TECHNOLOGY

Macy’s takes stake in tech retailer

BY Marianne Wilson

Macy’s has taken a minority stake in a company that helps emerging brands build out brick-and-mortar stores with minimal effort.

The department store giant announced it is partnering with b8ta, and will leverage the tech retailer’s software platform to expand The Market @ Macy’s, pop-up shop marketplace concept currently in place in 10 Macy’s stores. As part of the deal, Macy’s has also acquired a minority equity stake in b8ta.

Launched in February 2018, The Market @ Macy’s is composed of rotating shops from new brands in categories across the board. Powered by b8ta’s technology, Macy’s will test new size formats for the marketplace concept and will expand the size of some of the existing pilot locations.

“We’re pleased to deepen our partnership with b8ta that will provide the technology engine for The Market @ Macy’s,” said Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s. “This will allow us to scale The Market @ Macy’s concept faster, furthering our goal of bringing more excitement and fresh experiences into our stores.”

Beta, founded in 2015 by a group of Nest alumns, has nine freestanding locations. The stores give consumers a hands-on demonstration of cutting-edge tech products, many from emerging brands. The business model is unusual: Instead of earning revenue from product sales, b8ta leases space in its stores to the product makers, who pay a monthly subscription fee to b8ta. In April, b8ta launched an initiative to help brands open stores with minimal effort using its “retail-as-a-service” model. Under the arrangement, b8ta takes care of everything, from landlord negotiations to providing a state-of-the-art, data-driven technology platform.

“Macy’s was the best partner for b8ta to scale our pioneering retail-as-a-service model to a breadth of categories like apparel, beauty, home, and more,” said Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta. “With b8ta’s software platform and business model, product makers can go from solely selling online to launching their products with Macy’s in a few clicks. Our platform makes it easy for makers to deploy, manage, analyze, and scale amazing offline retail experiences.”

b8ta will customize its technology platform for Macy’s, providing brands a more automated experience to participate in The Market @ Macy’s. The customized software platform will serve as the driver for managing the rotating brands and experiences and scaling the concept to new locations.

The partnership with b8ta is Macy’s latest move to transform its brick-and-mortar experience. In May, the retailer announced it had acquired Story, a retail store in Manhattan that reinvents itself with a new theme every couple of months.

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TECHNOLOGY

Footwear retailer uses artificial intelligence to optimize fulfillment

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Aldo is streamlining ship-from-store orders through a real-time analytics solution.

Canadian footwear and accessory retailer The Aldo Group operates two brands, Aldo and Call It Spring, and a multi-brand retail concept, Globo. By adding an analytics-based solution from retail-focused AI and optimization provider Celect, Aldo is optimizing the fulfillment of online orders from all corporate stores across its global network.

Celect Fulfillment Optimization solves issues that often arise with traditional order management systems (OMS) that cannot balance multiple, and often conflicting business objectives. These issues are exacerbated by outdated systems, including an unnecessary increase in costs, a decline in key metrics, a marked decrease in a retailer’s margins and, most importantly, a negative impact on the customer’s overall experience with the brand.

Celect’s ability to make dynamic optimization trade-offs across orders – as opposed to processing one order at a time – improves key performance metrics, including reduced split-shipments, lower shipping costs and improved delivery times. It also accurately predicts customer demand in real-time and subsequently determines which stores have more inventory than demand requires.

Since deploying the solution, Aldo fulfills online orders from the most profitable location. This provides the company with the ability to intelligently avoid selling from locations that are more likely to sell out, while targeting stores more likely to experience a lower demand for a particular item, according to the company.

“Retail is in a transformational phase and we are excited to continue our growth through advanced analytics and optimization,” said Jennifer Maks, senior VP of omnichannel, Aldo Group. “The fulfillment optimization initiatives put into place have proven extremely successful to date, and have produced strong results for our company. We look forward to continuing this positive trend in the coming years.”

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Zulily
TECHNOLOGY

Fast-growing online retailer boosts experience with the cloud

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Zulily is banking on the cloud to enhance its online shopping experience.

The fast-growing online retailer launches over 100 events a day, each featuring 9,000 styles for 72 hours, and serving a personalized experience for every customer — all while holding minimal inventory. To uphold this rigorous business model, Zulily moved business critical workloads, including its store, mobile application, and supply chain, to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Zulily is using AWS services, including databases and analytics, to manage every part of the business, from marketing and merchandising, to vendor operations, security, and supply chain. The solutions will enable it to make real-time decisions and continuous improvements.

The company is gaining a scalable architecture that will save Zulily “thousands of dollars a month,” and deliver the performance needed to provide shoppers with a reliable experience. Since moving operations to the cloud for example, Zulily has seen a 30% to 40% performance improvement per request made across its website and mobile application.

In addition, the company’s IT team pushes code multiple times a day across a variety of applications and services, and tests and verifies system functionalities every five minutes, which cuts down the code-to-production push time by over 30%, according to the company.

“With AWS’s highly scalable and flexible infrastructure, Zulily is able to store and analyze large volumes of data and deliver enhanced experience to customers without taking away from key business operations,” said Luke Friang, CIO, at Zulily. “Our strategic relationship with AWS gives our team the tools they need to maintain our culture of constant and nimble innovation.”

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