New funding for Amazon seller tech, digital fashion, 3PL robotics
Dealboard has the latest from Bundle x Joy, Kering Eyewear, Blank Street Coffee and more.
Dealboard has the latest from Bundle x Joy, Kering Eyewear, Blank Street Coffee and more.
Welcome to Dealboard. In this weekly feature, The Current is providing a look at the mergers, acquisitions and venture capital deals making waves in ecommerce, CPG and retail.
This week, brands including Leesa Sleep, Bundle x Joy and Khaite raised funding for retail expansion. Plus, there’s new funding for self-serve Amazon advertising, digital fashion and automated ecommerce logistics.
Here’s a look at the latest deals:
DressX, a digital fashion marketplace, raised $15 million in a Series A round.
The round was led by Greenfield Capital, with participation from Slow Ventures, Warner Music Group, Red DAO and other investors.
DressX is a multi-brand retailer of digital fashion items that are used to outfit avatars in gaming, social media and the metaverse. The company will use the funding to make upgrades to its app and NFT marketplace, as well as grow its community and partner with other platforms.
“Fashion has always been a core part of someone‘s identity and a way to express yourself. As we spend more and more time in virtual environments, this will equally translate beyond the physical sphere and NFTs and blockchain technology will enable true digital ownership to elevate one’s identity,” said Jascha Samadi, founding partner at Greenfield, in a statement. “We are very excited to see how this space will evolve over the next 5-10 years and we believe DRESSX will be at the forefront of shaping and driving change."
Autonomous logistics and AI company Nimble Roboticsraised $65 million in a Series B round.
Cedar Pine led the financing, with participation from existing investors including DNS Capital, GSR Ventures and Breyer Capital.
Led by a team of former Amazon executives, Nimble Robotics will put the funding toward building a network of autonomous 3PL fulfillment centers. The robotics-filled centers are designed to autonomously pick, pack and ship ecommerce orders. The company said it will be able to reduce warehouse size by 75%, and provide coverage of more than 96% of the U.S. population.
Bundle x Joy, a petcare subscription company, raised $1 million in new seed funding, TechCrunch reported.
The funding round was led by Leap Venture Studio, with additional backing from Mars Petcare Companion Fund, R/GA Ventures, Michelson Found Animals Foundation and Cloyes Ventures.
With the funding, the company plans to double its retail footprint from a current 450 stores. TechCrunch described the company’s digital customer acquisition model this way:
From a nutrition perspective, Bundle x Joy curates its boxes from 15 products and a proprietary “Pup Quiz” for customers to assess what products to offer and the personality of their dog. In fact, the company assigns fun personalities to each pet, including “Golden,” “Vibrant” and “Brave.”
In addition, the quiz enables the company to output the right bundle for the pet, including formulation, size and frequency of food and supplements, based on the specific needs of the pet.
Blank Street Coffee, which provides delivery from automated microcafes, raised $20 million in new funding, Fast Company reports.
The round included participation from Left Lane Capital, HOF Capital, General Catalyst and Tiger Global.
After expanding to more than 40 locations, the company is exploring a subscription program that will provide beverages every two hours, as well as the addition of breakfast.
Tyson Ventures, the VC arm of food giant Tyson, invested in Athian, a carbon credit marketplace focused on the livestock industry.
Participants in the financing also included Elanco Animal Health Incorporate and Newtrient LLC.
This funding will help propel the company toward the launch of a transactional carbon credit inset platform. This is designed to provide financial incentive to livestock farmers who engage in sustainable practices. In particular, the program aggregates, validates and certifies greenhouse gas reductions, then monetizes them through the sale of carbon credits. The idea is that farmers can earn revenue to fund the implementation of more programs.
"Our vision is to be the platform that enables the livestock industry to meet its sustainability goals by empowering producers to implement on-farm practice changes that will move the needle on climate change,” said Athian CEO Paul Myer, in a statement.
Mayan, which makes a platform providing optimization and automation for Amazon sellers, raised $5 million in a Series A funding round.
Bright Pixel led the financing, which comes in addition to a $2 million seed round from Y Combinator, Global Founders Capital, Alumni Ventures Group, ESAS Ventures and Alarko Ventures.
With the financing, Mayan is planning to launch a self-service platform for Amazon advertising, as well as an analytics and forecasting suite. It will also begin work in areas of Amazon selling such as inventory and working capital.
Khaite, a New York fashion brand, raised new funding from private equity firm Stripes. According to Vogue Business, the brand is planning to use the funding to fuel expansion in retail, with an aim of opening 10 stores in the next five years.
Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Leesa Sleep, a direct-to-consumer bed-in-a-box brand, was acquired by 3Z Brands, a distributor of sleep products.
With the acquisition, Leesa will remain a standalone brand, joining Helix Sleep, Brooklyn Bedding, Birch, Bear Mattress and Nolah.
"Leesa is an exceptional company built on the pillars of delivering better sleep for customers and creating a positive impact in communities,” said 3Z CEO John Merwin, in a statement. “With its advanced design expertise and high-quality products, we're looking forward to supporting Leesa's continued growth with our best-in-class manufacturing expertise and digital capabilities. This addition marks our third acquisition within the last year, demonstrating 3Z's commitment to building a leading DTC platform that meets each customer's tailored sleeping needs.”
