05 July 2022
Dealboard: The latest acquisitions from Moët Hennessy, Henkel
Plus, check out the ecommerce software companies raising millions.
Plus, check out the ecommerce software companies raising millions.
Welcome to Dealboard. In this weekly feature, The Current is providing a look at the mergers, acquisitions and venture capital deals making waves in the ecommerce and consumer goods landscape.
This week, Walmart takes a stake in a tech partner, Moët Hennessy brings on a Napa Valley legend and a group of ecommerce software companies are reporting big funding rounds.
Take a look at this week’s activity:
Walmart partnered with Symbotic in 2021 to bring more automation to its warehouses, and in May expanded its use of the company’s technology to all 42 of its regional distribution centers in the coming years.
Now, the world’s largest retailer is an investor in the company. According to an SEC filing, Walmart owns 11.1% of Symbotic’s stock, per Retail Dive. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.
This comes a few weeks after Symbotic made its public debut on the Nasdaq by merging with a SPAC that is affiliated with prominent investment firm Softbank.
Walmart has said Symbotics' technology plays a key role in its ongoing supply chain improvements. Specifically, Symbotic creates palletized loads of department-sorted inventory. This gets products onto shelves at its stores more quickly, and makes materials handling safer. It's part of a big upgrade to fulfillment and distribution center technology planned by Walmart in the coming years, as the company seeks to build out ecommerce operations to rival Amazon.
LVMH-owned Moët Hennessy is adding a fine wine legend to its luxury offerings.
The wine and spirits division acquired the Napa Valley wine collection of Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Known for the Bourdeaux-style blend Insignia, the winemaker was of the pioneers that made California a wine destination.
“Joseph Phelps has been to the Napa Valley what Nicolas Ruinart, Mrs. Clicquot, Joseph Krug and Claude Moët were to the Champagne region, and likewise we will continue to develop this new House in the respect of the founder’s heritage and vision,” said Philippe Schaus, chairman and chief executive officer of Moët Hennessy.
Henkel has completed the acquisition of the professional haircare business of Shiseido, the companies announced this week. This includes the brands Sublimic and Primience. With the deal, Shiseido will retain a 20% stake in the business.
Initially announced in February, the deal will help Henkel bolster its presence in Asia, the company said. Henkel also plans to set up a J-beauty innovation hub in Tokyo to develop new products for Asian consumers.
It adds to a portfolio that also includes hair color brand Schwarzkopf Professional, as well as Bonacure, Igora Royal and Authentic Beauty Concept. Henkel is planning to merge its beauty care and homecare divisions into a newly-created Henkel Consumer Brands unit next year.
DTC online fitness store Bodybuilding.com has a new partnership with digital marketing experts at Retail Ecommerce Ventures.
Founded in 1999, Bodybuilding.com specializes in dietary, sports, and bodybuilding supplements, offering private-label and third-party brands. It also has an app, and a loyalty community with over 15 million registered members.
For its part, Retail Commerce Ventures works with brands to build ecommerce capabilities, with a focus on helping legacy brands move from brick-and-mortar to digital storefronts. In the case of Bodybuilding.com, the goal is to expand its online presence. Founded by Tai Lopez and Alex Mehr, it has a portfolio that includes Pier 1, Radio Shack, Dressbarn, Ralph & Russo, Stein Mart, Franklin Mint, Modell's, MentorBox, FarmersCart, Linens 'n Things and more.
"This company's history is only in its first inning, and at a time when there's so much noise and confusion on the internet, Bodybuilding.com's trusted content, products, and community are more valuable than ever,” said Lopez of Bodybuilding.com, in a statement.
UK-based ecommerce app operator Shop Circle launched out of stealth mode last week with financing of $65 million.
The funding was led by NFX and QED. Investors, with participation from 645 Ventures, FirstMinute Capital and Triple Point Capital. Global law firm Orrick participated in a strategic advisory capacity.
Founded by Luca Cartechini and Gian Maria Gramondi in 2021, the company created a “one-stop shop” for Shopify merchants to find the best apps for their needs, without having to search through the 7,500 apps available on the platform. It says it is behind six apps with 40,000 downloads by merchants. The company’s business model includes options for app entrepreneurs to sell to Shop Circle, or join the company’s team and work alongside its teams to grow.
“With the funding, we are able to rapidly increase our portfolio of apps and support more direct-to-consumer brands in building experiences their customers will love,” said Cartechini, the company’s CEO, in a statement.
Nautical Commerce executives. (Courtesy photo)
Nautical Commerce, which helps brands, retailers and B2B businesses launch company-operated marketplaces, raised $30 million in a Series A round.
