The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.
Rent the Runway/ThirdLove/Leap
Rent the Runway is making another comeback to physical retail in tandem with Leap, a platform that assists e-commerce brands in securing brick-and-mortar store space. The temporary store is expected to open in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. later this month in the mixed-use center Georgetown Park.
The designer fashion rental service shuttered its previous stores in 2020, but has since worked with Leap to open popup shops. Other Leap-powered shops set to open in Georgetown include Naadam, Little Words Project and Hobo Bags, on top of a ThirdLove location in Tysons Corner, Va.
Leap deploys and operates stores for brands such as Naadam, Something Navy, ThirdLove, Mack Weldon, Lunya, Birdies, Ring Concierge, Malbon Golf, Hanky Panky, and many more in a number of US markets, and continues to expand its category capabilities into a broader range, from apparel and footwear to accessories, jewelry, intimates and home goods.
Leap announced a $50 million Series B earlier this year along with its expansion into five new markets, including Washington, D.C.
Rohrer Realty Partners, LLC, a Virginia-based commercial real estate company, is working with Leap.
“We have been honored to work with Leap in their entry and rapid expansion into the DMV,” said Tucker Crockett, principal, Rohrer Realty Partners. “The brands on Leap’s platform have all amassed incredible followings and we’re thrilled that the DMV community will now have the opportunity to walk in and experience these brands in person.”
Tysons Corner Center is also amidst plans to expand its anticipated Phase 2 for the mall to include an overhaul of the old Lord & Taylor store and continues to be a hub for major offices, retailers and residents.
Leap worked closely with Rohrer to lease the aforementioned locations to build a network of store locations for the brands on its platform, where it provides a turnkey retail solution that not only enables brands to rapidly deploy stores that work in concert with e-commerce, but also help them design the stores, hire the workers and manage sales data.
Today, Leap operates 65 stores with more than 50 brands on the Leap Platform. And, on trend with data sited by Coresight Research, which reports a net gain of more than 49 million square feet of new retail space in 2022 with 4,432 new stores opening compared to 1,954 store closures, Leap continues to move quickly in expanding in both existing and new markets such as Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Greenwich, Conn.
Supply chain visibility
Quiet Platforms, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Eagle Outfitters Inc. has partnered with FourKites to provide enhanced supply chain visibility to its Quiet Platforms retail customers. Quiet Platforms’ nationwide, open-sharing network and technology platform is built to enable retailers to manage their end-to-end logistics needs more efficiently, sustainably and cost-effectively.
The FourKites partnership will provide Quiet Platforms’ retail customers with full life cycle visibility for inventory, assets and shipments moving through the connected network. Quiet Platforms will begin tracking shipments in mid-October, providing the end customers of the retailers in its network with visibility into the status and movement of their purchases.
Beginning in December, Quiet Platforms will expand access directly to retailers, enabling them to track the movement of inventory from receipt to delivery in near real time, and mitigate logistics exceptions that can result in inventory or last-mile delivery delays.
Users can gain transportation insights from the movement of goods across lanes, transportation providers and facilities that can be used to inform future decisions. Additionally, users can reduce cargo loss by surfacing comprehensive, real-time views of the flow of inventory throughout the network.
Quiet Platforms’ plug-and-play, open-sharing platform is enabling retailers such as Peloton and Steve Madden, as well as supply chain businesses like Li & Fung, to optimize their inventory and access digital capabilities such as track-and-trace to increase efficiency and improve margins. The company aspires to level the playing field for small and midsized retailers by providing access to shared supply chain assets and relationships across every link of the chain—so they can ship less and operate more sustainably.
FourKites is built to extends visibility beyond transportation into yards, warehouses, stores and beyond. Tracking more than 2.8 million shipments daily across road, rail, ocean, air, parcel and courier, and reaching over 200 countries and territories, FourKites combines real-time data and machine learning to help companies digitize their end-to-end supply chains.
