AI-Fueled Startup Turns Disrupted Supply Chains Into Last Mile Opportunity

When Shamir Rahim, founder and CEO of VersaFleet, transformed his bio-medical startup into an AI-powered transportation management system, he never imagined being at the epicenter (in a good way) of a supply chain revolution during a worldwide pandemic. As anyone desperately searching for toilet paper discovered earlier this year, the last mile is the crucial link in every supply chain.

“We wanted to provide our customers with a command center view of last mile product delivery with cost and time savings,” said Shamir Rahim, founder and CEO of VersaFleet. “As our customers slowly open up again, VersaFleet is providing greater agility so they can quickly adjust logistics for maximum efficiency, whether people are out sick or returning to work, quarantines are lifted or imposed again, and operational hours shift at any time.”

Huge time savings improve customer experience 

Planners using VersaFleet’s SaaS-based cloud platform can dynamically schedule, dispatch, and track deliveries. Meantime, drivers send updates on completed deliveries in real-time using a mobile app. The algorithm also factors in data from orders connected through an ERP system like SAP S/4HANA.

“In a few clicks, planners can see which drivers are available, including their working hours and location preferences. They can select the most efficient route plan that uses the fewest vehicles traveling the least amount of distance for the highest number of items delivered,” said Rahim. “This reduces planning time from hours to minutes, saving valuable resources.”

Based in Singapore, VersaFleet serves customers primarily in Southeast Asia across many industries including consumer packaged goods, food manufacturing, white goods, casinos, and environmental services. One customer’s recent go-live actually coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Malaysia. It proved fortuitous for the global health and beauty retailer.

“Their implementation of VersaFleet couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Rahim. “Despite working remotely from their respective homes, the planners were able to work collaboratively in real time. They were able to restock high-demand items like toilet paper and sanitizing wipes up to five times a day, something they had never been able to do before.”

The company has slashed daily planning time by 90 percent, from up to four hours down to under 10 minutes. In addition, by digitalizing proof-of-delivery, the retailer sped up billing processes four-fold. Instead of waiting for drivers to return from their routes with paper-based records, finance immediately receives delivery confirmation for same day invoice processing. This kind of business agility cascades down to boost the customer’s experience.

“Companies can reduce stock-outs, which is so important in meeting people’s heightened demands, especially with fast-moving consumer goods,” said Rahim. “Several of our other customers have improved customer service levels by 50 percent.”

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RetailNext Announces ShopSafe Initiative to Help Brick-and-Mortar Retailers to Reopen Safely

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the retail industry in ways no one could have imagined. A vast majority of retailers have needed to close doors, leaving many unemployed or furloughed while sales stalled. As the country begins to reopen, the retail industry is looking to stabilize and welcome shoppers back safely. It is imperative the industry keep guests and employees safe and technology can aid in this journey with transparency of crucial occupancy and shopper density metrics to help guide safer experiences in physical stores.

RetailNext, with support from a consortium of private enterprise companies, retailers, and property owners, has created ShopSafe – a not-for-profit enterprise focused on getting American retail businesses open again with infrastructure to deliver real-time occupancy data for shoppers to better understand precautionary measures in place. This free framework delivers transparency to crucial occupancy metrics to help guide safer experiences in physical stores

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Hasura launches managed cloud solution

Hasura is an open-source engine that can connect to PostgreSQL databases and microservices across hybrid- and multi-cloud environments and then automatically build a GraphQL API backend for them, making it easier for developers to then build their own data-driven applications on top of this unified API . For a while now, the San Francisco-based startup has offered a paid version (Hasura Pro) with enterprise-ready reliability and security tools, in addition to its free open-source version. Today, the company launched Hasura  Cloud, which takes the existing Pro version, adds a number of cloud-specific features like dynamic caching, auto-scaling and consumption-based pricing, and brings those together in a fully managed service.

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Verusen Debuts on Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s SDCE 100

 Verusen, an innovator in artificial intelligence, materials inventory and data management technology, announced today that it has been named to the Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s SDCE 100 for 2020. The prestigious list spotlights successful and innovative projects that deliver bottom-line value to small, medium and large enterprises across the range of supply chain functions. These projects can serve as a map for supply chain executives looking for new opportunities to drive improvement in their own operations.

Verusen’s successful work with a Fortune 500 pulp and paper manufacturer with more than 60 North American facilities exemplifies the impact its AI-based intelligent technology platform can quickly make. The manufacturer set an aggressive initiative to reduce working capital by $5 million, obtain enterprise inventory visibility and rebalance inventory through a virtual maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) inventory network.

