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6 Tech Innovators Who Plan to Disrupt Fashion Retail

Retail tech accelerators and incubators have flourished in recent years as merchants seek solutions to address a shopper with evolving demands. XRC Labs is one such group nurturing emerging tech talent, and these are a few of the standouts from the organization’s fifth cohort of promising startups.

Fillogic

Fillogic was created on the belief that the future of brick-and-mortar retailer hinges on e-commerce. The startup wants to help retailers utilize their physical locations and existing assets, inventory and personnel to expedite last-mile logistics. Speaking at XRC Lab’s Cohort 5 Demo Day on Thursday, CEO and co-founder Bill Thayer said with his solution, stores could slash overall expedited shipping by as much as 60 percent, which he calls table stakes for today’s retailers.

In 2022, last-mile fulfillment costs are expected to reach $30 billion. A solution like Fillogic is designed to aid retailers trim $8 billion of fulfillment costs, said Thayer, who has held positions with Macy’s and Loehmann’s.

With access to 300 mall owners, Fillogic claims it can set up operations in just a few days for as low as $20,000.

Frenzy

Playing at the intersection of social and commerce, Frenzy offers automated commerce based on visual exact match, taking the visual search game one step further than many of the solutions on the market today. Its platform enables influencers to turn their photos into “shoppable storefronts” but when a product is unavailable or sells out, Frenzy provides brand-specific alternatives rather than similar-looking items from any old brand, which helps strengthen the influencer-brand relationship.

Frenzy can achieve this largely due to the “explosion of influencer data that’s providing us billions of images that’s training our neural nets to make these connections between brands and SKUs,” CEO James Chang said. “We’re building a massive catalog of all of these data sources, but it’s a two-pronged approach because influencers and media site owners need to find more ways to monetize content as banner ads become antiquated.”

To date, 300 fashion influencers with a combined audience reach of 62 million monthly site impressions have installed the Frenzy API, achieving a 6x lift in sales conversions on product pages that amounts to $8,000 in retail e-commerce sales in little more than four weeks, Chang said. Previously, these influencers were generating $0.01 per impression, which was jumped to $0.24 since using Frenzy, Chang added.

Viveat

Viveat joins a growing movement aiming to bring consumers closer to the products they own and love, making items more authentic, trackable and interactive. Today, product registration rates hover at 6 percent, and the Viveat platform offers what it claims is a seamless way for consumers to register goods. “Viveat assigns to products a unique digital identity called Product Passport and links to blockchain for proof of authenticity,” Marcello Gamberale Paoletti, CEO, said. The platform sits atop a company’s enterprise systems such as ERP and CRM to simplify content integration, and Gamberale said Viveat makes things like warranties and rewards management more interesting and accessible for consumers. The goal, he said, is to create more engaged customers, who typically are 1.7 times more valuable than those who are not. “It’s a very key opportunity for brands,” Gamberale said. Melissa Shoe will be deploying the solution across 700 of its U.S. stores, following several European brands that have generated $200,000 in revenue to date for Viveat.

Hemster

According to Hemster founder and CEO Allison Lee, the startup is “disrupting readywear, one hem at a time.” Hemster works with mall-based retailers, so mirror decal in a Banana Republic fitting room, for example, would alert a shopper trying on a wedding-guest dress that tailoring services are available. The decal, Lee said, says the shopper can “create her own size.” A trained store associate can fit the customer with Hemster’s “patent-pending roller sticker in less than a minute.” After completing the purchase, the customer is instructed to return in two days, while the associate brings the garment to the concierge, which doubles as a Hemster concierge, Lee explained. The order is input into the Hemster dashboard and matches the dress with the best tailor for the job. “This system allows the tailors to only work on the pieces that they’re confident in and equipped for to bring the best quality for [the customer],” Lee said.

The platform also collects the customer’s fit data “down to a quarter of an inch” so that she can shop anywhere else in the mall and get the exact same fit as her freshly tailored dress.

A partnership with Westfield in San Francisco generated a 15 percent increase in participating retailers’ sales, Lee said, while 23 percent of shoppers came back multiple times to make additional purchases using their Hemster fit data. The company has achieved 99 percent accuracy across 2,000 garments to date. Hemster has now partnered nationwide with Westfield, Simon and Macerich, with participation from 300 premium malls, and will be launching this quarter in 14 West Coast locations. Lee said the startup plans to tackle direct-to-consumer next so customers get personalized sizing for off-the-rack-inventory.

StoreDNA

This decision-making platform for brick-and-mortar retailers wants to help merchants improve their store P&Ls. StoreDNA uses a retailer’s existing video feeds and high-fidelity computer vision to analyze a high level of customer behavior around each displayed product right down to the SKU level, according to Martin Birac, co-founder and CEO. Picking a sneaker up off a shoe wall is a typical intent-to-buy behavior. But if a product gets a lot of interaction but comparatively low sales, that could be a signal that something’s wrong and could mean it’s time for a markdown in order to encourage conversions. The platform can also provide these types of recommendations across the store fleet.

Clark

When shopping in a store, consumers often see things they like—but then leave and can’t quite remember the brand name or other particulars. Clark wants to change all of that. Co-founded by Melissa Gonzalez, formerly of retail consultancy The Lionesque Group, the platform is a virtual multi-brand wish list for brick-and-mortar shopping, essentially helping customers keep track of the items they saw and liked in a physical store. The app-less approach stores each shopper’s wish list at a unique URL, accessible via a four-digit PIN. They can also opt in to be notified of product and sale alerts.

Clark’s goal, Gonzalez said, is to create a continuous communication loop across channels. “Our shoppers will enjoy the rich experience of physical discovery complemented by the conveniences of online shopping, and our retailers will gain insights that they can monetize just the way they do online today as we capture individual shopper journey, dwell times, product interest—and what we’re most excited about—purchase intent,” Gonzalez said. Such insights can aid retailers in executing smarter marketing and merchandising decisions.

Editor’s Note: This story was reported by FN’s sister magazine Sourcing Journal. For more, visit Sourcingjournal.com.

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