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A Retail Revolution: Our Investment in Retail Zipline

We are so excited to announce our Series A investment in Retail Zipline, and to be partnering with the co-founders, Melissa Wong, CEO and Jeremy Baker, CTO and their team as they transform the $20+ trillion retail industry.  Here at Emergence, we look for people who are changing the way the world works. And with over 500M people working in retail - we can safely say, Melissa and Jeremy don’t shy away from a challenge - they jump in with open arms!

Retail Zipline is a communication and execution platform that allows physical retail stores to be responsive and dynamic, ensuring that they are executing on HQ’s vision. It’s purpose-built for retail with a deep understanding and empathy for retail employees from the front lines with store managers and associates, to the communication managers, to the head of store operations, through to the CEO.  They have won the hearts and wallets of leading retailers like GapLEGOLush Cosmetics, and more, who are vocal and happy customers.

As investors, we talk a lot about founder-problem fit, but what makes Melissa exceptional is really her founder-problem empathy. I first met Melissa at our Female Founders Forum, a series of events we hold to support and rise up early-stage female entrepreneurs as they navigate the beginning stages of scaling and funding their business. It was there that I was struck by Melissa’s resolve to modernize retail.

Melissa’s not just passionate about the industry, she has a point of view and conviction about the importance of physical retail.  Melissa is a visionary. From her 10 years working at a global retailer, she understood first hand the challenges store operations have today. But more than that, she knows where the industry is going - an omnichannel world, where tailored and unique in-store experiences will be the difference between those who win in retail and those who are left behind. Fueled by this vision, she partnered with Jeremy, a product guru to bring this future of retail to life.

I spent a decade working at a top global retailer trying to engage store teams and make sure they delivered on our vision, but the solutions that were available didn't solve our execution and communications challenges.

Melissa Wong
Co-founder and CEO

Changing how the world works starts with incredible leaders who dare to think differently, to think bigger, and to challenge the status quo.  It takes people who are going to push past current examples of leadership and really harness the power of diverse and talented teams. You see this immediately upon meeting Melissa and Jeremy. You can see it in how they talk about their employees, how they are rethinking location as a barrier to talent and ideas, and how they engage, motivate, support and care for retail employees. It is exactly this point of view that’s needed to reshape an industry.

So how does all this understanding, empathy, and conviction come to life in Retail Zipline? As we know from our experience with Zoom - when you are focused on your customers' success - magic happens.

Jeremy and Melissa
Jeremy and Melissa

So before I get too deep into the magic of Retail Zipline, let me first explain a bit more about the problem Retail Zipline solves with an example.

Like so many of today’s deskless workforce - retail associates have been left with little to no technology to do their job.  In most stores, when a new campaign comes down from headquarters - say for an Old Navy “Back to School” campaign, it might get sent out in a 20+ page PDF that explains the timing of the campaign, how the signage & displays should be set, what new inventory will be launched. It’s dense, it's static, and more often than not the dates laid out in that initial email will shift.  It’s an operational mess with no visibility back to HQ. As a result, the industry estimates that only about 20% of what HQ sends to physical retail stores is executed.

That all changes with Retail Zipline. Retail Zipline introduces clarity and confidence into retail communications and execution. Now, when the “Back to School” campaign is launched, each store manager and associate gets a message in their Zipline app. It explains the purpose of the campaign and importantly their role in its success. For example, the goal could be to provide kids with stylish, yet affordable new outfits to make them feel excited to enter a new year, make new friends, and build confidence.  It then populates a daily task list and calendar with exactly what each store needs to do to execute the campaign. No more wading through piles of paper to figure out what needs to happen. Everything is done automatically. If there is any shift or change everything is updated instantly. And there is complete transparency throughout the whole organization back up to HQ. Retail stores are now dynamic and able to capitalize on all insights and strategy from HQ.

Retail Zipline
Retail Zipline

Through their solution, store employees feel connected to the brand and more informed about each campaign. Together with Retail Zipline they become stronger ambassadors, salespeople, and community builders.  Simply put, they are empowered to do their jobs better.

And this leads to the magic. The impact of Retail Zipline in stores is massive and immediate on both the top and bottom line. 

Retail workers are among the 2.7 billion-person-strong portion of the workforce not sitting at a desk that’s been left behind. Zipline has created a new way to deliver engaging on-brand customer experiences by giving employees the right tools to execute HQ's vision.

Kara Egan
Principal

Lush saved an estimated $1M in store manager hours, getting leaders out of the backroom and onto the sales floor. Another customer saw a 20% increase in sales within the pilot. One global retailer improved their store execution rates from 25% up to 90%. LEGO won best customer experience because of amazing in-store experiences driven by informed and engaged associates. And Gartner estimates that one global retailer is saving $20M annually by using Retail Zipline. Even just walking through stores on Union Street, I heard from associates in Lululemon who were less than 30 days on the job, talking about how they felt confident about what they needed to do each day to be successful. In an industry with 80% turnover of associates, the magnitude of this is incredible. All this, and it's just the beginning!!

Santi and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this journey to revolutionize retail with Melissa, Jeremy, and the Retail Zipline team.  

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