Forge Retail Pulse: A sneak peek into on-demand fulfillment, retail analytics, same-day delivery, and retail ecosystems

Greetings, Pulse subscribers!

Registration is now open for our Forge Retail Showcase on May 6th from 10:00 to 11:00 am ET. Join us as we discuss Retail Ecosystems and explore opportunities for retailers to build ecosystems that improve omnichannel experiences, expand offerings, and enhance relationships.

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We’ve got a lot to cover this week, including on-demand fulfillment, retail analytics, same-day delivery, and a preview on retail ecosystems. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Startup Deals

On-demand fulfillment | Retail and e-commerce businesses of all sizes need access to warehouse space and end-to-end logistics to get their products to consumers. Generally, only the largest retailers have access to the best infrastructure and most cutting-edge logistics solutions. Stord, a cloud supply chain company, is looking to supply those tools to every business, regardless of size.

Offering national warehouse capacity and end-to-end logistics, including two-day fulfillment for e-commerce orders from anywhere in the US, Stord is hoping to democratize access to the services that keep customers coming back.

Stord raised $65M in Series C funding after doubling its headcount in 2020, and it’s projecting to do so again in 2021. Among Stord’s customers are Dollar General, Advance Auto Parts, and Crystal Geyser.

Retail analytics | For grocery retailers, it’s ideal to keep an eye on every item in every store. Ideal, but seemingly impossible. Trax, an 11-year-old Singapore-based computer vision company, is aiming to topple the status quo.

Trax utilizes an innovative artificial intelligence platform and image recognition technologies to offer grocery retailers a peek behind the curtain. By allowing customers to understand what’s happening on every shelf, in every store, all the time, Trax helps brands and retailers optimize the retail experience and focus on delighting shoppers.

Using in-store data and analytics, Trax allows customers to optimize inventory strategies, improve engagement, ensure compliance, maintain store standards, and more. As digital and physical retail become more entwined, Trax offers brands and retailers the tools to see and understand what’s happening everywhere at once.

With customers including Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Sam’s Club, Trax raised a whopping $640M in Series E funding to drive the next stages of its long-term growth and innovation.

Same-day delivery | By offering two-day delivery, Amazon and Walmart have become dominant in the world of online shopping because, after all, customers want their purchases sooner not later. Swyft, a year-old company based in Toronto, helps retailers of any size provide affordable same-day delivery to level the playing field.

It’s simple, Swyft connects shipping carriers with vendors. But by providing free software to those carriers to make them more efficient, Swyft turns them into a vast network that allows them to pick up more inventory without adding to their infrastructure. Uniting retailers and vendors as well as smaller, regional carriers through software, Swyft’s network aims to match the scale and influence of the behemoths without spending a fortune.

Swyft raised $17.5M in Series A funding to continue its mission, and it doesn’t hurt that two of the founders spent their careers at Amazon - they know exactly what they’re up against.

Theme Exploration: Retail Ecosystems

Whether in-store or online, retail is better when it’s bigger than just the items on your shelf or site. By understanding customer needs and partnering to expand beyond retail, you can connect with, learn from, and ultimately delight your customers on a whole new level. This is the retail ecosystem. The retail ecosystem helps retailers deliver new customer experiences, drive engagement, and create new growth.

Let’s take a deeper look:

Startups that can kickstart your retail ecosystem journey:

Health checks | Remember the grocery store blood pressure machine when you were a kid? It’s grown up. Enter Higi. Taking health screening into the future, they’ve created health check kiosks that screen for common conditions, offer access to care resources, and save patient information to create the most up-to-date health records. With more than 10,000 FDA-cleared health kiosks across the country, Higi offers shoppers a quick and easy way to keep tabs on their health.

Stock rewards | Everybody loves rewards, especially when it comes to spending your own money, and Bumped knows how to sweeten the deal. Awarding fractional shares of corporate stock for each dollar customers spend on their connected credit cards, Bumped offers customers a piece of the companies they support. That’s right; they’re incentivizing loyalty by adding a real financial stake in the success of the brand. Gap, Apple, and Netflix are just a few of the more than 1,000 participating brands.

Experiential retail |  Nothing matches the experience of trying something out for yourself. Uniting the world’s most innovative products under one roof, b8ta offers shoppers a place to indulge their curiosity and check out the latest tech. With locations across the country and around the globe, b8ta operates the largest experiential retail footprint in the world, and it’s putting a sense of discovery back into retail.

Essential Industry Reads

During the pandemic, retailers have pivoted to meet evolving customer demands, including payment methods. As social distancing rules were implemented across the country, digital, contactless, deferred, peer-to-peer, and other payment trends once used by a small segment look poised to further break into the mainstream this year. Click the link below to learn about the six payment trends that will shape 2021.

The days of simply having a brick-and-mortar store are coming to an end. To continue to compete, retailers need to offer omnichannel access, blending in-store and digital experiences. Adding curbside, buy online - pick up in-store, home delivery; or other services to supplement traditional retail gives companies an edge, but the implementation and maintenance of each have their own costs and drawbacks. Read more about the upcoming omnichannel age below.

Forge Retail Showcase

Store Operations: April 8

For those who may have missed our last Showcase on Store Operations, click the link below to watch a recording of the event and share it with your colleagues.

Retail Ecosystems: May 6

Get to know our featured presenters:

  • Mirakl | Provides the underlying technology which enables both B2B and B2C organizations to launch and grow an enterprise marketplace at scale.

  • LogicInk | Creates wearable, nonpermanent tattoos that change color based on UV exposure, hydration, pollution, and physical health symptoms.

  • Bumped | Allows customers to receive fractional stock shares from their favorite brands while they shop.

    Register Here

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See you in two weeks!

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