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Fanatics Launches Live Commerce App, Wayfair x Decorify – S…

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

Generative AI

Wayfair

Wayfair has introduced Decorify, a new feature for shoppers to reimagine their spaces and examine their style preferences using generative AI.

In this pilot application, Decorify uses a generative AI model that creates shoppable, photorealistic images when people upload a picture of their space.

Despite its similarity to augmented reality shopping apps, which let users view furniture in their house using a smartphone camera, Decorify doesn’t show the user renderings of existing furniture in an actual room.

“Anything we develop or deploy for our customers, including GenAI, must support our mission to help everyone, anywhere create their feeling of home,” said Fiona Tan, chief technology officer, Wayfair. “Viewing generative AI through this pragmatic lens enables us to prioritize where and when we deploy development resources and ensure applications like Decorify delight our customers.”

Shoppers who use Decorify can upload unlimited photos and delete them at any time, shop across a wide selection of the Wayfair catalog directly from their reimagined virtual room and use on mobile or desktop via browser.

“Leveraging generative AI technologies, Decorify creates a discovery experience that provides endless inspiration and powers the home personalization journey,” said Shrenik Sadalgi, director of research and development at Wayfair. “Decorify is the latest example from Wayfair Next of how we use visual inspiration, such as 3D, spatial computing and now generative AI, to create unique, novel and functional customer experiences.”

Livestream

Fanatics

Sports apparel and merchandise retailer Fanatics has launched a new livestream commerce business, Fanatics Live.

The community-driven platform enables fans and collectors to participate in creator-run, live shopping experiences via a dedicated iOS app. Fanatics Live is currently available in North America on Apple devices, with web and Android support coming later this year.

Through exclusive content offered across the platform, Fanatics Live aims to transform the digital shopping experience and create a space where sellers and fans can transact on collectible items.

These unique experiences will initially feature trading card “breaks,” limited edition merchandise and collectibles drops, and on-location streams featuring high-profile athletes and entertainers.

“With Fanatics Live, we see a tremendous opportunity to marry content, community, and commerce, and are incredibly excited to officially launch our product,” said Nick Bell, CEO of Fanatics Live, in a statement. “By bringing together like-minded fans and collectors on our platform, coupled with an extensive network of partners across sports, entertainment and culture, Fanatics Live aims to build a trusted environment for fans with highly entertaining, quality programming where commerce is ultimately its by-product.”

Fanatics Live is working with individual creators, brands, sports leagues and more, to provide unique product offerings, in-stream entertainment moments and talent appearances. Fanatics Live currently holds partnerships with Major League Baseball (MLB), with its app first debuting on-field during the league’s All-Star Weekend in Seattle, Slam Magazine and Gary Vaynerchuk’s VeeFriends with more collaborations to be announced.

Fanatics Live will also leverage existing Fanatics businesses to create immersive content and commerce opportunities, whether it be autograph and memorabilia division Fanatics Authentic, Topps, Lids or any of the existing partnerships across Fanatics’ sports and entertainment portfolio.

Virtual store

Lacoste/Emperia

Lacoste has debuted a summer-themed virtual store with Emperia, a technology company that develops virtual stores for the retail and fashion sectors.

Containing elements exclusively available to Le Club Lacoste and its UNDW3 (Web3) members, the lifesyle apparel brand is aiming to create a deeper sense of community and shopper loyalty appreciation by offering a retail experience that extends beyond its physical stores.

Strolling through a virtual beach setting, shoppers will be able to explore Lacoste’s latest summer collection of clothes, shoes and accessories. A short elevator journey leads the users to an outdoor space, featuring additional product offerings, all in a pool-deck setting that overlooks the beach.

Visitors will be able to explore a crocodile scavenger hunt that leads them to an underwater VIP space, accessible exclusively to Le Club Lacoste and UNDW3 members, unlocked by an e-mail login or a Lacoste NFT.

The special room features an exclusive co-created UNDW3 collection, a unique product of collaboration with Lacoste’s Web3 community members. The collaboration took place in March, and the product is set to be released this summer. Each physical garment includes a digital twin and an augmented reality (AR) feature, available through the scan of a QR code. The mini treasure-hunt game, scattered throughout the experience, will continue into the exclusive VIP room, rewarding participating community members with weekly prizes.

Emperia’s platform allows retailers to build and maintain shoppable, virtual experiences, while leveraging data monitoring in order to optimize the in-store virtual user experience, brand engagement and conversions.

The new virtual store comes on the heels of the brand’s holiday virtual experience, which marked another collaboration with Emperia in late 2022. The experience won both Lacoste and Emperia a 2023 Webby Award in the Metaverse, Immersive & Virtual Retail & Shopping category.

