You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Skip to main content

Retail Tech: Wayfair Moves to Google Cloud, Natori Livestreams With Firework

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

Cloud

Wayfair/Google Cloud

Wayfair has completed a full migration of its data center applications and services to the cloud, with the home furnishings retailer moving its business to Google Cloud. This should help the retailer increase business agility and technical innovation, handle burst capacity and scale new uses of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for scenarios ranging from fraud detection to personalized customer outreach.

Migrating 100 percent of its cloud applications to Google Cloud further helps the company support its 24 million active customers. The migration—which represents a shift from Wayfair’s hybrid cloud strategy to a unified public cloud strategy—included moving all of Wayfair’s databases, application datastores, compute frameworks, and analytics and data science tools into the cloud.

In doing so, Wayfair aims to give its developers and analysts an increased ability to safely deploy and operate applications, in addition to storing, securing, enriching, and presenting operational and analytical data in the cloud. The large-scale migration effort was completed in 16 months with Wayfair claiming the change had zero impact to the retailer’s customers.

Related Stories

“Google Cloud is a key part of our innovation strategy to adapt and thrive in a landscape that shifts as quickly as consumer preferences do,” said Wayfair chief technology officer Fiona Tan. “The complete migration of our data center operations to Google Cloud is an essential part of ensuring Wayfair’s long-term competitiveness and resilience. With this partnership, we’re better able to handle sudden traffic, empower our engineers with more autonomy, and use AI and ML to create a better shopping experience for our customers.”

Migrating fully to the cloud can help Wayfait better handle burst capacity and support the customer experience during times of heavy web traffic. This includes major sales events, like Wayfair’s annual Way Day sales, and the peak holiday shopping season.

In adopting Google Cloud’s AI solutions, including Vertex AI Feature Store and Vertex AI Pipelines, Wayfair wants to reduce the time it takes to create and deploy fraud and scam detection machine learning models, which can detect payment fraud, post-order fraud, and other types of scams and abuse.

And with Google Cloud AI, Wayfair created an enhanced customer identification model, which helps the retailer uncover professional customers through real-time ML-models, based on customer on-site journeys and purchase histories. In better identifying its professional customers, Wayfair can increase its B2B orders and revenue per enrollment.

The home retailer also wants to personalize customer interactions in an effort to increase overall traffic and conversion. With Google Cloud, Wayfair aims to scale more of its ML models to help the retailer understand individual customer needs and preferences, which drives more effective advertising and outreach to the company’s growing customer base.

In using Google Cloud’s data analytics, Wayfair says it is now better able to remove technical roadblocks its developers face, and create solutions more quickly for customers and partners.

Wayfair’s migration to Google Cloud involved successfully migrating or retiring 330,000 CPU cores, 23,000 operating system instances, more than 8,500 applications, and more than 5,700 Kubernetes namespaces, as well as retraining Wayfair staff on the new technologies. Because it no longer needs on-premises hardware, Wayfair donated its existing data center equipment, including modern servers and networking equipment, to fuel research work at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Supply chain optimization

Ashley Furniture/River Logic

Home furnishings manufacturer and retailer Ashley Furniture has selected the Network Design Optimization platform from supply chain technology company River Logic.

“River Logic’s Network Design Optimization (NDO) tool provides us with more advanced capabilities as we look to take optimization to the next level across the enterprise,” said Michael Ward, Jr., vice president, analytics and data engineering, Ashley Furniture. “A big part of our culture here at Ashley Furniture is our passion for continuous improvement, and with River Logic’s technology and the granularity of detail that we can access, we expect our teams to significantly reduce the time it takes to run scenario modeling which in turn will enable us to make more accurate data-driven decisions down to the manufacturing line level. The River Logic technology is not only able to handle the additional detail required for better execution, but their team also brings tremendous optimization expertise that will be valuable as we look for further optimization opportunities.”

The Ashley Furniture enterprise data management team covers business analytics, data engineering, supply chain optimization covering both retail and wholesale operations, and serves the entire organization including HR and finance.

River Logic president Carlos Centurion said his company can better help Ashley Furniture identify optimization opportunities to minimize costs and maximize revenue.

Returns

ReverseLogix/Overhaul

Returns management system (RMS) provider ReverseLogix and supply chain platform Overhaul have partnered to provide B2B organizations with their complementary technologies.

