Macy’s Inc. announced it has acquired a minority equity stake in b8ta, a retail upstart perhaps best known for its gadget stores that provide a hands-on shopping experience. On the heels of acquiring Story and appointing Story’s founder and CEO, Rachel Shechtman, as brand experience officer of Macy’s, the retailer is signaling it is serious about innovation.
WHO: Founded in 2015 by Vibhu Norby (CEO), Phillip Raub (President), and William Mintun (COO), b8ta is a software-powered retailer designed to improve the customer and maker experience. b8ta operates flagship stores throughout the US—including San Francisco, New York, and Santa Monica—with the mission of helping customers discover, try, buy, and learn about new products while empowering makers with a simple retail-as-a-service model that puts them in control. Earlier this year, b8ta launched Built by b8ta, a service model which further expands upon retail-as-a-service, by helping to build and operate flagship stores for emerging brands.
Macy’s, the largest retail brand of Macy’s, Inc., delivers fashion and affordable luxury to customers at approximately 650 locations in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam, as well as to customers in the US and more than 100 international destinations through its leading online store at macys.com. Macy’s flagship stores—including Herald Square in New York City, Union Square in San Francisco, State Street in Chicago, Dadeland in Miami, and South Coast Plaza in southern California—are known internationally and are leading destinations for visitors.
WHY: Macy’s said it would expand its partnership with b8ta, using the newcomer’s software to scale a new shop-in-shop concept in its department stores.
In February, Macy’s introduced a concept it calls The Market @ Macy’s, small pop-up areas that give temporary space to both budding and big brands. b8ta’s software will be used to power this effort, making it easy for brands to swap in and out. Macy’s says b8ta’s technology will allow it to scale the Market idea more quickly.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “Macy’s is in the experience business. We’re always looking for new formats that allow our customers to discover and connect with our products and services in-store in a way that drives engagement with our brand,” Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s said in a statement. “We’re pleased to deepen our partnership with b8ta that will provide the technology engine for The Market @ Macy’s. This will allow us to scale The Market @ Macy’s concept faster, furthering our goal of bringing more excitement and fresh experiences into our stores.”
“At b8ta, we believe physical retail will thrive as a platform for discovering new products and brands. Macy’s was the best partner for b8ta to scale our pioneering retail-as-a-service model to a breadth of categories like apparel, beauty, home, and more. With b8ta’s software platform and business model, product makers can go from solely selling online to launching their products with Macy’s in a few clicks. Our platform makes it easy for makers to deploy, manage, analyze, and scale amazing offline retail experiences,” said Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta.
- The value of the investment wasn’t disclosed.
- b8ta will customize its technology platform for Macy’s, providing brands a seamless and more automated experience when signing up to participate in The Market @ Macy’s.
Photo: b8ta via Twitter