Last-mile delivery

Frayt

Frayt, the last-mile delivery technology that connects shippers with a marketplace of more than 15,000 owner-operator drivers and vehicles, has launched a Preferred Driver Program. The program is designed to improve the shipping process by empowering retailers to select a specific driver for their needs.

The program is designed to enhance the shipping experience for Frayt’s customers and give them more choice, while helping them develop more trusted, long-term relationships with individual drivers.

Within the Preferred Driver Program, shippers can choose their preferred driver from a list of available drivers when placing an order. This feature allows shippers to select a driver based on factors such as delivery speed, reliability and previous experiences.

Returns

Loop

Returns management platforms Loop has launched Track by Loop, a new feature designed to allow merchants using the technology to send customers timely, relevant tracking updates for returns and exchanges.

Track by Loop helps brands deliver a better post-purchase experience via more transparent tracking updates. Brands can build trust and strengthen customer relationships, while reducing return-related customer service inquiries with the technology, according to the Affirm partner.

The company’s surveys show that 69 percent of shoppers expect retailers to have an easy-to-follow returns policy, and this visibility is crucial not only while the item is being returned, but also as the return makes its way back to the business and authenticates a customer’s refund.

“Being able to provide return and exchange tracking information has been a game-changer,” said Katy Eriks, director of customer experience at men’s suits retailer SuitShop. “It’s helped reduce return-related tickets in our help desk and make for happier customers. And being able to manage Track by Loop in the same place as product returns has made it easy to streamline how and where our teams work.”

The feature also integrates with platforms like marketing automation technology Klaviyo and e-commerce help desk Gorgias. With these integrations, users can get proactive notifications on terminal shipping errors directly in the Gorgias Help Desk and can maintain Loop tracking emails in the Klaviyo platform to keep all email communications in the same place.

Loop’s post-purchase platform is designed to enable Shopify merchants to transform returns into exchanges. The company says its technology has enabled more than 2,200 brands to increase customer loyalty, retain more revenue and lower reverse logistics costs. Through features like Instant Exchanges, Shop Now, and Bonus Credit, Loop says it has helped merchants retain more than $900 million in revenue over the past five years.

Freight management

Flowspace

Flowspace, a software platform and distribution network powering independent fulfillment, has introduced FlowspaceAI for Freight, a new concierge tool for direct-to-consumer (DTC) and B2B brands powered by AI and machine learning.

The FlowspaceAI technology is purpose-built for fulfillment. Developed in-house, the technology leverages advanced large language models to automate workflows, reduce manual tasks and improve efficiency for merchants.

FlowspaceAI for Freight is the company’s latest AI-powered tool designed to eliminate tedious, time-consuming processes involved in transportation and freight management. The tool adds booking date confirmations to orders and generates and attaches appropriate documentation, improving workflows and processes.

Beyond FlowspaceAI for Freight, Flowspace’s Network Optimization tool leverages AI to recommend an optimized fulfillment footprint, enabling customers to maximize efficiency, reduce costs, and minimize environmental impacts. The company also uses AI technology to examine merchants’ data to uncover patterns and trends that can improve fulfillment operations, as well as inform future marketing, advertising or sales strategies.

More than 500 brands use Flowspace to enable more efficient, reliable omnichannel fulfillment from the source to the end customer. Its open platform is equipped to integrate with systems, channels, and partners across the retail ecosystem, including DTC storefronts, third-party marketplaces, brick-and-mortar retailers, and beyond.

Omnichannel

NewStore/Sweaty Betty/Footasylum

Two U.K.-based brands have expanded their use of modular, mobile-first omnichannel cloud platform NewStore.

Global activewear and lifestyle brand Sweaty Betty has rolled out the company’s mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) in 73 stores across the U.K. and Ireland, while athleticwear and footwear retailer Footasylum is using it in 60 U.K. stores.

By replacing its legacy POS with NewStore, the London-based Sweatty Betty now runs its retail operations entirely on the iPhone.

“Sweaty Betty has quickly grown from a small London boutique to an international business. During this process, we recognized the importance of providing a seamless and scalable omnichannel experience for our customers and store colleagues,” said Simon Pakenham-Walsh, chief technology officer, Sweaty Betty. “We selected NewStore because its platform does not carry the complex technical debt of the industry’s legacy solutions, and the company’s vision aligns perfectly with our strategy, which includes having an extensible, modern and API-first technology stack.”

With NewStore, the Wolverine Worldwide-owned label says it has unified its direct offline and online channels, which could help improve the customer experience and drive operational efficiency.

