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

Labeling

Clarks USA/TPP Retail

Clarks USA has appointed TPP Retail to replicate the rollout of the specialist labeling solution already introduced across the footwear retailer’s U.K., Ireland and European stores.

As part of the company’s transformation under new ownership, Clarks sought the support of TPP Retail to improve in-store processes across its 114 U.S. stores.

Deploying the Label IQ application, the U.K.-based footwear retailer delivered an in-store labeling system designed to mobilize store colleagues, with the company saying that the app already has driven significant operational time savings. Clarks can now print its full range of label formats to suit where they will be applied.

The specialist label printing solution, which runs on a Zebra TC21 mobile device paired with a ZQ210 mobile printer and features a bespoke Clarks branded screen protector, ensures compliance with the different labeling laws across the U.S..

“The TPP solution was a no-brainer for our business,” said Drew Denerstein, director of retail operations for Clarks said in a statement. “The product has enabled efficiencies both in how we display value to our consumers, and how our staff plans labour to execute price changes.  The intuitive nature of their software allowed for a seamless transition to their platform, and our store teams are extremely grateful for the new tool in their toolkit!”

TPP said in the statement that it is well positioned to support Clarks across additional new store openings across North America.

Customer data

Alice + Olivia/Amperity

Women’s fashion brand Alice + Olivia has selected Amperity to provide its in-store associates with a unified 360-degree view of its global customer-base. The deployment is aimed at helping the retailer provide shoppers with personalized communications both online and in Alice + Olivia’s boutique stores around the world.

Amperity is designed to enable the Alice + Olivia marketing and analytics teams to activate data from across all touch points, whether it be pre-purchase, point-of-sale or post-purchase customer care.

“People have come to expect a certain level of excitement and attention from our brick-and-mortar stores,” said Mark Koda, chief financial officer at Alice + Olivia. “Amperity’s technology makes it possible for us to create unified customer profiles and actionable insights at scale, allowing us to extend that brand experience shoppers have come to know and love across our entire digital ecosystem. I am confident Amperity will truly help us increase brand excitement and loyalty.”

With Amperity, Alice + Olivia wants to keep data at the center of its business strategy and prioritize analytics and measurement across the entire customer journey. The women’s fashion retailer plans to increase the number of return customers, up the purchase frequency from loyal customers, and boost the e-commerce average order value (AOV).

Alice + Olivia operates more than 30 boutique stores and its products are featured at 800 department and specialty stores around the world.

Robotics

Ottonomy.IO

Ottonomy.IO closed a $3.3 million seed round, bringing its total funding to date to $4.9 million. The cash infusion will support scaling Ottobots for fully autonomous airport, retail and restaurant deliveries.

Earlier this year, Ottonomy’s “Ottobots” were first deployed to deliver food, beverage and travel retail items at airports. But the company is now further bolstering its last-mile delivery ambitions in unveiling the Ottobot 2.0, which evolved from early pilots to include fully customizable modular cabins, increased access for customers and directional mobility, including crab mode.

The Ottobot 2.0

The Ottobot 2.0

Ottonomy

The funding round is led by Pi Ventures. Connetic Ventures, Branded Hospitality Ventures and Addverb Technologies founder and CEO Sangeet Kumar also joined this round.

With strong customer validation and positive response from customers at Cincinnati International Airport (CVG), the company has entered partnerships with multiple airports across the U.S. and Europe.

In addition to expanding its curbside and last-mile delivery technology advances, Ottonomy.IO is involved with top Fortune 500 corporations in the retail and restaurants industries across North America.

The robotics company has successfully completed pilots at the Newlab 5G Studio in New York using Verizon’s 5G networks, making a huge leap in capability to deploy large fleets and increasing its footprint across North America, Europe and the Middle East.

Metaverse

Dick’s Sporting Goods/Roblox

Dick’s Sporting Goods is trying its hand at the metaverse in debuting “School of Sport,” an interactive experience on the Roblox platform that infuses sport and style and gives users a chance to compete in a variety of challenges, quests and obstacle courses called “obbys.”

Consisting of six virtual spaces, “School of Sport” takes place at Dick’s Sporting Goods High and mimics the characteristics of a real-world high school, bringing the most compelling aspects of back-to-school onto Roblox.

“It is important for us to continue evolving the way we engage with consumers. We are excited to make our entrance into the metaverse with ‘School of Sport,’ creating a space to share sport and style while also connecting with our younger athletes,” said Ed Plummer, chief marketing officer at Dick’s Sporting Goods in a statement.

Users can enter the experience through the first virtual space, called The Locker Room, where they will receive information on how to navigate Dick’s Sporting Goods High. Each player will have a personalized locker containing The Store where they can use style points, the in-experience currency, to purchase shoes, apparel and accessories to outfit their avatars.

As users freely explore Dick’s Sporting Goods High, they can socialize with others and collect stickers, badges and style points by competing in quests, “obbys” and challenges throughout the four other experience environments: The Field, The Hallways, The Gymnasium and The Outdoor Cafeteria. There is an additional hidden environment within the experience that visitors must discover on their own.

