Forge Retail Pulse: A sneak peek into optimizing the transaction moment, talent engagement, product discovery, and inventory visibility
Greetings, Pulse Subscribers
Happy New Year. The holidays are behind us, but innovation keeps speeding ahead. Here’s the first agenda for 2022:
Optimizing the transaction moment
Engaging talent during the Great Resignation
Personalized recommendations without data collection
Keeping an eye on inventory
What matters to Gen Z (and their shopping habits)
Welcome to 2022. Let’s go!
Optimizing the Transaction Moment | When customers click “Buy”, it’s proof that they’re in the mood to spend money. Hence the trend of websites offering dozens of “you may also like” options in the transaction moment. Rokt works differently. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to make transactions more relevant to each shopper, instead of offering 50 things the customer might be interested in, it promotes just a few. Working with over 3,000 brands globally, including Live Nation, Groupon, Staples, Wayfair, Fanatics, Vistaprint, and Ticketmaster, Rokt claims it improved cross-sell and upsell attachment rates by 40% to 100%, boosted profit per transaction by 25¢ to 40¢, and increased the engagement rate 3x by selecting the most relevant message for each customer. Featured in our e-commerce personalization webinar last year, Rokt recently raised $325 million in a Series E funding round led by Tiger Global.
Talent Engagement | As the Great Resignation continues, the number of job openings in the US nears an all-time high, making it more difficult than ever for companies to engage and recruit top talent. Sense, a San Francisco-based startup, offers employers a way to break through. With the Sense platform, recruiters can use a drag-and-drop interface to create engaging campaigns and send targeted messages to candidates, track communications with and the status of a given candidate, issue referral awards, and more. Claiming a 55% increased response rate, 3x more hires, and a 2.5x increase in the Net Promoter Score℠ among new hires, Sense helps customers like Sears and Amazon accelerate hiring. It recently raised $50 million in a Series D funding round led by SoftBank for a valuation of $500 million.
Product Discovery | Customer data is key to offering a personalized and engaging e-commerce experience for shoppers. However, gathering and storing these massive quantities of data can be both difficult and costly. Particular Audience has a new approach. By gathering real-time data on product search, sales, pricing, and availability from across the Internet, Particular Audience uses AI and machine learning algorithms to make better predictions about the products customers may buy based on consumer behavior, instead of what they’re looking for at that moment. This not only gives companies the ability to improve predictions and personalize inventory without needing a massive data stack, it does so without compromising the personal data of customers. By giving retailers access to data that can tell them, for example, how better to promote high-margin or overstocked items, Particular Audience hopes to level the playing field for personalizing e-commerce. Working with over 100 websites, Particular Audience saw 460% year-over-year revenue growth in 2021 and recently raised $7.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Equity Venture Partners.
Theme Exploration: Inventory Visibility
Every company that sells anything physical needs to keep an eye on its inventory. Luckily, the startups below have better options than the slow and error-prone process of having employees do the counting. Using smart cameras, AI, and user-friendly interfaces, they ensure the shelves are always stocked, planograms are correct, orders are made at the right time, and even fresh produce stays fresher, longer.
Inventory Monitoring | Running out of stock on the floor when there’s backup inventory available is one of the most frustrating ways retailers can lose money. Customers want to buy the product, the business has the product, but it’s just not where it should be. With Recoshelf, floor inventory is continuously monitored with smart cameras to alert out-of-stocks in real time, so businesses never miss a sale. In addition, Recoshelf’s computer vision system monitors planogram compliance so retailers know everything is where it should be, and continuously checks prices to ensure none are outdated or incorrect.
Assortment and Allocation | A few of the biggest questions retailers face are what to buy, where to place it, and when and how much to order. Cognira offers the answers using the latest AI techniques. Its platform can reveal which product attributes matter most to customers, predicting what new products will perform best. Optimizing the assortment across all locations for all products, and automatically solving the “breadth” of the assortment plan, Cognira can help show where items should go. By calculating optimal quantities to buy, reorder, or distribute at any point in time and for any point in the product life cycle, businesses can align inventory buying and distribution, answering the when and how. With these AI-powered insights, Cognira boasts an average 8% sales increase, 15% margin increase, and 5% in-stock improvement in retail stores.
Fresh Grocery Inventory Management | Fresh items offer a unique challenge to grocers; if unsold, they simply go to waste. The Afresh Fresh Operating System uses stores daily sales data, along with real-world considerations like local events and holidays, to optimize forecasting, inventory, ordering, and store operations. With sophisticated technology and AI-powered recommendations, its user-centered tools handle familiar workflows, streamline daily tasks, and can be used by managers of all experience levels. Citing 25% shrink reduction, 80% stock-out reduction, +2 days postsale shelf life, and 3% sales growth, Afresh helps provide more profit for grocers, and fresher food for their customers.
Essential Industry Reads
Every year, Benedict Evans makes a presentation exploring macro and strategic trends in the tech industry. This year's presentation, “Three Steps to the Future,” is posted on his website. Exploring the future, present, and past, Evans looks at where we’re going, what’s happening now, and what we can learn from our past. Covering everything from Web3, the metaverse, VR, SaaS trends, cloud migration, e-commerce adoption, and the decline of TV and newspaper ad revenue, it’s a whirlwind look into where we’ve been, and where we could be headed.
Every generation comes of age, and with the oldest of Gen Z now hitting 25, its impact on the world has only just begun. Following their “GenZ VCs Summit” in September 2020, Lerer Hippeau surveyed the participants to get their take on everything from their favorite companies to the future of work, spending habits, shopping preferences, how they discover new products, and more. Over on the Lerer Hippeau blog, Meagan Loyst has collected the results and put together an eye-opening and insightful read about what really matters to the next generation coming into its own.
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