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February 24 2014


February 21 2014


February 12 2014

Revel Systems Adds Native Bitcoin Transactions To Its POS Offering
bitcoinHey do you like Bitcoins? Yeah. I thought you might. Well you can use all those coins to buy things at stores running Revel Systems-powered point-of-sale terminals starting right now, as the company has rolled out native support for transactions made using the very much in-vogue cryptocurrency. Previously, Revel customers could accept Bitcoin transactions using third-party plugins, but now it’s integrated as an optional payment method directly into the platform alongside LevelUp, PayPal, cash and credit. The reason behind the integration is to provide its users with access to all the latest payment methods, according to Revel co-founders Lisa Falzone and Chris Ciabarra, and Bitcoin has been a request from a decent number of its clients. “If you actually search ‘Revel’ and ‘Bitcoin’ prior to this release, you’ll see a lot of our clients were already accepting it through our third-party access button,” Ciabarra explained. “But it is double-entry. That’s why we decided to create this integration so that it’s single-entry and you don’t have to worry about it. We had potential clients asking for a POS that could accept Bitcoin, so it’s convincing new clients to come on board who aren’t a Revel customer yet but who are using Bitcoin.” The integration is already being used by some active Revel clients, and they’ve already accepted Bitcoin payments at locations across the country. Ciabarra said that so far, they’ve noticed that grocery stores have seemed to be the most interested in offering Bitcoin as a payment option. It has a number of advantages for merchants and retailers, he notes, including an absence of transaction fees and the lack of exposure to the risk of payments not clearing. Regardless of whether Bitcoin sizzles or fizzles, Revel wants to offer its clients whatever payment means it can, Ciabarra says. And if it does take off, being the first POS provider to support it could pay big dividends later on.

February 06 2014

Amazon Puts Image Recognition Into Its Main iOS App – Prepare To Be Even More Showroomed, Retailers
amazon-flow-ios-appPeople already use their mobile devices for comparative shopping when paying visits to brick-and-mortar retailers – but it’s about to get a lot worse. Amazon has integrated shopping-by-camera functionality into its main iOS application, which is even easier than the previous barcode scanning feature it used to let shoppers compare prices. The image recognition feature isn’t new: Amazon previously released a standalone app called “Flow” run by its subsidiary A9 (the search and advertising wing of the e-commerce giant), and the new feature within the main app is called “Flow,” too. The standalone app was launched a little over two years ago, so Amazon clearly wanted to make sure the image recognition tech was fully baked before introducing it to the wider user pool of its main iOS application. Flow’s introduction (and its eventual rollout on Android, too) was preceded by Amazon A9′s acquisition of SnapTell, a startup whose main purpose was to develop visual product search. With SnapTell, you could take a picture of certain specific items (CD, DVD, book or video game covers to be exact) and get price and ratings from not only Amazon, but also Google, eBay and more. The in-app Flow feature in Amazon’s iOS title is much more flexible – it works by identifying not only media package covers, but also logos, artwork and other unique visual features – and can cover a much broader range of packaged items. You still can’t take a picture of, say, a pair of headphones you have lying around the house out of box, but for showrooming purposes (its main use case) that shouldn’t matter all that much. The ability to scan barcodes made it much easier for people to comparison shop, but it’s still a degree of complexity that makes it not all that convenient, since barcodes are sometimes difficult to find, and shoppers might not always know where to look for them, or want to bother. With straightforward package trait identification, it’s a simple matter of point-and-shoot, without even having to take an item down from its rack or shelf. Like a cowbird laying its eggs in the nests of wrens and sparrows, Amazon is using the retail floors of its competitors to demo products, while landing the final sale through competitive pricing. Image recognition definitely makes it an even more effective commerce parasite.

January 12 2014

Neiman Marcus Breach Could Be Part Of Larger Holiday Cyberattack On U.S. Retailers
Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 11.43.08 PMIn the weeks following Thanksgiving, Target became the unlucky victim of a massive attack and data hack, which reportedly affected as many as 110 million people and exposed an array of personal data, including names, addresses and credit card information. With a second retail giant beginning to notify customers that it, too, has been hacked, it seems that we may just be scratching the surface of a larger cyberattack that took place during the holiday season. This morning, Krebs On Security reported that upscale retailer Neiman Marcus has teamed up with the U.S. Secret Service to investigate its own data breach which led to the theft of credit card and personal information. The company reportedly discovered the cyberattack in December from its credit card processor but has still yet to disclose how many shoppers have been affected by the hack. However, the company said via its Twitter account that it is beginning to notify customers whose credit card information has been “used fraudulently” since the breach in December. The company said that the forensics team it has been working with had discovered that customer personal information had been compromised, but that it has “begun to contain the intrusion and have taken significant steps to further enhance information security,” it said in a statement about the breach. Beyond how many of its customers were exposed to the attack, the company has yet to share details on how the breach occurred. There is no concrete evidence that the two attacks on Neiman Marcus and Target were linked, as, at least according to Krebs. Target has yet to publicly share details on its investigation which could help other retailers discover whether or not the attacks were perpetrated by the same hackers. However, Reuters has since reported that Neiman Marcus and Target were not the only victims of the Holiday Hack Attack ’13, as I’m calling it. According to Reuters, at least three other “well-known U.S. retailers” were subject to data breaches, which used “similar techniques” to the attack on Target. Not only that, but those investigating the events indicated that similar breaches may also have “occurred earlier last year.” The report claims that hackers used “malicious software” to infiltrate the retailers’ databases and steal credit card information. Reuters’ sources indicated that one of the Trojan horses used by hackers was a “RAM scraper,” which allows the burglar to snatch encrypted data at a

