Rockwell was right, these days somebody is always watching.
But now, simply watching isn’t enough, so startups are raising increasing amounts of money to develop and sell technologies that allow companies to make sense of all the data they’re collecting and things they’re seeing.
In the world of brick-and-mortar retailing, few companies have been as successful at marketing analytics services to customers as RetailNext, which is expected to announce a new $30 million in financing today.
The round, led by Nokia Growth Partners, includes investments from strategic corporate investors like Qualcomm Ventures, Tyco, and AMEX Ventures — the venture capital arm of credit card giant American Express. Previous investors August Capital, StarVest Partners and Commerce Ventures, also participated in the latest round — along with new financial investor Activant Capital Group.
With the new cash, RetailNext will take its data-crunching services on the road, expanding into Asia, Europe, and Latin America, as well as other “emerging markets,” according to a statement from the company. It already has 140 global retail customers and new store deployments growing at a rate of at least 400 installations per month.
As of December last year, RetailNext was already tracking over 500 million shoppers per year, collecting data from nearly 100,000 in-store sensors across locations in 33 countries. Companies that use RetailNext include Bloomingdales, American Apparel, Brookstone, Mont Blanc, Ulta and Family Dollar.
That was around the time that RetailNext acquired the in-store, opt-in data tracking service, Nearbuy. That service, which RetailNext acquired in a mid-teen-millions deal in December 2013, offers shoppers free Wi-Fi in return for letting retailers track where the customer is browsing physically and online as they traverse the store.
Founded roughly seven years ago, RetailNext was one of the first companies thinking about how to introduce e-commerce analytics for physical retail stores. Today, the company focuses on crunching retailers’ so-called “big data” from a variety of sources, including from video surveillance, passive Wi-Fi tracking, point-of-sale systems, workforce management tools, credit card transactions, and more. It even grabs weather data.
Some of the new investment dollars RetailNext received will be used to add to its existing suite of technologies, as it looks to boost its research and development spending and hunts for new in-store location and predictive analytics applications for the data it’s receiving.