“The NewStore platform has had a tremendous impact on our day-to-day operations. Not only were we able to implement the technology quickly, but it has also reduced the operational workload of our store and support office teams by 75 percent,” added Jessica Coleman, omnichannel product owner, Sweaty Betty. “NewStore has given autonomy back to our employees, enabling them to provide exceptional service and enhance the overall customer experience.”

Sweaty Betty has seen other benefits from the NewStore deployment as well, including enhanced mobility, leading to more personalized, high-touch customer interactions. Additionally, the NewStore mPOS can empowers store associates to swiftly assist customers during peak shopping hours, shortening wait times and optimizing the checkout experience. The activewear brand says NewStore has simplified the training and onboarding process for store associates.

In the next few months, the brand will start rolling out additional omnichannel features that allow employees to better guide shoppers and create more meaningful relationships.

Unlike the Sweaty Betty partnership, Footasylum’s deal with NewStore also includes the integration of promotion and loyalty automation solution Talon.One.

The direct integration will enable omnichannel buying journeys that drive brand engagement and customer retention, the brand says. By partnering with NewStore, Footasylum aims to further unify its brick-and-mortar and online channels.

“In order to keep up with the pace of innovation and grow our business, we need a technology architecture that is open, flexible, and scalable. But we cannot build it ourselves. We need commerce partners that align with our vision,” said Mike Wallwork, e-commerce director, Footasylum. “That is why we are working with MACH-certified companies like NewStore and Talon.One. These innovative platforms and tools will help us achieve our goals and continue to provide the exceptional level of service our customers expect.”

NewStore and Talon.One are both members of the MACH Alliance, a group of independent companies dedicated to advocating for open, best-of-breed technology ecosystems that offer a MACH (Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless) approach.

Sustainability

Clarity AI

Clarity AI, a sustainability technology platform that uses machine learning and big data to deliver environmental and social insights to investors, organizations, and consumers, has partnered with climate-focused financial services company company Aspiration to launch sustainability assessment solutions for consumer use cases.

This unique partnership is aimed at delivering effective and accessible solutions to consumer platforms (e.g. e-commerce, retail banks, supermarkets, etc.) to help end users measure and reduce their carbon footprint and understand the sustainability performance of merchants. The collaboration combines Clarity AI’s data and tools with Aspiration’s carbon removal projects.

Customers will be able to assess the sustainability of the brands they buy and their current spending habits based on Clarity AI’s personalized data tracking and AI capabilities, helping them to identify ways to positively change their purchasing patterns.

Clarity AI’s technology will also provide sustainability insights at the individual retailer level. Leveraging its coverage of over 40,000 companies and more than 160 industries, Clarity AI calculates the impact of a consumer’s spending and helps them understand company-specific sustainability information rather than broad, industry-level spending trends. It also provides recommendations on how consumers can maximize the impact of their purchases and actions.

Based on this data, Aspiration will enable customers to mitigate their carbon footprint by purchasing credits from nature-based climate solutions that are vetted to deliver tangible impact toward net zero.

Aspiration will also let customers contribute to carbon removal projects with benefits beyond climate impact such as biodiversity improvements and job creation for underrepresented communities. This approach allows users to support projects that align with their values in broader environmental and social dimensions.

Fit technology

John Lewis/Zyler

U.K.-based department store John Lewis has partnered with virtual try-on technology company Zyler to elevate the rental experience for customers. This partnership aims to bring an immersive virtual try-on feature to the John Lewis Fashion Rental platform, allowing customers to visualize outfits before making their selections.

By integrating Zyler’s advanced virtual try-on capabilities into John Lewis Fashion Rental, powered by rental platform Hurr, the retailer aims to help customers make more informed choices and more confidently select their rental items.

With Zyler’s expertise, John Lewis aims to provide customers with a more engaging rental experience, where customers can explore different styles and make more confident shopping decisions from the comfort of their own homes.

Girlfriend Collective/Bold Metrics

Bold Metrics, an artificial intelligence (AI) company specializing in advanced sizing solutions for the apparel industry, is now powering sizing for Girlfriend Collective, an eco-friendly women’s activewear brand.

Shoppers on the Girlfriend Collective website can use the Find My Size solution powered by Bold Metrics’ AI-driven Smart Size Chart to find a size for their preferred fit. Bold Metrics says brands and retailers using its sizing solutions have reduced their return rate by as much as 32 percent, while increasing conversion and average order value.

Committed to ethical manufacturing practices and transparency, Girlfriend Collective leverages the partnership with Bold Metrics to offer better-fitting clothing and reduce waste throughout the product life cycle.

