Voice- and text-assisted technology provides customers with hands-free shopping experiences. Analytics give retailers a better understanding of consumer behavior and habits, as we discover in the first part of Mergers & Acquistions’ 7-part series, Retail Tech M&A. Here’s our look at IoT: Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL), Nike (NYSE: NKE) and McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) are all investing in IoT and applications for it in retail.
PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL) is acquiring Honey Science Corp. for about $4 billion in its largest deal ever. Honey’s services include a browser extension that automatically applies coupons at e-commerce sites. PayPal says that Honey’s capabilities will give its customers a better shopping experience, and help businesses drive sales, partly with more timely and personalized offers. PayPal plans to work more closely with companies to expand the range of Honey’s offers and create a “funnel” channeling more customized and tailored deals to PayPal users. “We think this moves us up in the entire shopping process,” PayPal CEO Dan Schulman told investors during a conference call.
Nike (NYSE: NKE) is making acquisitions to enhance its customer experiences. Nike bought Zodiac and Invertex Ltd., a pair of innovative digital startups helping the athletic apparel maker get closer to customers. Invertex is a Tel Aviv, Israel-based pioneer in the use of 3D-scanning technology to customize shoes. Founded in 2014 under the name Platform Orthopedic Solutions, Invertex originally used 3D scanning to create customized medical equipment, such as orthotics and braces. The startup evolved to make products for retailers, including an in-store mat that shoppers stand on so they can be precisely measured to help them choose shoes that fit.
McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD), the world’s largest restaurant chain, is gobbling up digital startups to improve customer experiences by capitalizing on Internet of Things innovations. McDonald’s USA president Chris Kempczinski was named CEO after Steve Easterbrook was “separated from the company following the board’s determination that he violated company policy and demonstrated poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee,” according to a company press release. Kempczinski says he is committed to the company’s digital strategy.
Technology is a critical element of McDonald’s “velocity growth plan,” its strategy of growing to improve service and increase sales. McDonald’s is facing slow sales growth, as its competitors adapt online ordering and delivery, and Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) is accelerating its push into food delivery.
McDonald’s is buying personalization company Dynamic Yield for a reported $300 million in its largest deal in more than 20 years. McDonald’s will customize drive-thru menus with Dynamic Yield’s technology based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and what the customer has already ordered. McDonald’s will roll out the software in the U.S. and then expand it internationally. The company will also integrate Dynamic Yield in self-order kiosks, the McDonald’s app and other mobile devices.
“Differentiation is always important, and more so now than ever before,” says Steven Agran, managing director of Carl Marks Advisors, a merchant bank. “When a person can order the same or similar product from Amazon, what is going to entice that person to shop in a store?”
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, all eyes are on the retail industry, which is undergoing transformational changes. Mergers & Acquisitions’ series examines the impact of 7 technologies on M&A in the retail sector. Read the whole series:
Retail Tech M&A #1: Nike, McDonald’s, PayPal, add customization, IoT
Retail Tech M&A #2: Why Walmart and other retailers are buying artificial intelligence startups
Retail Tech M&A #3: Amazon leads race to build fulfillment centers
Retail Tech M&A #4: Do robots fill orders faster?
Retail Tech M&A #5: Voice recognition gives retailers more ways to communicate
Retail Tech M&A #6: Data improves customer service
Retail Tech M&A #7: Demand for convenience drives growth in mobile ordering
We’ll continue watching how these technologies and trends play out in the M&A in the new year.