Seen here, the Outdoor Cafeteria is the social hub where users can connect, collect Style Point coins, and shoot hoops on the nearby court.

Seen here, the Outdoor Cafeteria is the social hub where users can connect, collect style point coins, and shoot hoops on the nearby court.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

In addition to using style points to unlock access to the latest back-to-school gear, community members can also view their rankings on the leaderboard and personalize their virtual school supplies (like a notebook or a water bottle) with stickers they’ve collected throughout the school.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is also launching the brand’s larger Sport Your Style back-to-school campaign, which is focused on versatility and encourages teens to own their individual style. While this theme is woven throughout the “School of Sport” experience, it is most prominent in The Locker Room, where the transition from sport to style commonly occurs in real-world school.

Mostly Heard Rarely Seen 8-Bit/Highstreet

Luxury streetwear and fashion brand Mostly Heard Rarely Seen 8-Bit teamed up with Highstreet, a retail-focused gaming platform and marketplace that helps brands enter their offering and products in the metaverse.

The partnership was created with the goal of seamlessly guiding fashion consumers who are unfamiliar with blockchain technologies into the web3 metaverse.

Every Mostly Heard Rarely Seen 8-Bit physical garment in its latest collection is embedded with a redeemable NFT.  To redeem the NFT, Highstreet infused a key into every 8-Bit garment in this drop via a QR code sewn into the garment. By scanning this code, the user is taken through a few steps that will digitally clone the shopper along with their purchased 8-Bit apparel into the Highstreet metaverse.

8-Bit x Highstreet

8-Bit x Highstreet

Highstreet

Once in Highstreet, users will be granted $HIGH tokens, the native currency of the Highstreet metaverse, to hit the ground running so they can start to explore the exclusive experiences in the digital world. Shoppers can also establish a permanent record of their ownership of this drop by minting their apparel into NFT’s, establishing a provenance behind this drop, and giving access to resale markets in the digital world from OpenSea to LooksRare.

“Just like how Supreme is a lifestyle brand that represents the perspective of a skateboarder from downtown New York; 8-Bit is a lifestyle brand that represents the perspective of a modern day tech kid,” said Jonathan Koon, founder of Mostly Heard Rarely Seen 8-Bit.

The 8-Bit experience will launch at top department stores and designer boutiques worldwide such as Saks 5th Ave, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Beymen and more, all of which will carry the line in-stores and online. The apparel is priced between $120 and $275, and will soon launch limited-edition collaborations with other brands, celebrities and cult following NFT creators.

Style.Me/XRSpace

3D fashion technology company Style.Me and visual reality in the metaverse, XRSpace, have announced their strategic partnership to bring digital fashion to the metaverse and engage with new audiences.

The first collaboration started at a metaverse fashion show on July 28 in XRSpace’s GoXR metaverse platform for brands and digital creators. Visitors can enter an immersive space with runway shows, AI guides and clothing designs to try on and purchase.

Style.Me is a technology and content provider for digital fashion that aims to enable designers to become metaverse-capable creators, building unique experiences for brands and making fashion accessible for metaverse communities. Its virtual fitting and augmented reality solutions are built to personalize and elevate the e-commerce experience for retailers.

After five years of development, XRSpace released metaverse platforms PartyOn and GoXR in 2021. In GoXR, anyone from creatives, enterprises, brands, museums and galleries are able to easily create their own metaverse, and engage further with users by hosting virtual events. EXPOs and trade shows can also be hosted in GoXR.

GOXR general manager Kurt Liu said the collaboration with Style.Me marks an important milestone in crossing over to fashion, highlighting GoXR’s capabilities in multi-user social avatar, 3D showrooms and real-time interactions.

Social commerce

Vtex/Facebook

Enterprise digital commerce platform Vtex has updated its connector to integrate with Meta’s platforms Facebook and Instagram.

The new feature is built to improve the connection between e-commerce websites and their ads on social networks, increasing the conversion rate from the beginning of the customer journey. This can help retailers gain better visibility and insights into their campaign audiences and marketing activities. The updated connector also can help increase conversion rates by reaching potential buyers with personalized ads.

There are several new and enhanced capabilities within the Facebook connector, such as Conversions API (CAPI), which now includes five new components—Pageview, View Content, Search, Add-to-Cart and Initiate Checkout. Besides setting the target and optimizing ads, the new connector allows customers to measure each of the five new components, while leveraging the best resources to create ads focused on the different stages of the conversion funnel customized to each user’s needs.

Users will also have access to product catalog updates. With the updates, consumers can experience a more frictionless shopping journey when migrating to the brand or retailer’s website from Facebook and Instagram, which generates fewer cart abandonments and more conversions.

Additionally, the Meta ads plugin is designed to simplify the process of creating ads for Facebook and Instagram. Users can create campaigns natively within Vtex Admin, which will be automatically mirrored to Facebook Manager, with three main objectives: help retailers receive more inquiries from potential customers, increase their sales on the website and through the catalog. The functionality is tied to CAPI features to streamline and optimize creative work and metrics.

With the connector update, the chances of ad approval by Facebook are also optimized, as the suggested campaigns are more likely to fit the guidelines assessed by the company, Vtex said.