When businesses deploy ReverseLogix’s RMS coupled with Overhaul’s supply chain visibility and security solution, they can manage the entire returns lifecycle with real-time visibility.

With the combination of ReverseLogix and Overhaul, customers would ideally be able to better manage the entire returns lifecycle with real-time, in-transit visibility down to the SKU level. Together, these solutions are designed to better help companies proactively address issues, pinpoint areas to lower costs and identify ways to improve process efficiency.

The announcement comes four months after ReverseLogix partnered with B2B re-commerce marketplace B-Stock to streamline the product return process. The company also partnered with DHL Supply Chain earlier this year to enable its clients to streamline return requests, logistics, inventory and processing, in an attempt to connect every point in the return lifecycle.

Rebound

Rebound Returns and Cycleon will unify under one name: Rebound, a Reconomy Group company. The combined firm will deliver a global, end-to-end, tech-enabled returns management solution designed to make returns smarter, scalable, simple and sustainable.

Jelle Schoenmaker will lead the newly formed business unit, having been at the helm of Cycleon for 15 years. Rebound Returns and Cycleon had previously operated as separate entities under the Reconomy Group, after both being acquired in recent years.

Reconomy Group is a provider of circular economy-focused services, with the purpose of creating a truly sustainable world by conserving finite resources. With the goal to enable businesses around the world to improve their ESG outcomes, the group delivers services through three main verticals: recycle, comply and re-use.​

Combining the two businesses under one joint vision aims to help clients better drive cost-efficiencies and enhance customer experience, while also helping them achieve their sustainability goals.

Rebound is built to optimize and manage the entire returns lifecycle so clients can focus on their core business. By leveraging data, technology and its supply chain capabilities, Rebound aims to enable clients to access a global ecosystem of suppliers and partners who can handle their product returns.

Livestreaming

Natori/Firework

International fashion brand Natori is bringing livestreaming capabilities to its online website upon partnering with video commerce platform Firework. Natori kicked off the new partnership with its first-ever livestream shopping event on Oct. 6. The livestream was hosted by president Ken Natori and featured founder and CEO Josie Natori.

Natori joins a cohort of brands and retailers who are complementing their owned and operated web properties with video commerce technologies. In doing so, they’re positioning themselves to capitalize on the U.S.’s live commerce market, which is on track to grow from $20 billion this year to $57 billion in 2025, according to Coresight Research.

“We are so excited to launch this new feature, which will help expand our website from a best-in-class shopping experience, to a destination for content,” said Ken Natori in a statement. “In addition to getting to know the owners, employees, and partners behind our products, customers will love the ability to shop directly from our livestream. With Firework, we’ll be able to give our customers an entirely new, cutting-edge e-commerce experience, right on our own website.”

Firework has seen its customer portfolio expand to over 1,000 direct-to-consumer brands, retailers and media publishers worldwide, including Albertsons’ Companies, Omnicom Media Group, The Fresh Market, and Walmart Connect. In addition to its livestream shopping capabilities, Firework also enables brands to implement short-form, shoppable videos across their owned digital properties, and track their video commerce initiatives’ performance with comprehensive analytics capabilities. The Firework Creative Services division helps brands master the language of video commerce—with stylistic guidance, on-camera training, video production, scripting and more.

Firework co-founding CEO Vincent Yang said brands on the platform are not just increasing engagement, but also seeing double-digit increases in conversion rates, average order values and other revenue-related KPIs.

Natori, known for its designer lingerie and sleepwear, sells clothing, shoes, home textiles, rugs, legwear, fine jewelry, accessories, men’s loungewear, couture caftans, scrubs, dog apparel, children’s clothing and more.

In addition to luxury labels Josie Natori and Natori, the brand has also developed aspirational labels N Natori and Josie by Natori. Natori’s collections are sold through luxury retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.

“While product is always important, customers want to connect beyond the fashion that they buy,” Josie Natori said. “Livestreaming will improve our ability to story-tell, and will give customers a stronger affiliation with our brand. With Firework, we’ll be able to spark richer, more meaningful connections with our customers and community.”

After the initial livestream, Natori will use the Firework platform to continue to host segments of the event as shoppable videos on its flagship web property.

