The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Live shopping platform Whatnot has raised $260 million in a Series D funding round co-led by DST Global and returning investor CapitalG, Alphabet’s independent growth fund.
The latest fundraise brings the company’s valuation to $3.7 billion, two-and-a-half times higher than its $1.5 billion valuation in September 2021, when Whatnot raised $150 million. The new capital will facilitate continued investment in the in-app live & social commerce marketplace and enable the company to launch additional categories.
Last year, the company grew sales 20 times over from the prior year and more than tripled its monthly sales so far in 2022. Whatnot provides live shopping experiences for popular collectibles categories such as sneakers, vintage apparel, trading cards, sports cards and memorabilia, rare toys and more.
The company plans to double down on collectible categories, expanding into diecast cars, stamps, and action figures, and will continue expanding into multiple new categories.
To meet soaring growth, Whatnot is continuing to hire across sales, marketing and engineering. Most recently, Whatnot recruited Xinan Wu, previously at Citadel Securities, as head of infrastructure and Agnieszka Podsiadło, previously at Lyft, as head of core product engineering. Both will focus on scaling the engineering department and on enhancing the platform experience as growth from buyers and sellers increases.
To further build its community, Whatnot has launched successful activations and partnerships with artists such as Fat Joe, YouTuber and influencer Logan Paul, and the exhibit company Fan Expo. The company also introduced its own comics publishing arm, Whatnot Publishing.
Other participating investors include BOND and returning investors Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and YC Continuity.
Hivery, a provider of AI-driven retail assortment strategy simulation and optimization solutions, received an investment of $30 million led by Tiger Global, a New York-based investment firm.
The Series B round is part of Hivery’s expansion strategy, and will help the company by accelerating key hires and product development to support customer demand and international expansion beyond the U.S. The financing will be used to further invest in building AI-based products for retailers.
Hivery Curate, the company’s flagship hyper-local category management solution, boasts 20 of the top 25 global CPG brands. Hivery’s solutions are designed to allow customers to leverage machine learning and operations research methods in a simple user interface and unlock revenue growth.
Curate can simulate any category strategy with any rules and goals and measure the impact of that strategy. Once a user is satisfied with the strategy, they can export the associated planograms, reducing the time involved in category resets and planogram generation from months to minutes.
Hivery also has a vending machine-specific solution, Enhance, which leverages advanced mathematics and operation research models to optimize for space-to-sales in vending machines.
The company’s third major solution, Promote, is built to help generate trade promotional calendars based solely on AI and machine learning. With the platform, customers can determine the effectiveness of deploying a specific promotion on a product group at a specific retailer, in a specific state, or across multiple retailers and locations. Hivery says that Promote-optimized calendars typically grow top-line sales by up to 5 percent.
Third-party logistics (3PL)
Extensiv, an omnichannel software solutions provider for warehouse, inventory and order management, has debuted the Extensiv Network Manager to help third-party logistics (3PLs) providers build and manage networks of geographically distributed partner warehouses.
With this network in place, a brand’s inventory can be distributed across and shipped from multiple warehouses, enabling lower cost and expedited delivery options while retaining customer relationships, reducing risk and capital overhead.
Extensiv Network Manager combines software, services, tools and relationships that can enable 3PLs, even those operating out of a single warehouse, to service brands across multiple geographically distributed warehouses. The offering helps users build and operate a hybrid network, including order routing rules as well as complete visibility and control over all orders regardless of which node is shipping them.
The company describes this kind of “fourth-party logistics (4PL)” network as one that typically needed to raise massive funding rounds to pay for the software development associated with these models.
But Extensiv Network Manager is designed to offer a productized offering that allows even 3PLs with limited technical capabilities to build and operate a software-enabled fulfillment network to compete with the likes of Shipbob and Deliverr. Additionally, Extensiv Network Manager is a cloud-based, fully productized and supported product that will continue to be developed and enhanced.