Bespoke Manufacturing Company (BMC), an apparel manufacturer, selected material handling equipment supplier S&H Systems, Inc. and Zebra Technology’s Fetch autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and fixed industrial scanners to improve visibility and productivity.
With Zebra’s solution BMC aims to improve workflow visibility from the initial printing and cutting of fabric to the final phase of packing and shipping, increasing efficiency and productivity and allowing the manufacturer to scale up to meet growing demand.
BMC selected Zebra’s end-to-end industrial and robotics automation solution to enable front-line workers to focus on production. Its entire workflow logistics are delegated to Zebra’s Fetch AMRs and fixed industrial scanners which move, trace and direct workpieces to their destinations.
“With Zebra’s unique solution, we are able to realize significant savings in labor time while retaining an ability to instantly scale up to meet seasonal demand surges, and seamlessly modify our production,” said J. Kirby Best, president and CEO of BMC. “I am particularly proud that Zebra’s smart and innovative solution allows us to create and keep manufacturing jobs in the United States.”
Zebra’s Fetch AMRs and fixed industrial scanners complement each other to achieve additional synergies and productivity gains. Zebra’s FS20 and FS40 fixed industrial scanners provide visibility into the movement of each piece in production, directing Fetch robots to advance them throughout the workflow from one destination to the next, all the way to the packing and shipping stage for finished products. Zebra’s Fetch AMRs are fully integrated in the production process, freeing BMC’s human workers to concentrate on the most important professional tasks, in a controlled, safe and collaborative manner.
S&H Systems, a Registered Reseller, and a new member of the Mobile Robotics Specialization within Zebra’s PartnerConnect program, designed and integrated the industrial and robotics automation solution, which BMC anticipates expanding across its existing and planned manufacturing sites to meet seasonal production surges and growing demand.
Zebra’s Fetch AMRs support BMC’s front-line workers in a controlled, safe and collaborative manner, and are built to free up their time from repetitive and non-essential tasks and empower them to concentrate on high-value assignments.
Attabotics, a 3D robotics supply chain system, has revealed the Attabot 2022, the first commercialized version of its proprietary robot. Built to be stronger and smarter than its predecessor, the Attabot 2022 boasts a simplified mechatronic design that reduces operational costs while increasing the efficiency of automated picking and packing of goods.
The Attabot 2022 is equipped with a payload to accommodate larger bins up to 16 inches tall at 100 pounds, an increase of 25 percent from Attabotics’ previous robot release. Its ultra-lean, modular design translates into 60 percent fewer parts than the previous beta model and is designed to allow for further flexibility and forward compatibility.
Additional features include increased acceleration due to high torque motors, enhanced telemetrics for route optimization, improved navigation sensors and the ability to operate in multiple temperature zones with an unlimited number of robot, structure and workstation configurations. The Attabot 2022 has also been adapted for e-grocery as the structure encloses and protects items from outside contaminants.
Attabotics’ scalable micro-fulfillment system condenses traditional warehouse aisles into a single, vertical storage structure. Inside the structure, robotic shuttles move in three-dimensional space to store and deliver goods to workers on the perimeter that pick, pack and ship modern commerce orders.
This can reduce a company’s warehouse space by 85 percent (in addition to a reduction in carbon emissions from last-mile delivery) and accelerates shipping processes to meet consumer expectations. Reinforcing an eco-friendly ethos, Attabotics’ unique architecture maximizes the flexibility and speed of warehouse fulfillment and optimizes space, allowing additional storage capacity and throughput to support growth without the need for expansion.
Asics EMEA has partnered with digital experience analytics technology Contentsquare to support the sportswear giant’s online growth strategy.
Contentsquare will be providing the Asics team with in-depth insight into online customer behavior, as well as recommendations for optimizing the customer journey across all touch points. With the team at Asics laser-focused on creating an outstanding customer experience at all times, the solution will also help unlock greater agility when navigating the shifting e-commerce landscape.
