Psykhe secures Seed funding to match consumer personalities to fashion products

In an overcrowded market of online fashion brands, consumers are spoilt for choice on what site to visit. They are generally forced to visit each brand one by one, manually filtering down to what they like. Most of the experience is not that great, and past purchase history and cookies aren’t much to go on to tailor user experience. If someone has bought an army-green military jacket, the e-commerce site is on a hiding to nothing if all it suggests is more army-green military jackets…

Instead, Psycke ( it’s brand name is ‘PSYKHE’) is an e-commerce startup that uses AI and psychology to make product recommendations based both on the user’s personality profile and the ‘personality’ of the products. Admittedly, a number of startups have come and gone claiming this, but it claims to have taken a unique approach to make the process of buying fashion easier by acting as an aggregator that pulls products from all leading fashion retailers. Each user sees a different storefront that, says the company, becomes increasingly personalized.

It has now raised $1.7 million in seed funding from a range of investors and is announcing new plans to scale its technology to other consumer verticals in the future in the B2B space.

The investors are Carmen Busquets – the largest founding investor in Net-a-Porter; SLS Journey – the new investment arm of the MadaLuxe Group, the North American distributor of luxury fashion; John Skipper – DAZN Chairman and former Co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and President of ESPN; and Lara Vanjak – Chief Operating Officer at Aser Ventures, formerly at MP & Silva and FC Inter-Milan.

So what does it do? As a B2C aggregator, it pools inventory from leading retailers. The platform then applies machine learning and personality-trait science, and tailors product recommendations to users based on a personality test taken on sign-up. The company says it has international patents pending and has secured affiliate partnerships with leading retailers that include Moda Operandi, MyTheresa, LVMH’s platform 24S, and 11 Honoré.

The business model is based around an affiliate partnership model, where it makes between 5-25% of each sale. It also plans to expand into B2B for other consumer verticals in the future, providing a plug-in product that allows users to sort items by their personality.

How does this personality test help? Well, Psykhe has assigned an overall psychological profile to the actual products themselves: over 1 million products from commerce partners, using machine learning (based on training data).

So for example, if a leather boot had metal studs on it (thus looking more ‘rebellious’), it would get a moderate-low rating on the trait of ‘Agreeableness’. A pink floral dress would get a higher score on that trait. A conservative tweed blazer would get a lower score tag on the trait of ‘Openness’, as tweed blazers tend to indicate a more conservative style and thus nature.

So far, Psykhe’s retail partnerships include Moda Operandi, MyTheresa, LVMH’s platform 24S, Outdoor Voices, Jimmy Choo, Coach, and size-inclusive platform 11 Honoré.

It’s competitors include The Yes and Lyst. However, Psykhe’s main point of differentiation is this personality scoring. Furthermore, The Yes is app-only, US-only, and only partners with monobrands, while Lyst is an aggregator with 1,000s of brands, but used as more of a search platform.

Psykhe is in a good position to take advantage of the ongoing effects of COVID-19, which continue to give a major boost to global ecommerce as people flood online amid lockdowns.

The startup is the brainchild of Anabel Maldonado, CEO & founder, (along with founding team CTO Will Palmer and Lead Data Scientist, Rene-Jean Corneille, pictured above), who studied psychology in her hometown of Toronto, but ended up working at in the UK’s NHS in a specialist team that made developmental diagnoses for children under 5.

She made a pivot into fashion after winning a competition for an editorial mentorship at British Marie Claire. She later went to the press department of Christian Louboutin, followed by internships at the Mail on Sunday and Marie Claire, then spending several years in magazine publishing before moving into e-commerce at CoutureLab. Going freelance, she worked with a number of luxury brands and platforms as an editorial consultant. As a fashion journalist, she’s contributed industry op-eds to publications such as The Business of Fashion, T The New York Times Style, and Marie Claire.

As part of the fashion industry for 10 years, she says she became frustrated with the narratives which “made fashion seem more frivolous than it really is. I thought, this is a trillion-dollar industry, we all have such emotional, visceral reactions to an aesthetic based on who we are, but all we keep talking about is the ‘hot new color for fall and so-called blanket “must-haves’.”

But, she says, “there was no inquiry into individual differences. This world was really missing the level of depth it deserved, and I sought to demonstrate that we’re all sensitive to aesthetic in one way or another and that our clothing choices have a great psychological pay-off effect on us, based on our unique internal needs.” So she set about creating a startup to address this ‘fashion psychology’ – or, as she says “why we wear what we wear”.

#artificial-intelligence, #business, #ceo, #chairman, #chief-operating-officer, #coach, #companies, #e-commerce, #espn, #europe, #fashion, #lvmh, #lyst, #machine-learning, #milan, #moda-operandi, #nhs, #outdoor-voices, #president, #tc, #toronto, #united-kingdom, #united-states


Instacart, in partnership with ALDI, will support SNAP EBT for online groceries

Instacart is making its grocery delivery and pickup services more accessible to lower-income customers by offering customers the ability to pay for groceries using their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. This is the first time Instacart shoppers have been able to use government assistance programs when paying for groceries, and follows earlier moves by larger retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and others in extending SNAP EBT to online grocery.

In Instacart’s case, the option is being made available in partnership with ALDI, which will offer the ability for SNAP EBT participants to access fresh food and other staples using the online service.

When shopping, Instacart users will be able to add ALDI’s EBT SNAP-eligible items to their cart, then select how much of their benefits they want to allocate to their order before checking out.

Image Credits: Instacart

The program will launch over the new few weeks, and will first arrive at ALDI’s over 60 Georgia stores before expanding to over 570 stores across Illinois, California, Florida and Pennsylvania in the months ahead.

Instacart says it runs its Customer and Shopper Care team from Atlanta, which one reason why it selected Georgia as the debut market — adding it was important to first support the communities where its own employees live and work.

Today, online grocery shopping is often seen as a luxury service, but that should not be the case. Often, it’s just as affordable to shop online than in-store (if using the pickup option, at least), as customers can more easily compare prices with other retailers online. For some lower-income customers, online shopping can also save time when they’re stretched between jobs and family commitments.

The pandemic has now further complicated access to food for those on SNAP benefits, and in particular, for high-risk individuals. These customers now have to take risks with their lives and health to shop in-store, making online grocery more of a necessity.

“The introduction of Instacart’s EBT SNAP payments comes at a time when food insecurity in the U.S. has compounded as the nation continues to be impacted by COVID-19,” Instacart stated in its announcement. “According to Feeding America, due to the effects of the pandemic, more than 54 million people may experience food insecurity in 2020, which includes a potential 18 million children. In Georgia specifically, food insecurity impacts 12.5% of the population and disproportionately affects communities of color,” it noted.

Instacart is now one of several online retailers supporting SNAP EBT for groceries.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture had been working to make online grocery more accessible to SNAP recipients through an online purchasing pilot program with support of retailers including Amazon, Walmart, ShopRite, and others. The pilot retailers  have made it possible to shop for groceries online, then pay using SNAP EBT.

ALDI and Instacart are not listed on the USDA’s website as program participants, however.

#e-commerce, #ecommerce, #georgia, #grocery-store, #instacart, #online-grocery, #online-shopping, #retailers, #supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program


Forget Antitrust Laws. To Limit Tech, Some Say a New Regulator Is Needed.

Even as the Justice Department sued Google, some antitrust experts wondered whether a different government response would be more effective.

#amazon-com-inc, #antitrust-laws-and-competition-issues, #apple-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #e-commerce, #facebook-inc, #furman-jason, #google-inc, #justice-department, #melamed-a-douglas, #mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures, #microsoft-corp, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #social-media, #united-states-economy


Syte, an e-commerce visual search platform, gets $30 million Series C to expand in the U.S. and Asia

Syte’s cofounders, chief executive Ofer Freyman, chief revenue officer Lihi Pinto-Fryman and chief operating officer Idan Pinto

Syte’s cofounders, chief executive Ofer Freyman, chief revenue officer Lihi Pinto-Fryman and chief operating officer Idan Pinto

Tel Aviv-based visual search and product discovery platform Syte, already used by brands like Farfetch and Fashion Nova, plans to expand in the United States and Asia-Pacific region after its latest funding. The startup announced today it has raised a $30 million Series C, with an additional $10 million in debt.

The round was led by Viola Ventures, with participation from LG Tech Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures, Kreos Capital, and returning investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund. Syte’s last round of funding, a $21.5 million Series B, was announced in September 2019. The startup has now raised a total of $71 million.

Launched in 2015 to focus on visual search for clothing, Syte’s technology now covers other verticals like jewelry and home decor, and is used by brands including Farfetch, Fashion Nova, Castorama and Signet Jewelers. Syte says that its solutions can increase conversion by 177% on average.

