1. Technology & Innovation

Starring Gather AI, Wolt, Sainsbury’s: check out RTIH’s most read retail technology articles from last week

Check out the articles on this here website that caught your fancy last week, including AiFi, Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, Wow Bao, Shopsense AI, Paramount Global, Intergamma, Getir, PLUS Retail, and commercetools.

Inventory monitoring startup Gather AI bags $17 million in funding to transform supply chain traceability

Gather AI, a provider of computer vision and AI powered warehouse inventory monitoring solutions, has announced a $17 million Series A-1 round led by Bain Capital Ventures with participation from Tribeca Venture Partners, Dundee Venture Capital, Expa, and Bling Capital.

This provides a total of $34 million raised to date. The cash will be invested in scaling operations.

Gather AI was founded in 2017 by Sankalp Arora, Daniel Maturana and Geetesh Dubey, after launching from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute.

It automates inventory visibility challenges through drones across third-party logistics, manufacturing, and retail facilities, laying claim to much richer data than warehouses can currently obtain with barcodes.

Customers include NFI, GEODIS, DSV, Barrett Distribution, and DPI Specialty Foods (KeHE).

It’s time to face the facts: heavily hyped in-store smart carts are just not that “smart” (but they still could be)

Alas, poor Yorick…NO. It is a far, far better thing that I do…NO. Don’t shoot the messenger…YES (that’s it). Here goes: smart carts are just not that “smart” (but they could be).

So says supply chain consultant Gregg London.

Amazon pulling Just Walk Out checkout-free tech from Fresh stores shows how iterative innovation evolves

To label Amazon’s Just Walk Out frictionless shopping technology initiative a failure is naive at best and at worst a complete misunderstanding of tech creativity. So says Brand L. Elverston, Founder/Principal at Elverston Consulting.

Finnish food delivery and technology company Wolt goes live with Wolt Ads service following beta period

Wolt has announced the launch of its own advertising service, Wolt Ads.

Following a beta period, the company is now looking to scale this across its 27 markets.

“We’re delighted to be able to introduce Wolt Ads to more partners. Over the past months,  we’ve seen our partners record significant growth in their sales and return on advertising spend,” says Catalina Salazar, Global Head at Wolt Ads.

“While it’s still very early for us in this area, the initial results and feedback from our partners are extremely encouraging and give us confidence that we’re on the right track.”

Wolt, which was acquired by DoorDash in 2022, currently has over 36 million registered users across 27 markets and over 500 cities.

AiFi teams with GS Draft System Solutions on launch of frictionless Michelob Ultra Grill Market stadium store

AiFi has partnered with GS Draft System Solutions to launch a frictionless shopping Michelob Ultra Grill Market at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

People are able to pour and pay for fresh draft beers, via self-serve TapWalls, as well as grab hot food items, candy, and packaged snacks without having to wait in line.

“Stadiums and large live event venues are the perfect setting for autonomous retail, and AiFi is proud to play a part in shaping the fan’s enjoyment while in attendance,” says Steve Carlin, CEO at AiFi.

“As live events continue to garner larger and larger crowds, we’re helping stadiums and retailers embrace tech forward solutions that help fans minimise the time in concessions and merchandise lines to get them back to the action faster.”

“This new autonomous drink lane and market is just the latest example of how our flexible technology solution is leading that charge and our commitment to improving the fan experience.”

PLUS Retail teams with commercetools, Contentful, OutSystems to launch new e-commerce platform

PLUS Retail, the third largest service supermarket organisation in the Netherlands, has gone live with a new e-commerce platform.

In a LinkedIn post, Arvid Nieuwsma, Head of Product at PLUS Retail, said that this was inspired by the MACH Alliance.

“We created a headless and composable architecture, as this empowers us to differentiate locally on store level, and keeping up with the day-to-day innovation/best-of-breed choices,” he commented.

Key features: E2E event driven composable architecture, new e-commerce backbone courtesy of commercetools, new CMS (Contentful), new CIAM application (Thales Digital Identity and Security), and new headless front-end (OutSystems).

Nieuwsma said: “One of our ambitions was a faster time to market with features, in order to offer direct value and impact to our end customer. Thanks to feature toggle development and low code velocity we achieved this.”

“Second ambition was to be more flexible to make future choices in the underlying application landscape that better meet the needs, without having to overhaul the entire architecture.”

“Can you imagine the possibilities in differentiation on a local store level in terms of assortment, promotions and loyalty programmes?”

