It’s Friday, the week is almost done, so let’s kick back and reflect on another eventful week for the retail systems space. Here’s your briefing on the most important stories from the past five days, including Walmart, Starbucks, AiFi, and Primark.
1. Big hitters back AiFi as it announces $65m Series B funding round
Checkout-free technology startup AiFi has raised $65 million in a Series B funding round.
Qualcomm and Verizon Communications participated in the round through their venture arms.
Discounter Aldi, German supermarket chain REWE and Polish convenience giant Żabka Group also took part.
The round brings AiFi’s total funding to $80 million, with the cash primarily being used to expand its technical team.
2. Primark preps new website launch and considers Click and Collect option
Primark could add Click and Collect services to its revamped website, although new stores in markets such as Italy and the United States are the fast fashion retailer’s main growth driver.
It said it would launch a new website in the United Kingdom by the end of March, and across its 13 other markets by the autumn.
This will provide customers with near real-time information on product availability by store and enable Primark to tap the data of its customers.
3. Getir eyes major funding round at $12 billion valuation
Turkish rapid grocery delivery startup, Getir, is now worth nearly $12 billion after raising $768 million.
4. Walmart Global Tech preps recruitment drive and new tech hubs
Walmart Global Tech is planning to hire 5,000 people globally this fiscal year and open new technology hubs in Atlanta, USA and Toronto, Canada.
This year, Walmart is focused on recruiting cybersecurity professionals, architects, developers, software engineers, data scientists, data engineers, technical programme managers and product managers.
5. Boots UK untangles retail technology with IT Stores Day
Walgreens owned Boots UK has launched its first ever IT Stores Day.
On Thursday, the retailer’s IT team visited over 350 stores across the UK.
“By 17:30 on the 18th we will have created a ‘store centric’ 12 month IT plan and by Monday morning we will be out there implementing IT,” Rich Corbridge, Chief Information Officer at Boots UK & Ireland, said in a LinkedIn post.
The move is, he added, “a chance for IT professionals throughout Walgreens Boots Alliance to reconnect with the engine of this amazing business and chance for our colleagues and friends scattered across the county to understand a little bit about what IT can do for every part of the retail estate.”
He continued: “We will make a difference, we will untangle IT.”
“So excited to share with you the outcomes of this as the day goes on. Follow #TechAtBoots to see what happens from Lands End to John O Groats and beyond.”
6. Starbucks ramps up retail technology investment as CEO retires
Starbucks is set to deploy new handheld ordering devices to stores.
It is planning to launch Shift Marketplace, an app designed to make it easy for partners to switch and offer shifts virtually, along with a waste and recycling app.
And it will also expand the Starbucks safety Lyft programme to provide rides home for partners after dark.
Plans are also afoot to expand to 55,000 stores in over 100 markets by 2030.
The company announced these initiatives during its 30th annual meeting of shareholders, where it was also revealed that Howard Schultz, who transformed an 11 store Seattle chain into a global coffee giant, is returning to run Starbucks on an interim basis after CEO Kevin Johnson said he would retire next month, following 13 years of service.
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