Technology

Acquisition looks to use AI to optimize inventory, solve supply chain problems

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In 2013, after a decade in Silicon Valley, neuroscientist/designer duo Anand Chandrasekaran and Ashwini Asokan started Mad Street Den with the aim of taking computer vision technology it beyond the realm of scientific research. Today, through its Vue.ai business unit, the company helps retailers such as Diesel, Off-White and Tata CLiQ grow their businesses by reducing operational costs and increasing revenue through automation, and by creating personalized customer experiences. 

“Think of Vue.ai as a vertically integrated stack for the retail industry,” said Asokan, who in addition to having co-founded of Mad Street Den serves as CEO of Vue.ai. “Today, a retailer has to shop across tens of vendors to avail a CDP, a recommendation system, a search engine, a styling and cross-sell solution, a marketing automation engine, A/B testing software, workflow automation — the list is absolutely endless.” This means completely fractured data, each vendor viewing content, inventory and customer data their own way, with endless data reconciliation loops. In addition, the money spent across all of these adds up very fast.

To address the increasing demand for solutions to more effectively manage inventory swings amid global supply chain disruptions and fluctuations, Mad Street Den acquired New York-based Inturn. Inturn provides enterprise consumer brands a system of record to manage and optimize slow-moving or excess inventory. 

This strategic move comes as a natural extension of Vue.ai’s vision to provide customers with intelligent solutions to both manage and more effectively optimize supply chain processes and planning. “Inturn fits our roadmap like a glove. We’ve been product tagging, providing insights and powering demand and inventory analysis with Vue.ai for years now, and the Inturn promise fits the continuum of that workflow by allowing buyers and sellers to connect, sell faster and maximize recovery,” said Mad Street Den’s Chandrasekaran.

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AI-powered retail automation and the ‘ultimate’ user profile

Vue.ai aims to address these issues by positioning itself as an end-to-end AI-powered retail automation and experience management partner. First, the platform detects your products visually, and through accompanying text fixes your inventory data and creates tags and metadata for all your products. This gives you a single view and clean data for your inventory.

Next, it uses that data to form the “ultimate” user profile. Asokan defines this as a combination of what the user does, what the product they’re interacting with is, why they like it and more. “This means having the ability to detect fuschia vs. bubble pink, detecting a user [who is] on a keto diet vs. [one who is] trying to buy the same ingredients for an almond flour cake recipe, and doing it in real time, with each click to understand intent,” she added. 

Last, Vue.ai uses generative adversarial networks (GANs) to help companies automate their workflows with creative photography.

With these three key pillars, Vue.ai empowers retailers with intelligent tools required for product tagging, content moderation, product quality moderation, seller-side workflow automation, extensive customer journey management and personalization, personalized marketing and more. “Vue.ai is a one-stop AI partner for retailers everywhere, and this is why they trust us — to bring meaning to all the years of data they’ve been collecting and to apply that meaningfully to help their enterprises grow revenue [and] reduce costs while creating wonderful new experiences for their customers and helping their own teams increase productivity,” Asokan told VentureBeat. “Our ability to tie all this data from merchandising, inventory planning, product, customer experience and marketing teams together makes us stand out and helps retailers go to market 10 times faster, convert more, sell more, cross-sell more and automate functions with minimal human input.”

Eliminating excess inventory

A combination of strong supply and weak demand has caused inventory problems for most brands recently. The process for identifying and selling excess inventory is archaic and error-prone, with little to no automation. This results in substantial inventory carrying costs, leading to a hit on both the top and bottom lines of the business.

“Recession is here. Retail is always one of the first [sectors] to get hit,” said Asokan. “Excess inventory is a real issue and retailers are sitting up and realizing there’s margins being abandoned here, revenue to be made by focusing on off-price retail as a very important strategy, not just an afterthought.” 

That’s where today’s acquisition comes in.

“Inturn is transforming the way companies do business, from [an] Excel-driven format and in a reactive manner to a proactive approach identifying inventory, addressing it, selling to the right buyers and extracting the right margins, [thus] inducing incredible behavior change. Inturn is margin improvement in a box,” said Asokan.

Combining Inturn’s inventory workflow tools and margin optimization capabilities with Vue.ai’s retail AI suite, customers can now not only effectively use AI to optimize supply chain processes and planning but also weave it into customer experiences to create efficiencies across the entire retail value chain. While Vue.ai helps its customers gain detailed insights into inventory, buying, merchandising, pricing and more, and predict and plan ahead against the buildup of excess inventory, Inturn will help them start on their off-price journey.

“Adding Mad Street Den’s AI capabilities to drive further automation and predictability will enable our customers to further optimize for both cost savings and margin improvement,” said Ronen Lazar, co-founder of Inturn. 

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