The company’s platform includes three main products: Visual Discovery to let brands add camera search, recommendation engines and discovery buttons; “Searchendising,” which automatically generates tags based on visual AI to improve search and recommendation results; and a Discovery Marketplace used by publishers, smart devices manufacturers and social platforms to increase the reach of product advertisements.

Since the beginning of 2020, Syte says its customer base has grown 38%, partly because of the increase in e-commerce traffic caused by COVID-19 movement restrictions.

In the company’s press announcement, chief executive officer and co-founder Ofer Fryman said Syte will focus on developing or acquiring product discovery technology “spanning the full range of our senses—visual, text, voice, and more” to create types of personalized recommendations.

A lot of Syte’s current customers are in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, so its new funding is also earmarked to increase its presence in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific markets.

More social media platforms and e-commerce platforms, including Amazon, Target, IKEA, Walmart, eBay, Snap, and Pinterest, are using visual search and recognition technology to give users an alternative to keyword searches. By simplifying the search process or automatically generating tags, visual recognition technology can help improve search results and product recommendations, resulting in more conversions.

There is a roster of other companies that are also working on AI-based visual recognition and search technology for e-commerce. Other startups in the same space that have raised venture capital funding include Donde Search, ViSenze and Slyce.

Gal Fontyn, Syte’s vice president of marketing, told TechCrunch that it differentiates with visual AI algorithms developed by co-founder and chief technology officer Helge Voss, who previously worked as a physicist at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research).

Voss’ background in neural networks and machine learning allowed Syte to build a visual search solution that can produce results with over 95% accuracy in object-matching within less than a second, Fontyn said. Its algorithms have also been trained on millions of products from vendors around the world, which Syte claims gives it the “largest vertical-specific lexicon in the industry.” This is what allows it to recognize several objects within an image, and assign them detailed tags.

Brands that use Syte see a 423% increase on average on ROI, Fontyn added.

#e-commerce, #fundings-exits, #israel, #startups, #syte, #tc, #visual-recognition, #visual-search


Amazon launches a program to pay consumers for their data on non-Amazon purchases

Amazon has launched a new program that directly pays consumers for information about what they’re purchasing outside of and for responding to short surveys. The program, Amazon Shopper Panel, asks users to send in 10 receipts per month for any purchases made at non-Amazon retailers, including grocery stores, department stores, drug stores and entertainment outlets (if open), like movie theaters, theme parks, and restaurants.

Amazon’s own stores, like Whole Foods, Amazon Go, Amazon Four Star and Amazon Books do not qualify.

Program participants will take advantage of the newly launched Amazon Shopper Panel mobile app on iOS and Android to take pictures of paper receipts that qualify or they can opt to forward emailed receipts to to earn a $10 reward that can then be applied to their Amazon Balance or used as a charitable donation.

Amazon says users can then earn additional rewards each month for every survey they complete. The optional surveys will ask about brands and products that may interest the participant and how likely they are to purchase a product. Other surveys may ask what the shopper thinks of an ad. These rewards may vary, depending on the survey.

The program is currently opt-in and invite-only, and is also only open to U.S. consumers at this time. Invited participants can now download the newly launched Shopper Panel app and join the panel. Other interested users can use the app to join a waitlist for an invite.

Image Credits: Amazon

Amazon claims it will delete any sensitive information from the receipts users upload, like prescription information. But it doesn’t delete users’ personal information, instead storing it in accordance with its existing Privacy Policy. It will allow users to delete their previously uploaded receipts, if they choose, but it’s not clear that will actually remove collected data from Amazon’s systems.

Consumer research panels are common operations, but in Amazon’s case, it plans to use the data in several different ways.

On the website, Amazon explains it “may use” customer data to improve product selection at and Whole Food Market, as well as to improve the content selection offered through Amazon services, like Prime Video.

Amazon also says the collected data will help advertisers better understand the relationship between their ads and product purchases at an aggregate level and will help Amazon build models about which groups of customers are likely to be interested in certain products.

And Amazon may choose to offer data to brands to help them gain feedback on existing products, the website notes.

Image Credits: Amazon

The program’s launch follows increased scrutiny over Amazon’s anti-competitive business practices in the U.S. and abroad when it comes to using consumers’ purchase data.

Amazon came under fire from U.S. regulators over how it had leveraged third-party merchants’ sales data to benefit its own private label business. When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testified before Congress in July, he said the company had a policy against doing this, but couldn’t confirm that policy hadn’t been violated. The retailer may also be facing antitrust charges over the practice in the E.U..

At the same time, Amazon has been increasing its investment in its advertising business, which grew by 44% year-over-year in Q1 to reach $3.91 billion. That was a  faster growth rate than both Google (13%) and Facebook (17%), even if tiny by comparison — Google ads made $28 billion that quarter and Facebook made $17.4 billion, Digiday reported.

As the pandemic has accelerated the shift to e-commerce by 5 years or so, Amazon’s need to better optimize advertising space has also been sped up — and it may rapidly need to ingest more data that what it can collect directly from its own website.

In a message to advertisers about the program’s launch, Amazon positioned its e-commerce business as a small piece of the overall retail market — a point it often makes in hopes of avoiding regulation:

“In this incredibly competitive retail environment, Amazon works with brands of all sizes to help them grow their businesses not just in our store, but also across the myriad of places customers shop. We also work hard to provide our selling partners—and small businesses in particular—with tools, insights, and data to help them be successful in our store. But our store is just one piece of the puzzle. Customers routinely use Amazon to discover and learn about products before purchasing them elsewhere. In fact, Amazon only represents 4% of US retail sales. Brands therefore often look to third-party consumer panel and business intelligence firms like Nielsen and NPD, and many segment-specific data providers, for additional information. Such opt-in consumer panels are well-established and used by many companies to gather consumer feedback and shopping insights. These firms aggregate shopping behaviors across stores to report data like average sales price, total units sold, and revenue on tens of thousands of the most popular products.”

The retailer then explained that the Shopper Panel could help it to support sellers and brands by offering additional insights beyond its own store.

Amazon doesn’t say when the program waitlist will be removed, but says anyone can sign up starting today.

#advertising, #amazon, #amazon-com, #business-intelligence, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #online-shopping, #retailers, #united-states, #whole-foods


FloorFound is bringing online return and resale to direct to consumer furniture businesses

Over the next five years consumers will return an estimated 40 million to 50 million pieces of furniture that more than likely will end up in landfills, creating tons of unnecessary waste, according to Chris Richter, the founder of a new Austin-based furniture startup, FloorFound.

To reduce that waste, and give retailers another option for their used goods, Richter has launched FloorFound. The company is designed to manage furniture returns and resale for online merchants. So far, companies like Floyd Home, Inside Weather, Outer and Feather (the furniture rental company) are using FloorFound’s services.

“We have a very large pipeline and we’ve been operating since April first,” said Richter. “We can pick up in any major metro locally and inspect it locally. We have a platform layer where we can run inspections against those items.”

As consumers look to reduce their environmental footprint, an easy place to start is by buying used items, Richter said, and he expects that most brands will start to incorporate used and new products in their virtual and real showrooms. “Every brand will commingle new items with resale items,” he said. “We are trying to put retailers in the resale business with their own return inventory.” To prove his point, Richter pointed to companies like REI and The Gap, which have partnered with ThredUp to sell used clothes.

To compliment its returns business and give online sellers a way to work more seamlessly with local vendors the company has logistics partnerships with providers including Pilot Freight Services, Metropolitan Warehouse and Delivery and J.B. Hunt Transport.

Working with co-founder Ryan Matthews, the former director of technology for the Austin-based high end retailer Kendra Scott, Richter has set up a business that can tap into both the demand for better customer service for the return of large items and the growing call for greater sustainability in the furniture industry.

It was an attractive enough proposition to attract a pre-seed investment from Schematic Ventures, a venture fund focused exclusively on technological innovations for supply chain management.

“The broken experience of oversized e-commerce has kept a multi-billion dollar category offline. It’s not a simple problem: oversized items require coordination of a hyper-fragmented micro carrier network, complex physical processing, and then re-injection into an e-commerce channel that aligns with the brand,” said Julian Counihan, a general partner at Schematic Ventures. “UPS and FedEx just aren’t going to cut it. FloorFound is tackling this challenge with a team tailor-made for the task: Chris Richter, Ryan Matthews and Shannon Hardt have backgrounds spanning supply chain, delivery, e-commerce and enterprise software. FloorFound will be the final push that moves the remaining offline categories, online.” 

#articles, #austin, #business, #co-founder, #delivery, #e-commerce, #enterprise-software, #fedex, #general-partner, #marketing, #online-shopping, #supply-chain, #tc, #the-gap, #thredup, #ups


Ignore Phone Companies About 5G

The cellular networks might be life-changing in the future. Not today.

