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Virtual To Reality: Startup B8ta Raises $19M To Bring Online Retailers In Stores

Warren Shoulberg The first, Market@Macy’s, opened this past winter, and both sides are saying there are many more to come as the program expands and develops. B8ta has also worked with Lowe’s on pop-up experiments with a smart-home shop called SmartSpot. And the company operates its own stores as well, providing the same format for would-be physical retailers. The key to the concept is b8ta’s software, which includes checkout, inventory, point-of-sale, inventory management and staff scheduling services among its components — all disciplines that e-commerce companies have not had to deal with for the most part. Nearly every online retailer worth its Instagram page is looking into physical retailing as a way to reach new shoppers — and cut their customer-acquisition costs, which have been the Achilles heal for such businesses. Each no doubt has a Warby Parker poster on the walls of their office, pointing to the eyewear seller as the role model for how to move from online to in-store. Warby Parker aims to have 100 stores by the end of this year, and in public statements has said it now gets more than 50% of its sales from its stores as opposed to from its web business. Other wannabes from Casper in mattresses to Everlane in apparel to Boll & Branch in home textiles are going the same route: opening stores at healthy clips this year. Still others, like Bonobos — which famously once declared it would never consider having its own physical stores — have gone even further. It was purchased last year by Walmart’s Jet unit and is now being rolled up in that company’s online/in-store mash-up.

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