Digital transformation

JCPenney/MetTel

JCPenney converted more than 5,000 telephone and alarm lines to enable Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) at all of its 660 stores without replacing its existing systems using MetTel’s POTS Transformation solution.

Beyond the avoided infrastructure costs, the project is projected to save millions of dollars annually in recurring telecommunications costs, MetTel said. The companies also plan to provide greater network intelligence and more resilient external links for critical systems like alarm and elevator lines to continue operating throughout loss of power, network and other potential disruptions.

JCPenney set out to modernize its retail environment to address rising costs for telephone service and business continuity during widely anticipated carrier copper retirement. The department store has a large number of specialty lines (e.g., alarm and burglar) that were designed to use traditional telephone and are generally incompatible with next-generation VoIP systems. As conversion of the systems themselves would entail a significant capital expenditure, the JCPenney team selected MetTel POTS Transformation after thorough testing.

POTS Transformation is a fully managed service that connects analog systems to cloud-based data and voice services, making VoIP conversion possible for legacy equipment.

“For more than 120 years, JCPenney has successfully adapted to a broad variety of business challenges through innovation and planning,” said Colby Gueber, senior director, technology enterprise services at JCPenney. “We sought to improve the efficiency of our communications for the productivity and safety of our employees and customers while also reducing unnecessary costs. The MetTel POTS Transformation solution helped us achieve those goals.”

Fit technology

MySize/Naiz Fit

MySize, Inc., a provider of AI-driven measurement solutions, has acquired another fit technology, Spain-based Naiz Fit, for $500,000 in cash and 6 million shares of MySize common stock. The deal also includes up to an additional $1.55 million in future cash based on the achievement of performance-based milestones plus a shortfall payment of approximately $450,000 payable in 2026.

As a result of the acquisition, Naiz Fit’s customers gain a broader portfolio of products and solutions delivered by MySize such as the FirstLook Smart Mirror.

Naiz Fit’s SaaS technology is designed to act as a digital tailor. Without asking customers to measure themselves, Naiz Fit can obtain more than 20 body measurements using its proprietary AI and computer vision capabilities by transforming simple images into body measurements. For customers who do not want to use photos, Naiz Fit implements statistical modeling algorithms to determine size and fit based on height, weight, age, gender and fit preference. Convolutional neural networks enable the company’s technology to extract direct body measurements and body morphologies with the highest accuracy.

Following the acquisition, Naiz Fit’s will launch a new product, Smart Catalogue. Smart Catalogue is designed to help retail product and design teams make the most informed decisions for their collections based on real-time customer data.

With over 40 clients in Spain, Italy, Germany, and France, Naiz Fit brings a substantial customer base to MySize, including Desigual, Moschino, El Ganso, Philosophy, Alberta Ferretti, Silbon, and Boglioli Milano, among others.

Naiz Fit is expecting an estimated $400,000 in 2022 revenues with substantial increases anticipated for 2023. The company’s revenues and financial results will be fully integrated into MySize’s consolidated results for the fourth quarter of 2022.

MySize expects its combined Naiz Fit and MySizeID sizing solution revenues to contribute an additional $1 million revenues in 2023. Additional benefits including economies of scale through combined SG&A expenses are expected.  

Fraud protection

Stytch

Stytch, an identity and access management platform designed to smoothen the authentication process, unveiled Strong Captcha, the first product in a suite of security products to reduce online fraud and risk. The product solves the problem of Captcha fraud, which can hurt consumers and damage the brands of online retailers, financial services firms and other companies.

Every Captcha system today exposes its public key, making it easier for bots to scrape and submit the public key to a “Captcha-solving-as-a-service” company, commonly referred to as a Captcha farm, where people manually solve Captcha tests for bots for a living. As a result of bots being able to solve Captcha challenges, they can create fake accounts, spam boards, scoop up inventory before humans and other negative consequences.

With Strong Captcha, Stytch says it has removed the public key site from the Captcha architecture, leaving users with the same exact experience, but making it impossible for bots to scrape and mass attack applications. The solution enables businesses to interact with legitimate customers. It also cuts costs for businesses in the form of fraud, wasted resources, and time.

Reed McGinley-Stempel, co-founder and CEO of Stytch, said that humans only make up 38.5 percent of internet traffic, while the other 61.5 percent is non-human in the form of bots and hacking tools.

