B8ta has secured $50 million in Series C funding, the largest funding round for the company to date. Evolution Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investors Macy’s, Khosla Ventures, Peak State Ventures and others.
In addition to the funding, b8ta has launched a new division, Ark, with a flagship product. Ark Marketplace is a technology platform designed to enable retailers and retail landlords to operate their own retail-as-a-service concept. With Ark Marketplace, any retailer or landlord can apply the same “built by b8ta” technology platform found in b8ta stores today, to better monetize the marketing value of their floorspace. The hardware and software platform gives retailers access to an onboarding platform, POS and analytics dashboard.
The company has been experimenting with new ways to connect retailers and brands with technology products as a way to bolster the in-store experience, give them better ways to use in-store space and enable them to collect more customer data. In October, b8ta revealed it was entering the fashion and lifestyle categories with the opening of its Forum store in Los Angeles.The store will feature a rotating selection of products from more than 25 local or sustainable brands such as Alala, Poplinen, Silked, Remu Apparel and Just Human.
“Stores today are serving as storytelling platforms for brands rather than sales channels. Product discovery and sales happen in different places,” said Vibhu Norby, Co-Founder and CEO of b8ta in a statement. “We are at the very beginning of the age of experiential retail, a post e-Commerce era that will change the way we all shop for decades to come. Our latest round allows us to meet the global demand for our stores and software.”
By the end of 2019, b8ta will operate 25 flagship locations worldwide — including its first international location in Dubai, opening this December — equaling more than 45,000 square feet of experiential retail space, nearly doubling its retail footprint this year.
Beyond its flagship stores, b8ta has brought its tech to dozens of stores at traditional retailers such as Lowe’s and Macy’s, and has partnered with Tru Kids Brands in an effort to resurrect Toys ‘R’ Us ahead of the holiday season.
The overall retail footprint has seen more than 50 million product engagements and launched more than 1,000 brands on its platform, according to b8ta. The retail-as-a-service company says it has more than doubled its store traffic in 2019, with more than three million visitors across its flagships.