- As retailers head toward a post-pandemic world, funding for retail tech tripled to $28.9 billion in the first quarter from the same period last year, according to a CB Insights report emailed to Retail Dive. The number of deals in Q1 rose 7% year over year.
- The report shows that Q1 funding for in-store tech doubled from the previous quarter to $2.2 billion, and e-commerce tech rose 73% to $11.7 billion.
- Meanwhile, investments in technology that make supply chain and logistics flow faster and more efficiently nearly doubled on a year-over-year basis to $8.6 billion, the report said.
Tech investments in retail accelerated in mid-2020 during the pandemic, and the report shows that it doesn't appear to be slowing down this year as in-store traffic returns.
In fact, the report predicts executives will integrate more technology to improve the shopping experience throughout the consumer journey on both online and in-store channels.
The number of times retailers mentioned the word "omnichannel" during earnings calls increased from less than 100 in the first quarter of 2016 to over 400 for the same period in 2021.
During the pandemic, when many consumers opted to stay clear of physical stores, the importance of having a loyal customer base grew. And so, keeping customers engaged through rewards and highly personalized experiences was top of mind for many retailers.
Keeping loyal customers meant retailers also had to invest in tools that made their supply chain more efficient and their delivery faster while also grappling with sustainability. Retailers looked to fund micro-fulfillment centers and on-demand delivery methods in recent months.
Target has been running trials on a faster delivery method using its sortation center in Minneapolis. Walmart recently invested in Cruise — an autonomous vehicle startup — to help the retailer develop a low-cost last-mile delivery ecosystem. Meanwhile, grocery store Albertsons was testing an automated micro-fulfillment technology in late March.
"With more e-commerce fundamentals in place, retailers and brands are turning their attention to tools to manage online content and reach consumers more efficiently across digital platforms," the report said.