Retail Tech: Google’s Virtual Try-On, Crocs Opens Virtual Store, GXO Expands in Germany

The weekly Retail Tech Roundup compiles technology news across the supply chain, manufacturing, retail, e-commerce, logistics and fulfillment sectors.

Virtual store


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Crocs is extending its partnership with experiential 3D e-commerce platform and Alo Yoga partner Obsess with the launch of a new virtual shopping experience featuring the clog maker’s popular Jibbitz charms.

The Crocs Jibbitz Experience is a virtual storytelling arena centered around self-expression, personalization, gamification and education to promote the brand’s flagship Jibbitz accessories.

The experience includes the brand’s first-ever 3D Jibbitz Customizer, a feature engineered by Obsess to provide consumers with a mix-and-match tool to create their own unique pair of Crocs, which can then be purchased directly from the virtual experience.

The Jibbitz Experience is the third virtual store created by Crocs in collaboration with Obsess. The store features five virtual departments, each themed for a different Jibbitz assortment type—from letters to food, animals and more. The Jibbitz Experience also features a nostalgic arcade-style claw machine game, in which users can collect virtual Jibbitz in order to win physical Jibbitz that cost only one cent.

The Jibbitz Customizer includes 3D replicas of Jibbitz charms and clogs in a variety of men’s and women’s sizes.

Shoppers can add up to 26 different 3D charms to a clog model and then proceed to purchase the physical version of their custom product. The addition of the Jibbitz Customizer forwards Crocs’ goal of educating consumers on the types of Jibbitz charms available for purchase, while showcasing how to apply and style charms on the brand’s best-selling clog product.


GXO Logistics

GXO Logistics, Inc. is beginning a multi-year plan to significantly expand its operations into Germany. To start GXO is investing in a new, 387,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art warehouse in Dormagen in the country’s Dusseldorf region.

Germany’s contract logistics market, which GXO estimates at $20 billion in annual revenue, is expected to grow rapidly due to the ongoing modernization of supply chains, acceleration of nearshoring and increasing demand from companies to outsource to reduce costs, improve efficiency and deliver a best-in-class consumer experience. GXO cited German market demand for technology-enabled, customized, agile logistics solutions.

Richard Cawston, president of GXO’s European operations, said that the company’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Clipper Logistics last year helped drive the expansion into Germany. Clipper gave GXO another 50 warehouses, totaling 10 million square feet across Europe.

The Dormagen facility will be a launchpad for GXO’s market expansion, led by Stefan Van Hoof, who was recently named GXO’s managing director of Central Europe, reporting to Cawston. Van Hoof joined GXO through the Clipper deal, where he served as CEO of Mainland Europe, and has over two decades of logistics industry experience.

In keeping with GXO’s commitment to sustainability, the new site will target a DGNB Gold Certification and emphasize energy efficient features. GXO expects to employ up to 400 workers at full capacity and will implement automation and adaptive technology like goods-to-person and autonomous mobile robots on site based on customer requirements.

GXO has operated in 15 countries across continental Europe for more than 25 years, serving customers in e-commerce, fashion, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and DIY industries. In Germany, GXO serves fashion businesses like S.Oliver and global companies including Kellogg. GXO also directly serves the German market from sites in Poland and the Czech Republic for companies like online pet shop Zooplus and works across Europe and globally with German businesses such as Henkel, BASF, Bayer and home improvement retailer Obi to support their logistics operations. The company currently employs approximately 34,000 people at roughly 500 sites across the region.

Virtual try-on


Google has released a new virtual try-on tool using generative AI that is available through its search engine. The first iteration will be usable on women’s tops, enabling users to preview how clothes look on different models.

Google research says that 42 percent of online shoppers don’t feel represented by images of models, and 59 percent feel dissatisfied with an item they shopped for online because it looked different on them than expected.

The Big Tech firm says its generative AI model can take just one clothing image and accurately reflect how it would drape, fold, cling, stretch and form wrinkles and shadows on a diverse set of real models in various poses. To create the model, Google selected people ranging in sizes XXS-4XL representing different skin tones (using the Monk Skin Tone Scale as a guide), body shapes, ethnicities and hair types.

U.S. shoppers can now virtually try on women’s tops from brands across Google, including Anthropologie, Everlane, H&M and Loft, by tapping products with the “Try On” badge on search and selects the model that resonates the most.

