accurately capture and process customers’ body data.
The platform introduces a new personalized recommendation engine that lets users virtually try on AI-picked items based on the shopper’s body shape and measurements, as well as fit preference, inventory and best-sellers.
YourFit 2.0’s new social sharing feature encourages shoppers to share their try-on with a single tap, promoting brand re-engagement and bringing new shoppers back to the brand’s website as a form of customer acquisition.
Brands can now launch YourFit 2.0 functionality in under a week instead of months, the company said, indicating that other solutions on the market could require as much as six months of implementation. The new integration is currently available for Shopify and Shopify Plus, with more e-commerce platforms in the roadmap. For all platforms, YourFit 2.0 comes with API and SDK packages optimized for both web and native IOS and Android.
YourFit 2.0 powers a streamlined and contactless in-store experience using NFC and RFID technology to “tap-to-virtual fit,” and it can also be used with QR codes to “scan-to-virtual fit,” enabling consumers to have the same brand experience regardless of where they are buying.
The solution can also bind the store location to the brand’s YourFit 2.0 merchant account so that when shoppers are in stores, the solution enables proximity-based notifications and marketing.
Later this year, YourFit 2.0 will also be available as an app for store associates so that they can leverage personalization data giving them tools to better serve their customers.
“In our collective forty years in the fashion industry, we have experienced firsthand the challenge of matching customers with their right size. With sustainability and inclusivity at the core of Date of Birth, a digital marketplace where customers discover and shop sustainable, inclusive and local apparel brands, it’s essential that everyone can easily find their right size and fit,” said Wes McCaw and Noah Treshnell, co-founders of Date of Birth. “Our partnership with 3DLook helps our customers find their fit in seconds, and provides an experience that reduces returns and the steep environmental cost that comes with it.”
Vntana, a 3D Content management software provider that helps brands, manufacturers and retailers deploy immersive online experiences, has integrated with Meta to bring 3D advertising to Facebook and Instagram.
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) was granted access to Meta’s AR Publishing API to automate the creation and publication of 3D assets for ads. This solution is designed to provide brands an interactive way to bring their products to Meta apps and connect with their customers online, creating a more immersive shopping experience for the online consumer.
Via the new integration, Vntana enables brands to upload their existing 3D designs from programs like Browzwear, CLO, Keyshot, Modo and others and automatically convert them to Facebook and Instagram standards. These 3D models can then be published from Vntana directly to the Meta catalog so brands can streamline the 3D ad creation process.
Meta’s AR Publishing API was announced last year with select beauty brands, but this latest update represents the first time it will support apparel, footwear and handbag brands. Just like regular ads, 3D ads appear in users’ Facebook and Instagram feeds displaying interactive 3D models that users can tap and interact with—moving the product around to view all angles.
Vntana’s patented optimization algorithms are built to empower the test, as most 3D design files are too large. Additionally, it can take days of manual work by 3D artists to optimize for Facebook and Instagram standards. Instead, Vntana’s software automates this process so brands can deploy their designs across Facebook, Instagram, e-commerce, game-engines and other platforms. No 3D expertise is required, Vntana said.
This collaboration represents the first in a series of planned new features and capabilities as Vntana and Meta continue to deepen the integration between their two platforms.
Data warehousing services and solutions provider Snowflake has launched the Retail Data Cloud. The platform is built to empowers retailers, manufacturers, distributors, consumer packaged goods (CPG) vendors and industry technology providers to leverage their own data, access new data, and improve collaboration.
With the cloud solution, Snowflake aims to help its ecosystem of partners drive business agility, deliver personalized customer experiences and optimize operations for businesses across the sector.
With Snowflake’s Retail Data Cloud, businesses can integrate their data virtually regardless of source, speed, or format, and operate from a single source of truth, the tech provider said.
Additionally, users can optimize operations with elastic performance, which can help retailers scale up to meet analytics needs during seasonal peaks and down to improve efficiencies and profitability.
The Retail Data Cloud also enables users to share data in near real-time across three major public cloud platforms. They can leverage industry-specific, pre-built solutions created by Snowflake’s network of partners, from standard data models to AI/ML-powered insights, to reduce time to value and increase the impact of their investments
Within the Retail Data Cloud, customers can access industry-specific solutions to leverage best practices, reduce time-to-value and increase overall impact. Companies announcing new pre-built solutions include Snowflake-powered applications Blue Yonder, Cart.com, Nulogy and Zabka, as well as Snowflake Data Marketplace partners that enable third-party data sources via data sharing, powering key processes such as enhancing customer 360-degree views, improving demand forecasts and more.
Consulting and services partners like Capgemini, Infosys, Slalom, Tata Consultancy Services and TEK Systems, all help reduce time-to-value for customers with pre-built partner solutions that help solve for top priority use cases in merchandising, supply chain and personalization.
Locus Robotics, a provider of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for fulfillment warehouses, has introduced two new AMR lines: Locus Vector and Locus Max. These robotics technologies join the Locus Origin robot to form a comprehensive family of AMRs built for a broad range of warehouse use cases.