#5g-wireless-communications, #e-commerce, #smartphones


Manhattan Emptied Out During the Pandemic. But Big Tech Is Moving In.

The four companies known as Big Tech — Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google — now have more than 22,000 employees in the city, with thousands added just this year.

#amazon-com-inc, #apple-inc, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-commerce, #facebook-inc, #google-inc, #labor-and-jobs, #mongodb-inc, #new-york-city, #real-estate-commercial, #renting-and-leasing-real-estate


Hong Kong and New York-based Easyship joins Shopify Plus’ tech partner program

Easyship, a logistics startup that allows e-commerce sellers to add multiple carriers to their stores, announced it has joined the Shopify Plus Technology Partner Program. Easyship is headquartered in Hong Kong and New York. Co-founder Tommaso Tamburnotti told TechCrunch it is the only shipping app in Asia for Shopify Plus, the e-commerce platform’s solution for large companies and high-volume shippers.

Founded in 2015 by Tamburnotti and Augustin Ceyrac, both veterans of Southeast Asia e-commerce giant Lazada, and former banker Paul Lugagne Delpon, Easyship’s platform is includes more than 250 shipping options from carriers including UPS, FedEx and DHL, pre-negotiated discounted rates and the automation of tasks like taxes and duty charges. So far, Easyship says it has served more than 100,000 clients.

According to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), volumes of international postal packages dispatched have grown during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for things like electrical machinery, pharmaceutical products, mechanical appliances and accessories. At the same time, customs and movement restrictions, as well as a drop in air traffic, have created new challenges for cross-border sellers.

Tamburnotti told TechCrunch that COVID “has been a big shock to the logistics industry,” starting with manufacturers shutting down in China, which resulted in delays for many e-commerce consumer brands.

After factories in China reopened, however, Tamburnotti said there was a surge in production, and about an 80% increase in e-commerce orders worldwide. But the drop in the number of commercial passenger flights, which typically also carry small parcels, resulted longer delivery wait times, and additional courier fees.

In addition to its headquarters in Hong Kong and New York, Easyship also has offices in Singapore, London and Australia, and Tamburnotti said “being a truly global company helps us provide shipping solutions to our clients that need to reach their clients worldwide.”


#asia, #e-commerce, #easyship, #fundings-exits, #hong-kong, #logistics, #shipping, #shopify-plus, #startups, #tc


Black-Owned Watch Brands Rising

Owners say the #BuyBlack movement and digital strengths have spurred sales.

#crowdfunding-internet, #e-commerce, #shopping-and-retail, #watches-and-clocks


Are Amazon Jobs Worth 1,400 Loads of Traffic? French Region Is Split

The picturesque Gard desperately needs more employment. But environmentalists are pushing back at what they see as a looming blight.

#amazon-com-inc, #e-commerce, #fournes-france, #france, #gard-france, #labor-and-jobs, #pollution, #roads-and-traffic, #unemployment


When Your Last $166 Vanishes: ‘Fast Fraud’ Surges on Payment Apps

People are getting defrauded as they turn to Square’s Cash App and PayPal’s Venmo to do more online banking in the pandemic.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #computers-and-the-internet, #consumer-reviews, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #customer-relations, #e-commerce, #frauds-and-swindling, #mobile-applications, #mobile-commerce-and-payments, #paypal, #security-and-warning-systems, #square-inc, #zelle-early-warning-services-llc


Customers Still Like to Shop in Person, Even if They Get Only to the Curb

Online orders have surged for retailers in the pandemic, as curbside pickup helps Americans satisfy their desire to hop in a car and drive to the store.

#amazon-com-inc, #dicks-sporting-goods-inc, #e-commerce, #robb-walter-1953, #shopping-and-retail, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #target-corporation, #walmart-stores-inc


12 Accusations in the Damning House Report on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google

Lawmakers said they found multiple problems with each of the four giant tech companies.

#amazon-com-inc, #antitrust-laws-and-competition-issues, #apple-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #data-mining-and-database-marketing, #e-commerce, #facebook-inc, #google-inc, #house-of-representatives, #mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures, #mobile-applications, #search-engines, #social-media, #software


Instagram expands shopping on IGTV, plans test of shopping on Reels

Instagram this morning announced the global expansion of its Instagram Shopping service across IGTV. The product, which lets you watch a video then checkout with a few taps, offers creators and influencers a way to more directly monetize their user base on Instagram, while also giving brands a way to sell merchandise to their followers. Instagram said it would also soon begin testing shopping within its newer feature and TikTok rival, Reels.

Image Credits: Instagram

Shopping has become a larger part of the Instagram experience over the past few years.

Instagram’s Explore section in 2018 gained a personalized Shopping channel filled with the things Instagram believed you’d want the most. It also expanded Shopping tags to Stories. Last year, it launched Checkout, a way to transact within the app when you saw something you wanted to buy. And just this summer, Instagram redesigned its dedicated Shop section, now powered by Facebook Pay.

Today, Instagram users can view products and make purchases across IGTV, Instagram Live, and Stories.

On IGTV, users can either complete the purchase via the in-app checkout or they can visit the seller’s website to buy. However, the expectation is that many shoppers will choose to pay for their items without leaving the app, for convenience’s sake. This allows Instagram to collect selling fees on those purchases. At scale, this can produce a new revenue stream for the company — particularly now as consumers shop online more than ever, due to the coronavirus pandemic’s acceleration of e-commerce.

In the future, Instagram says its shoppable IGTV videos will be made discoverable on Instagram Shop, as well.

Given its intention to make shopping a core part of the Instagram platform, it’s not surprising that the company intends to make Reels shoppable, too.

“Digital creators and brands help bring emerging culture to Instagram, and people come to Instagram to get inspired by them. By bringing shopping to IGTV and Reels, we’re making it easy to shop directly from videos. And in turn, helping sellers share their story, reach customers, and make a living,” said Instagram COO Justin Osofsky, in a statement.

Instagram isn’t alone in seeing the potential for shopping inspired by short-form video content. Walmart’s decision to try to acquire a stake in TikTok is tied to the growing “social commerce” trend which mixes together social media and online shopping to create a flurry of demand for new products — like a modern-day QVC aimed at Gen Z and broadcast across smartphones’ small screens.

By comparison, TikTok so far has only dabbled with social commerce. It has run select ad tests, like a partnership with Levi’s during the early days of the pandemic to create influencer-created ads that appeared in users’ feeds and directed users’ to Levi’s website. It has also experimented with allowing users to add links to e-commerce sites to TikTok profiles and other features.

Instagram didn’t say when Reels would gain shopping features, beyond “later this year.”


#e-commerce, #ecommerce, #facebook, #igtv, #instagram, #mobile-e-commerce, #online-shopping, #reels, #shopping, #social


How Many Lives Can a Fashion Brand Have?

Sonia Rykiel gets ready for yet another reinvention.

#dayan-eric, #dayan-michael-fashion-executive, #e-commerce, #fashion-and-apparel, #luxury-goods-and-services, #shopping-and-retail, #sonia-rykiel-cdm


Online garden shop Bloomscape raises $15M Series B, acquires plant care app Vera

If you thought to invest in more plants or started growing a small garden during 2020’s coronavirus lockdowns, you weren’t alone. According to Bloomscape, a company that ships live plants straight from greenhouses to customers’ homes, a number of people become interested in plants this year, increasing demand for its already growing service. Today, Bloomscape announced it’s expanding its business with the addition of $15 million in Series B funding as well as the acquisition of plant care app Vera.

The new round of financing was led by General Catalyst, and included participation from Annox Capital’s Bob Mylod; former Chairman of Booking Holdings and Home Depot board member Jeff Boyd; former Seventh Generation and Burt’s Bees CEO John Replogle; along with existing investors Revolution Ventures and Ludlow Ventures.

Joel Cutler, co-founder and Managing Director of General Catalyst and Bob Mylod, Managing Partner at Annox Capital Management will join Bloomscape’s Board of Directors as part of the round. To date, Bloomscape has raised $24 million.

Image Credits: Bloomscape, screenshot via TechCrunch

Bloomscape was founded by Michigan designer and entrepreneur Justin Mast and launched in 2018 with the goal of reinventing how plants move about the country and arrive on customers’ doorsteps.

Today, there are other businesses that ship live plants, including home improvement stores and large e-commerce retailers like Amazon. But what makes Bloomscape different are the steps it has made to ensure a better delivery process and its logistics operations behind-the-scenes.

The company has filed a patent on parts of its plant packaging technology, where plants and pots are held securely at the right temperature. It also uses a proprietary soil mix that has a bonding agent that holds the soil together better during shipping and better protects the roots, explains Boomscape CEO Justin Mast.

