Retail radio sensor insights help Kepler Analytics pull in $22m in OneVentures-led Series B

Retail radio sensor insights help Kepler Analytics pull in $22m in OneVentures-led Series B

(L:R) Nigel Dews, operating partner at OneVentures; Aaron Tan, investment associate at OneVentures; David Gordon, co-founder and CEO at Kepler Analytics; David Mah, co-founder and managing director at Kepler Analytics

Kepler Analytics managing director David Mah admits it may seem counterintuitive that his technology company, focusing on bricks-and-mortar retail, would thrive during COVID-19 when everyone else seems to be paying attention to lifting their online sales game.

But by using radio energy sensors to track the number of mobile phones in stores and gather insights, Melbourne-based Kepler's compound annual growth rate doubled in the past year, prompting strong interest in a successful US$15.5 million ($22 million) Series B raise led by OneVentures.

The startup co-founded by Mah and David Gordon works with 5,500 stores, ranging from local retail outlets to Fortune 500 companies across 24 countries, providing real-time data through its Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.

Sydney-based OneVentures, one of Australia's top 10 venture capital (VC) firms, led the Series B with Whiteoak, Taronga Ventures, and Shearwater Capital participation. Existing investors, Reinventure and InterValley Ventures, also participated.

“In the highly competitive world of retail, businesses need to be data obsessed, operationally focused and customer driven in order to stay ahead,” OneVentures operating partner Nigel Dews said.

“Kepler presents the first truly scalable solution to provide the same level of insights as e-commerce for physical store operations, representing a unique opportunity to modernise the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience, which isn’t going away.”

Measuring shopping traffic and in-store behaviour through radio energy-based technology, Kepler Analytics software provides retailers with real-time customer insights and trends.

Kepler Analytics’ proprietary radio energy density sensors measure the motion of mobile devices in-store, moving away from security concerns linked to intrusive camera technology.

Founded in 2014, the business has 11 000 of its unique people counting sensors in place across its managed stores, which feed into a sales optimisation system for the benefit of retailers and shopping centres.

"Our mission is to support retail businesses that want to increase sales, reduce costs and create a better experience for their customers,” Kepler CEO David Gordon said.  

“Our easy-to-install technology enables retailers to do this by bringing the kinds of insights they expect from their eCommerce operations in-store.

“With the backing of OneVentures, we plan to establish our technology as the benchmark for in-store retail success.”

Despite predictions that COVID might keep customers away from visiting physical stores, Kepler’s research data shows that retail sales in US stores are up 18 per cent, and shoppers are spending more per transaction.

As businesses concentrated on capturing data-driven insights from e-commerce operations during lockdowns, Kepler Analytics’ in-store focus could open untapped opportunities.

“It's a little counterintuitive, how growth accelerated through COVID, and I think that's one of the exciting things that we’ve got to realise,” managing director David Mah told Business News Australia.

“We have a really huge opportunity here, not just in Australia, but globally.

“I think what COVID did was create a level of uncertainty for retailers, especially at the stores, and the larger store network, the more the uncertainty these days, and data is the answer to help you manage it, so it’s been a terrific win for us.”

Meeting the growing demand for its technology in North America, Europe and Asia is a priority for the business. Kepler Analytics will also use the fresh capital for key hires with expectations to take on 40 more staff and roll out new product features.

The company employs 50 staff globally, and its customers include Aesop, Hanes Group, Officeworks, Hudson's Bay, Pandora and The Reject Shop (ASX: TRS).

“It's a little counterintuitive how growth accelerated through COVID, and I think that's one of the exciting things that we’ve got to realise," Mah said.

“We have a really huge opportunity here, not just in Australia, but globally.

“I think what COVID did was create a level of uncertainty for retailers, especially at the stores, and the larger store network, the more the uncertainty these days, and data is the answer to help you manage it, so it’s been a terrific win for us.”

Over the past 12 months, OneVentures has also put its weight behind the likes of e-bike company Zoomo, online business sale marketplace Flippa, and human resources platform Employment Hero.

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