Gap expands tech investments with deal for AI retail analytics startup
Gap Inc. has acquired Context-Based 4 Casting Ltd. (CB4), a New York and Tel Aviv-based start-up that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to improve the customer experience and drive sales through predictive analytics and demand sensing.
“We believe artificial intelligence and machine learning will shape the future of our industry. Gap Inc. has experience working with CB4’s world-class data scientists, so we understand the impact and the wide applications their science can have across sales, inventory and consumer insights, as well as its potential to unlock value and enhance the customer experience,” said Sally Gilligan, chief growth transformation officer and head of the Strategic Growth Office at the clothing retailer.
Gap’s Strategic Growth Office, which looks for opportunities to use technology to fuel growth across the retailer’s namesake brand, Athleta, Banana Republic and Old Navy, brokered the deal.
CB4 was funded by investors including Sequoia Capital prior to its acquisition by Gap. The company’s technology has been implemented by retailers and consumer-direct brands such as Kum & Go, Levi’s, Lidl and Urban Outfitters.
The CB4 deal was one of several for Gap this year, including the acquisition of Drapr, a 3D technology firm that uses virtual fitting rooms to reduce online product returns. Athleta, which took part in a funding round for obé Fitness, then incorporated its fitness and related content into the chain’s new AthletaWell digital platform.
Gap Inc. has picked up the pace of its technological investments since moving its systems to the cloud in October of last year. It joins a growing list of retail businesses that are migrating parts or all of their systems to the cloud.
Public cloud spending is expected to reach a record $385.3 billion this year, up from the previous high of $312.4 billion in 2020, according to an International Data Corp. forecast.
A KPMG report published last year identified the speed with which many companies were moving their systems to the cloud. Fifty-six percent of technology executives surveyed said that full migration had become an “absolute necessity” for their businesses and that previous “piecemeal migrations” were being abandoned in direct response to facts on the ground resulting from the pandemic.
- Gap Inc. Acquires AI Startup CB4 – Gap Inc.
- Will a new digital platform create a must-join safe space for Athleta’s customers? – RetailWire
- Will an enhanced rewards program turn Gap’s customers into ‘lifelong loyalists’? – RetailWire
- Walgreens finishes its trip to the cloud and its retail journey is just beginning – RetailWire
- Cloud tech becomes a retailing priority amid COVID-19 – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where do you see tech investments by Gap and other retailers heading? Will ownership by retail chains affect the ability of these tech firms to pursue innovation?