From computer vision-driven technologies aimed at cutting down on apparel returns by enabling consumers to utilize advanced sizing tech to artificial intelligence and machine learning-driven software that helps to prevent counterfeiting, piracy, and digital impersonators, companies across the retail segment are introducing new tools that make fashion commerce – and retail more broadly – “more nimble, sustainable, and engaging for shoppers.” At the same time, the striking rise of e-commerce, especially in the wake of the pandemic, and the post-pandemic call for companies to provide consumers with “an exponentially deeper level of engagement [both] online and offline,” per McKinsey, has led to the rise of an array of B2B SaaS solutions-providers that are looking to help transform the retail segment.
Research published by Google’s Cloud business in November 2020 (and reported by Wired) revealed that retailers were “looking to use AI within ten different areas of their business – from demand prediction to customer loyalty schemes and product personalization.” More recently, McKinsey stated in 2021 that “the operational potential of technology is becoming ever more apparent,” with fashion companies that embed AI into their businesses models now – in order to “enable new logistics and sales-fulfillment options (such as click-and-collect and drive-through), fuel innovative ways of customer acquisition, help predict and manage inventory to create a more resilient supply chain,” etc. – standing to see “a 118 percent cumulative increase in cash flow by 2030.” On the other hand, the consultancy stated that companies that “are slower to invest in digital technology will lag behind, and could see a 23 percent relative decline.”
Meanwhile, Meticulous Research expects the value of the AI-in-retail market, alone, to reach $19 billion by 2027.
Against this background and in light of enduring efforts to bring new tech to the retail market, we have compiled a tracker of funding and M&A to provide a broad overview of tech-centric investments in fashion and the broader retail space, and shed light on what the trajectory of this segment of the market looks like more broadly.
Aug. 11, 2023 – Sewts Raises €7M in Series A
Sewts raised €7 million in a Series A funding round from Emerald Technology Ventures, CNB Capital, EquityPitcher Ventures, and Nabtesco Technology Ventures, along with participation from existing investors Bayern Kapital, APEX Ventures, and HTGF. The Munich-based startup – which aims to streamline complex manual labor, namely in the textiles segment, into automated processes through the use of robotics – will use the new funds to accelerate the roll-out of its robot-powered VELUM system across international laundries and enter new markets, such as the processing of clothing returns in e-commerce. Sewts CEO and co-founder Alexander Bley said in a statement, “Our long-term vision is a ‘moonshot’ idea – to revolutionize the production of textiles. To get there, we first dedicate ourselves to the most promising niche markets and then approach the big vision step by step.”
Aug. 11, 2023 – Outfindo Raises €900K in Seed Round
Outfindo has raised €900,000 in a Seed round led by Presto Ventures with participation from Patero and Longevity Fellows. The Prague-based e-commerce company will use the new funds to expand its R&D, “focusing on product-tuning and expanding into new verticals, and go-to-market activities.” In a statement, the company – which provides a “Guided Selling” SaaS that optimizes flow on e-commerce platforms, using AI to create shopping guides for users help users find the exact product to suit their needs – said that its offering “has shown exceptional results, with a reported 40% interaction rate with the guide and conversion rates increasing up to three times. Additionally, returns have been significantly reduced, with reductions as high as 70% in certain cases.”
“Over the years, I’ve often found myself helping friends and colleagues choose the perfect bike. On the other hand, I’ve been struggling with choosing any other more complex product myself. I realized that e-commerce has been so busy with growth and operations that customer experience has been left behind,” Outfindo co-founder and CEO Jan Mateju said.
Aug. 3, 2023 – Odore Raises $5M in Seed Round
Odore has raised $5 million in a Seed round led by Fuel Ventures, along with participation from existing investors. The London-based engagement platform, which enables direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands to streamline their digital marketing efforts, will use the new funds to “expand [its] team and business globally and launch new tools to better serve [its] customers.” The Armaan Mehta and Karan Gupta-founded company’s customers include the entire L’Oreal Group (including licensed properties like Armani, Lancome, and YSL), as well as Dior, LVMH, and Shiseido. “The challenges that today’s industry faces are complex, and we founded Odore to provide solutions that are not only comprehensive but also transform the way brands strategize, operate, and connect. This is just the beginning,” Mehta said in a statement.
Jul. 27, 2023 – Croissant Raises $24M in Seed Round
Croissant has launched with $24 million in Seed funding from a suite of investors, including Portage and KKR co-founders George Roberts and Henry Kravis, as well as Third Prime, BoxGroup, 25madison, and Twelve Below. The New York and Nashville-based company – whose founding team is led by Co-Founder and CEO John Howard (formerly of KKR), Co-Founder and CTO John Klose (Amazon, PayPal), and Head of Product Vrishti Mongia (Meta, Moda Operandi) – provides a fintech platform that “integrates into merchants’ existing shopping experiences and offers customers a guaranteed buyback value at checkout, boosting conversion and average order value.” Moreover, Croissant’s data science and AI tooling “generates the guaranteed buyback values offered to customers, and Croissant fulfills those guarantees. Post-purchase, items become liquid assets within customers’ Croissant accounts that they can later sell with one click. Once customers have sold their items, they are directed back to merchants with new funds to power future purchases, making for higher retention rates and lifetime value.”
“Only a small percentage of resellable fashion is transacted globally each year, but it’s still a $130 billion market that is rapidly growing,” Stephanie Choo, Partner at Portage, said in a statement. “To date, retailers are seeing little to no benefit from this ongoing boom. Croissant enables them to harness the interest in and growth of resale to drive new full-price sales with minimal integration and no need to transact within the secondhand ecosystem themselves.”
The company’s advisory board includes Rent the Runway Co-Founder and Board Member Jennifer Fleiss; former Chief Merchandising Officer of Intermix Divya Mathur; Lara Meiland-Shaw, a luxury fashion veteran with over 20 years of experience at brands like Louis Vuitton, Moncler, and Saks Fifth Avenue; and Homer and Outdoor Voices Founding Partner Andrew Parietti.
Jul. 26, 2023 – Fitted Raises $8.5M in Series A
Fitted Inc. has raised $8.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Capital Eleven and included participation from Epic Ventures and Handshake Ventures. Afintech software platform that reimagines brand and retailer connectivity, Eagle, ID-based Fitted says that thanks to its platform, “all retail parties benefit from an elevated wholesale experience and have access to real-time data and critical financial information.” It will use the new funds “to fuel continued growth and meet customer demand,” and in particular, “accelerate product development and continue to provide exceptional value to our brand and retailer partners.” Fitted CEO and Co-Founder Monte Keleher said in a statement, “We are thrilled to have the support of our investors as we move forward with our mission to streamline connectivity between brands and retailers. Our goal is to create an end-to-end solution that allows brands and retailers to do business together seamlessly.”
This is a short (and incomplete) excerpt from a data set that is published exclusively for TFL Enterprise subscribers. For access to our up-to-date retail tech investment and M&A tracker, inquire today about how to sign up for an Enterprise subscription.