Kering Eyewear acquired 100% of UNT, Usinage & Nouvelles Technologies, a French manufacturer of high-precision metal and mechanical components for the luxury eyewear sector.
It’s the latest move by Kering Eyewear to control its own supply chain. UNT is based in the Jura region, which is known historically as the focal point of the French eyewear industry.
"Being a long-term, high-quality supplier of Manufacture Kering Eyewear, this new acquisition represents the opportunity to create an integrated luxury eyewear platform with best-in-class manufacturing capabilities, facilities and talents, in addition to supporting and further elevating the Jura district,” said Kering Eyewear President and CEO Roberto Vedovotto.
A redesigned Klarna app now has tools to manage ads, build creator storefronts and resell items.
Klarna is launching a series of shopping-focused app upgrades that are designed to boost discovery with AI, provide personalized assistance and create new ways for retailers and creators to connect with users.
The improvements show Klarna tapping into rising currents in commerce, such as personalization, retail media, resale and creator commerce. Taken together, the rollout doubles as a look at where online shopping experiences are heading.
The expansion comes as Klarna is seeking to boost its standing as a shopping destination. It is well-known for payment services such as Buy Now Pay Later, but is seeking to grow tools that help consumers to find, browse and buy items. There’s a big base from which to build: Klarna’s app attracts 150 million consumers, and includes 500,000 retailers.
“Over the last 18 years, we’ve transformed into a global shopping destination with smart tools for consumers around the world,” said Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski. “The new tools we’re launching today will create richer, more enjoyable experiences for everyone along the shopping journey and create tremendous opportunities for retailers to grow their business.”
The launch, known as Spotlight Spring, follows a group of Klarna shopping updates that rolled out in the fall to introduce tools for search, shoppable video and a creator platform.
Here’s a look at the latest shopping features debuting from Klarna:
Klarna is putting its in-house AI-powered recommendation engine to work for shoppers.
A new feed on the app will provide personalized recommendations on products, as well as deals. The feed updates in real time, and is designed to become increasingly tailored as it learns more about the user’s preferences.
“Our new AI-powered discovery shopping feed is the next evolution of the Klarna app becoming the starting point for every purchase,” Siemiatkowski said. “This builds on a ton of initiatives we’re working on in the AI space, to provide a greater level of personalization to consumers that was once thought impossible.”
This builds on the fall launch of a search and compare tool that helped to curate the best prices and most efficient delivery options by comparing offerings across thousands of websites. Now, Klarna’s tools will provide recommendations that include product features specific to the user, right in a feed on the app.
Not all of the personalized shopping features in Klarna’s app will be tech-based. The new group of features also includes a personal shopping assistant that provides access to human experts through chat or video call.
Starting with the luxury sector, it’s designed to help shoppers find the right products across brands and retailers.
The capability to ask an associate a question is built-in to in-person shopping. Klarna said its recent research showed that 85% of US consumers would like a service where they can speak with experts to be able to access more information about a product while shopping online, as well. This new service is a direct answer to that feedback.
With this launch, Klarna has also redesigned its app into five distinct sections: Shop, Purchases, In-Store, Budget and You. This is designed to combine and streamline features for shopping and personal financial information, as well as delivery times, returns info and receipts.
Klarna Ads Manager. (Courtesy photo)
Along with tools for shoppers, Klarna is also rolling out features for retailers. The app is adding a self-service ad platform for retailers to an existing suite of ad offerings. Ads Manager is a new offering for retailers seeking to leverage the first-party data on Klarna’s platform to reach its high-intent audience of shoppers. Klarna said it offers brands more efficiency in areas including ad creation, audience targeting, and in-platform reporting for campaign optimization.
The Ads Manager reflects Klarna’s growing ambition to expand its foothold in retail media, which has grown rapidly as brands and retailers see increasing efficiency in advertising that appears on the platforms where consumers shop. Klarna said marketing revenue was up 131% in 2022, and additional tools designed for advertisers will help it double down on the opportunity to grow.
Creator Shops on Klarna. (Courtesy image)
Following the fall launch of a platform that provides a place for creators to connect with retailers, recommend products and share content, Klarna will now feature tools that allow creators to launch their own storefronts on its website.
This is designed to provide a space for shoppers to easily find and browse product recommendations from a creator. Along with the forthcoming ability to share content through the Klarna app, creators can also include links to every item from any social platform, offering the ability to boost revenue.
"The Klarna Creator Platform has opened up a new world of opportunities when it comes to affiliate content," said content creator Lydia Tomlinson, in a statement. "The transparency between what I link and what the brand can see has helped me establish new relationships with brands that I have loved and shopped at for years."
Creator Shops are not yet available in the U.S., but will roll out "soon" as part of a phased launch.
As consumers seek eco-friendly options, the market is moving toward resale. Over one-third of consumers are more likely to sell an item secondhand when compared to a year ago, Klarna said. Now, the app is seeking to provide a way to ease the process of getting a resale listing started.
The app will now include a “resell” button that enables users to start a listing on a secondhand marketplace beyond Klarna that contains an item previously purchased from Klarna. Then, the system pre-fills product details and images for the listing,.
The feature is now available in Sweden with the resale platform Tradera, and is set to go live with other partners around the world “soon,” said Klarna.