“Customer experience is hugely important for ASICS. Making sure the website is optimized so that people can easily find the right products is a number one priority,” Rick Hoving, senior e-commerce manager at Asics EMEA, said. “Contentsquare will provide us with key insight into where and how campaigns actually perform, as well as how a product-focused commercial campaign can still benefit the branding side of the business or vice versa. It will also support us in uniting brand focus with data-driven insights.”
Contentsquare will be a key partner in supporting Asics’ strategic digital objectives for 2022, including e-commerce market expansion within Europe, more growth in its apparel sales to complement its running footwear revenue and support with improving the mobile user experience.
“In terms of devices, optimizing our mobile experience is key—80 percent of our traffic comes from mobile, but still, less than 50 percent actually convert,” Hovich said
Contentsquare’s Find & Fix, which is built to empower both technical and business teams to create seamless experiences by removing friction points and improving site performance, will be key to the success of this ambition.
“It’s the solution that impressed me the most with how easy it is to get relevant, valuable insights for content and merchandising elements of our site,” Hoving said. “The solution is a game-changer for my expanding team when it comes to making the right decisions and helping us build a more impactful website.”
Asics EMEA has three different departments that will gain access to Contentsquare: the trading and merchandising team, the activations team that focuses on content and campaigns, and the optimizations team that looks after the website. The UX and CRO teams will also integrate Contentsquare with their existing A/B testing tools.
Radial is planning to bring on more than 17,500 seasonal associates to support the peak holiday season across fulfillment and customer care. Among these openings, more than 15,000 are for positions within Radial’s fulfillment centers in the U.S. and Canada.
With the holiday season fast approaching, Radial is looking to scale its workforce to help brands and retailers’ deliver on customer promises. Based on a recent consumer survey hosted by Radial, it’s expected to be another high-demand period for e-commerce, with 58 percent of consumers saying they will increase online holiday shopping compared to 2021. Each year, Radial scales its workforce three to four times its typical headcount to meet these heightened demands.
From 2019 to 2022, 50 percent of leadership roles filled at Radial have been from within its existing employee base, underscoring the company’s commitment to supporting internal growth and development.
Seasonal associates at Radial’s 25 North American fulfillment centers will be primarily responsible for picking, packing, and shipping orders to ensure packages arrive to customers in time for the holidays. Over the years, Radial has invested in new technologies and automation in an effort to help employees carry out their tasks more efficiently and safely. With technology partnerships with robotics providers including Locus Robotics, Exotec, Geek+ and Covariant, associates can be more productive in their roles.
Additionally, to support Radial’s diverse employee base, the company has improved the onboarding process using technology to support Spanish speakers. With real-time translations of learning materials in the classroom, Radial also provides Spanish language options for associates to select as the primary user-interface language of the tool they will be using to receive, pick, pack or ship orders.
This year, Radial has more than 1,900 virtual customer care positions open. Associates that have the necessary skill sets and meet technology requirements set by Radial would ideally benefit from the flexibility of a work-at-home model. The company is looking to bring on qualified individuals to work remotely in Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin, with some in-office positions available at Radial’s Melbourne, Fl. location.
As a Radial customer care service representative, workers receive extensive training on product catalogs, brand rules and best practices for engaging customers across channels to keep them happy and coming back.
Online wholesale marketplace Faire has made itself available to independent retailers in Quebec, now serving retail customers across all Canadian provinces. Faire is expanding its network to local retailers in the region, which represents 20 percent of the total Canadian economy, helping brands across Canada reach one of their largest home markets.
Over the past 18 months, Faire has expanded into 17 new countries throughout Europe and Australia, supporting 600,000 retailers and 85,000 brands around the world. Faire’s launch in Quebec marks another milestone for the company in its mission to empower independent retailers and brands everywhere to compete on a more level playing field.
The company recently opened up its Canadian headquarters in Kitchener-Waterloo and a Toronto office.
Since welcoming Canadian customers to the marketplace in 2019, Faire’s brand and retailer community in Canada has seen substantial growth. Canadian retailers have placed nearly 250,000 orders on the platform to date, while Canadian brands currently offer over 350,000 unique products on the marketplace. Quebec-based sustainable homeware brand Gharyan Stoneware is already stocked in over 600 Faire retailers around the world.
