RetailTechNews rounds up some of the biggest stories in the European retail technology space. In this week’s edition: Ecommerce giants outrank retailers globally; eBay launches ebook subscription with Thalia in Germany; Ometria raises USD$6m Series A funding; SLI Systems report finds most retailers see AI in their future; and Criteo and Forbes study finds collaboration is the way to meet customer needs.
Ecommerce giants outrank retailers globally
eMarketer has reported that global ecommerce giants Amazon and JD.com are dominating the retail market; significantly outpacing the wider retail sector. In the list of top 10 retailers worldwide, ranked by increase in retail sales in 2016, Amazon snatched the top spot, with a £23.5bn increase in retail sales year-over-year, equating to a 27% rise. JD.com came in at number two, with a sharp 41% increase in retail sales growth compared with 2015. However, in monetary terms, this equated to a smaller, but certainly not insignificant, £8bn. Despite only coming in at number 10 on the list, Alibaba also outstripped Amazon in terms of percentage growth, having seen a 33% YOY increase, equating to £2.9bn more retail revenue versus 2015.
All three of them outpaced all but one of the physical retailers on the list, which included Home Depot, Aldi and Walmart, all saw growth of 10% or below. It was Dollar Tree, the US discount store, which sells everything for a dollar or less, which is the surprise of the pack, seeing 34% YOY growth, outstripping both Amazon and Alibaba.
Alibaba and JD.com have both been aggressive in their ventures into Southeast Asia; a region Amazon is approaching much more cautiously, having only recently launched its first service (Prime Now in Singapore) in July.
eBay takes on Amazon in Germany by partnering up with Thalia
eBay has entered into a cooperation with Thalia, Germany’s largest book retailer, to strengthen its position against its competitor, Amazon. In the first step of the strategic partnership, eBay is offering its premium customers access to a new, six-month ebook subscription, ‘Tolino select’, supplied by Thalia, as part of its new eBay Plus customer programme. This comes in addition to the existing services eBay will be providing premium customers, such as faster delivery and unlimited returns, for an annual fee of €19.90 (£17.71). According to eBay, the partnership with Thalia is the start of the company’s intention to offer further media services to its 17 million German users; similar to Amazon’s ‘Prime’ offering.
Ometria raises USD$6m in Series A funding
Ometria, the AI-powered customer marketing platform has announced that it has raised USD$6m (£4.5m) in Series A funding to accelerate the development of its platform, which enables retailers to send individually-personalised marketing messages across all brand touchpoints, the company announced in a press release.
Strategic investors included Summit Action, the US VC fund of the Summit Series, Sonae IM, the investment arm of Portugal’s multi-billion retail group, and Samos Investments, a UK VC fund specialising in retail and ecommerce.
UK investment syndicate Adjuvo also made significant investments in the round. Key investors included Sir George Buckley, Chairman of Black & Decker; Lance Batchelor, CEO of Saga and ex-MD of Amazon; Alan Parker, Chairman of Mothercare; and Matt Cooper, Chairman at Octopus Investments. Existing investors also contributed, including fifteen original angels, as well as SaatchInvest and Force Over Mass Capital.
SLI Systems reports that most retailers see AI in their future
The latest ‘Ecommerce Performance Indicators and Confidence Report’ from SLI Systems found that 54% of retailers surveyed either already use or plan to add artificial intelligence technology in the future. Twenty percent of respondents expect to add AI within the next 12 months. the most popular usage for AI within the retail sector appears to be product recommendations, with 56% claiming to already be using AI for that purpose, or planning to do so in the next 12 months. Customer service requests and chatbots were the second and third most popular AI uses. Whereas applications, such as virtual buying assistants, AR, and VR, were not high up on retailers’ lists as a reason to invest in AI, with 90% of respondents claiming they have no plans to use virtual reality.
Criteo and Forbes study finds collaboration is the better way to meet customer needs
Criteo recently released a study in conjunction action with Forbes Insights entitled ‘The Commerce Data Opportunity: How Collaboration Levels the Retail Playing Field’. The study, designed to asses data’s role in ensuring continued retailer competitiveness in the evolving commerce market, found that brands and retailers do realise the potential of data, and view collaboration and pooled assets as a better way to meet customer needs, drive value, and retina competitive.
According to the report, retailers are less confident than brands in their ability to turn data into actionable insights, despite having access to more data.
The report also found that 71% of retailers are willing to contribute online search data to a pool, with three-fifths already part of a data cooperative, and almost 70% of those happy with the collaboarations and the data they receive.
Sixty-eight percent of brands and retailers surveyed believe their customers are satisfies with their use of data to deliver more targeted marketing. However, 66% of marketers reported that ensuring quality data is their biggest challenge, with data confidentiality cited as a top challenge in pooling customer data for 65% of respondents.