Transforming Retail Operations Through AI and Automation: Our Investment in Simbe
Jul 13, 2023|
Eclipse is excited to announce our partnership with Simbe to accelerate the company’s mission to elevate and reimagine the retail experience for retailers, their associates, and customers through AI and robotics.
Eclipse was created with the core belief that the utilization of “Full Stack Systems” — the integration of hardware + software — to digitize the physical world will underpin the Industrial Evolution.
Our most recent investment into Simbe Robotics, Inc., which was announced today, is another instance of our conviction in full stack systems modernizing physical industries and we are excited to support Simbe in their journey to transform retail operations through AI and automation. This $28M Series B investment is the latest from the Eclipse Early Growth Fund, designed to support companies at their inflection point: once a company has proved its technology, achieved product market fit, and is prepared to scale rapidly.
Simbe is building a full stack system — that works — and has the potential to completely change brick-and-mortar retail operations, a process that remains unchanged for the past 100 years. For context, the barcode was the last industry changing innovation in brick and mortar retail.
Retail operations have a huge problem, the same one they’ve had for over fifty years: the operations of managing inventory, “out-of-stocks”, restocking + shelf placement, and overall cleanliness and compliance. Today, managing inventory is handled manually almost entirely today and is the reason an average grocery store has >50 employees on-site each day.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, look at the shelves. You’ll notice that on average 10% of all items are out of stock and if you’re diligent, a similar amount of price tags are incorrect. That’s lost revenue for the store and a bad customer experience for you.
That’s why you’ll see workers in the aisle scanning shelves, alerting the team of stockouts, adjusting incorrect price tags, and re-arranging shelves to be compliant with the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands’ contracts.
There is a fundamental data desert at the retail level. Operations teams, whether at the store, regional, or corporate level, have limited visibility into their shelves. That’s where their sale occurs.
Simbe is modernizing retail operations starting with “Tally”, an autonomous robot equipped with a customizable suite of cameras and sensors. Each Tally autonomously navigates hundreds of retail stores across the world for >10 hours a day, every day, year-round. Tally scans every fixture, shelf, bin, freezer, and rack and by utilizing Simbe’s proprietary computer vision and artificial intelligence platform, delivers a range of insights back to the operations team, alerting them of inaccurate prices, out of stocks, and inaccurate planogram compliance. Simbe customers see a < 3 month payback period.
But more importantly, Simbe is becoming a platform. So, while Tally is a brilliant robot, the technology is only the beginning. Simbe’s software is becoming “mission control” for operations teams — it’s a single source of truth. New products and features will enable customers to solve additional problems, diversify revenue streams, and grow their top and bottom line.
At Eclipse, we’ve invested in and evaluated countless full stack companies. When it came to Simbe, what impressed us most was the degree to which the system just…worked. Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and that’s the feeling when you turn on this system and you see it in action: whether a customer was deploying a new system — a process that takes < 24 hours — or entire national retailers like BJ’s Wholesale that are deploying Tally into every store.
Simbe will be deployed in >500 customer locations by the end of 2023.The team achieved this with less than 30 employees. That fact resonated with the Eclipse team and is a testament to their dedication, innovation, and scrappiness.
Reaching hundreds of systems in the field is reserved for an exclusive group of companies and we are excited to watch the Simbe team reach an even more rarified group, deploying tens of thousands of systems over the coming years.
Congratulations Brad, Mirza, Jeff, and the entire Simbe team!
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