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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, there are new investment funds for QR codes and ecommerce software. Plus, Purple rejects a takeover bid, and a tennis star gets a voice with a beverage startup.
Tennis star Nick Kyrgiostook an equity stake in Alive, a no-sugar probiotic soft drink developed by Australia’s Gen U Brands. Kyrgios will help the startup brand raise its profile, and is also offering business advice. “As an international citizen, so to speak, he brings a different perspective to the business,” CEO Andrew Blew told Business News Australia.
Beaconstac, a QR code customer engagement platform, raised $25 million in a Series A round. Telescope Partners led the financing, with participation from existing investor Accel. Over the lat year, the company helped businesses create 1.8 million QR codes, which were scanned over 150 million times by consumers. It is used by Revlon, Nestle, FedEx, and Marriott. The company is planning to increase its 75-person workforce by 200% in 2023.
Boxed, the bulk delivery service and ecommerce software provider, raised $20 million as it seeks to either become profitable, or sell itself. The company received $10 million upfront from an unknown lender, and could receive another $10 million upon completion of certain milestones. “This new financing will provide greater flexibility for us to continue to execute on our strategic vision and the strategic alternatives process,” said Boxed CEO Chieh Huang.
Food Should Taste Good, a natural tortilla snacks brand, was acquired by Real Food From the Ground Up from General Mills, Just Food reported. It comes about a decade after General Mills acquired Food Should Taste Good. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Purplerejected a bid to be acquired by Coliseum Capital Management in a takeover bid that was submitted in September. Purple announced last week that it declined the offer in November after Coliseum proved unwilling to $4.35 per share. In a statement, Purple Chairman Paul Zepf said the proposal “undervalues Purple and fails to recognize the strength of our business today as well as our compelling future prospects.”
Tinuiti, a performance marketing firm, acquired Ampush, a growth marketing agency. It’s a move that is designed to expand the paid social capabilities of Tinuiti. Ampush offers performance creative, optimization and analytics. Founded in 2010, Ampush works with ecommerce and subscription businesses such as Instacart, Blenders Eyewear and STARZ. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Founder Jesse Pujji shared these lessons over 13 years building the business.
\u201cI just sold my company for life changing $.\n\n13 years later, I'm an overnight success.\n\nHere are 13 lessons from the journey, by year:\u201d— Jesse Pujji (@Jesse Pujji) 1674583389
Henkel completed its acquisition of outlets in Malaysia and Taiwan from Shiseido Professional. It’s the final piece of an acquisition that began in January. Subsequently, Henkel closed on deals to acquire the haircare business in China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. Shiseido joins a portfolio at Henkel that also includes Schwarzkopf Professional, Authentic Beauty Concept, Bonacure and Igora Royal.
WeCommerce and Tiny are combining to form a single technology holding company. The combined company will be known as Tiny, with WeCommerce operating as a software and services group inside the business. The combined company will be valued at about $910 million. Tiny cofounders Andrew Wilkinson and Chris Sparling will serve as co-CEOs, while WeCommerce CFO David Charron will serve as CFO. Tech investor Bill Ackman will own 15.4% of the company through his firm Table Holdings, and is the largest non-management shareholder.WPF Holdings acquired ecommerce assets of KPOP 1004, which is a specialty store for K-POP and K-Beauty speciality store. With this, WPF Holdings is set to form a subsidiary called K-Shop. This will include the online shop, and kiosks at KPOP1004 in-store locations that provide shopping beyond what is offered in-store. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Trending in Marketing
New advertising opportunities are being beta tested for in-store audio and product demos.
Retail media’s fast growth isn’t only limited to increasing spend. The advertising itself is also poised to appear in more places beyond ecommerce marketplaces, and even beyond the web.
The latest example comes from Walmart Connect, which is the retail media arm of the world’s largest retailer.
Walmart shared details on testing that it is completing for in-store retail media. To this point, Walmart Connect has been considered the advertising platform for Walmart’s ecommerce site. But these tests indicate that’s poised to expand.
Stores present a potent opportunity for Walmart. It has 4,700 big box locations around the U.S., and customers returned to them in droves last year. In 2022, 88% of the retailer’s customers visited Walmart stores.
Walmart Connect already has already dipped a toe into in-store advertising, with a TV wall, self-checkout ads and integrated marketing. The new pilots aim to take a step further.
“The next frontier of retail media is in-store experiences, and it’s one we’re excited to chart,” Whitney Cooper, head of omnichannel transformation at Walmart Connect, wrote in a blog post on the new tests. “But it’s still an emerging opportunity for us, as we continue to test what serves customers best and which solutions are scalable to Walmart’s size.”
Here’s a look at the two new offerings currently under beta test:
Walmart suppliers will be able to integrate product demos into campaigns across in-store and digital environments.
Product demos aren’t new to store floors, but Walmart Connect is seeking to give them an update that blends digital and physical experiences.
“Part of our test is how to enhance the omnichannel experience by bridging the physical back to digital: For example, by pairing a demo cart with QR codes that link back to a curated Walmart.com landing page so customers can find inspiration and shop their list all in one spot,” Cooper wrote.
Walmart is currently offering 120 demos at stores each weekend, and plans to scale to 1,000 by the end of 2023.
Walmart Connect will now offer advertising placements on Walmart’s in-store radio network. Suppliers will have the option to purchase ads by region or store, enabling targeting of key markets.
“This is the first time brands will be able to speak directly to Walmart customers through this medium,” Cooper writes. “These ads also create a new upper-funnel touchpoint for brand marketers and out-of-home (OOH) buyers to create awareness, because in-store audio is about connecting with customers wherever they are in the store — they don’t have to pass the brand in the aisle.”
With the tests, we’ll be watching for how this advertising is measured, and whether Walmart Connect is tracking impact across different types of formats, and not just a single campaign.