Byte-Sized AI: ThredUp Talks AI in Earnings; Shopify Gets a New Partner; DB Schenker Pilots More Robots

Byte-Sized AI is a bi-weekly column that covers all things artificial intelligence—from startup funding, to newly inked partnerships, to just-launched, AI-powered capabilities from major retailers, software providers and supply chain players. 

ThredUp on AI in Earnings Announcement

Artificial intelligence has long shown up in technology-focused companies’ earnings reports. But it’s now begun to creep into the retail, apparel and footwear markets, too.

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ThredUp announced on an earnings call on Monday that it has implemented an AI-powered search tool that allows users to more easily peruse the secondhand purveyor’s enormous stock. Like other technologies with similar functionality, users have the ability to search for garments and accessories by occasion, vibe and attribute.

“This new search functionality significantly enhances the secondhand shopping experience in our marketplace by combining visual language with personal style, [and] by enabling buyers to curate style inspirations effortlessly,” Reinhart said on the call. “Whether it’s by searching for a popular item like a satin cocktail dress or a descriptive trend or look like ‘Sunday brunch dress’ or a phrase that evokes emotion like ‘Academy Award chic,’ ThredUp can help shoppers find exactly what they want.”

But the resale marketplace won’t stop there, the CEO noted. Though he did not share a timeline for the tool, Reinhart announced ThredUp would soon deploy a generative AI function allowing its users to build entire outfits based on a prompt.

He noted that if a user wanted an outfit to wear for a trip to Hawaii, the tool would be able to compose an entire outfit for the traveler to select from, including items like a floral crop top, a maxi skirt and embellished sandals.

“I want to emphasize that AI is an enormous leap forward for us in bringing emotion and storytelling to the millions of unique shopping journeys that regularly happen on ThredUp,” Reinhart told investors.

Raspberry AI bags $4.5 million

AI-powered design assistant software Raspberry AI scored $4.5 million in seed funding led by Greycroft Partners and Khosla Ventures. Additional participants included MVP Ventures, Correlation Ventures, Fernbrook Capital and several angel investors, including the co-founder and co-CEO of Revolve and the founder of Reformation.

The product allows users like H&M Group, Revolve and Coppel several different capabilities for designing products. Users can create a technical drawing or sketch, upload it to Raspberry and receive a rendering. Alternatively, they can use a reference image and a prompt to create brand-new designs.

Once the designs—whether previously sketched or natively generated—have been rendered, Raspberry offers users the chance to edit colors and fit-based attributes, like sleeve length or button placement, by hand. To finish out the process, Raspberry will generate lifestyle images for a user.

The company’s site claims designers can save three to five hours on each design, culminating in a total of three months’ worth of time back each year.

Virtual try-on for menswear

Virtual try-on has long been a way retailers and brands have used technology to harness the ever-present issue of returns with their consumers. But many of the solutions to date have been targeted toward women.

But Anthropics, which created virtual try-on technology Zyler, has changed that game, launching Zyler for menswear. To use the technology, consumers upload a headshot of themselves, then add in measurement information. The AI system renders an image of the way that the garments will fit on that user’s personal body double.

The company noted that its retail customers have seen browsing time and engagement increase as a result of integrating its technology.

Alexander Berend, CEO of Anthropics said the company expects that the technology will create more comprehensive shopping experiences for men purchasing items of clothing online.

“We believe that Zyler will transform the way men shop for clothes online. By combining advanced artificial intelligence technology with a user-friendly interface, we aim to provide an unparalleled virtual try-on experience,” Berend said in a statement.

Photo courtesy of Zyler.
Photo courtesy of Zyler.

Dexory and DB Schenker bring warehouse robots to the U.S.

United Kingdom-based robotics company Dexory announced Thursday it would partner with major logistics player DB Schenker to bring its proprietary warehouse robots to the United States. The two will test the technology in the German logistics provider’s Utah-based warehouse.

The supply chain and logistics company will use Dexory’s technology for real-time stock visibility in its warehouse. It will also employ occupancy tracking capabilities. The overall hope for the partnership is to bolster efficiency.

Dexory’s robots use computer vision and AI to give insights for every warehouse shelf at any level, which in turn reduces the tedious human task of manually seeking out discrepancies. The tools also give warehouse leaders a one-stop-shop for the collected data.

Dexory noted in a statement that upon deployment, DB Schenker immediately received insights into warehouse operations and inefficiencies.

Oana Jinga, Dexory’s chief commercial and product officer, said the partnership will enable further expansion into the North American market, a sweeping aspiration the company announced in February.

“This live deployment signifies a major step forward in Dexory’s mission to revolutionize how businesses approach logistics and operational efficiency. The progress achieved with DB Schenker serves as a testament to the power of innovative technology in transforming traditional practices, ushering in a new era of precision, speed and insight in the world of logistics,” Jinga said in a statement.

Lily AI integrates with Shopify

Lily AI announced Feb. 26 it had directly integrated with e-commerce giant Shopify. The startup’s technology enables brands to “think like their customers,” using artificial intelligence to enable stronger product discovery.

The technology works by ensuring product attributes—like color, style, knit and more—are identifiable in a way that a customer would search for a product. For instance, if a customer wants a purple graphic T-shirt, their inquiry into a search bar might be different than how a company codes its product on the backend. Lily AI helps to bridge that gap.

The startup, which boasts customers like Gap, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and J. Crew, said integrating its marquis product into Shopify made sense for the two companies’ goals.

“When our customers speak, we listen. In recent months, we’ve heard massive demand from our customers and would-be customers that they want to easily and automatically integrate Lily’s industry-leading attributes into their entire retail technology infrastructure, with Shopify frequently at the top of the list. Our Shopify integration is an exciting example of our commitment to cultivating new and deeper technology partnerships to better serve our retailer and brand customers,” Ahmed Naiem, president and chief revenue officer of Lily AI, said in a statement.

PhotoRoom grabs $43 million in funding, enhances product suite

PhotoRoom, an AI tool that creates stronger product photos for strengthened SEO and smoother images, announced on Feb. 27 that it had raised $43 million in Series B funding.

Balderton Capital and Aglaé led the round, with participation from Y Combinator.

As part of the announcement, the company shared that it had released six new tools in its product suite. The tools include improved-quality, AI-generated backgrounds for product photos, the ability to generate an expanded scene around an image with AI, camera angle correction, resolution enhancement and more.

The company will use the funding to further build out and train its from-scratch model and to double its employee headcount. It already has partnerships with a number of small businesses and with more major enterprises like Bulgari.

Matthieu Rouif, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, said the fashion and apparel industries stand to gain a lot from technology’s genesis in the imaging space.

“In an industry where visual representation is everything, Photoroom stands out by providing fashion brands a scalable solution to manage and enhance their product images, ensuring that even the largest inventories can be presented beautifully and efficiently,” Rouif told Sourcing Journal. “By automating and refining the image editing process, Photoroom offers fashion retailers the ability to rapidly adapt their online storefronts with high-quality imagery, reflecting the latest trends and collections without the traditional time and cost penalties.”