b8ta, the retail-as-a-service startup, has closed a $19 million Series B round led by Macy’s, with participation from Sound Ventures, Palm Drive Capital, Capitaland, Graphene Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Plug and Play Ventures. This round brings b8ta’s total funding to $39 million.
Macy’s decision to lead this round comes in light of its recent partnership with b8ta to enhance the retailer’s experiential-based concept called The Market. Macy’s is also expanding its partnership with b8ta to launch The Market in a larger space, entirely powered by Built by b8ta, which functions as a retail-as-a-service platform for brands that want a physical presence. b8ta’s software solution includes checkout, inventory, point of sale, inventory management, staff scheduling services and more.
“Testing a shop with them in their store and having really good success made us feel bullish that this model would work well for them,” b8ta CEO Vibhu Norby told TechCrunch.
To the outsider, there’s this idea that Macy’s is struggling — in light of a bunch of store closures. That was a conversation b8ta had internally, Norby said.
“As an example, our board was initially not certain we should do something with them, but I felt like it was worth a shot,” Norby told me. “For us to get comfortable, we spent a lot of time trying to understand their business. What we found was that perception in the media didn’t really meet the reality for us. The reality is Macy’s is one of the most important companies in the country.”
Macy’s, Norby said, is also one of the largest real estate companies in the world and owns “so much real estate in all of the best places.”
He added, “it’s not that retail itself is dying, it’s just that it’s changing. The way people want to shop is changing and we have a shared alignment on bringing that next generation of a company into the space.”
In addition to the expanded partnership with Macy’s, b8ta is opening new flagship stores in Chicago and Tysons Corner, Va. b8ta currently has more than 78 flagship stores across the country to let consumers experience tech gadgets in real life.