Chinese Automated Retail Startup Cloudpick (Yunna) Raises Series A+

Cloudpick is one of few tech companies that herald the retail store of the future

Shanghai-based retail tech startup Cloudpick Technology (Yunna Technology) has raised a Series A+ round of financing for an undisclosed amount, the company announced in a statement yesterday.

The round was led by global early-stage venture capital firm Cathay Innovation, the statement said. The Series A+ round follows up on Cloudpick’s Series A round for an undisclosed amount in 2019, led by semiconductor chip manufacturing giant Intel’s investment arm Intel Capital.

The 2017-founded startup had earlier brought in RMB 1 million as seed funding in the year of its founding.

Cloudpick helps retail stores integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things technology into their systems with computer vision, deep learning, and sensor fusion.

Through this, it enables them to leverage cashier-less payments, smart inventory management, and targeted marketing.

“This round of financing marks a new starting point. Whereas traditional operating methods are still focusing on price competition, new digital platforms focus on customers’ needs and improving user experience,” Cloudpick Co-founder Rosie Zhang said in the statement.

Customers enter the store by scanning a QR code on their devices. Cloudpick’s smart system then follows their trail and collects data on their shopping behavior in the store (which it uses for marketing purposes such as distributing coupons).

As customers pick items for purchase, Cloudpick’s technology allows them to be added to a virtual cart. Customers leave after completing payment through a contactless system.

Co-founder and CEO of Cathay Innovation, Denis Barrier said in the statement that the firm was “convinced of the potential and value of this investment theme.”

The company’s technology, the statement notes, can help stores remain open round the clock, while also reducing the chances of transmission during a pandemic such as COVID-19.

“The retail sector has been strongly impacted by the consequences of the pandemic,” Barrier said in the statement, “but this crisis has acted as a catalyst for the digital transformation of the sector and has increased consumer acceptance of new, easy-to-use and personalized services.”

Cloudpick also helps retailers digitize their operations and data systems, helping improve efficiency on retail processes such as handling, the statement added. The startup has worked with almost 100 digital stores globally, including major markets such as the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and China.

Moreover, it has established corporate partnerships with the likes of Japanese multinational corporations NTT Data and NEC Corp, Korean convenience store chain Emart24, and Singapore University of Technology and Design, the company said in the statement.

Automation in the retail sector is lately becoming a must-have. A McKinsey report finds that thinning margins are forcing retailers to turn to automation, and those who resist the trend are likely to trail behind.

Expected to be a US $18.9 billion market by 2023, the report also suggests that not only does automation result in getting work done in 55% to 65% lesser time, but it also has a marked effect on merchandise planning, inventory management, pricing and promotion.

Header image by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

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