In addition, because plants are shipped directly to the customer from the greenhouse, they’re healthier upon arrival than those spend, on average, 4 weeks traveling from a greenhouse to a big box store before being sent to a customer’s home.

The company is also now working to refine its regional fulfillment strategy to include localized centers and systems that will shorten transit times even further.

Image Credits: Bloomscape

Mast stresses that Bloomscape’s success to date wasn’t dependent on any one factor, but rather has been a combination of people, processes and systems.

“Key people on our product and supply chain team have decades of experience in shipping plants around the country through couriers and best in class fulfillment processes,” says Mast. “And now internally we have gathered a massive amount of information about which plants ship well during varying conditions. We are now systematizing this information so we can really optimize our product mixes to really ensure healthy plants, more successful plant parents, and ultimately a much better customer experience,” he notes.

Even before the pandemic, Bloomscape was seeing steadily rising growth. Though the company doesn’t share its specific metrics, Mast would say that his business has grown by 4x since last year and it has more than doubled its staff.

Millennials are Bloomscape’s fast-growing segment, including those outside urban centers in the south and mid-Atlantic regions. Many are also new or recent single-family homeowners, as well.

When COVID-19 hit and lockdowns were in force, Bloomscape had to quickly adapt to not just growing consumer demand but also a remote work lifestyle among employees.

“During a time of immeasurable difficulty for so many people, we are very fortunate that the business was not negatively affected by the pandemic. During the first few months of COVID, along with the rest of the world, we saw a lot of things change,” Mast says. “A lot of people found comfort and became interested in plants. We are incredibly grateful that our plants offer that little bit of solace and joy via nature into the home. We were thrilled to be able to bring something so meaningful to people during that time,” he adds.

The accelerated shift to e-commerce prompted by the pandemic will likely continue to benefit Bloomscape even when the health crisis passes. Plus, as Mast points out, once people dip their toe in with plants, they often don’t stop at one.

As a part of the funding news, Bloomscape also acquired plant care app Vera for an undisclosed sum. The deal was for the tech only, not the team who built the app itself, we’re told.

Image Credits: Bloomscape

Vera today provides customers with plant care tips, content, troubleshooting help, watering reminders and more. Bloomscape plans to leverage the app to better connect with customers and integrate its own plant care content and resources, like its existing Talk to Plant Mom plant care assistance service.

In addition to its expansion of plant care offering with Vera, Bloomscape plans to use the new capital to grow its team, refine its regional fulfillment strategy, and launch new products. One such product is its Edible Garden Shop, where customers can buy small tomato, lavender, sweet pepper, hot pepper, kale mix, mint and chamomile plants.

Next year, the company will move into outdoor plants, the company says.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a team that understands a consumer vertical better than Bloomscape does with home gardening,” said Joel Cutler, co-founder and managing director, General Catalyst, in a statement about his firm’s investment. “The team has found not just excellence in the complicated logistics of cultivating and shipping live plants nationwide, but also a strong resonance with today’s consumer who’s looking to green up their living spaces,” he said.


#bloomscape, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #funding, #online-shopping, #plants


Amazon launches a virtual tours and experience platform, Amazon Explore

Amazon today is launching a new service called Amazon Explore that allows customers to book live, virtual experiences led by local experts. The experiences may be focused on creativity, learning DIY skills, taking virtual tours of far-off places or cultural landmarks, or, in some cases, shopping local boutiques from around the world.

For example, you could book a virtual wine tasting experiences in Argentina, learn how to make smoked fish tacos in Mexico, take a virtual tour of Kyoto’s Nanzenji Temple, tour a 500-year old mansion in Peru, learn about coffee creation in Costa Rica, learn how to make sushi from a home kitchen in Tokyo, and more.

Image Credits: Amazon, screenshot via TechCrunch

Though the tours and experiences offer the ability to virtually travel the globe, the ability to sign up for an Amazon Explore session is currently offered on an invite-only basis for customers in the U.S. only.

The virtual experiences themselves will be guided by local experts who are trained and supported by Amazon, the company says. While there are other ways to virtually tour the world — like watching YouTube videos or perhaps taking guided tours via Google Earth — the Amazon Explore experience is different because it’s a one-on-one session between the host and the viewer, enabled by one-way video and two-way audio for real-time communication. This is meant to give the viewer more of the feeling of really “being there,” compared with experiences where you more passively watch the video on the screen.

Image Credits: Amazon, screenshot via TechCrunch

The sessions themselves range 30 to 60 minutes in length and can be canceled or rescheduled with up to 24 hours’ notice. When it’s time to begin your tour, you’ll just sign into your Amazon account online then click in to Your Session page from the “Your Orders” section to get started.

The sessions will require you have a laptop or desktop, as they’re not mobile-friendly at this time. You’ll also need to have a Chrome, Edge or Safari web browser, functional microphone (the built-in one is fine), and a set of headphones or speakers, as well as an internet connection of 5 mbps or higher.

During the session, you can ask questions or further direct the experience by asking the host to spend more time on one aspect of the experience or skipping another. You can also use the camera icon at the bottom of the livestream to take photos.

Image Credits: Amazon, screenshot via TechCrunch

Some, but not all, experiences are also shopping-enabled. In these cases, customers are able to visit local stores and markets, browse items and ask questions of the shop owner as if they were there in person. They can then choose to make a purchase and receive the items they bought as if they had been shopping on directly. When they make a purchase, the payments are handled within Amazon’s secure payment system using the payment method associated with the customer’s account. It then will reimburse the host for the item purchased, accordingly.

In these shopping-enabled experiences, Amazon is somewhat tapping into the livestream shopping trend, but instead of having an influencer talk about and demo a product — as is often the case on Amazon Live, for example — you can actually ask the shop owner questions or have them zoom into the product or turn it over and around for a better look.

Image Credits: Amazon, screenshot via TechCrunch

Though Amazon has built live-streaming tools for its Live platform, the company says the Amazon Explore experience uses unique technology, and it’s not leveraging

Amazon says the new platform enables more opportunities for small business owners looking to generate additional income, including shop owners, local guides, chefs, stylists, artists and artisans, for example. Many of these businesses have been impacted by the pandemic, of course, which may prompt their participation.

Pricing for the sessions is variable. At launch, there’s a virtual styling session being offered for just $10, for example. Meanwhile, a virtual tour of NYC’s Central Park is going for $150. Amazon says the hosts set their own prices and hours, without having to abide by any set minimum or maximum price. However, the company declined to detail any revenue sharing agreements.

At launch, many of the experiences on the site offered on the site are being offered by local tour operators, though any business who has a tour idea is invited to apply. Others who could host experiences include historians, artists, musicians, master craftsmen, chefs, personal shoppers, or anyone with a skill or adventure to share, says Amazon.

There are currently 86 total experiences available across 16 countries with the plan to grow the selection in time.

The feature is now being offered in public beta to users in the U.S. on an invite-only basis.

#amazon, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #live-streaming, #live-video, #livestream, #shopping, #virtual, #virtual-tours


One Retailer’s Pandemic Survival Plan

How technology investments paid off for one chain of stores that had to rethink everything.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-commerce, #shopping-and-retail


Amazon launches a $4.99-per-month ‘personal shopper’ service for men’s fashion

Amazon is introducing a personal shopping service for men’s fashion. The service, now available to Prime members, is an expansion of the existing Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe, a $4.99 per month Stitch Fix rival, originally aimed at women. With Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe, an Amazon stylist selects an assortment of fashion items that match a customer’s style and fit preferences. These are are then shipped to the customer on a monthly basis for home try-on. Whatever the customer doesn’t want to keep can be returned using the resealable package and the prepaid shipping label provided.

At launch, the new men’s personal shopping service will include brands like Scotch & Soda, Original Penguin, Adidas, Lacoste, Carhartt, Levi’s, Amazon Essentials, Goodthreads, and more — a mix of both Amazon’s own in-house brands and others. In total, Amazon says Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe will offer hundred of thousands of men’s styles across more than a thousand different brands.

The service itself is similar in many ways to Stitch Fix, as it also starts customers with a style quiz to personalize their monthly fashion selections. Also like competitive fashion subscription services, customers can reach out to their stylist with specific requests  — like if they need a professional outfit for job interview, for example, or some other occasion where they may want something outside their usual interests.

But unlike Stitch Fix, which charges a $20 “stylist fee” which is later credited towards any items you choose to keep, Amazon’s personal shopping service is a flat $4.99 per month. Another difference is that the Personal Shopper service will alert you ahead of your shipment to review their picks. You then choose the up to 8 items you want to receive, instead of waiting for the surprise of opening your box.

Image Credits: Amazon

Before today, Amazon had offered men’s fashion in its try-before-you-buy Prime Wardrobe product selection. But that service simply allows Amazon Prime members to request certain fashion items for home try-on, instead of paying for them upfront then returning what doesn’t work. To date, Prime Wardrobe’s biggest drawback has been that many of the fashion items found on Amazon aren’t eligible for home try-on, particularly many of those from the most in-demand brands.