December 06 2013

Apple Turns On iBeacons In All Its 254 U.S. Stores For In-Store Notifications And More
apple-storeApple will kick off this weekend by launching iBeacons functionality in all of its 254 domestic U.S. stores, according to a new report by the AP. The location-based tech will work with the official iOS Apple Store app, and will allow Apple to do things like provide you with notifications of when your order has been assembled in the in-store stock room, to noticing that you're in the iPhone section and offering you a notice about upgrading from your current device.

November 26 2013

Bib + Tuck Has An App Now, Begins More Stringent Filtering On What Brands Users Can Swap
The fashion swap site Bib + Tuck launched in November 2012 as a private, invite-only community and opened up to the public late this summer. The startup is now pushing its product with the release of its first app today, while sharpening its aesthetic perspective through a new rule, implemented today, that users can only sell items from a list of approved brands.

November 21 2013

For On-The-Go Clothes Stalking, The Hunt Releases An iOS App
To better serve a smartphone-happy user base that skews young and female, the fashion site The Hunt has released its first iPhone app. The startup closed a Series A round of $5.5 in early July led by Javelin Partners, having accumulated a roster of high profile venture round investors including Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks.

November 16 2013

Zulily Closes First Day As A Public Company At $37.70 A Share, Marking A Win For Flash Sales
Closing the day at $37.70 a share, Zulily is proving to be a success among flash and daily deals sites. Its first-day performance could give other companies confidence in the possibility of going public, despite doubts in the long-term potential of the model. As we noted earlier in the day, Gilt Groupe could have an IPO on the horizon.

November 15 2013

Zulily Shares Pop 82% Above IPO Price
A week after Twitter's IPO and two days after education company Chegg debuted on the NYSE, Zulily, the daily deals targeted at mothers, opened on the NASDAQ Global Select Market this morning under the symbol ZU. And things are going well since the company priced 11.5 million shares at $22 each late last night at a $2.6 billion valuation: shares jumped to a high of $41.32 this morning and now stand at $37.15.
ShopKeep Goes Custom, Releasing A Speedy New System For Holiday Shopping
Not to freak everyone out, but there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. For shoppers, that means a tighter timeframe in which to negotiate parking lots and mall lines; according to the Washington Post, retailers are starting their marketing even earlier than usual.

November 11 2013

Trendabl Adds Commerce To Its Social Fashion Platform, Because Pretty Pictures Are Better With A Buy Button
A year and a half after launch, Trendabl — the Instagram-like social platform strictly for fashion photos — has introduced e-commerce to its offerings. It's a natural next step for a service that already lets users, brands, and magazines upload photos and tag the items pictured.

November 01 2013

Google's Barge Likely A Modular, Floating Retail Space, CBS Reports
Google caught some attention this past week for mooring a huge barge in SF Bay for mysterious purposes. Rumors have been flying about what that barge could be used for, with some suggesting it’s a floating data center, which Google does indeed have a patent for. But reports from a Bay Area local CBS affiliate and CNET suggest it’s a retail play, and now CBS is reporting (via 9to5Google) that as confirmed from multiple sources. CBS affiliate KPIX 5 says that the barge will eventually include luxury showrooms for gadgets such as Google Glass, as well as a party deck, and provide hands-on experiences to select potential clients by invitation only. It’s the brainchild of Google X, the skunkworks at Google designed to build some of that company’s more experimental products and services, including Google Glass and self-driving cars, and it’s overseen by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Brin is reportedly the driving force behind this retail barge experiment, and the purpose of the plan is to compete with Apple’s dominating retail presence, according to the CBS report. While the barge doesn’t look like a luxury showroom at the moment, it’s built out of modular 40-foot shipping containers and is designed to be quickly torn down and put back together easily. It’s not a strictly seaborne affair, either – Google could reportedly assemble it on trucks or on freight trains, too, adding new meaning to the term “road show.” CBS says that the barge’s launch has been delayed because of how it’s been designated by the U.S. Coast Guard, which is so far complying with Google’s apparent request that its purpose be kept secret. Earlier this year, reports surfaced that suggested Google would begin opening its own retail stores in time for this year’s holiday season. A splashy launch of a naval retail outlet aimed at high-value clientele would definitely be an interesting way to kick-off wider retail efforts, and this will help Google do more to evangelize established lines of business like Chrome OS and Nexus devices, as well as more experimental projects like Google Glass, which will need plenty more consumer exposure if it ever hopes to be a more broadly appealing device. Image credit: CBS KPIX 5
Ecomm Newcomer Greats Is Building A Brand On Sweet, Affordable Sneakers
Someone should probably go make a Wikipedia page for the "Warby Parker model," since it has rapidly become the go-to business strategy for online retail startups.