Vtex customers worldwide, including C&A, Walmart and Carrefour are among organizations that have already downloaded the first CAPI version.

Customer engagement

Cordial

Cordial, a cross-channel marketing and data management platform provider, raised $50 million in a Series C venture round to drive personalized experiences for consumers. Venture capital firm NewSpring led the round with new investor ABS Capital. This round brings the total investment in Cordial to $85 million including funding from previous investors High Alpha and Upfront Ventures.

The platform provider will use the funds to bolster its product offerings, expand its global presence, and redefine marketers’ expectations of cross-channel engagement.

This new capital enables Cordial to accelerate innovation by launching new platform enhancements that can let enterprise marketers create new revenue streams and maximize the value and impact of each customer message.

The company also has further established chief business goals with the funding, such as transforming how marketers activate data, and setting new precedents for the amount and type of first-party data possible in 1:1 customer engagement. Cordial wants to continue propelling marketers toward data-first customer engagement, reshaping the category by balancing best-in-class technology with a partnership-focused approach.

Citing a Research and Markets report that the global marketing automation industry will exceed $8 billion by 2026, Cordial feels it has major growth opportunities due to the native messaging channels and customer data platform capabilities built into its core.

Cordial empowers companies access first- and zero-party data to engage customers in personalized ways across email, SMS, mobile app and other channels. Cordial clients have witnessed a 250x return on investment by using the platform.

Alongside the investment, NewSpring growth partner Brian Kim will join Cordial’s board of directors and ABS Capital partner Bion Ludwig will serve as an observer on the board. Kim and Ludwig bring extensive operational knowledge and resources to further enhance Cordial’s mission to empower marketing teams to create personal relationships with every customer.

Marketers at companies including Revolve, Backcountry, Boot Barn, Eddie Bauer, and Forbes trust Cordial to accelerate customer engagement and provide a fresh approach to messaging and real-time data.

Venture capital

VMG Catalyst

Venture capital firm VMG Catalyst has closed a $400 million funding round, bringing the total capital raised to $650 million across its two funds.

The new funding demonstrates continued enthusiasm behind VMG Catalyst’s thesis that innovative software and sophisticated supply chains will define the next generation of leading brands and retailers.

VMG Catalyst plans to use the round to invest in new technology for digital businesses, such as software and supply chain platforms that will power retail brands in the future.

Through this investment lens, the firm has invested in 22 companies to date, across all investment stages. The roster includes commerce enablement companies such as mobile messaging company Attentive, Latin American e-commerce platform Nuvemshop, operations experience management platform ParcelLab, ethnic grocery delivery service Weee! Grocery, headless commerce platforms Shogun and Swell, financing provider Ampla and e-commerce analytics platform Daasity.

The venture capital firm launched its inaugural Commerce Council alongside its second fund,  which invests side by side with the first fund and seeks to further expand the consumer ecosystem accessible to its portfolio companies. The Commerce Council is comprised of founders, operators and digital leaders from consumer brands.

Fraud protection

Kicks Crew/Forter

Online sneaker and apparel retailer Kicks Crew has selected fraud prevention technology provider Forter to help minimize friction within the buyer’s journey, drive revenue and reduce fraud.

On the heels of its $6 million Series A funding round in March, Kicks Crew selected Trusted Conversions from Forter to help scale its operations globally by maximizing genuine customer experience and lifetime value through precise fraud decisioning.

By assessing customer trustworthiness within an average of 400 milliseconds, Kicks Crew can ideally approve more genuine transactions and reject fraudsters, improving customer experience and its bottom line. With Forter, Kicks Crew increased its approval rate to over 97 percent.

Kicks Crew offers over 400,000 styles of athletic footwear and sportswear on its global online marketplace. The company aims to make sneaker culture more accessible to all consumers with a wide and inclusive selection.

From running, basketball, golf and tennis to the latest hyped drops across New York, Tokyo, London and Shanghai, Kicks Crew partners exclusively with retailers and boutiques globally to guarantee authenticity. But to continue providing a positive experience for its global customer base, the e-commerce retailer sought to streamline the payments process for good customers and block fraudsters.

Relying on rigid rules and manual reviews to approve online orders can often lead to many legitimate customers being declined for either being “high-risk” transactions or new to the site. For a brand that operates in multiple markets, it can be even more difficult to constantly customize rules for local market nuances. Forter’s research indicates that merchants can lose up to 75x more revenue from these false declines than to fraud. Over 40 percent of customers will generally not retry to purchase from a site that rejects them, the technology company said.

Kicks Crew also benefited from Forter’s customer success team which is trained to understand each customer’s unique objectives, tunes implementation and ensures exceptional outcomes.

“Forter has proven to be an essential partner for our business, allowing us to focus on meeting the global demand for our products while creating a seamless customer experience,” said Ross Yip, co-founder and chief operating officer of Kicks Crew. “As a result of Forter’s fully automated solution and ‘white-glove’ service, we can continue growing our business with peace of mind knowing we’re welcoming all legitimate customers while preventing fraud.”



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