B8ta, an experiential retail startup, raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Evolution Ventures with participation from existing investors including Macy's, Khosla Ventures, Peak State Ventures and others, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive. The company currently has more than 1,000 brands on its platform and will operate 25 flagship locations globally by the end of 2019, the company said.
Additionally, the company is launching Ark and the Ark Marketplace, a tech platform that enables retailers and retail landlords to use b8ta store technology to monetize their spaces, per the release.
After developing the underlying Ark technology for the last four years, the Ark Marketplace platform is currently being used at 19 flagship locations across the country, as well as at the Toys R Us-b8ta concepts and The Market @ Macy's, per the company's statement.
The funding round appears to be aimed at expanding b8ta's footprint among retailers. The startup opened new stores under the Toys R Us banner and expanded into the fashion and lifestyle sector with its Forum concept.
With its latest launch, the company continues to position itself as a "Retail as a Service" provider. "Ark Marketplace is opening up new consumer experiences, brand alliances, and revenue streams," David Munczinski, president of Ark at b8ta, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to offer this technology to all retailers and landlords worldwide so they can join the experiential retail revolution."
The company said it has more than doubled its store traffic in 2019 to more than 3 million shoppers visiting its flagship locations, seemingly finding a way to revamp the traditional brick-and-mortar experience. Tapping into new brick-and-mortar retail strategies may turn out to be critical, especially as reports point to consumers continuing to shop in-stores, in spite of the rise of e-commerce.
"Stores today are serving as story-telling platforms for brands rather than sales channels. Product discovery and sales happen in different places," b8ta CEO and co-Founder Vibhu Norby said in a statement. "Our latest round allows us to meet the global demand for our stores and software."