You may think you’re walking into a store.
But, if the establishment is being monitored by in-store data analytics firm RetailNext, you’re actually walking into a data-capturing and -integrating honeypot. And the San Jose, California-based company announced today it has landed a whopping $125 million to take its venture to the next level.
Many brick-and-mortar stores think they’re entering the digital age if they add some beacons, accept Apple Pay, or maybe offer mobile coupons. RetailNext is attracting major investment because it is going beyond that, turning physical stores into data systems.
Data feeds come from such detectors as video cameras, point-of-sale systems, WiFi, workforce management systems, geo-fencing, beacons, and other avenues. RetailNext can set up its own sensors, including video cameras and WiFI systems, and/or it can aggregate data from existing systems. Local weather conditions are also included, and, for special situations like airport stores, departure schedules are factored in.
Video is usually the most time-consuming form of data to digest, but CEO and founder CEO and founder Alexei Agratchev told me that only automated visual processing and machine learning are used — a necessity since the RetailNext platform covers tens of thousands of stores.
The goals: figure out what kind and how many customers come into the store, what they do, and how to generate more money from them — in more detail than ever before.
Agratchev said the compiled data shows if customers were “male or female, where they [went] in the store, how much time they spent” at a certain display, and so on.
The analyzed data is then used to determine such matters as how the store should be staffed, how effective any in-store display or sale has been, and what is the most effective way to get more profit from shoppers walking around the store.
In other words, it’s Google Analytics for a physical store. RetailNext, Agratchev told me, is “optimizing” the store’s effectiveness.
The new funding “is a lot of cash,” he acknowledged, and it brings the total raised thus far in the company’s eight years of life to $184 million.
The money will be used for R&D and continued platform development, but most of it will be spent on international expansion and possibly some acquisitions. Last year, Agratchev said, the company’s revenues from companies outside the U.S. was “less than 10 percent [of our total], and the goal is for that to be half.”
RetailNext says it currently has more than 160 retail customers, with new store deployments growing at almost 1000 stores monthly. Agratchev said that, when the company started in 2007, “there was no investment in this area [and,] for three or four years, we had no real competition.”
Currently, competitors at the high end are “legacy companies doing traffic counting, like ShopperTrak,” he said, plus there are “lots of startups” tapping into store-generated data. On a smaller scale, for instance, startup FiveStars integrates point-of-sales data with mobile marketing data for small-and-medium businesses.
RetailNext’s biggest advantage, he said, is its head start in a field that requires a lot of development. “It took us a good five years to really build and scale on a global basis,” he said.
But stores-as-systems will become “tablestakes,” he said. “It’s now 100 percent clear — if you have a physical store, and you plan to keep it, you will need tools to measure.”
Otherwise, “you will not be able to compete.”
Funding was lead by Activant Capital Group, with all major existing investors ponying up for this round, including August Capital, StarVest Partners, Nokia Growth Partners, Commerce Ventures, American Express, Pereg Ventures, and Qualcomm Ventures, plus new investor Siguler Guff & Company