However, Amazon claims it doesn’t stuff Prime Wardrobe with only its own brands. The company says less than 1% of its total selection of brands within Prime Wardrobe are Amazon-owned. (Of course, that percentage may be higher in the boxes customers receive from their personal shopper, at times.)

Amazon also says millions of customers have used the home try-on option provided by Prime Wardrobe and   “hundreds of thousands” of customers have created fashion profiles within Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe since its 2019 launch.

However, only “tens of thousands” of customers today use the Personal Shopper service on a monthly basis.

That means Prime Wardrobe is no real threat to Stitch Fix at this time, if making a comparison purely based on number of paying customers.

StitchFix has had longer to perfect its model and refine its insights which has allowed it to grow its active client base to 3.5 million. That figure is up 9% year-over-year, as of the company’s latest earnings reported earlier this month. More recently, Stitch Fix benefited from the pandemic — after it got through its initial backlogged orders — as customers sought to change their style from businesswear to activewear.

Men’s activewear had been particularly in demand, which is perhaps a trend Amazon had also seen ahead of the launch of its new service.

While home try-on via Prime Wardrobe is available today in the U.S., UK, Germany, Austria and Japan, the Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe subscription is currently available in the U.S. only. It’s also only available on mobile devices.


#amazon, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #fashion, #mens-fashion


‘I Love New York’ Is More Than a Motto

As retail chains abandon Manhattan, New Yorkers can rebuild a city that is more hospitable to its small businesses.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-commerce, #manhattan-nyc, #new-york-city, #renting-and-leasing-real-estate, #shopping-and-retail, #shutdowns-institutional, #small-business, #zoning


5 Things to Avoid on Prime Day

There will be many traps to fall into, so watch out.

#amazon-com-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #content-type-service, #e-commerce, #shopping-and-retail


Can Amazon Conquer the World?

And what might we gain and lose from that?

#amazon-com-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-commerce, #italy, #shopping-and-retail, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores


Strangers’ Things

Earning money online by selling intimate objects that aren’t obviously sexual (including emotions).

#e-commerce, #generation-z, #millennial-generation, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #sex, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #youth


Pasta, Wine and Inflatable Pools: How Amazon Conquered Italy in the Pandemic

The e-commerce giant had struggled to gain a foothold in a society that prefers to shop in person, with cash, but now Italians are hooked on online shopping.

#amazon-com-inc, #antitrust-laws-and-competition-issues, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-commerce, #italy, #labor-and-jobs, #pasta, #politics-and-government, #quarantines, #shopping-and-retail, #shutdowns-institutional


Free the Apps!

Apple and Google have a virtual monopoly on distributing mobile apps — that’s bad for competition.

#android-operating-system, #antitrust-laws-and-competition-issues, #apple-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #cook-timothy-d, #e-commerce, #epic-games, #google-inc, #mobile-applications, #mobile-commerce-and-payments, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #smartphones, #software, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #sweeney-tim-1970


Black Women Wanting Wigs Face Shortage

Supply-chain problems have interrupted Black women’s efforts to stockpile during the pandemic.

#black-people, #e-commerce, #hair, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #wigs, #women-and-girls


Here’s everything Amazon announced at its latest hardware event

From new Ring flying indoor drone cameras to an adorable new kids version of one of its most popular Amazon home products, Jeff Bezos’ Seattle retailer unveiled a slew of new hardware goodies just ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Echo updates

Image Credits: Amazon

Amazon kicked off its latest hardware showcase by unveiling a new version of the company’s Echo devices, which now include spherical speakers (with a version for kids featuring cute animal graphics). Amazon also unveiled an updated, more personalized Echo capabilities and a new tracking feature for its Show 10 that mirrors Facebook’s Portal in its ability to follow users as they move around a room.

Ring’s new things

Ring also had plenty to pitch at the Amazon hardware show. The security camera company is updating its line with the Always Home Cam, a diminutive drone that can be scheduled to fly preset paths, which users can determine themselves.

It also rolled out new hardware for the automotive market with three different devices focused on car owners. A Ring Car Alarm that will retail for $59.99; and the Car Cam and Car Connect will both be $199.99. Ring Car Alarm provides basic features that work with the Ring app, sending alerts to trigger a series of potential responses. The alarm also integrates with other Ring devices or Amazon Alexa hardware and connects using Amazon’s low-bandwidth Sidewalk wireless network protocol.

Meanwhile, the Car Cam allows users to check in on their car via video as long as users are in range of a wifi network, or opt-in to the additional LTE companion plan Ring is selling. The cam also includes an Emergency Crash Assist feature that alerts first responders, and a recording feature that turns on if a user says “Alexa, I’m being pulled over”. Finally, the car connect is an API that manufacturers, starting with Tesla, can use to provide Ring customers with mobile alerts for events detected around vehicles or watch footage recorded with onboard cameras.

Ring also added new opt-in end-to-end video encryption for those users who want it.

New ways to Fire TV

Image Credits: Amazon

The company’s TV platform got several updates. The biggest is probably the addition of the new, lower cost Fire TV Stick Lite at $29.99. For $39.99, meanwhile, you can pick up the new Fire TV Stick, which features a process that’s 50% faster. The platform is also adding Video Calling — a nice addition in the era of working from home — along with a new, improved layout.

Amazon goes ga-ga for gaming

Last, but certainly not least, Amazon announced its new game-streaming platform, Luna.

The long-awaited gaming competitor to Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud is launching an early access version at a price of $5.99 per-month, the company said. Users will be able to stream titles wirelessly without downloading games and can play across PC, Mac, and iOS (via the web).

Initially, the company will have more than 50 titles in the Luna+ app, including at least one Sonic title and Remedy Entertainment’s control. There’s a partnership with Ubisoft in the works, but access to those games may require a separate subscription.


#alexa, #amazon, #amazon-alexa, #amazon-echo, #artificial-intelligence, #bing, #computing, #e-commerce, #facebook, #google, #google-nest, #hardware, #jeff-bezos, #luna, #microsoft, #ring, #seattle, #smart-speakers, #sonic, #subscription-services, #tc, #tesla, #ubisoft, #xcloud


Netflix finally comes to the Amazon Echo Show

Amazon announced the Echo Show line in 2017, and today, it’s finally gaining access to Netflix. The video service joins Hulu and Prime Video as the only officially supported video streaming apps.6

The news came from Amazon’s yearly Echo event where the company unveiled a series of new products and services including redesigned speakers and updated Alexa capabilities.

Amazon executives spoke on how they have data that shows Echo Show owners love watching content on the small screens. Netflix should make that crowd happy. When Netflix, Hulu, or Prime Video is viewed on the just-announced Echo Show 10, the unit will swivel on its motorized stand, following the viewer if they move around the room.

#alexa, #amazon, #amazon-echo, #amazon-echo-show, #amazon-fire-tv, #companies, #e-commerce, #echo-show, #hulu, #netflix, #prime-video, #smart-speakers, #software, #tc


#Hintergrund – Über den großen Millionenrausch im D2C-Segment

In der bunten E-Commerce-Welt – genauer im boomenden Direct to Consumer-Segment – gab es in den vergangenen Jahren einige extrem spannende Exits zu sehen. Und dabei war E-Commerce – bis zur Corona-Krise – zuletzt eher ein Thema, auf das nicht mehr so viele Investoren und Angel-Investoren gesetzt haben. Etlichen Direct to Consumer-Startups gelang es aber dennoch – vor allem über Influencer und Social Media – ihre Zielgruppe zu finden. Eine Zielgruppe, die klassische Marken kaum noch erreichen.

Somit sind diverse Exits an große Unternehmen relativ einfach zu erklären – und auch die hohen Summen, die die Unternehmen dafür gezahlt haben. Im Sommer 2019 etwa sicherte sich Mars die Mehrheit an Foodspring, einem Anbieter von Fitnessriegeln. Der Kaufpreis soll bei rund 250 Millionen Euro gelegen haben. Noch ganz frisch ist der Verkauf von HelloBody, Banana Beauty sowie Mermaid+Me an Henkel. Das Unternehmen zahlte wohl mehr als 300 Millionen Euro für die drei Marken aus dem Hause Invicible Brands.

Spannend zu sehen ist auch das Netzwerk der erfolgreichen Unternehmen und ihrer Investoren untereinander. Lesara-Gründer Roman Kirsch und Business Angel Pascal Zuta etwa unterstützen Fitvia, das zu einer Bewertung von rund 50 Millionen an das Pharmaunternehmen Dermapharm ging. Pascal Zuta und Fitvia-Macher Sebastian Merkhoffer wiederum gehörten auch zu den Geldgebern von Invicible Brands. Lesara-Macher Kirsch und Fitvia-Gründer Merkhoffer gründeten zudem gerade das neue Kosmetik-Startup HappyGlam.

