5 trends driving retail M&A

As part of its efforts to improve customer experience, Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) purchased two retail technology companies. First, Nordstrom acquired BevyUp, which allows sales employees to communicate with each other and encourages shoppers to share information and browse together online.

Nordstrom also bought MessageYes, which offers brands the opportunity to text their customers personalized notifications while they browse online. With MessageYes’ technology, customers can respond with “Yes” to one of Nordstrom’s messages to instantly buy products from their phones.

“The retail environment is changing faster than ever, but the value of service, speed, convenience and newness remain constant,” says Brian Gill, technology senior vice president at Nordstrom.

While retailers attempt to reach their customers directly through texting, others are looking at improving backend production. That’s where robots can help. Advances in robotic technology are making it possible to complete more complex tasks at higher speeds and with improved control and repeatability. For example, Bossa Nova, backed by Pittsburgh venture capital firm Innovation Works, makes robots that are currently being tested in Walmart stores, where the robots scan shelves for data on out-of-stock, misplaced and mislabeled products and check for incorrect pricing.

In M&A, engineering and industrial products manufacturer Barnes Group Inc. (NYSE: B) said in September 2018 that it is buying Gimatc Srl from AGIC Capital, Xenon Capital Partners and the target’s founder for about $435 million. Gimatic develops robotic grippers, end-of-arm tooling systems, sensors and other automation parts. Gimatic serves several sectors, including food and beverage and home appliances.