One of the options for brick and mortar to strike back at e-commerce is real-time in-store analysis, where nascent technology gives consumers the a personalized experience without stopping to pay or engage with staff.
"It's the last mile," said Steve Sarracino, founder and partner at Activant Capital. "You know who is doing what … and you can connect a shopper to an item."
Activant's portfolio includes a recent lead on a $17 million investment in NewStore, a Boston-based mobile retail platform that combines in-store and online engagement to create a single view of a consumer's shopping and payments across channels. Over the past couple of years, Activant has been part of more than $100 million in investments in RetailNext
, a San Jose-based in-store analytics company that uses sensors as part of its mix of marketing, omnichannel, loss prevention and mobile point of sale products.
The New York-based Activant has also been part of more than $60 million in investments in ShopKeep POS
, another New York-based company that embeds payments and digital content into tablets and other mobile devices.
All of these technologies aim to bring online shopping and mobile payment into stores—an Amazon meets Uber
model—in part to counter Amazon's increasing dominance over retail.
RetailNext's sensors play one of the most interesting roles in this evolution, according to Sarracino. The sensors, which have their roots in casino security, have been improved to distinguish staff from shoppers, and can ID where shoppers are in stores and what they are buying.
"The shopping experience needs to change, and retailers now understand that and consumers are craving it," said Bridget Johns, head of marketing and customer experience at RetailNext.