Und Akos Piffko, Ankur Bansal und Sascha Dexler, die zuvor bei Invincible Brands aktiv waren, gründeten 2018 das Berliner Startup Hashtag You. Das Unternehmen positioniert sich als “ambitious brand builder in the field of direct-to-consumer e-commerce”. Momentan ist das Unternehmen unter anderem mit Ava & May (Schmuck und Duftkerzen) unterwegs. TriplePoint Ventures investierte gemeinsam mit Business Angels wie Mario Lebherz, Dirk-Hilmar Kraus, Paul Schwarzenholz und Björn Kolbmüller bereits in das junge Berliner Startup.

Seriengründer und Business Angel Kirsch investierte zudem gerade in Yepoda. Beim Berliner Beauty-Startup finden schönheitsbewusste Onliner koreanische Hautpflege, also sogenannte K-Beauty-Produkte. Gründer der Jungfirma sind Sander van Bladel (früher Marketing Director bei Lesara) und Veronika Strotmann (Brand Strategy Director bei Leverate Media). Business Angel Zuta ist zudem gemeinsam mit diversen anderen Angel-Investoren gerade bei salted eingestiegen.

Das junge Berliner Beauty-Startup beschreibt sich selbst als “junge, innovative Kosmetikmarke”. Die Jungfirma, die von Moritz Richter und Florian Karber geführt wird, vertreibt Produkte mit natürlichen Wirkstoffen. Zuta ist zudem auch bei gitti, das gerade von Grazia Equity und btov Partners 3 Millionen bekommen hat, an Bord. In der Gründer-Show “Die Höhle der Löwen” interessierten sich Judith Williams und Dagmar Wöhrl für das Nagellack-Startup, das Jennifer Baum-Minkus gegründet wurde.

Die Liste mit Investments und Beteiligungen in neue Direct to Consumer-Ideen ließe sich noch “ewig” fortführen. Auffällig ist derzeit ein besonderer Fokus auf Beauty- und Kosmetik-Themen. Dass die Welt der Direct to Consumer aber kein Selbstläufer ist, zeigt das Beispiel Horizn Studios. In den vergangenen Jahren flossen rund 25 Millionen Euro in das Berliner Smart-Luggage-Startup. In der Corona-Krise scheiterte das Unternehmen dann und legte schließlich einen Neustart hin – ohne Investoren.

Spannende D2C-Exits in Deutschland

Alpha Foods
Im Mai 2020 übernahm die belgische Health-Firma Sylphar Alpha Foods, einen Anbieter von Nahrungsergänzungsmitteln und veganen Ernährungsprodukten. Das Startup wurde 2015 von Wolfgang Dorfner, der vorher für Google und Facebook gearbeitet hat, gegründet und bis zum kolportierten Millionen-Exit ohne einen einzigen Mitarbeiter betrieben. Vor dem Verkauf soll Alpha Foods zweistellige Millionenumsätze erwirtschaftet haben.

Im Sommer 2019 übernahm das Pharmaunternehmen Dermapharm die Mehrheit an Fitvia (70 %). Die restlichen Anteile behielt Gründer Sebastian Merkhoffer, der das Wiesbadener Startup, das hochpreisige Teesorten verkauft, 2014 gegründet hat. Die Bewertung lag bei rund 50 Millionen Euro. Für den Start von Fitvia, früher als Fittea bekannt, lieh er sich der Firmenlegende zufolge lediglich 500 Euro von seinem Vater. Weiteres Geld pumpten dann Lesara-Gründer Roman Kirsch und Business Angel Pascal Zuta in das 2014 gestartete Startup.

Im Sommer 2019 sicherte sich der Food-Gigant Mars die Mehrheit am Berliner Food-Startup Foodspring, einem Anbieter von Fitnessriegeln, Proteinshakes und Nahrungsergänzungsmittel. Das Food-Unternehmen, das 2013 von Philipp Schrempp und Tobias Schüle sowie Econa gegründet wurde, lieferte seine Produkte damals weltweit in 17 Länder. Der Kaufpreis für Foodspring, früher auch als egg bekannt, soll bei rund 250 Millionen Euro gelegen haben. Investoren waren unter anderem btov Partners und der Medienkonzer Ringier.

Invicible Brands
Der Konsumgüterkonzern Henkel übernahm im August 2020 von Invicible Brands 75 % an den Marken HelloBody, Banana Beauty sowie Mermaid+Me. Henkel zahlte mehr als 300 Millionen Euro dafür. In den zwölf Monaten vor dem Verkauf erwirtschafteten die Marken einen Umsatz in Höhe von 100 Millionen. Invincible Brands wurde 2015 von Gennadi Tschernow und Björn Keune gegründet. Capital D übernahm 2018 die Mehrheit an der E-Commerce-Schmiede. Zuvor pumpten Pascal Zuta, Stefan Behrens und Sebastian Merkhoffer Geld in das Unternehmen.

Die Londoner Private-Equity-Gesellschaft Equi­sto­ne Part­ners Eu­ro­pe übernahm im Frühjahr 2018 das Berliner Startup Ju­wel­Ker­ze an. Das Unternehmen (Schmuck in Kerzen), das 20102 von Martin Werle und Marius Stolarski gegründet wurde, flog vorher jahrelang komplett unter dem Szene-Radar. Equi­sto­ne investiert in der Regel in Unternehmen mit einer Bewertung von 50 bis 500 Millionen Euro. Die Bewertung von Ju­wel­Ker­ze soll damals bei rund 50 Millionen Euro gelegen haben.

Daneben investierte der Nivea-Hersteller Beiersdorf Ende 2019 in das koreanische Hautpflege- und Technologie-Startup LYCL – und wurde dabei laut eigenen Angaben zweitgrößter Gesellschafter. Das Unternehmen wurde 2013 gegründet und betreibt mehrere verschiedene Geschäftsmodelle – darunter eine eigene Hautpflegemarke. Zudem übernahm Beiersdorf im Februar 2020 die Naturkosmetikmarke Stop The Water While Using Me, die 2011 an den Start ging.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #alpha-foods, #d2c, #direct-to-consumer, #e-commerce, #exit, #fitvia, #foodspring, #gitti, #happyglam, #invicible-brands, #juwelkerze, #salted, #venture-capital, #yepoda


Surviving Fashion’s Summer From Hell

Tibi is giving pandemic-era lessons in personal style, and finding new paths forward for its business.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dresses, #e-commerce, #fashion-and-apparel, #shopping-and-retail, #shutdowns-institutional, #smilovic-amy, #tibi-llc


Beyond TikTok, Walmart Looks to Transform

Away from the political drama of the TikTok deal, Walmart has been taking steps that are already changing the company and, by extension, the broader retail sector.

#amazon-com-inc, #delivery-services, #e-commerce, #shopping-and-retail, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #tiktok-bytedance, #walmart-stores-inc


Can Luxury Fashion Ever Regain Its Luster?

The industry is trying to reach customers amid a severe global recession that has brought mass layoffs and plunging sales. Traditional fashion weeks might be out of step.

#amazon-com-inc, #arnault-antoine, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-commerce, #farfetch-com, #fashion-and-apparel, #ferragamo-salvatore-italia-spa, #luxury-goods-and-services, #lvmh-moet-hennessy-louis-vuitton-sa, #neves-jose, #new-york-fashion-week, #shopping-and-retail


Best Sellers Sell the Best Because They’re Best Sellers

Publishing is becoming a winner-take-all game. Nobody dominates it like Madeline McIntosh and Penguin Random House.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #bertelsmann-ag, #book-trade-and-publishing, #books-and-literature, #e-commerce, #mcintosh-madeline, #penguin-random-house, #shutdowns-institutional


Fabletics’ Adam Goldenberg and Kevin Hart on what’s next for the activewear empire

Like plenty of other modern direct-to-consumer companies, influencer marketing has been an essential part of Fabletics’ journey. Actress Kate Hudson co-founded the company and co-CEO Adam Goldenberg believes that its network of spokespeople has been key to the company’s growth.

We were joined on our virtual TechCrunch Disrupt 2020 stage by Goldenberg and comedian Kevin Hart who has been working as a brand partner for Fabletics.

“You can have the best product, which we believe we have, but if you can’t get it out there then you’re not going to be the leader that you want to be,” Goldenberg told us. “By having a very broad and diverse ambassador and influencer network, it allows us to become a very inclusive brand.”

Hart joined the company as an official brand partner earlier this year just as the pandemic took hold stateside and the company launched a menswear line. For Hart, the partnership is one of many relationships with brands and startups, but fits into his own lifestyle and thus made a lot of sense for him to work with, he says. 