Citing data from Shopify, the sizing technology company said that poor fit accounts for 52 percent of clothing returns.

LK Bennett/True Fit

Premium British fashion brand LK Bennett has tapped True Fit, a data-driven fit personalization platform for fashion retailers and brands, to increase conversion, reduce returns and drive customer loyalty.

LK Bennett recently launched its LKB Conscious collection, which uses sustainable fabrics and methods to create keep-forever pieces. Furthering its sustainability efforts, it also offers LK Borrowed, its rental subscription service that gives customers access to endless styles for every day and any occasion.

LK Bennett will leverage True Fit’s Fashion Genome to build confidence into the buying journey, increase conversion and reduce fit-related returns. True Fit’s recommendations are powered by the demographics, fit preferences and transactional behavior of millions of global shoppers and enhanced by AI and continuous machine learning.  

“We want to be able to create white-glove experiences for our customers when they shop with us through any channel,” said Darren Topp, CEO at LK Bennett, in a statement. “Because our collections are designed to be keep-forever items, we want customers not only to love the quality and craftsmanship of our pieces, but also to have the confidence to purchase knowing the garment will fit them perfectly, based on their individual size preferences, when it arrives, improving customer satisfaction, whilst reducing returns.”

LK Bennett will also leverage the cross-market data generated from True Fit’s Fashion Genome to better understand how its customers shop its brand and others. This will inform ranging and category expansion and help customers who currently only buy its shoes, for example, diversify to shop in other categories like dresses or trousers.

LK Bennett has already implemented True Fit on its UK e-commerce platform, and will roll out AI size and fit personalization to its U.S. and European sites later this year.

PLM

BBC International/Centric Software

BBC International, a full-service footwear company founded in 1975 that specializes in footwear design, sourcing and technology, has streamlined processes and improved collaboration with product lifecycle management (PLM) technology from Centric Software.

Known for licensing characters for footwear, lights on shoes and revamping Heelys, BBC licenses footwear for major international brands, plus private label. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., the company has global distribution in over 85 countries.

With the large number of brands BBC works with, and just as many separate processes for each, the company was looking to consolidate workflows and systems to simplify product development. 

“To be scalable and continue to grow, we really needed something to enable us to work smarter,” said Rebecca Rabatin, director of strategic initiatives at BBC International. “We often operated in silos and had some redundancies. We were using spreadsheets and sending them back and forth by email. It felt like each department—or even each person—was inputting information into their own spreadsheets; we likened the whole process to a hamster wheel effect.”

BBC had an advantage in determining which PLM vendors to consider, in that they could to consult their numerous footwear partners and customers.

According to Roger Kitch, senior vice president of operations at BBC International, the company experienced challenges a couple of years ago when it instituted design KPIs across the firm. When the company collected product information from China, it still needed to merge the data into one document to attempt to determine how productive the design process was.

“A reason we brought in Centric PLM is to do exactly that—to get much smarter and ahead of what is selling—slippers were very hot and now slippers are not selling at the same rate. How do we plan further back and understand what we’re designing into, and marry it up to what we currently own?” said Kirch. “That plays into the old adage, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.’ With Centric PLM, KPIs can be assigned a red, yellow or green color scheme so people can see at a glance how products are tracking toward target margins by line, by gender, by style, by season—whatever the need, to be proactive with offerings and also gain valuable insight into setting up for next season.”

Fraud prevention

ClearSale

Global e-commerce risk prevention provider ClearSale is launching a new Brand Protection platform. Brand Protection by ClearSale uses AI and digital intelligence to continuously scan for and report brand impersonation attacks such as fake social profiles, ads and websites; counterfeit products; and phishing attacks.

Brand impersonation attacks that go unchecked can damage a company’s reputation among good customers and drive customer churn. For example, phishing attacks that impersonate brands to steal customers’ credentials can lead to account takeover and card not present (CNP) fraud against retailers. In ClearSale’s 2022 State of Consumer Attitudes on Ecommerce, Fraud & CX international survey, 83 percent of online consumers said they would boycott an e-commerce site after a fraud experience there. Such fraud attacks can also result in costly, reputation-damaging fines for noncompliance with data privacy regulations.

Brand Protection by ClearSale scans the web and social media using brands’ names, logos, products, and other data to identify imposter websites and URLs, apps, social media profiles and pages, digital ads, marketplace profiles and fake products.

One retailer using the brand protection platform was able to detect more than 2,200 imposter social media profiles and had 99.9 percent taken down within 24 hours. Brand Protection by ClearSale aims to stand out against competitors with features such as its plug-and-play platform, unlimited user access, personalized in-platform support, and transparent pricing based on digital brand exposure.

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