October 28 2013

Harry's Is Opening A Barbershop, Or, A Bridge For Online And Offline Customer Behavior
Months after Warby Parker opened its flagship store in New York, co-founder Jeff Raider is taking his other venture, Harry's, in a brick and mortar direction as well. Tomorrow, the shaving supply startup will open the doors of its "Corner Shop," a barbershop-slash-retail location in SoHo.

October 08 2013

Swirl, A Beacon-Fueled Marketing System, Raises $8M So Retailers Can Track Shoppers
With the goal of closing the gap between retailers and shoppers, the SaaS startup Swirl Networks, Inc. is rolling out a system of in-store beacons to notify consumers of specific deals according to where they stand in the store. A little Big Brother? Yes. But it's happening: Swirl has just closed an $8 million Series B round led by Hearst Ventures, the strategic investments branch of the Hearst Corporation, to fuel the expansion of their platform. SoftBank Capital and Longworth Venture Partners also participated in the round.

October 02 2013

Quri, A Retail Intelligence Platform Using Mobile Crowdworkers, Scores $10 Million From Matrix & Others
A company tapping into the power of a distributed mobile workforce is Quri, a retailer analytics and intelligence company whose software has been adopted by half of the top twenty-five CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands around the world, including Tyson, Nestle, Dannon, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others. And it's only been on the market for 15 months. Today, the company is announcing an injection of capital to fund its growth, with $10 million in Series B funding in a round led by Dana Stalder of Matrix Partners, who will now join Quri's board.

September 27 2013

After Kickstarter Success, Ministry of Supply Lands $1.1M To Expand Its Tech-Savvy Men's Line
Founded by a couple of MIT grads in 2010, Ministry of Supply set out on a mission to breathe a little fresh air into the starchy world of business attire. Using some of the same technology found in NASA's space suits, the Boston-based startup developed a line of more "technologically-savvy," adaptive dress shirts that help control perspiration, reduce odor and wrinkling but don't make you look like a goon.

September 25 2013

CardSpring Connect Lets Merchants “Switch On” Card-Linked Offers On Foursquare & Elsewhere With Just A Click
Many brick-and-mortar merchants in the real world just want customers, but don't have the time to learn the nuances of the various performance marketing tools and other programs at their disposal today. They just want new customers, or they just want to increase traffic during the slower parts of the day, for example. A new service called CardSpring Connect, launching today, now helps with that. The platform offers a self-serve online dashboard that allows merchants to easily create campaigns, connect apps like Foursquare, Trialpay, Thanx, MOGL, OnStripe and others, then sit back and watch as the analytics update in real-time with each swipe of a customer's card at checkout.

September 06 2013

Keaton Row, An E-Commerce Site That Pairs Busy Ladies With Personal Shoppers, Raises $1.6 Million In Seed Funding
The personal shopping site Keaton Row has raised $1.6 million in a second round of seed funding led by Menlo Ventures, an early investor in Fab and Warby Parker, with participation from Rho Ventures and Grape Arbor Ventures. The site, which launched in 2012, previously raised a seed round of $1 million led by Rho Ventures. Keaton Row is an e-commerce site that puts the “person” in personalization. After a quick style quiz to understand taste, needs, and body type, the site matches customers with a personal shopper, who draws from it’s partner retail sites to make suggestions and create lookbooks for their clients. The stylists, who are paid by Keaton Row on commission, apply to the site at an acceptance rate of about 60-70%. On the consumer side, the site appeals to women who have money but don’t want to shop for themselves, or don’t know how to navigate the massive world of online retail. The personal shoppers, meanwhile, are fashion-savvy people who want to use their taste make a bit of cash. And although diametrically opposed sartorially, both groups are easily scalable. “The Keaton Row customer is a professionally oriented woman. She has money to spend, but doesn’t have time. She isn’t an active reader of Vogue or The Coveteur, so she wants it to be curated and convenient. There’s a higher level of personalization, and authentic personalization,” co-founder and co-CEO Cheryl Han said. Keaton Row is partnered with online retailers like ShopBop and Les Nouvelles, meaning shoppers have access to over 10,000 products. With this latest round of funding, Keaton Row plans to build out its user platforms for stylists and customers, grow its retail partnerships, and expand its national presence, which for stylists is currently focused on metropolitan areas like New York and LA. While other e-commerce sites rely on algorithm-based style quizzes and click-throughs for personalization, Keaton Row is one of a few retail sites leveraging an abundance of human fashionistas who can provide the same advice with better customer service. On the men’s side, Brandid has developed a similar model. Han and Elenor Mak, her co-founder and CEO, said that many of their customers see their stylists as friends and turn to them for advice on other areas of their life, like shopping for their home, child, or boyfriend. That kind of trusting, personal relationship can be a powerful motivation to keep customers coming back.
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