Early adopters have seen positive results, the company says. One customer, Rocket Shippers, uses Extensiv Network Manager to lower shipping costs while decreasing transit times by intelligently routing orders to the best-fit fulfillment center in their network.
As a brand’s expectations of their fulfillment partners grow, 3PLs need a low-risk, low-cost option to bring customers distributed inventory and omnichannel fulfillment services while retaining direct relationships with these brands. Space restrictions, start-up costs, risk volatility and other considerations can keep smaller 3PLs from expanding into new facilities, thus limiting their ability to service growing brands and making their offering less competitive.
With that in mind, Extensiv Network Manager enables 3PL warehouses to build relationships with other 3PLs to expand their footprint and compete at scale, while attempting to give brands a consistent experience across all the nodes.
3PLs using the network manager can access inventory and transaction details across all networked warehouses in a single, dedicated management portal. This eliminates duplicate entry and the confusion of multiple logins and systems.
The offering’s logic-based order routing and management tools automatically send orders to the optimal fulfillment center in the network based upon business rules. The order can flow from cart to the 3PL warehouse manager and back without duplicate setups or convoluted tagging, with real-time order processing status across all servicing facilities.
Users can also use the service to access a holistic view of inventory levels across network warehouses, and manage inventory throughout the network by seeing real-time levels and alerts.
And with configurable cloud-based software, the network manager can eliminate complexity and can be set up with minimal time and effort. Users can add new fulfillment nodes with a few clicks to start fulfilling across the network.
To complement Extensiv Network Manager’s software capabilities, Extensiv launched an array of services to guide 3PLs through the process of setting up a collaborative 4PL network.
These services range from needs analysis, collaboration on partner identification based upon geography or service offering, as well as implementation services to initially configure the fulfillment network. Extensiv Network Manager builds on the recently launched Extensiv Fulfillment Marketplace, a free resource that can assist 3PLs in identifying potential network partners that offer a complementary geographic footprint and/or services.
Balance, a B2B marketplace and e-commerce payments provider, has secured a $56 million Series B fundraise, bringing the company’s total funding to $87 million. The round was led by Forerunner Ventures with support from Salesforce Ventures, Hubspot Ventures, Lyra Ventures and Gramercy Ventures.
The company will use this funding to expand its offerings to new, global e-commerce platforms and enable B2B merchants to grow their digital revenue.
Since launching in February 2021, Balance has supported hundreds of B2B merchants and marketplaces, growing its customer base 10 times over, the firm says.
Balance is designed to replace an often-described “outdated” method of B2B payments with a self-serve, online experience that closely resembles B2C. While B2B payment volume is quintuple the size of B2C retail payments, only 7 percent of the $120 trillion B2B payments market is transacted online, the company claims, citing data from Visa.
With Balance’s suite of tools, companies can process payment methods, offer flexible net-terms financing, and get paid instantly in one online platform. Buyers have the flexibility to pay like they would on a consumer website.
The company’s mission is to fully digitize B2B trade by bringing business payments and financing solutions online, reducing friction in the buying process. Balance can increases access to goods, while simultaneously reducing costs for businesses as well as consumers.
Notable leaders across B2B e-commerce also participated in the round as angel investors, including former Shopify chief marketing officer Jeff Wisener, Faire chief technology officer and co-founder Marcelo Cortes, as well as previous investors Ribbit Capital, Lightspeed Ventures, Avid Ventures, Upwest and Jibe.
PFS, an e-commerce order fulfillment provider, has partnered with Vimaan, a technology provider delivering computer vision-enabled solutions for warehouse inventory tracking, control and management. For over 20 years, PFS has been an e-commerce leader behind premier brands in health & beauty, fashion & apparel, jewelry, and consumer packaged goods.