“Since we started selling on Faire, our sales have increased considerably and we are now reaching retailers internationally,” said Ghassen Ghariani, Gharyan Stoneware founder and CEO. “But most importantly we started building strong relationships with our clients, thanks to the tools and support that is offered by the platform.”
Earlier this year, Faire launched the mobile app in Canada, making it easier for retailers to find the best products for their shops. To continue improving service to Faire’s Canadian community and provide a seamless yet customizable shopping experience, retailers based in Quebec will have the opportunity to use the platform in French or English.
Quebec-based retailers who join Faire will also benefit from access to a global network on desktop, Android, and iOS mobile apps. Faire offers 60-day payment terms to purchasing retailers, a benefit that was previously only available to retail chains.
The wholesale marketplace is the first to offer free returns, eliminating the burden of inventory risk by allowing retailers to buy with confidence in an unpredictable environment.
Through machine learning, Faire’s algorithm offers data-driven recommendations and insights on what will likely sell in a store for a specific retailer.
Retailers also can compete with larger chains by discovering high-quality, unique brands and products through tools like Showroom or by shopping by value tags like “Not on Amazon.”
Quebec is home to more than 30,000 retail businesses, with over 60 percent representing small businesses with less than 10 employees, according to Statistics Canada. By expanding Faire’s network to independent retailers in Quebec, a region where retail accounts for the second largest employer of all jobs according to the Retail Council of Canada, Faire aims to provide this entrepreneurial community with the inventory, financing, and fulfillment necessary to thrive.
CommentSold, a video commerce solution designed to help retail businesses grow sales through live selling, has launched a point of sale (POS) system built on payments platform Stripe. This addition to CommentSold’s suite of solutions for retailers gives them access to a unified solution for in-person and online purchasing, inventory management and seamless shopper experiences.
The Stripe Terminal in-person payments solution will power CommentSold’s POS system and is built to help online merchants augment their live selling revenue. Retailers use the CommentSold platform to simplify and automate retail operations, and marry their in-person and online presence through interactive shopping experiences.
CommentSold’s digital platform can already simplify inventory and order management, payments, invoicing, labeling, packaging, and fulfillment processing for business owners and enables live selling on social media, mobile apps, and websites. With the addition of its POS system, CommentSold retailers can save time and labor with an integrated platform, simplify fulfillment with a single inventory management system for in-store and online purchases and reduce POS costs with free initial setup and terminal fees.
CommentSold’s POS system was launched via a pilot program for select CommentSold customers in September 2021. Early adopters deemed it a significant asset to their business operations, giving them easy access to critical data while creating a cohesive sales experience for online and in-person shopping.
“When CommentSold piloted the POS system with us, it was life-changing for our entire staff,” said Kati Kemph, owner of Illinois-based boutique Kie & Kate Couture. “It’s been a seamless experience for both our brick-and-mortar business and our website, as well as our backend operations. Since adopting the POS, we’ve had far fewer errors and inventory discrepancies, which has had a tremendous impact on our sales.”
Since Kie & Kate Couture launched with CommentSold POS in November 2021, approximately 60 percent of its GMV has been through the POS. By combining their brick-and-mortar with their online and social selling, Kie & Kate Couture has established an omnichannel sales strategy.
With CommentSold’s POS system, CommentSold customers can look up detailed information in existing accounts, create new accounts, add products to carts, add coupons, accept cash and credit, send email receipts and integrate with receipt printers and cash drawers—all via their iPads. CommentSold will develop new features and functionality over the coming months based on ongoing feedback.
CommentSold’s POS system is currently available to customers using CS Payments and includes benefits like one-click check-out, popular wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, local payment methods across most devices, and the CommentSold Dispute Protection service, which helps detect and prevent fraud.
To celebrate the launch and enable retailers to develop their omnichannel infrastructure, all new and existing CommentSold customers will receive a waiver on credit card transaction fees on the POS system through 2023.