May 25, 2022

In times of a pandemic, when digital storefronts have become something special for retailers, data analysis is proving its worth. Tools that analyze customer data can help maintain inventory levels, build supply chains, detect fraud, and predict which products will be of interest to specific customer segments. These benefits, along with their ability to predict inventory and measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, have driven predictive analytics software revenue to an all-time high. According to Zion Market Research, the predictive analytics industry earned $8.12 billion in 2020 and is expected to more than quadruple in size by 2028 to over $39.1 billion.

Several vendors compete in the e-commerce data analytics space, including Datahawk, which provides merchants with tools to help increase sales by optimizing profit margins. Others include Trucell, which is designed to give small brands access to the same type of analytics as large online retailers, and Varos, which helps businesses evaluate how companies compare to their competitors in terms of customer acquisition cost. this.

Another relatively new company providing data analytics to retailers is Black Crow AI, which today announced the completion of a Series A round led by Imaginary Ventures with existing investors Primary Venture Partners, Bloomberg Beta, Interlock Partners and Vishal Ventures. 25 million dollars. With equity capital currently in excess of $30 million, Black Crow will use the capital to “expand the development of new and affordable use cases for machine learning in both digital commerce and related vertical markets,” according to CEO Richard Harris. Products”. Customer Service and Commercial. ,

“Everyone understands that companies of all sizes generate an unprecedented amount of real-time data every day. their internal operations, their customers, their suppliers, [and] His marketing activity: Data. And if that data can be understood with machine learning, then companies can literally see into the future of their KPIs with machine learning predictions,” Harris told gaming-updates via email. The challenges are similar at the corporate level, but with limited or no access to the same staff, equipment and infrastructure as large mid-sized enterprises.”

New York-based Black Crow was founded in 2020 by Harris and Shahzad Khan — Travelocity veterans — along with entrepreneur Damon Tassone. Prior to co-founding Site59, Harris was previously a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, which primarily offered last-minute flights and weekend hotel packages to domestic destinations. Site59 was acquired by Travelocity in 2002 for $43 million, where Harris served as senior vice president of strategy and distribution until Expedia’s 2015 purchase of Travelocity.

Harris also founded Intent, a data processing company for online travel providers. Prior to becoming Product Director at Intent, Khan worked at startups such as Stunable and Rocket Fuel Inc. As for Tassone, who co-founded Site59 and served as EMEA President at Travelocity, he was Deputy CEO and President of Intent at travel retailer Last Minute.

Black Crow’s idea was to create a platform that could provide e-commerce-related forecasts through an API integrated with existing workflows, tools, and software. Running on top of retailer websites, Black Crow uses streaming event data to customer browsers to train AI models and generate predictions (such as what products a customer might buy) while users are still on the site.

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image credit: black crow ah

Harris claims that Black Crow forecasts, covering things like customer churn, customer experience, and marketing spend, are processed at least 15 times after a user takes an action in their web browser, and then passed on to “all major businesses.” -systems”. in milliseconds.

“Imagine a world where digital commerce players can know exactly the future value of every potential customer that visits their site,” Harris said. “We provide machine learning results as a service that works out of the box. We think this is the next big opportunity for machine learning and artificial intelligence: mass market adoption and mass customization.”

Asked about Black Crow’s data retention policy, Harris said that user data is not shared between different retailers, and the platform only uses customers’ own data. While Black Crow claims it does not share or sell any data externally, the company retains user data for one year unless the user or brand asks for it to be deleted.

“The forecasts we make are just another piece of this company’s raw data—it’s the central piece of information that our clients have,” Harris explained. “We are just a processor that feeds back processed, high-quality raw data to them as predictions.”

instantly predict events

Overall, AI in retail is a fast-growing category of technology, and the majority of retailers surveyed in a recent KPMG survey said their employees are willing to implement AI and have the necessary skills. Retail executives surveyed expect AI to have the biggest impact on customer analytics, inventory management and customer service chatbots, driving a virtuous investment cycle for years to come.

I[I]Using real-time streaming data is extremely difficult, but companies like Amazon are getting huge business benefits from using this data,” Harris said. “The first use case for Black Crow is to optimize the growth and effectiveness of digital trademarks. As the data landscape has changed, these customers have been forced to stop relying on major data platforms and providers and instead start making the most of their own third-party data assets. ,

Not all shops take the AI ​​train. Nearly half of KPMG survey respondents cited cybersecurity breaches and potential bias as their top technology concerns, with 75% saying they see AI as “more hype than reality.”

But Harris claims that more than 225 companies have installed the Black Crow integration, which generates more than 1 billion forecasts per month. (It’s unclear how much of these customers are paying since Black Crow offers a 30-day free trial.) Early adopters include Solo Stove, Sakara Life, and Liquid IV.

“Black Crow was founded during the pandemic; The world has shifted to digital commerce at a time when the changing data landscape has made data ownership and use in a privacy-friendly way a top priority for companies around the world,” said Harris. “The Black Crow team has already grown over 150% by 2022” [to 40 employees] To meet the exponential growth in market demand for forecasts with machine learning.”

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