Google trained the AI-generated model using many pairs of images, each including a person wearing a garment in two different poses, such as an image of someone wearing a shirt standing sideways and another of them standing forward, according to a company blog post.

“In this scenario, the AI model learns to match the shape of the shirt in the sideways pose with the person in the forward pose, and vice versa, until it can generate realistic images of the shirt on that person from all angles,” said Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, senior staff research scientist, shopping, Google, in the blog post. “To take it up a notch, we repeated this process using millions of random image pairs of different garments and people. The result allows you to see what a top looks like on the model of your choice.”

Working alongside Google’s Shopping Graph, which is the company’s comprehensive data set of products and sellers, the search giant says it can scale the virtual try-on to more brands and items over time. The Shopping Graph stores billions of global product listings, plus specific information about those products like availability, reviews from other shoppers, pros and cons, materials, colors and sizes.

Google says more options are coming to virtual try-on for apparel, with men’s tops launching later this year.

The company is also offering new guided refinements to help U.S. shoppers fine-tune product search. Thanks to machine learning and new visual matching algorithms, users can refine their search using inputs like color, style and pattern. The user won’t be limited to one retailer when they shop, seeing options from stores across the web.

This feature is available for tops to start, within Google’s product listings.



Algolia, an end-to-end AI-powered search and discovery platform, has unveiled its Query Categorization capability, which is built to automatically associate a search query with the appropriate category.

Query Categorization helps brands to operationalize their strategies across entire product categories more efficiently to better predict the correct category associated with search queries, ultimately saving time and cutting cost.

Using customer interaction data and leveraging advanced AI algorithms, Query Categorization can automatically predict the true intent behind users’ queries and connect to the correct categories of products. The AI model is trained by each product catalog and its users, producing the best results for each specific business. This significantly reduces the setup and ongoing maintenance of online product catalogs by developers, product managers and non-tech practitioners.

Coupled with recently launched Algolia NeuralSearch, Query Categorization offers increased precision (accuracy) and enhanced recall (completeness) of search results, supported by more accurate and autonomous prediction of relevant product categories.

Query Categorization is designed to help companies compete with large, established industry players, like big box retailers, without large teams of data scientists and AI experts. In many instances, these organizations attempt to “do it alone” and imitate larger players by building highly manual processes to sort search results and match them with ranked products and categories. However, Query Categorization is built to solve this problem by empowering these organizations to dynamically map queries to aligned categories at enterprise scale.

The feature can deliver contextually relevant information, which can make it easier for consumers to find what they’re looking for. It includes additional benefits such as a dedicated section in the Algolia UI to set up AI models and explore predictions in an easy and intuitive fashion, as well as automatic filtering and boosting on predicted categories using a no-code environment that business users and non-tech practitioners can control directly to increase the relevance of their user’s results.

Merchandisers can modify categorizations made by the AI model, while analytics available in the UI that are grouped by predicted category can learn how the categories perform and to detect underperforming queries.

Using AI, Query Categorization can automatically predict the product categories associated with a consumer’s specific query and then connects to the right products based on the online business catalog or content, whether it is an e-commerce site, movie app or other content collection.

For example, a query for “milk chocolate” will be connected to a category comprising chocolates, while “chocolate milk” will be connected to a category of dairy products.

It also helps optimize “long tail” queries by connecting consumers with the most relevant categories, an important attribute in situations where there may be many thousands of similar products or SKUs that are searched for infrequently or often incorrectly categorized.

An undisclosed Swiss department store chain experienced a 22 percent conversion rate increase from 4.23 percent to 5.17 percent after two weeks of use, according to Bharat Guruprakash, chief product officer of Algolia.


Stravito, an enterprise platform designed to enable businesses to store, discover, and integrate market and consumer insights, has launched proprietary generative AI capabilities to enhance the search experience and provide users with quicker insights in what it says is a more engaging and inspiring way.

The generative AI functionality is built to go far beyond traditional enterprise search, with the ability for users to ask full questions using everyday language, and receive short natural language answers synthesized from various proprietary sources. Users can also dive deeper with recommended questions – all with the security of a closed system that generates accurate answers exclusively from a client’s owned research materials, and not beyond.

Stravito says its use of vetted data sources removes the possibility of random information noise clogging up the research process, or even worse, delivering false insights. In addition to key data points and summaries, every search also returns clickable links to source documents, so users can feel confident in the validity of the provided answers. This way, the algorithm provides context and identifies potentially contradicting data points, offering a nuanced and thorough approach.

