Store-as-a-service platform b8ta on Tuesday announced it has raised $19 million in Series B funding led by Macy’s, with new investments from Sound Ventures, Palm Drive Capital, Capitaland and Plug and Play Ventures participating, and return backers Graphene Ventures and Khosla Ventures.
The infusion brings the startup’s total funding to $39 million to date, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The investment follows the recent launch of Built by b8ta, which enables brands and manufacturers to provide a brick-and-mortar experience through stores or shops-in-shop, the company also said.
B8ta has big plans for its cash stash, though CEO Vibhu Norby wouldn’t spell them all out in an interview with Retail Dive.
"There’s a bucket of things that we can’t talk about," he said. "The things that we can talk about includes our new partnership with Macy’s, which is quite a large program that will take a lot of work. We’re also building our team. We have less than 50 people today — we’ve done a lot with a little."
The funds will also go to expanding the company’s core business, opening "a bunch more locations this year, both for ourselves and for other brands as well through Built by b8ta."
Built by b8ta is a store-as-a-service platform that allows brands that traditionally haven’t operated stores to quickly set up new physical operations. The software includes checkout, inventory, point of sale, inventory management, staff scheduling services and other capabilities. It was demonstrated earlier this year at the TED2018 conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, with the creation of a pop-up store featuring demonstrations of products, like the Jibo social home robot and the 16-lens Light L16 camera.
Macy's isn't the only retailer enchanted by b8ta's possibilities. Robot-loving home improvement retailer Lowe’s worked with b8ta in 2016 to launch a smart home experience in a tech-demonstration space it calls SmartSpot. B8ta also has its own stores, like the Santa Monica location that recently won a retail design award.
But Macy's is perhaps the most prominent merchant turning to b8ta, and has now forged a partnership that many experts believe could revolutionize its fortunes and possibly update the whole notion of a department store for the 21st century. Macy's will employ the company's software platform to scale its new pop-up concept, The Market @ Macy's, which launched in February. Over the next year, The Market @ Macy's will test new size format spaces powered by b8ta's technology and will expand some of the existing pilot locations, the company said last week.