Captcha fraud can harm many types of businesses, such as damaging their reputation if customers have a bad experience. When major e-commerce brands introduce limited edition or hard-to-obtain goods, for example, people often use bots to snag the items, before subsequently reselling them at a much higher price. Companies, in turn, must deal with unhappy customers who are not able to obtain the goods they want.

The effect is amplified on Black Friday, as bad actors use bots to snatch up deals and inventory and resell the goods at a markup. Stytch’s technology is designed to make Captcha impregnable to bots and Captcha farms, so brands can ensure that legitimate customers are interacting with their brands and can purchase the goods they desire first-hand.

E-commerce

The Foschini Group/Vtex

Enterprise digital commerce platform Vtex now has clients with active online stores in six continents, reinforcing its global expansion with the launch of its first South African digital commerce project for TFG (The Foschini Group), one of the leading retail companies in the market.

Leveraging the Vtex platform, TFG launched a unified, headless fashion and lifestyle marketplace called Bash in just four months. The marketplace is still in beta, but expects to offer shoppers more than 200 brands and more than 400 categories across women, men, kids, jewelery, sport, homeware and technology.

With around 30 retail banners, such as Sportscene, @Home, Foschini, Totalsports, Markham, among others, operating across five continents and present in more than 4,300 stores, TFG sought the help of Vtex to move beyond its brick-and-mortar roots and become a digital powerhouse in South Africa, migrating from a legacy system that limited the group to having individual websites for each brand.

By using a headless approach, TFG has full control of the content management system (CMS), which provides flexibility for each individual brand to customize their marketplace sites, while also providing a more simplified checkout experience for customers.

“What drew us to Vtex was the simplified API integration, personalization, and better features for customers. We are at the beginning of our omnichannel journey and when compared to its competitors, Vtex was the best choice in terms of superior capabilities at a fraction of the time,” said Luke Jedeikin, co-head of TFG Labs, in a statement. “The Foschini Group’s goal through every step of the digital transformation process has been to deliver a consistently exceptional experience for our customers. Whether it is creating an exciting mobile experience for shoppers or ensuring our last-mile fulfillment promises are met.”

Data management

Red Wing Shoes/Semarchy

Red Wing Shoes has selected Semarchy, a data integration and master data management company, to develop a central hub to manage customer data generated from the work boots company’s e-commerce sales growth.

Leveraging Semarchy’s unified data platform, Red Wing Shoes aims to create a 360-degree view to enable its divisions to improve their customer knowledge across all departments.

Red Wing Shoes approached Semarchy with challenges including data quality, data visibility, data management, and reporting and analytics. Other business drivers included developing data strategy, minimizing administrative and overhead costs, and establishing a “golden record” for customers before implementing new POS and e-commerce platforms. After reviewing multiple companies, Red Wing Shoes chose Semarchy for its flexibility, expertise, and unified data platform as well as cultural fit.

When Red Wing Shoes started its data journey, the first asset the manufacturer aimed to master was customer data across all its platforms for a complete view of customers across North America and Europe. One of the company’s biggest challenges was understanding who its customer was well enough to market to and service them effectively. With more than 9 million individual records, Red Wing Shoes sought a tool to allow the company to connect all transactions to the right customer.

“With our old systems, if you had a customer that bought shoes in three different stores and online, they would look like four different $300 customers to us, instead of one $1,200 customer,” said Jay Wardle, director, enterprise data at Red Wing Shoe Company. “With Semarchy, we solved our data quality and master data management issues with one system. Now our customer data contains a single golden record for everyone, making it easy for marketing, sales, and customer service to see the data in real-time.”

Leveraging Semarchy’s unified data platform, Red Wing’s business units are empowered with data designed to be proactive with marketing and customer support to serve customers’ needs. Now that the company has achieved one “golden record” per customer, the marketing department can market to customers based on their level of engagement, purchase history, and locations to establish data-driven marketing campaigns, for example, and other departments can derive similar benefits.

Red Wing Shoes continues to work with Semarchy on innovating new ways to leverage the unified data platform to reduce business complexity and increase efficiencies for the global business; including additional marketing projects, establishing a new POS and e-commerce system with clean data, and improving customer data for wholesale/industrial customer B2B2C segments.