Developed in collaboration with existing enterprise customers, Stravito’s generative AI functionality will be rolled out in stages to users to better leverage their company’s available data and research.

Physical retail


Leap, the retail platform designed to help digital natives expand into physical stores, secured $15 million in new capital.

This fundraise was co-led by existing investors BAM Elevate and Costanoa Ventures with participation from Equal Ventures, Hyde Park Ventures and additional investors.

The funding will help Leap to drive growth with existing and new brands, enhance platform capabilities and accelerate the company’s path to profitability.

The Leap platform has more than doubled its network size and revenue since the platform’s $50 million Series B financing in January 2022.

More than 50 brands use Leap to power over 100 stores across 11 markets, including Frankies Bikinis, M.M.LaFleur and activewear brands Public Rec and Set, which continue expanding their store count on the Leap platform. Footwear brand Nisolo and men’s apparel seller True Classic recently opened their first stores with Leap.

Leap will continue to focus its investments in building location density in active markets, resulting in impactful scale and efficiencies for brands who leverage the platform.

“The Leap platform makes sense for us at this stage in our growth,” said Zach Goldstein, founder and CEO of Public Rec in a statement. “We continue to scale our e-commerce business, and turned to Leap to launch and operate our retail fleet. Now, our Leap-powered stores help us acquire thousands of high value customers each month.”

E-commerce experience


FabFitFun, a discovery shopping site for women, is implementing CommerceHub, a provider of software solutions connecting supply, demand and delivery, to power its e-commerce business.

FabFitFun is a Los Angeles-based e-commerce and media company that offers quarterly subscription boxes and operates a curated website for its members. The company has leveraged the subscription boxes and extended its reach to embrace new channels to meet growing customer demand for its unique offerings.

CommerceHub’s e-commerce platform—and its Commerce Suite solution for unified marketplace and drop ship—is migrating FabFitFun’s drop shipping program to help expand its curated product assortment and increase sales and profitability, while ensuring an exceptional customer experience for its members.

“We invest in technology that enables us to achieve our mission of delivering happiness and well-being to everyone, everywhere, at scale,” said Michael Broukhim, co-CEO and co-founder, FabFitFun. “CommerceHub has the most extensive network of brands that align with our mission—their innovative platform and technical capabilities meet our critical functional requirements and we feel their customer-centric approach supports our future aspirations. At its core, FabFitFun is a community, and we aim to deliver products and experiences to members of our community that they are consistently excited about. By working with CommerceHub, we are looking forward to surprising them with even more choices and interesting experiences.”

Artificial intelligence


Online marketplace technology provider Mirakl is integrating generative AI built on OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 into its platform.

Mirakl already uses AI to automate, enhance and accelerate e-commerce across its suite of solutions. For example, the company’s AI-powered technology has already made it possible to achieve a tenfold increase when onboarding new product catalogs, reduce incident resolution time for customer care by 90 percent, and boost conversion rates by 15 percent with personalized product recommendations.

Now, Mirakl is harnessing the power of generative AI to empower organizations to maximize their sales, increase traffic and conversion and operate more efficiently. Leveraging a combination of ChatGPT and Mirakl machine learning algorithms, Mirakl users can enhance the data quality and completeness of product catalogs. Using AI, they can boost search engine rankings and increase conversions by automatically optimizing product titles, descriptions and attributes.

With AI-powered translations, they can potentially expand their business into new territories at scale, removing manual effort and cost. The solution works across an organization’s wholesale, marketplace and dropship assortment to drive more consistent customer experiences.

These new features mean that merchandisers and marketplace managers can potentially get new products online faster, eliminating hours spent reviewing and filling in incomplete product content, because Mirakl can automatically take care of it. Digital business leaders can increase sales from their existing customer base while also reaching new customers.

Mirakl’s integration comes as the company estimates that platform models like marketplace and dropship grew six times faster than e-commerce last year, according to a post by Mirakl co-CEO and co-founder Philippe Corrot.


Scoutbee, an AI-powered supplier intelligence and discovery platform, has debuted generative AI feature updates to the Scoutbee Intelligence Platform (SIP).

The new features enable companies to analyze and get deeper insights into their existing supply base. Using the Scoutbee conversational AI, users can ask smart and strategic questions, such as “Where do I have single-source suppliers for a product?” or “Is there an alternative supplier for this product?” to uncover and address vulnerabilities in their base.