The funding was led by Drive Capital, with participation from existing investors Accomplice Ventures and Golden Ventures.
With leaders bringing experience from Apple, Visa, Top Hat and TouchBistro, Nautical offers a platform that allows companies to launch multi-vendor marketplaces in as little as 90 days.
With the funding, it is planning to add over 40 new team members this year.
“Ecommerce is becoming more distributed and single-vendor platforms were not built for this multi-vendor future. Ryan and his team built the only multi-vendor ecommerce platform and are serving a huge need in the market,” said Drive Capital’s Masha Khusid, in a statement. “We’re impressed by what Nautical has already accomplished and are proud to enable them to deliver on their mission to democratize marketplace technology.”
Promoted, which unifies search, feed, ads, and promotions for ecommerce marketplaces, raised $6 million in seed funding.
The round was led by Y Combinator, and included participation from Interlace Ventures, Vela Partners and angel investors including Michael Seibel, the managing director at Y Combinator.
Typically, teams at ecommerce marketplaces have separate teams for ads, merchandising, search, and recommendations. This leads the data to be siloed, as well. Promoted solves this by:
With the funding in hand, the company will continue to develop its streaming data infrastructure platform, and hire additional engineers.
“Promoted helps large marketplaces and ecommerce apps achieve profitability at scale and react in real-time to how ads, search, listings and promotions perform,” Seibel said. “Promoted’s tools optimize marketplaces -- leading to double digit conversion increases -- and are becoming an integral component of how marketplaces make money. We are excited to continue to work with the Promoted team, who have deep experience in adtech engineering."
The SleekFlow team. (Courtesy photo)
Hong Kong-based Social commerce platform SleekFlow said it raised $8 million in a Series A funding round.
The funding was led by leading tech investor Tiger Global Partners, with participation from Transcend Capital and AEF Greater Bay Area Fund, managed by Gobi Partners GBA.
The company makes an omnichannel social commerce platform that enables the processes behind the selling of products directly through social media channels. This includes features such as a system that generates payment links in chats. It also integrates with 2,500 tools and messaging channels, and helps businesses track and retain potential sales leads from both online and offline channels.
Following the funding round, the company plans to grow in Southeast Asia, where it currently has a presence, and expand to the UK and Europe. It also plans to invest in product development, with a focus on areas such as one-click checkout.
Amazon partnered with Hexa to provide access to a platform that creates lifelike digital images.
Amazon sellers will be able to offer a variety of 3D visualizations on product pages through a new set of immersive tools that are debuting on Tuesday.
Through an expanded partnership with Hexa, Amazon is providing access to a workflow that allows sellers to create 3D assets and display the following:
Selllers don't need prior experience with 3D or virtual reality to use the system, according to Hexa. Amazon selling partners can upload their Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) into Hexa’s content management system. Then, the system will automatically convert an image into a 3D model with AR compatibility. Amazon can then animate the images with 360-degree viewing and augmented reality, which renders digital imagery over a physical space.
Hexa’s platform uses AI to create digital twins of physical objects, including consumer goods. Over the last 24 months, Hexa worked alongside the spatial computing team at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the imaging team at Amazon.com to build the infrastructure that provides 3D assets for the thousands of sellers that work with Amazon.
“Working with Amazon has opened up a whole new distribution channel for our partners,” said Gavin Goodvach, Hexa’s Vice President of Partnerships.
Hexa’s platform is designed to create lifelike renderings that can explored in 3D, or overlaid into photos of the physical world. It allows assets from any category to be created, ranging from furniture to jewelry to apparel.
A Hexa 3D rendering (Courtesy photo)
The result is a system that allows sellers to provide a new level of personalization, said Hexa CEO Yehiel Atias. Consumers will have new opportunity see a product in a space, or what it looks like on their person.
Additionally, merchants can leverage these tools to optimize the entire funnel of a purchase. Advanced imagery allows more people to view and engage with a product during the initial shopping experience. Following the purchase, consumers who have gotten a better look at a product from all angles will be more likely to have confidence that the product matches their needs. In turn, this can reduce return rates.
While Amazon has previously introduced virtual try-on and augmented reality tools, this partnership aims to expand these capabilities beyond the name brands that often have 1P relationships with Amazon. Third-party sellers are an increasingly formidable segment of Amazon’s business, as they account for 60% of sales on the marketplace. Now, these sellers are being equipped with tools that enhance the shopping experience for everyone.
A video displaying the new capabilities is below. Amazon sellers can learn more about the platform here.
Hexa & Amazon - 3D Production Powerhousewww.youtube.com