“[A company I invest in] has to coincide with myself and my lifestyle. If I’m going to talk about it, I have to be true to it,” Hart told TechCrunch. “There’s a plethora of things that I’m involved with that people would be shocked to know I was a part of, but it’s because I have the eyesight for it and a love for it.”

The Fabletics menswear line that Hart has advertised, and served as a brand spokesman for, has seen major growth amid a broader spike in athleisure wear sales. Goldenberg is bullish on just how much growth Fabletics will see from its men’s line so early in its lifecycle.

“It’s a big goal, but I think we could do $75-100 million in sales next year with Fabletics Men, which is our first full year with this line, which would be very, very fast growth,” Goldenberg says.

As the company firms up its offering in activewear, they’re also keeping an eye on what trends will help them grow. Fabletics has already been building out technology trying to connect online and offline user habits in its stores. On the heels of Lululemon’s major acquisition of Mirror, which it announced in late June, moderator Jordan Crook inquired whether Fabletics had its own interests in expanding its footprint beyond activewear.

“We really believe in the importance of living an active lifestyle, so we’re not ready to share it yet, but we’re going to be doing something very large incorporating fitness into Fabletics,” Goldenberg said.

Check out the interview with Hart and Goldenberg below.

#actress, #ambassador, #brand, #clothing, #co-ceo, #comedian, #disrupt-2020, #e-commerce, #fabletics, #influencer-marketing, #jordan-crook, #kate-hudson, #kevin-hart, #lululemon, #marketing, #subscription-services, #tc, #techcrunch


Small Tech Stocks Soar as the Future Arrives Early

The giants aren’t the only ones. A subset of software, streaming, security and e-commerce firms are also posting eye-popping gains.

#chegg-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #crowdstrike-inc, #docusign-inc, #e-commerce, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #shopify-inc, #twilio-inc, #wayfair-inc, #zoom-video-communications, #zscaler-inc


Indian e-commerce deals site CashKaro gets $10 million Series B led by Korea Investment Partners

CashKaro co-founders Rohan and Swati Bhargava

CashKaro co-founders Rohan and Swati Bhargava

CashKaro, one of the leading cashback and coupon sites in India, will expand its range of services for e-commerce after raising $10 million in Series B funding, the New Delhi-based startup announced today. The round was led by Korea Investment Partners, with participation from returning investor Kalaari Capital.

TechCrunch last covered CashKaro five years ago when it raised a $3.8 million Series A. The latest round brings the company’s total funding so far to $15 million.

Over the past five years, the company has introduced new products, including a price comparison service, and EarnKaro, a social commerce cashback app that launched about 18 months ago. Part of the Series B will be used to expand EarnKaro, which has about one million registered users. It allows social commerce sellers, or people who use social media platform and messaging apps like WhatsApp to sell items, make extra cash by creating affiliate links to major e-commerce sites like Amazon and Flipkart. The launch of EarnKaro also allowed CashKaro to reach into smaller cities and rural areas, where shoppers often prefer to order from people whose recommendations they trust (i.e. “micro-influencers”) instead of e-commerce sites.

Founded in 2013 by husband-and-wife team Swati and Rohan Bhargava, CashKaro currently claims about five million users and has partnerships with more than 1,500 e-commerce sites, including some of the biggest players in India, like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra and Ajio. The company monetizes by charging brands a commission for transactions made through CashKaro links. The commissions are also how CashKaro is able to give cash back to shoppers, which can be deposited into their bank accounts or redeemed as gift vouchers for Flipkart and Amazon. CashKaro’s founders says it currently processes more than one million monthly transactions.

CashKaro competes for the attention of online shoppers with a bevy of other coupon and cashback services in India. Some of its rivals include CouponDunia, GrabOn and GoPaisa.

“We are the only VC-funded cashback site in India. While capital itself is not the differentiator, it is what we have been able to do with that capital which sets us apart,” Bhargava told TechCrunch, adding that CashKaro’s cashback rates are among the highest in the market.

“Given that we now drive close to a half a billion dollars in GMV through CashKaro and EarnKaro to our partner sites, we are able to get higher commission rates from partner sites, which in turn helps us pass the most benefit to our members.”

While COVID-19 has affected e-commerce businesses around the world because of sudden changes in consumer habits, the situation in India was particularly complicated in April and May because there were containment zones throughout the country, and in some zones, deliveries of non-essential items was not allowed until May.

“COVID-19 caught us by surprise and Indian e-commerce was neither prepared to handle the surge in demand, nor did we expect so many supply side and delivery issues,” said Bhargava. “Given CashKaro works with all e-commerce sites, we saw these trends as well.”

Since June, however, sales have started to recover and is seeing growth as people continue to stay home and shop online.

“Our business is growing month on month and, in fact, the pandemic spurred our expansion into new digital categories, like education, gaming and online video streaming, which have seen exponential growth,” Bhargava added. Sales of electronics, home and kitchen items, personal care and beauty have also increased over the past few months.

At the same time, the economic impact of the pandemic has prompted more people to seek cashback offers and other money-saving deals.

“We are seeing that saving consciousness has gone up amongst online shoppers and people are finding services like CashKaro and EarnKaro more useful than ever before,” Bhargava said. “On the client side, our partners, such as Amazon, Myntra and Ajio, are also working with us more closely because they are seeing that our performance marketing model is the perfect way to scale while keeping profitability in mind amidst these tough times.”

The new round of capital will be used for CashKaro’s goal of doubling its registered member base over the next 12 months from the current 5 million. Bhargava told TechCrunch that it will expand cashback offers into categories like credit cards and education, and launch new marketing campaigns focused around events like upcoming festivals and the Indian Premier League season, which starts this weekend.

The company is also “chasing aggressive growth for EarnKaro and reaching out to more influencers, resellers, housewives and students who are our primary target market for this product,” she added. Finally, part of the Series B will be used for hiring, including leadership positions.

For Korea Investment Partners, one of the largest South Korean venture capital firms, CashKaro represents a chance to tap into India’s fast-growing e-commerce market. In a statement, managing partner Hudson Kyung-sik Ho said, “We believe this is a highly scalable opportunity and both Swati and Rohan have set it on a truly exciting growth trajectory. CashKaro and EarnKaro together have shown exceptional unit metrics and we are really excited to be a part of India’s affiliate story.”

#affiliate-marketing, #asia, #cashback, #cashkaro, #e-commerce, #earnkaro, #fundings-exits, #india, #social-commerce, #startups, #tc


Imran Khan’s Verishop adds “Verified Shops”, a way for up-and-coming brands to set up shop in its “digital mall”

Verishop, the Los Angeles online retailer founded by former Snap executive Imran Khan, launched a little over a year ago to change the way people shopped online. Now the company is launching a new initiative called “Verified Shops” which looks to change the way that up-and-coming retail brands can sell their wares. 

As direct-to-consumer and upstart brands look for new ways to sell, they’re increasingly turning to online partners to grow their businesses. Chiefly, the concern is that some retailers have been overrun with counterfeit products or unauthorized sellers that undercut pricing and dilute the brand’s value with knock-off products, the company observed.

So Khan set out to change the selling experience for these new companies that want to have a better way to communicate with their potential customers… a way to really tell their story online.

“We started with the big brands,” Khan said. “[Now] we’re launching ‘Verified Shop’ where any DTC brands can sell on our platform. They have to get through an approval process and verify that you’re a real direct to consumer brand you can  sell on the platform.”

That pitch appealed to retailers like David Manshoory, the founder of the popular cosmetics brand, Alleyoop.

“Right now we don’t work with any other ecommerce retailers,” said Manshoory. “Verishop was the first online only retail partners, because they’ve got a really large audience of customers that are in our demographic.”

The year-old cosmetics brand went with Verishop because the number of retailers and types of sellers on the platform “seemed very curated”, according to Manshoory. “There are brands in there that we recognized and respected.”

The revenue share program that Verishop has created for the newer, smaller consumer brands that join the platform is also straightforward, Manshoory said. Brands in the Verified Shops channel only pay when they make a sale  and it’s just 10 percent to 15 percent, depending on the category, according to the company. 

“Because they’re not buying inventory upfront they take a lower cut… which was a reason why i was attracted to it,” said the cosmetics company founder. “We can get started right off the bat once the integration is up… we have full control over our store.”

Verishop also managed to win over other online direct-to-consumer darlings like Greats (which was recenty acquired by Steve Madden), Dagne Dover, Athletic Propulsion Labs, Judy, and The Ridge.

“Ecommerce still starts in 1990,” said Khan of the traditional shopping experience. “It’s a search-based experience that’s phenomenal if you know what you’re looking for.” However, as brands proliferate and consumers look to identify with particular brands and brand stories more closely, the question becomes how to find those new companies that are selling the types of products that resonate with particular shoppers.