A company that is striving to give its top-performing suppliers more business could, for example, ask: “What capabilities do my preferred suppliers offer that I am not utilizing?” and get immediate answers.

SIP is built to deliver a more accurate picture of an organization’s supply base and highlight room for improvement. The platform draws from practically any data point and source relevant to organizations’ decision making, including customers’ data, third-party data, supplier websites and portals, Scoutbee data, and more.

The technology uses web crawlers to scour the internet to extract any additional relevant data using machine learning (ML) models, then classifies, organizes and enriches the data before connecting it to a knowledge graph that uncovers the relationships between entities. Predictive and prescriptive analytics run on the knowledge graph to help procurement draw the right actionable conclusions.


Lenovo said it is investing $1 billion over three years to accelerate AI deployment for businesses around the world. The company also said it reached record annual AI infrastructure revenue of over $2 billion.

The investment will further expand the company’s AI-ready portfolio of smart devices, infrastructure solutions and services to help accelerate innovation, enabling the use of generative AI and delivering cognitive decisions at scale throughout remote locations across retail, financial, manufacturing, healthcare and smart city applications.

As part of the additional investment, Lenovo is committing $100 million to grow the Lenovo AI Innovators program, which has delivered 150 AI solutions created with 45 independent software vendor (ISV) partners in the program’s first year.

Leveraging the AI Innovators end-to-end ecosystem, the new solutions are bringing AI from the lab to scale and enabling the dramatic technology shifts underway within high-growth sectors. With the new solutions, customers can more rapidly deploy and leverage AI capabilities, like generative AI, computer vision, voice AI and virtual assistants.

As the retail, food service and hospitality industries adapt to the post-pandemic era, businesses are reimagining front-end and back-end operations to enable improved customer service, mitigate waste and address shifts in the labor market.

Lenovo is partnering with DeepBrain AI to offer a solution for generative AI virtual assistants that can be paired with large language models (LLMs) to deliver 24/7 automated concierge service in hospitality and retail settings.

As manufacturing operations around the globe seek digitalization to drive future growth and differentiation amidst economic disruptions, AI solutions from Lenovo and Guise can help industrial customers reduce unplanned downtime with up to 14 days of advanced prediction, as well as understand customer behavior and optimize processes with computer vision, predictive maintenance, and anomaly detection on the production line.

Lenovo also recently opened a new AI Discovery Center of Excellence, providing access to the company’s data scientists, AI architects and engineers to help explore, deploy and scale AI solutions.

The service is also designed to guide customers to appropriate software partners, AI-optimized infrastructure and responsible AI guidance through the Lenovo Responsible AI Committee. As companies learn to deploy AI, the committee helps customers with their approach to designing, deploying and using AI ethically, helping organizations understand and address privacy, fair usage, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility considerations.


Volcanic Retail

Volcanic Retail, a two-way communications platform built to connect retail buyers and brands, reported that more than 2,000 buyers and 7,000 brands have joined the platform.

The company expands into fast-growing retail categories including grocery, consumer electronics, toys, pet supplies, hardware and more. Bolstered by its advisory board, key partnerships and investment strategy, the company’s valuation is now 1,900 percent of its launch valuation, the company says.

Recognizing that the retail purchasing industry has historically been bogged down by inefficient practices such as costly and inefficient trade shows magnified during the pandemic, Volcanic Retail was founded to empower brands and buyers with a more efficient way to do business.

The platform offers AI-based analytics for curated recommendations and trends, searchable brand profile and product pages, as well as buyer calendars and contact windows to leverage efficiency for those bringing products to shelves.

At launch, Volcanic Retail focused on three of the fastest-growing retail categories in the U.S., including outdoor, specialty and natural grocer and pharmacy. Since then, additional categories have been added to meet market demand, including consumer electronics, farm and ranch, hardware, cosmetics and pet care, among others. This strategic expansion has resulted in a total of 7,000 brands joining the platform.

In addition to user growth, Volcanic Retail has begun its first of four rounds of crowdfunding using the WeFunder platform. While many companies rely on investment associated with venture capital and private equity groups, Volcanic Retail aims to support its surrounding community as it grows by leveraging ways for residents in nearby cities to invest at a low cost, as little as $200.

This consistent crowdfunding has led to tremendous valuation growth in a short period of time, the company says. The company plans to use the funds to add features to the platform, increase staffing and enhance its database of buyers and brands.

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