Pensa Systems, an innovator in the automated use of computer vision and artificial intelligence for retail in-store data and analytics, has continued to expand its relationships with customers such as Johnson & Johnson, General Mills and Circle K.
These major companies, as well as long-time customer and investor Anheuser-Busch InBev, are among a fast-growing number of brands and retailers using Pensa’s highly accurate and actionable syndicated shelf intelligence data in an effort to minimize stockouts, optimize product planning and increase revenues. Pensa’s footprint has now expanded across multiple retail formats and regions, including many grocery and drugstore channels, and is now expanding to convenience stores such as Circle K.
In addition to customer expansion, Pensa has raised $11 million in Series A venture capital funding in order to capitalize on this interest in the company’s solution to the long-standing issue of retail shelf visibility and reduced stockouts. The funding is led by ATX Venture Partners and adds corporate investor Circle K Ventures, part of Alimentation Couche-Tard, a global operator of convenience stores with more than 14,000 stores across 26 countries and territories.
This latest round brings Pensa’s total funding to $28 million, furthering its ability to help brands and stores use the company’s advanced shelf intelligence data to help solve the $1 trillion-plus problem of stockouts in the retail sector.
“Major brands and retailers are realizing that Pensa has the best answer to the trillion-dollar problem of in-store visibility, which has only become more acute with the explosion of omnichannel,” said Chris Shonk, managing director of ATX Venture Partners. “Pensa’s patented and frankly groundbreaking AI approach and novel use of automation is generating at-scale primary data and analytics for the first time in this last true black box of our modern economy.”
Pensa addresses the problem by providing syndicated shelf intelligence data which the company continuously collects, analyzes and distributes using a fully automated, end-to-end system to interpret what’s happening on the shelf. Using mobile phones and small self-flying drones to collect data, and a patented, cloud-based automated perception system that utilizes AI and computer vision to analyze data, it delivers extremely accurate real-time data and analytics.
Syndicating the data makes it available for the retailer and their consumer goods manufacturing partners to continuously monitor performance of the actual store shelf to maximize revenue and improve customer satisfaction without expensive custom or long-lead-time efforts. Pensa’s visual processing system has identified more than 2 billion product images on the retail shelf.
The Pensa technology is already being piloted in a number of Circle K locations in Central Texas. Pensa expects to gain valuable insight and support for the convenience store sector and beyond by working with Circle K.
“We look forward to working with Pensa as a way to improve the store experience for both our customers and team members,” said Mike Bott, head of digital innovation at Circle K. “Leveraging advanced technology to continuously improve in-store availability of key products is a top priority. Collaborating with Pensa as a customer and investor presents a promising opportunity for us to optimize store shelves and reduce stockouts.”
“We are thrilled to see increased uptake of our approach to detecting stockouts and optimizing the store shelf in the new omni-channel world, and we are excited to leverage our latest funding round to scale our go-to-market efforts to meet rising global demand,” said Pensa President and CEO Richard Schwartz.
Pensa, based in Austin, Texas, also announced that Jared Schrieber, data and analytics pioneer and co-founder of InfoScout (acquired by Kantar), has joined Pensa’s advisory board. Prior to InfoScout, Schrieber was with Retail Solutions Inc., which was acquired by IRI.
Pensa investors also include James McCann, former CEO of Ahold USA, Carrefour and Tesco in Europe, via the Food Retail Ventures fund, as well as Commerce Ventures, Revtech Ventures, ZX Ventures, the corporate investment arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev and other retail sector and technology funds and well-known industry leaders.