Experiential retailer B8ta scores $50 million Series C; launches Ark Marketplace Platform to enable retailers to operate their own Retail-as-a-Service
Retail is dead! That is the phrase you hear from Wall Street analyst and pundits. With thousands of brick and mortar stores going bankrupt, you may be wondering why in the world a tech startup wants to venture into retail space? Maybe retail isn’t dead; it probably needs a revival. b8ta is a new tech startup on a mission to make retail accessible for everyone both in store and online. b8ta aims to safe physical retail. The future of retail may look like b8ta.
b8ta is a new type of brick and mortar retail. Inventing a revenue model they call “retail as service,” b8ta doesn’t rely on sales of a product to make money they get everything they need from the companies themselves. See, smell, touch and play with a product at b8ta and then buy it as you would online.
Today, b8ta announced it has closed closed $50 million in Series C equity funding, the largest funding round in the Retail-as-a-Service category to date. The round was led by Evolution Ventures as a new investor, with participation from existing investors including Macy’s, Khosla Ventures, Peak State Ventures, and others.
Founded in 2015, b8ta pioneered the category known today as Retail-as-a-Service, in which brands can access physical retail as easily as they buy digital advertising, and consumers can discover, try and buy the world’s most innovative products in real life. B8ta helps people discover, try, and learn about new tech and innovative products while empowering makers with a simple retail-as-a-service model that puts them in control. It’s mission is to make retail accessible for all. When makers have easy, direct access to physical retail, customers will, in turn, have unbiased access to what the world is creating.
Today, b8ta operates the largest experiential retail footprint in the world. To date, b8ta’s retail footprint has seen over 50 million product engagements and launched more than 1,000 brands on its platform. By the end of 2019, b8ta will operate 25 flagship locations worldwide ─ including its first international location in Dubai opening this December ─ equal to more than 45,000 square feet of experiential retail space, nearly doubling its retail footprint this year. b8ta also has more than doubled its store traffic in 2019, with more than three million visitors across its flagships.
“Stores today are serving as story-telling platforms for brands rather than sales channels. Product discovery and sales happen in different places,” said Vibhu Norby, co-founder and CEO of b8ta.
“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.”
In coordination with its Series C, b8ta is announcing the launch of Ark and its flagship product, Ark Marketplace, a technology platform to enable retailers and retail landlords to operate their own Retail-as-a-Service concept. With Ark Marketplace, any retailer or landlord will be able to apply the same technology platform found in b8ta stores today to monetize the marketing value of their floorspace.
“Ark Marketplace is opening up new consumer experiences, brand alliances, and revenue streams,” said David Munczinski, President of Ark at b8ta. “We are thrilled to offer this technology to all retailers and landlords worldwide so they can join the experiential retail revolution.”
Over the past four years, b8ta has been developing and perfecting the software behind Ark Marketplace across its growing physical retail footprint. Today, Ark Marketplace powers b8ta’s 19 flagship locations, the reimagined Toys”R”Us stores in the U.S., The Market @ Macy’s, Forum (b8ta’s new fashion and lifestyle concept), and other retail experiences for leading brands, including Google, Nike, Bose, and many others.