Initially, PFS is integrating Vimaan’s StorTrack Air self-flying warehouse drones to automate inventory tracking activities within one of the company’s Memphis-based fulfillment operation that stores and picks, packs and ships inventory for premier brands. Scanning inventory from the ground to the ceiling, the robots capture up to 1,500 locations per hour and deliver highly accurate inventory status details to the PFS Warehouse Management System (WMS). The implementation of this solution will improve the accuracy and traceability of client product inventory across PFS’ fulfillment centers.
Vimaan’s technology enables PFS to implement real-time tracking against its WMS more accurately, efficiently and safely, the company says. It also enables PFS to deploy immediate investigation and adjustments to improve accuracy and responsiveness for its clients.
The technology is being initially deployed at a single location within PFS’ Memphis-based fulfillment campus with current plans to roll out to remaining global fulfillment centers through 2023.
OsCommerce launched a new version of its free shopping cart and open-source e-commerce platform called OsCommerce v4. The upgrade is a modern, secure, modular, feature-rich software designed to support growth for businesses of any size and is pre-integrated with the OsCommerce App shop.
The mobile- and SEO friendly OsCommerce v4 includes multiple sale channels, design themes, a visual editor, a CMS, advanced stock and product management features, an open API and more.
Vlad Malyshev, OsCommerce co-CEO and product owner, said he welcomes shop owners, designers and developers alike to move to the new platform.
OsCommerce development is ongoing, the company says, with the next stage including the opening of the app shop for native and third-party apps.
Waitr, an online ordering and delivery platform, is rebranding as ASAP after selling a 17 percent stake in the company to Luxor Capital Group LP. The delivery company said the debt-for-equity deal was a vote of confidence in its management and its strategy going forward of expanding its services to encompass a wide array of deliverable items, from apparel to auto parts.
Its proprietary in-stadium ordering system is designed to provide an enhanced fan experience at sports and entertainment venues, so that fans can avoid the typical long lines at stadium concession areas.
As of March 31, 2022, Wait operates in approximately 1,000 cities throughout the U.S. On Tuesday, the company entered the New York metropolitan area with an official partnership with the National Football League’s New York Giants and New York Jets, as well as MetLife Stadium, to serve as the venue’s exclusive mobile ordering platform.
MetLife Stadium will be one of the first physical locations where Waitr reveals their companywide rebrand to a broader “deliver anything ASAP” model. In just a matter of weeks, soon-to-be ASAP will launch its on-demand service in several cities across New Jersey, offering same-day delivery of a wide variety of items such as food, alcohol, apparel, luxury, sporting goods, auto parts and electrical products.
Luxor has been involved in Waitr’s financing in the past. According to a regulatory filing, this latest agreement sees Luxor converting $6.75 million of debt tied to a credit agreement from November 2018 into shares at a rate of 4,000 shares per $1,000 of debt.
A July 2021 shareholders report shows Luxor held an 8.82 percent stake in the business, but another report six months later revealed it had cut that position down to nearly a quarter of a percent.
Renovai, an Israel-based provider of AI visual commerce solutions, is expanding its operations within the U.S. as part of its partnership with Florida-based digital content creation house MediaLab 3D Solutions. The company’s Correlated Deep Tagging technology is designed to improve the tagging and filtering accuracy of its visuals with computer vision AI, adding in personalized context when creating a product match.
The platform’s output comes from machine learning based on design rules and an individual’s style preferences, instead of relying on statistical segmentations. Renovai will launch “Complete the Look” on product pages for Seldens Designer Home Furnishings, as well as the Virtual Designer quiz in order to generate hyper-personalized recommendations for furniture and home décor shoppers.
The short quiz will allow the machine-based virtual designer to build a style profile for each shopper, and then make recommendations about what products will most fit their taste and their space, presented in a gamified engaging inspiration board.
“As a top home furnishing destination in the Puget Sound area, we pride ourselves on providing an exceptional experience for our clients. Working with Renovai will take our online shopping experience to the next level to help our clients create spaces they never want to leave, “said Scott Selden, CEO of Seldens Designer Home Furnishings. “With these AI tools and our client’s vision, their perfect space is only an idea away.”
