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Macy’s takes stake in tech retailer

Macy’s has taken a minority stake in a company that helps emerging brands build out brick-and-mortar stores with minimal effort.

The department store giant announced it is partnering with b8ta, and will leverage the tech retailer’s software platform to expand The Market @ Macy’s, pop-up shop marketplace concept currently in place in 10 Macy’s stores. As part of the deal, Macy’s has also acquired a minority equity stake in b8ta.

Launched in February 2018, The Market @ Macy’s is composed of rotating shops from new brands in categories across the board. Powered by b8ta’s technology, Macy’s will test new size formats for the marketplace concept and will expand the size of some of the existing pilot locations.

“We’re pleased to deepen our partnership with b8ta that will provide the technology engine for The Market @ Macy’s,” said Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s. “This will allow us to scale The Market @ Macy’s concept faster, furthering our goal of bringing more excitement and fresh experiences into our stores.”

Beta, founded in 2015 by a group of Nest alumns, has nine freestanding locations. The stores give consumers a hands-on demonstration of cutting-edge tech products, many from emerging brands. The business model is unusual: Instead of earning revenue from product sales, b8ta leases space in its stores to the product makers, who pay a monthly subscription fee to b8ta. In April, b8ta launched an initiative to help brands open stores with minimal effort using its “retail-as-a-service” model. Under the arrangement, b8ta takes care of everything, from landlord negotiations to providing a state-of-the-art, data-driven technology platform.

“Macy’s was the best partner for b8ta to scale our pioneering retail-as-a-service model to a breadth of categories like apparel, beauty, home, and more,” said Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta. “With b8ta’s software platform and business model, product makers can go from solely selling online to launching their products with Macy’s in a few clicks. Our platform makes it easy for makers to deploy, manage, analyze, and scale amazing offline retail experiences.”

b8ta will customize its technology platform for Macy’s, providing brands a more automated experience to participate in The Market @ Macy’s. The customized software platform will serve as the driver for managing the rotating brands and experiences and scaling the concept to new locations.

The partnership with b8ta is Macy’s latest move to transform its brick-and-mortar experience. In May, the retailer announced it had acquired Story, a retail store in Manhattan that reinvents itself with a new theme every couple of months.
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