The new line addresses use cases from e-commerce, case-picking and pallet-picking to scenarios requiring larger, heavier payloads to support the full range of product movement needs in today’s fulfillment and distribution warehouses.
The LocusBots are fully integrated within LocusOne, the company’s intelligent, multi-bot warehouse orchestration platform that is built to deliver predictable, efficient and scalable productivity and cost optimization for all product movement within a warehouse. The platform centralizes and coordinates a dynamic, multi-bot fleet while also providing detailed, forward-looking and actionable business intelligence and reporting for effective management and planning.
The new offerings further extend Locus’s position as an industry AMR player seeking to help brands meet increasing order volumes, labor shortages and rising consumer expectations.
Locus Origin is engineered for maximum warehouse efficiency, coupling fulfillment productivity with agile maneuverability, and incorporating updated navigation and vision system technologies. The company says it works collaboratively with associates in dynamic warehouse environments.
The Locus Vector AMR is designed to be flexible across a wide range of roles such as fulfillment, transport and putaway. Locus Vector features omnidirectional mobility, compact design and robust payload capacity, built for use in any environment. The AMR will ship to customers starting this summer.
Locus Max is built more for industrial and material handling applications, and includes heavyweight payload capacity and added flexibility to help users transport a variety of heavy materials, cartons or pallets across facilities. Currently deployed at several sites, Locus Max will have limited availability in 2022 and will expand further in in 2023.
All LocusBots will be available through the company’s Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) pricing model and can be added to existing and new workflows, enabling operations to dynamically scale and adapt to changing market demands.
Locus is debuting the full product line at MODEX, the robotics industry’s annual event, running March 28-31 in Atlanta.
Tompkins Robotics/Global Robotics Services (GRS)
Robotics solutions provider Tompkins Robotics has partnered with Global Robotics Services (GRS), a platform that provides financial backing for collaborative robots as a service (RaaS) solutions.
The combined offering is designed to provide customers with the ability to pay for what they consume including equipment, installation, commissioning and support costs, all of which are included in a service level agreement (SLA).
This model can give customers the flexibility of a subscription-based pricing and service option instead of the traditional capital equipment “purchase-and-support” model, the companies said. This can conserve capital, convert investment to an operating cost, and allow a customer to “pay as they go” for the use of the system.
Together, Tompkins Robotics and GRS aim to bring U.S. companies easy entry into automation and robotics. Tompkins Robotics and the company’s primary tSort robotic solution consists of AMRs that can sort a wide range of items and parcels to consolidation points for order fulfillment, store replenishment, returns and parcel distribution. In tandem with the solution, GRS brings the financial strength and resources of a global logistics real estate investor, developer and operator.
Like Locus, Tompkins Robotics will display the tSort during the MODEX event in Atlanta.
Tompkins Robotics also is teaming up with Hai Robotics to demonstrate the xChange robot ay MODEX. By automating the removal and replacement of order containers, the xChange robot has created a new robotic application to automate the exit process on a unit sortation order fulfillment system.
In a typical order fulfillment process, a unit sorter system has workers take the items out of an accumulation chute or mixed order destination, place the units into unique order containers and then place the containers on a takeaway conveyor.
But with xChange, a fully automated unit sortation system can be paired with an autonomous container removal system, further potentially reducing the costs of distribution in a fulfillment center.
Tompkins Robotics’ xChange system is based on the HaiPick A3, an autonomous case-handling robot (ACR) which adopts forklifting picking technology and an eight-layer ultra-high storage design. The system was created to remove completed orders or full containers and replace them with empty containers.
XChange supports multi-form and multi-size goods sortation to order consolidation points to include totes, bins, corrugate cartons, boxes and bags. It has the functions of autonomous navigation, active obstacle avoidance, and automatic charging.
Delivery Solutions, a provider of third-party aggregation and orchestration software for last-mile delivery and fulfillment, is expanding its platform with a split cart feature and curbside kit technology to create a streamlined shopping and post-purchase experience for customers.
The extension, which is available to Delivery Solutions platform enterprises, is designed to allow merchants to make inventory across distribution centers and stores available to consumers in a single cart experience.
The advanced technology provides a consolidated view for the consumer as it relates to their cart. With a focus on experience-driven orchestration, split cart is built to enable retailers to make distributed inventory and fulfillment available to the consumer while maintaining a unified quality customer experience.
Along with the addition of split cart, Delivery Solutions is introducing a curbside kit to e-commerce retail mobile apps. The new curbside kit functionality offers retailers live-proximity location and time-of-arrival updates. Retailers can have visibility to customers en route and parked spots at the store for curbside pickup, without customers having to text their check in. This technology reduces the waiting time for all pickups (customer curbside or in-store pickup and delivery driver pickup) because the package is staged and ready to be delivered before the customer even pulls into the parking lot.