With Verusen’s cloud platform, the team laid the appropriate data foundation by structuring its material master (MM) data in weeks instead of a year. AI ultimately cleansed the MRO data, allowing the company to begin a “self-cleansing” data strategy as well as an internal “buy-from-self-first” inventory optimization strategy. Additionally, the AI delivered optimized insights on where inventory could be reduced as well as how to avoid creating excess. In less than 100 days, Verusen’s AI platform produced more than $20 million in verified savings.

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No-code industrial robotics programming startup Wandelbots raises $30 million

Dresden, Germany-based Wandelbots  — a startup dedicated to making it easier for non-programmers to “teach” industrial robots how to do specific tasks — has raised a $30 million Series B funding round led by 83North, with participation from Next47 and Microsoft’s M12 venture funding arm.

Wandelbots will use the funding to help it speed the market debut of its TracePen, a hand-held, code-free device that allows human operators to quickly and easily demonstrate desired behavior for industrial robots to mimic. Programming robots to perform specific tasks typically requires massive amounts of code, as well as programmers with very specific, in-demand skill sets to accomplish. Wandelbots wants to make it as easy as simply showing a robot what it is you want it to do — and then showing it a different set of behaviors should you need to reprogram it to accomplish a new task or fill in for a different part of the assembly line.

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Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic. Here’s how to stop them

Counterfeiters are flooding markets with fake masks, coronavirus test kits, PPE worn by frontline workers, medicine and medical equipment used for healing patients afflicted with COVID-19.

Last week, the European Anti-Fraud Office announced that they had already identified 340 companies trading in counterfeit products linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The large majority of these fake goods are ineffective if not downright dangerous, and deceive both patients and doctors who trust that they are using genuine and effective treatments. This reduces the likelihood of patient recovery, and generally disrupts efforts to stop or slow the spread of the virus.

That counterfeiters have quickly seized on this new market opportunity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Whether a luxury handbag or watch, a medication or a bottle of wine, anything with a brand name attached to it will be counterfeited. The exterior or packaging of many counterfeits look identical to the genuine products, while the product itself is usually malfunctioning, made with inferior components, or at the very least does not adhere to proper manufacturing practices. The only challenge for counterfeiters is to insert their imitations into legitimate distribution channels without getting caught. For this reason, counterfeiters love opaque, long and complex supply chains that leave many opportunities for distributing the fakes wide open.

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Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic. Here’s how to stop them

Justin Picard Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Scantrust

Counterfeiters are flooding markets with fake masks, coronavirus test kits, PPE worn by frontline workers, medicine and medical equipment used for healing patients afflicted with COVID-19.

Last week, the European Anti-Fraud Office announced that they had already identified 340 companies trading in counterfeit products linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The large majority of these fake goods are ineffective if not downright dangerous, and deceive both patients and doctors who trust that they are using genuine and effective treatments. This reduces the likelihood of patient recovery, and generally disrupts efforts to stop or slow the spread of the virus.

That counterfeiters have quickly seized on this new market opportunity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Whether a luxury handbag or watch, a medication or a bottle of wine, anything with a brand name attached to it will be counterfeited. The exterior or packaging of many counterfeits look identical to the genuine products, while the product itself is usually malfunctioning, made with inferior components, or at the very least does not adhere to proper manufacturing practices. The only challenge for counterfeiters is to insert their imitations into legitimate distribution channels without getting caught. For this reason, counterfeiters love opaque, long and complex supply chains that leave many opportunities for distributing the fakes wide open.

Traceability systems bring that much-needed transparency to supply chains. They rely on serialized, unique identifiers embedded in barcodes or radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags placed on product packaging during manufacturing. As goods move through supply chains, products – as well as the cases or pallets which contain them – are scanned for inspections or to add traceability data. Every new scan generates additional data points, building up the traceability history of the product. When products reach the store shelves, consumers can scan the product identifier to verify a product’s provenance, expiry date, or any other information associated with it. All these scans culminate in creating the traceability and transparency of supply chains.

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Three Ways Technology Can Help Save Retailers

Unless you’re selling sweatpants, which sold out 80 percent faster in April versus February this year, most fashion retailers face a dire spring and summer. J.C. Penney is the most recent casualty amongst retail giants, joining Nieman Marcus, Macy’s M and others in filing for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, April retail sales in the United States plunged 17.8 percent compared with 2019.

Stores in some parts of the United States are reopening, but not fully. The number of customers allowed inside stores may be limited — and many people will continue to stay away from non-essential businesses. To survive the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, retailers need new ways to stay close to customers virtually.

Here, two startup founders and an SAP expert describe how technology can help retailers survive and recover – while keeping their brands and customer followings intact.