Rush ReCommerce, a recommerce software and service provider, closed a $12.9 million Series A financing. The company intends to use the newly invested capital to enhance its solution and accelerate the growth of its recommerce network.
The round was led by Beringea with participation from Advantage Capital and existing shareholders.
Rush ReCommerce has developed an end-to-end solution for home goods e-commerce returns and excess products. Most returns, especially bulky items, end up stuck in warehouses or may be disposed of due to high shipping and processing costs. With Rush ReCommerce’s solution, products are returned directly to Rush’s network and processed with specialized software that evaluates products for greater recovery.
The company is pushing forward the resale of open box home goods online, through its flagship marketplace The Rush Market.
Rush ReCommerce has processed over 225,000 products with a retail value of $60 million and has helped save over 5 million pounds of products from landfills, the company says. With its multi-faceted approach to tackle this problem, the company’s mission is to turn the negative aspects of returns into positives for retailers, suppliers, customers, and the environment. Rush ReCommerce is currently working with 150 manufacturers and brands to handle their online return volume.
Rush ReCommerce CEO and co-founder Doug Nielsen has spent the majority of his career in home furnishings ecommerce: “Online returns are a huge problem for ecommerce players. The returns create dents in the sellers’ customer experience and profits. We are working to pound out those dents. We’re excited to partner with like-minded investors who recognize this growing problem and are committed to helping support our mission.”
“The market needs addressed by Rush ReCommerce’s solutions will only grow as the ecommerce model displaces brick-and-mortar shopping for even large home goods purchases,” said William Blake III, lead investor in the round and partner at Beringea. “By bringing bulky products that would otherwise end up in a landfill back into the circular economy, Rush ReCommerce is a platform for brands to profitably meet sustainability goals.”
“Rush ReCommerce is a great example of the types of businesses we seek to support. The company has a unique model that is changing the way goods are recirculated and distributed to new customers. This model has an immense opportunity for expansion, and we are eager to see it grow,” said Damon Rawie, managing director, Advantage Capital. “Additionally, we are excited to see the company developing in a part of Omaha that will benefit greatly from the additional jobs the company’s expansion will bring.”
OSF Digital, a provider of digital transformation services, has announced the launch of OSF Headless, an omnichannel headless commerce solution for Salesforce Commerce Cloud designed to enhance the user experience and increase the average order value (AOV) and conversion ratio with progressive web application (PWA) kit apps.
Businesses using OSF Headless can transition their online stores to a headless commerce architecture, with the solution allowing companies to enhance storefront journeys and create app-like engaging experiences to keep up with ever-rising consumer expectations with an extensive suite of headless applications.
OSF Headless offers headless capabilities that can upgrade a storefront and reduce page load times. Along with opening new revenue channels, there are unique features for both the merchant and the end customer. This solution speeds the time to market with a pre-built PWA kit that is customizable to fit a brand’s needs. It brings together out-of-the-box speed with the flexibility to adapt to any business need.
In April, the digital transformation services provider secured $100 million in funding led by Sunstone Partners with participation from existing investors Delta-v Capital and Salesforce Ventures. In the months since, the company has acquired full-stack Salesforce Marketing Cloud systems integrator Aarin Inc. and Brazil-based a multi-cloud digital transformation company Kolekto.
Headless commerce is an e-commerce system built to decouple the front-end web system from the e-commerce back-end engine. OSF Headless touts benefits across speed, flexibility and versatility.
Users can launch a mobile-optimized web experience across all screens, reduce page load times and spend less on the development and maintenance process with shorter build times, updates and improved storefronts.
Each app available with OSF Headless has its own price, and users can mix and match it according to your preferences and needs. The company’s Page Designer is compatible with the PWA kit in OSF Headless; there is no need to use different CMS technologies.