Scrubs & Beyond/ADCom Solutions
Scrubs & Beyond (S&B), a supplier of health care apparel, has chosen ADCom Solutions to provide managed IT services powered by full-stack monitoring technology provider Zenoss.
S&B specializes in a wide assortment of premium scrubs, operating 113 locations in more than 30 states. As part of the company’s digital transformation, ADCom helped the brand consolidate its Internet and voice services by providing new VoIP phones, broadband aggregation and LTE backup across its retail locations.
ADCom then upgraded S&B to the Veeue network management platform, which is powered by Zenoss. Since then, the company has observed measurable infrastructure improvements that have positively impacted business outcomes, the supplier said. S&B uses the Veeue platform to continuously verify the health of the infrastructure, receive alerts, automate incident management and analyze historical trends.
“We consider ADCom and Zenoss strong strategic partners of S&B,” said Nathan Butterhorn, senior manager of information technology at Scrubs & Beyond. “Following the completion of the project, we reduced trouble tickets received from stores by more than 70 percent, and the ADCom team continues to work closely with our internal team to ensure our IT infrastructure is always running smoothly.”
Zenoss Cloud, which powers the ADCom Veeue platform, is an AI-driven full-stack monitoring platform that streams all machine data, designed to enable the emergence of context for preventing service disruptions in complex, modern IT environments. Zenoss Cloud is built to leverage machine learning and real-time analytics to enable companies to scale and adapt to the changing needs of their businesses.
InMobi, a provider of content, monetization and marketing technologies designed to help businesses fuel growth, has launched InMobi Commerce.
InMobi Commerce, a suite of product discovery and monetization solutions for retailers and e-commerce companies that are designed to help maximize media-derived revenues. The platform can help launch shoppable videos to retailers, helping them create high-impact video shopping experiences, moving immersive product discovery from social platforms back to their owned channels.
The platform launch comes as retailers often lose consumer browsing time and product discovery on their owned channels to social platforms, which can leave retailers to own just the transaction.
As such, major retailers are turning their websites into major media platforms to better leverage their first-party shopper audience data and capture larger advertising budgets.
InMobi Commerce features an end-to-end, video-led discovery and monetization retail media platform, and has launched three types of creative ad experiences that could further assist brands as they share their unique stories, build trust and bring their products and services to life.
First, the platform offers shoppable video that showcases specific products that consumers can purchase directly from within the video at different touch points in the shopper journey.
InMobi also offers sponsored live influencer video, which can drive additional consideration by leveraging micro-influencers who add authenticity and connection with the consumer.
Finally, the solution’s sponsored brand video can build awareness among new users and enables retailers to capture top of the funnel awareness that has, until now, only been available through linear TV and connected TV.
Supporting all retail verticals–including consumer packaged goods, consumer electronics as well as apparel and beauty–InMobi Commerce is intended to help retailers successfully capitalize on the growing retail media market opportunity.
Leveraging InMobi’s deep ad tech expertise, InMobi Commerce provides a supply-side platform for retailers to offer premium ad space and connect brands with high-intent shoppers as they research, browse and shop online. The solution’s video experiences provide advertisers with premium content that can help drive increased engagement and return on investment.
Nextech AR Solutions Corp., a provider of augmented reality (AR) experience technologies and services has signed multiple 3D model AR e-commerce deals across various dynamic industries, including those that are new to Nextech, expanding the Company’s reach further into the e-commerce 3D modeling and AR space.
The company has rapidly expanded its offerings for 3D models and AR for e-commerce business into fashion, home goods, flooring, adult toys, nap pods and more.
With a 3D model in tow, Nextech clients can interact with a product to see every detail with a 3D model, whether by turning the item, spinning it, or zooming in or out. The platform provider cited clients having 40 percent lower product returns, 93 percent higher click-through rate and a 90 percent reduction in product photography costs.
Nextech AR CEO Evan Gappelberg indicated that the company’s Shopify integration has already seen a 25 percent conversion rate. BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce will soon carry the Nextech AR platform as well.
Within apparel, Nextech most recently partnered with luxury footwear and streetwear brand August to provide 3D models starting with shoes, and then jackets and outerwear after. The technology provider is also now working with Poe & Company, a British hat manufacturer, to develop 3D models of their most popular caps.
The company also has partnered with an unnamed home goods company based in Saudi Arabia, with a focus on kitchen and kitchen appliances. In addition to contracting for 3D models, they have also signed on for Nextech’s configurator and a custom-built AR kitchen to better showcase their products.
Digital performance marketing firm DAC announced a partnership with Brooks Running to help the athletic brand with its integrated search marketing strategy across North America.
“We’re excited to partner with DAC because of their proven success connecting leading multichannel brands with consumers through e-commerce and retail partners,” said Brooks senior manager of performance media, Emily Conlon. “We obsess over building great running gear because we strive to make each run better than the last. In partnership with DAC, we have the opportunity to connect with more runners through our digital touchpoints and inspire them to choose Brooks.”