Retail tech: new funding and partnerships accelerate ecommerce and checkout-free solutions

Date : 18 September 2019

Stewart Samuel

Program Director - Canada

Coinciding with the Groceryshop retail technology and innovation event in Las Vegas, several technology-led companies made new funding and partnership announcements. We look at some of the moves being made by the companies we’ve been tracking over the last 12 months.

IGD perspective: tapping into the ecosystem

These announcements highlight how infused grocery retail has become with leading-edge technologies. While we are seeing investments underway in a broad range of areas, including merchandising, operations and customer engagement, retailers are intensely focused on developing more cost-effective ecommerce solutions and an easier checkout experience.

For most, partnering with technology companies to optimise their solutions is a priority. Being aware of and networked into the startups and pioneers in this space is a core capability requirement. Many retailers have consequently partnered with startup incubators and universities, while several have also launched their own pitch programmes. Owning, or developing in-house, the technologies which are shaping the future of retail is becoming less important.

Source: Takeoff Technologies

Takeoff Technologies secures additional funding to support expansion

Boston-based ecommerce micro-fulfillment company, Takeoff Technologies confirmed the closing of its Series C fundraising. This represents an additional $25m in investment for 5% of the company, with a valuation of $500m. This funding will accelerate the company’s roll-out plans across North America, Europe and Australia. The company has emerged as the leading operator of micro-fulfillment centres. It has announced partnerships in the US with Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, Wakefern and Sedano’s and in Australia with Woolworths. Its model operates at a significantly lower cost-to-serve than other ecommerce platforms and has gained significant retailer interest globally. Further partnerships will be disclosed in the future.

It also announced enhancements to its solution, enabling 6% faster order picking, while increasing storage capacity. It will also introduce autonomous mobile robots known as “open shuttles” to roll within its centres.

Farmstead partners with Alex Lee to enter new markets

Online grocery retailer, Farmstead, is expanding out of its San Francisco heartland to North and South Carolina. The retailer, which has developed its business with a tech-led model, is partnering with Alex Lee, the parent company of Lowes Foods. Farmstead has built a strong following in the sector, having developed an AI-driven model which enables it to deliver the full basket mix of groceries, for free, with often better pricing than local supermarkets. The model also helps to significantly reduce food waste.

The partnership enables Farmstead and Alex Lee to expand their reach in complementary markets without the need to open any physical stores. Farmstead plans on developing multiple ’micro-hubs’ in the new market. Each one takes around eight weeks to construct, at around a cost of $100,000, and can serve a fifty-mile radius. This partnership is the first of many which the company is planning with grocery chains and distributors across the US.

Trigo secures funding to scale its checkout-free technology to larger stores

Friction-less checkout company, Trigo, has raised $22m in an A Round funding deal. This will enable the company to scale its computer-vision based technology to larger store sizes. The company’s solution is currently deployed in stores around 5,000 sq ft, twice the size of Amazon Go. It has partnerships with several US and European grocery retailers. Trigo, which is based in Israel, is also working with the country’s largest grocer, Shufersal. The technology is set to be deployed in 280 stores over the next five years.

Trigo's computer-vision system uses AI and algorithms to identify and record items grabbed by shoppers while they are in the store. The technology can be retrofitted into existing stores. Customers can also personalise their experience by choosing to opt-in to identify themselves via a loyalty programme when they enter a store.

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