He concluded: “We are over the moon that the time has come to accelerate on feature development, on value for the customer, our entrepreneurs and stores with this tech stack.”

Digital and physical worlds collide as fast casual restaurant Wow Bao hits Roblox and lays claim to a metaverse first

Wow Bao has announced a full integration of its Hot Buns Club rewards programme in the metaverse.

In doing so, it lays claim to being the first fast casual restaurant to integrate a rewards programme and in real life perks in the metaverse.

US-based Roblox players who visit its virtual experience, Dim Sum Palace, can search for clues to unlock a free Bao themed head UGC accessory, free Wow Bao product, and a chance to win Wow Bao for a year.

After they join the Hot Buns Club to claim the limited supply UGC items, they will receive a link via email for a free box of Wow Bao at their local grocer and be enrolled for a chance to win free bao for a year.

Additionally, as a member of the Hot Buns Club they are eligible for exclusive rewards and benefits.

Rapid delivery big hitter Getir in crisis talks as it preps major ‘make or break’ restructuring move

Turkish ultrafast grocery delivery firm, Getir, is said to be working on a radical restructuring plan just two years after it was valued at just off $12 billion.

According to Sky News, Getir, which operates in five markets including the UK, is examining a number of options as part of talks with its leading investors.

Sky News report: “Sources said this weekend that this could involve a break-up of the rapid delivery group, an exit from a number of its remaining markets or some form of emergency restructuring mechanism.”

It added: “A source close to the company denied that any form of insolvency process was under consideration, saying that if it decided to exit a country it would do so in an orderly fashion.”

“Another insider added that the next few days were “make or break” for the company, with key decisions about Getir’s future expected to be taken as early as the next fortnight.”

AlixPartners, the restructuring firm, is understood to be advising on the situation at Getir, which is backed by the likes of Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global.

It was valued at $11.8 billion when it raised more than $750 million in a funding round in 2022.

Getir did not respond to our request for comment.

Shona McGuire returns to Sainsbury’s and takes on Connected Store role following stint at The Body Shop

Shona McGuire is starting a new position as Head of Product (Connected Store) at Sainsbury’s Digital, Tech and Data.

She joins from The Body Shop, which entered administration earlier this year, where she held the role of Lead Global Digital Product Manager (Data, Loyalty & Marketing).

Prior to that, McGuire spent almost ten years at Sainsbury’s. At the time of her departure, she was Senior Product Manager – Digital (In-Store Experience), and worked on the implementation of a future checkout technology strategy, whilst managing the product lifecycle for Sainsbury’s checkout/PoS estate.

Shopsense AI launches retail media platform for broadcasters with Paramount Global onboard as partner

Shopsense AI has launched an AI powered retail media platform, with Paramount Global as its inaugural partner.

Shopsense says that its patent pending technology unlocks new advertising and incremental revenue opportunities for broadcast and streaming networks by making content seamlessly shoppable within their own apps and e-commerce sites.

Paramount Global will debut the new mobile shopping experience during the CMT Music Awards red carpet pre-show coverage airing on CMT on Sunday, 7th April. The live CMT Music Awards will air on CBS and Paramount+ directly following the red carpet coverage.

“Paramount’s premium entertainment content consistently influences consumer shopping journeys,” says John Halley, President at Paramount Advertising.

“TV is no longer just a top-of-the-funnel awareness generator. It is a 1:1 vehicle that brings the full funnel to the living room. We’re thrilled to launch with the Shopsense AI platform at the CMT Music Awards to capitalise on fandom and see it expressed through commerce.”

AI, robots, ESLs boost shelf product availability as Dutch retailer Intergamma builds smart store experience

Intergamma, a Dutch owner of two hardware store chains, Gamma and Karwei, is testing out a robot that interacts with electronic shelf labels and taps AI to analyse shelf inventories.

In a LinkedIn post, Jurre Mulder, Executive Board, Chief Digital & Technology Officer at Intergamma, said “What a joy – my weekly store visit – work becomes truly exiting when we collaborate with teams to experiment with innovations.”

“As part of our ongoing commitment to creating a “smart store” experience, we’re constantly exploring ways to apply technology that benefits both our customers and employees, making their experience each day a little better.”

He added: “One of our recent endeavours involves testing a robot. This intelligent bot interacts with the ESLs and leverages artificial intelligence to analyse shelf inventories.”

“Why is this important? By harnessing technology within our ecosystem, we can optimise shelf product availability and are also envisioning multiple use cases to build upon for the future.”

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