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Le fonds de SAP investit dans Andjaro

La filiale d’investissement de SAP dans les startups, SAP.iO Fund, a investi dans la seconde phase de financement d’Andjaro.

SAP.io a mis au pot pour un tour B d’Andjaro, une société basée à Paris qui permet l’optimisation des effectifs en temps réel et aide les entreprises à assurer la gestion et le recrutement des collaborateurs à distance.

La série B de 13,4 millions d’euros a été menée par Idinvest Partners et comprend l’investisseur actuel, Balderton Capital. Andjaro s’intègre aux solutions cloud de gestion de ressources humains SAP SuccessFactors. SAP collabore avec Andjaro pour fournir à ses clients une vue d’ensemble en temps réel des besoins en personnel, des compétences disponibles à proximité afin de proposer un redéploiement volontaire sur une courte période. SAP.iO Fund avait déjà investi, en 2018, dans la série A, menée par Balderton.

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Scantrust partners with SAP to deliver end-to-end farm-to-consumer traceability solutions

Scantrust, a connected goods platform for companies that depend on selling physical products in a connected world, has developed an integration to the material traceability option for SAP® Logistics Business Network giving food and beverage brand consumers the ability to track the end-to-end provenance of their food. This integration marks a critical milestone toward accelerating digitization in the food and beverage industry and is the continuation of efforts already started during the SAP.iO accelerator program last year.

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SAP.iO Fund Invests in Andjaro, an Internal HR Staffing Marketplace Connected to SAP SuccessFactors Solutions

SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced that its investment arm, SAP.iO Fund, has invested in second round funding of Andjaro, a Paris-based company that provides real-time workforce optimization and helps manage and staff remote workers. The €13.4 million Series B round was led by Idinvest Partners and includes existing investor Balderton Capital.

Andjaro helps companies redeploy employees internally and works with SAP SuccessFactors solutions. SAP works with Andjaro to provide SAP customers with a real-time overview on staffing gaps, employee skills, availability and proximity to propose voluntary redeployment for a short period of time. SAP.iO Fund previously invested in the Balderton-led 2018 Series A round.

“SAP customers are continually exploring how to best allocate their most valuable resource — their talent — especially in the current environment,” said Ram Jambunathan, SAP senior vice president and managing director of SAP.iO. “Andjaro’s platform can provide enterprises with new opportunities to redeploy existing human resources efficiently.”

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Une filière industrielle de gel hydroalcoolique créée en deux semaines

Au début du confinement, Inex Circular, TPE parisienne, sorte de « Tinder des déchets », accélérée par Antropia Essec, Polytechnique et SAP.iO, a été sollicité par l’Agence régionale de santé (ARS) et la CCI de la région Grand Est. Il faut rapidement trouver les stocks de matières premières : éthanol, alcool, peroxyde d’hydrogène, glycérol, glycérine… pour mettre en place une filière de production de gel hydroalcoolique à destination des hôpitaux. Un défi que la TPE va relever grâce à ses bases de données et son outil d’intelligence artificielle.

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SAP Foundry in Tel Aviv Launches 2nd Cohort with 7 Startups

German multinational SAP SE launched the second cohort of its foundry program in Tel Aviv this week, run by the company’s venture capital arm SAP.iO. Seven new Israeli startups in the consumer products industry are taking part in the second cycle of the program, launched with a virtual kickoff event on Monday.

The seven selected startups are:

  • Aiola, which developed an analytical product for CPG (consumer packaged goods) companies that integrates with consumer data from the ERP, CRM and BI systems, and creates advance analytical models using deep learning technologies.
  • Hexa, an immersive content (3D/AR) as-a-service company that converts retail partners’ existing imagery into 3D and AR assets. Hexa’s customers include Macy’s, Google, Logitech.
  • Pecan, an automated predictive analytics platform that does not require any data scientists or data science capabilities. The startup emerged from stealth mode in February, announcing a $15 million funding round led by Dell Technologies Capital and Israeli VC firm S Capital.
  • Sampler, a direct-to-consumer product sampling platform that helps brands deliver samples online and gather insights to build one-to-one relationships with consumers. The company says it works with over 300 brands including L’Oréal, Nestlé, Unilever, and Pepsi.
  • SRP, which helps connect brands, local stores, and consumers on a single Nearby Platform (NP) to boost business and create a unique direct-to-consumer sales channel (D2C). Stores in the private sector use SRP’s mobile app to manage relationships with vendors, customers, and store operations “in a way that was until recently exclusive for large retailers.”
  • TrenDemon, which provides content marketing insights and automation. The solution helps marketers, advertisers, and publishers better understand the impact of their content on revenue.
  • TVPage, a company that allows retailers to sell their products online via brand ambassadors and digital storefronts.

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