It’s the question that Verishop has set out to solve and the company is hoping that Verified Shops can be the onramp for the newest consumer brands to reach a millennial audience. Think of it as an online mall where a curated shopping ecosystem exists for each brand to develop its own digital storefront and tell its own story.

“Right now we sell fashion and home and beauty, but longterm why can’t you buy a car?” Khan asked. “It’s this virtual mall or virtual shopping strip that you can walk through and discover and learn and hang out. We let the brands tell the story and let the consumers discover the stories.”

Unlike other attempts to create a front end digital storefront experience for brands, Khan said that Verishop is differentiated by its focus on a backend ecommerce infrastructure and logistics capabilities that other virtual malls can’t match.

Brands can apply to appear on Verishop and once they’re selected as verified shops they’ll have the chance to tap into a customer base that’s mostly comprised of Gen Z and millennial shoppers.

#articles, #athletic-propulsion-labs, #brand, #counterfeit, #crime, #e-commerce, #executive, #graphic-design, #imran-khan, #los-angeles, #marketing, #online-retailer, #online-shopping, #pricing, #product-management, #steve-madden, #tc


Pandemic Has Cut Modern and Contemporary Gallery Sales 36%, Report Says

The survey, by Art Basel and UBS, analyzes the effect of the coronavirus on the world’s art dealers. Sales are down, but the wealthy are still buying.

#art, #art-basel-festival, #art-basel-hong-kong, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-commerce, #finances, #frieze-art-fair, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #mcandrew-clare, #shutdowns-institutional, #switzerland, #ubs-group-a-g


U.S. holiday shopping season on mobile expected to be largest to date, topping 1B hours on Android

The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the holiday shopping season is already underway. Amazon has delayed its annual sales event, Prime Day, from July to October 2020, while top e-commerce retailers, including Walmart, Target and Amazon, are becoming more powerful than ever. According to a new report from App Annie, mobile shopping apps are poised to see their biggest shopping season to date. The mobile data and analytics firm is estimating that U.S. consumers will spend over 1 billion hours on Android devices alone during the fourth quarter, a 50% increase from the same time last year.

This forecast represents a jump ahead for mobile commerce that wasn’t expected until four to six years from now, but the pandemic has pushed that timetable forward.

Image Credits: App Annie

The firm also predicts that the pace of online shopping will look different than in years past.

While, typically, holiday shopping would be concentrated in the weeks around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s expected that the shopping season this year will be longer and more drawn out. To some extent, this could be attributed to Prime Day’s delay, but the economic pressures of the pandemic are also taking their toll.

Heading in the third quarter, unemployment rates in the U.S. were still higher than during the Great Financial Crisis and more than two times higher than pre-COVID rates. App Annie says this will manifest in lower disposable incomes and greater price sensitivity, which will in turn lead consumers to seek out deals and promotions for longer periods of time throughout the lead up to the 2020 holidays.

Prime Day’s delay may also impact the shopping activity that takes place during the normally busy November shopping days, given that the sales event will take place this year much closer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday than ever before.

App Annie also noted that Amazon’s app continues to rank No. 1 by monthly active users among U.S. Shopping apps, and sees strong cross-app usage with other top Shopping apps.

Image Credits: App Annie


For comparison’s sake, weekly sessions in Shopping apps had grown by 25% during peak weeks during Q4 2019. They were also up 15% in the U.K.

This growth trend will continue as the changes brought on by the pandemic have been built upon existing consumer behavior, which have now been dialed up. Those changes are here to stay, App Annie claims.

Image Credits: App Annie

Related to mobile shopping’s growth, and the over 1 billion hours spent shopping in Q4 on Android, App Annie also predicts other categories of apps will benefit. PayPal, for example, reported its best quarter ever with total payment volume increasing 29% year over year.

Online grocery services are also booming, particularly in markets with rising COVID-19 cases like the U.S. and Brazil. Higher usage of mobile grocery shopping apps is expected to continue through Thanksgiving in the U.S., as consumers use app for checking inventory, self-checkout, delivery, and buy online/pickup in store. Similarly, meal delivery services like UberEats, DoorDash, and Grubhub are also expected to remain valuable and widely used in Q4.

Image Credits: App Annie

Outside the U.S., App Annie forecasts that Singles Day 2020 will bring in over 310 billion CNY (over $45 billion in U.S. dollars) to make it the biggest shopping day ever. This will top last year’s record of $38 billion in sales, and follows Q3 2020’s 4.8% year-over-year retail sales growth in China.

#apps, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #holidays, #holidays-2020, #mobile, #mobile-shopping, #shopping


#Hintergrund – Ein Startup, das maßgefertigte Einlagen verkauft

Zu den vielen Startups, die man unbedingt im Blick behalten sollte, gehört das junge Unternehmen GetSteps, ein Online-Anbieter für maßgefertigte Schuheinlagen. Die Jungfirma, das von Vincent Hoursch und Annik Wolf gegründet wurde, will in den kommenden Jahren zum Online-Marktführer für Fußgesundheit aufsteigen. GetSteps funktioniert dabei mit einem Abdruckset, das die Nutzer nach ihrer ersten Bestellung nach Hause geschickt bekommen. Home24-Gründer Felix Jahn und Helpling-Gründer Benedikt Franke investierten bereits in GetSteps.

“Wir wollen die Welt von Kopf-, Rücken-, Hüft- und Knieschmerzen befreien. Diese entstehen nämlich häufig durch eine Fußfehlstellung, welche 70 % der Erwachsenen haben. Orthopädische Einlagen sind da die zuverlässigste Hilfe, aber nur 20 % tragen welche. Das liegt aus unserer Sicht an Unwissenheit über die Vorteile und an dem aufwendigen Prozess, Einlagen zu bekommen. Den haben wir jetzt neu und unkompliziert gestaltet, genauer gesagt: Einfach digitalisiert”, erklärt Mitgründerin Wolf.

Mitgründer Hoursch kennt das Problem, erselbst trägt Einlagen, seit der 16 Jahre alt ist. “Da man Einlagen jedes Jahr erneuern sollte, durfte ich mich regelmäßig dem aufwendigen Prozess hingeben. Arzttermin besorgen, dann der oft mit Wartezeiten verbundene Besuch in der Praxis, um ein Rezept zu bekommen, Fußabdrücke im verstaubten Sanitätshaus oder beim Schuhmacherbetrieb abnehmen lassen und eine Woche später die Einlagen abholen”. Mitstreiterin Wolf hingegen bisher “keine Berührungspunkte mit Einlagen, beim Joggen aber ständig starke Knieprobleme”.

Als klassisches E-Commerce-Unternehmen verdient GetSteps primär am Verkauf der Einlagen. “Eine Besonderheit unseres Geschäftsmodells ist die Langfristigkeit dahinter. Einlagen müssen nach Verschleiß erneuert werden. Kunden kommen somit immer wieder oder kaufen direkt mehrere Paar Einlagen. Die Abdrücke werden sicher gespeichert – somit ist eine Nachbestellung jederzeit möglich und extrem unkompliziert”, sagt Wolf.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): GetSteps

#aktuell, #berlin, #e-commerce, #getsteps, #reloaded


Amazon Bans Sale of Foreign Seeds in the U.S.

The company’s decision comes after thousands of U.S. residents reported receiving unsolicited packets of seed from China, prompting all 50 states to issue safety warnings.

#agriculture-department, #amazon-com-inc, #animal-and-plant-health-inspection-service, #e-commerce, #seeds, #united-states


Goodbye to Lord & Taylor, and the Way We Used to Shop

I haven’t shopped there in years. But I’m sad to lose another place to gather, and linger, with friends.

#e-commerce, #fashion-and-apparel, #lordtaylor, #shopping-and-retail, #shutdowns-institutional


This Vertical Farm Was Born in the Pandemic. Sales Are Up.

The Vegetable Co. sits in a shipping container on the edge of a Malaysian parking lot. It’s one of many small farms around the world selling directly to consumers.

#agriculture-and-farming, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-commerce, #kuala-lumpur-malaysia, #shopping-and-retail


My Unexpected Eulogy for Lord & Taylor

I haven’t shopped there in years. But I’m sad to lose another place to gather, and linger, with friends.

#e-commerce, #fashion-and-apparel, #lordtaylor, #shopping-and-retail


Ho, Ho, Hum: Struggling Retailers Brace for a Muted Holiday Season

September may seem early to be thinking about the holiday shopping season, but retailers are already acknowledging that it will be transformed in fundamental ways.

#black-friday-and-cyber-monday-shopping, #e-commerce, #holidays-and-special-occasions, #international-brotherhood-of-real-bearded-santas, #national-retail-federation, #santa-claus, #shopping-and-retail